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Human factor in church preaching 2018-09-12 15:58:53

We all know that the foundation of nowadays Christian faith is the Holy Bible, which is called the word of God. But we also could find that different preachers often interpret some parts of the word of God differently in their sermons, and many preachers could also have different interpretations of the same scriptures at different times in their preaching career life. That tells that the Bible carries the essential messages of the Gospel preached by preachers, but the final messages that are pronounced in the sermons involve the understandings of the preachers about the word of God. 

Here I must point out a critical essence in the preaching of the Gospel, which should always be considered to be the leading force of any church sermon but, sadly, is often ignored by many preachers around the world today. That critical essence in the preaching of Gospel is the direct involvement of our Lord, the Holy Spirit, in the process of preparing and preaching the sermons.

So we could see three elements in the preaching of Gospel: the direct involvement of our Lord, the Bible, and the work of the preachers. The first two elements provide the essence of the preached messages, the third is supposed to deliver the messages according to the essence. However, the third element always involves the human factors of the preachers, and one basic human factor is the logical reasoning (that in large part involves the applications of language) of the preachers, which not only will affect the comprehension of the essence of the messages but also might mislead the preachers away from the essence.

It is a general principle that all messages preached in a church should be from God. However, the church history tells us that not all messages actually preached were from God although all preachers would claim that they were preaching the word of God. Even though it is a principle that whatever messages preached in a church should be from God, but the best guarantee the preachers could normally offer to the people is that they have been preaching based on the Bible because most people could neither hear God speak to them in voice nor sense the dynamic communication with God in spirit, except for very few prophets, which leaves a debatable space for how they select and interpret the scriptures of the Bible.

Still, although most preachers do not mention how God has been directly involved in their preaching since they usually don’t honestly sense the direct involvement of God in their preaching, no one would deny the direct involvement of God in their preaching anyway, since that is the basic assumption or the precondition of any preaching without the need of being clearly sensed by the preachers. Therefore, among the three elements mentioned above, both the first and the second elements would be accepted by all preachers in theory without any issue. But the acceptance of the third element, i.e. to admit that their preaching would involve their human factors would be a difficult thing for the preachers. But on the other hand, it has become a common knowledge that human factors have definitely been involved in church preaching. So, if nobody thinks his/her preaching is not 100% from God but everyone agrees that someone’s preaching must not be 100% from God, then the logical entailment would be everyone saying “someone else is not 100% teaching God’s word, but my preaching is 100% God’s word.”

Actually, what we are facing here is the matter of faith versus the matter of ego of the preachers. If we as human could see the abovementioned three elements in the preaching of pastors, how could anyone assume that God would not know? Is there really any single preacher today who has honestly sensed that every single sentence of the messages he preached was from God? If there is, then the abovementioned third element does exist in the sermons of those who have honestly sensed that every single sentence of the messages they preached was from God. But for those who could not honestly sense that every single sentence of the messages they preached was from God, they need to face the reality of the existence of the abovementioned third element because that is the area for them to pay special attention not only for their professional jobs to serve others but also for their own faith life.

If most preachers or all preachers could not honestly sense that every single sentence in the messages they preached was from God but involve their human understandings, how could anyone assume that God does not know that? How could anyone assume that God does not know that most preachers do not feel the communication with God in spirit even though God always communicates with all servants of God? If some preachers would assume that God does not know what they are aware in their minds, then they are lacking the basic level of faith in God.

However, if the preachers all start to admit the abovementioned three elements in their preaching, would they need to start to worry about their professional qualifications if they could not sense the direct communication in spirit with God? Or would they need to start to worry about how to judge which part of their preaching involves their human factors?

To answer this question, I think we need first to clarify one relevant theological issue: how could we be sure that the preachers are really preaching the word of God in general, instead of harmful human messages or even evil messages from devil, especially when there have been so many reports of unholy conducts about some namely preachers?

I think except for very rare cases when some churches have completely deviated from God’s lead, as long as a preacher stands in front of the church family to preach in the name of Jesus, then even if he prepared the sermon based on his own agenda and even if the agenda might be mainly designed for his/her own personal gain in certain aspects, including certain power fights within the church organization, he/she will be used by God to deliver the messages from God, with or without the clear awareness of that preacher, or even when that preacher or prophet misunderstood the messages from God, since the preaching place in a church belongs to Jesus.

However, that does not mean whatever the preacher says in his sermons in front of the church family is from God. Obviously, God does not design the nature of the preaching in that way, for otherwise we would not have witnessed any problem in church history since almost all the preachers would have claimed that they were preaching in the name of Jesus.

Still, God’s messages will be delivered as long as a preacher is preaching in the name of Jesus in front of the church family even though the preacher might also add in his/her own messages in this or that way. This is actually a miniature model of how the whole world operates: no matter what people are doing for all their own agendas, at the end of the day, God’s plan will be carried out. The difference is that the Church is sanctified for children of Jesus, and thus it will be used by Jesus to deliver his holy messages, with or without the clear awareness of the preachers.

Based on the above understanding, we can see that no preacher needs to worry about his/her professional qualification, or how to judge which part of his/her sermons involve human factor, after admitting that his/her sermons do involve human factors. On the other hand, If we believe that God knows those three elements all along, and the Church has still been growing and flourishing all over the world for the past two millenniums and more, then nobody should assume that the preachers need to start to have those abovementioned worries, unless someone would think that they have been successful in cheating God so that God does not know what has been going on with them all along. If God could tolerate the weakness of the preachers and still lead them in their preaching in the past, then God would still tolerate their weakness and lead them in their preaching in the future in general. As long as preachers do their best to honestly and faithfully preach the word of God in the name of Jesus, and humbly seek in their prayers the lead from God, then no one would lose anything but human ego by admitting human imperfections, and God is still glorified.


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