Monday, February 04, 2008

...the pulpit matters; sound-speech matters; words matter; reverence of God matters

In the midst of speaking out against those who resemble Chris Rock more than Christopher Love while struggling to fulfill their solemn charge from behind the sacred desk, I humbly offer the following about the genuine fruit of gospel preaching for all pastors.

Oh for men of God like Spurgeon again to guard the sanctity and honor of the sacred desk in preaching. And we can thank the Lord for men in our day like John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Dr. Al Mohler. Jerry Bridges, Allister Begg, Dr. S. Lance Quinn, Rev. Jerry Wragg, Rev, Greg Withrow, Dr. Rick Holland, and others who still
tremble at God's Word while giving "the sense of it"; and who guard the good deposit and follow the pattern of sound words in the Holy Spirit and in the fear of the Lord.

Contra Mundum,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

PS - You may have noticed the picture to the right as being slightly out of focus. That is intentional. Postmodern, contextualized, culture-driven, emerging, numbers-fixated, pseudo-reformed, scatological preaching can never produce clarity; but only leaves its listeners blurry-eyed as to a right view of all matters concerning life, ministry, and doctrine.

1 Timothy 6:3-4
"If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,

1 Timothy 4:12-16
12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Ephesians 4:29-30
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Colossians 3:8
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

2 Timothy 2:15-16
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,

Ephesians 5:4
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

by Spurgeon

I must, however, mention blasphemy and lewd speaking, because these are unhappily far too common. Does a man think that he can go on damning his own body and soul in so many words, and never provoke the Lord to anger? Does he dream that he can use foul and filthy words, and wicked oaths, without incurring sin? I believe that these things bring the blackest guilt on the conscience; for God has expressly said that he will by no means hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. It is true of every sin that God will not hold a man guiltless who does it; but it is especially said about this sin, because men are apt to fancy that words are of no great importance, or that God takes no notice thereof. Even the thoughtless or trifling repetition of the name of the Lord involves great sin, for thus a man taketh the sacred name in vain. Yet men trifle with that name in common conversation, and that with fearful frequency. There is no excuse for this wanton wickedness, because it brings neither profit nor pleasure to the person who so offends. What practical end can it serve? As George Herbert said long ago,

I am unable to frame an excuse for profane language: it is needless willful wickedness. Men talk so as to horrify us: they chill our blood with fear lest God should take them at their word; and all for nothing at all. I would to God that every blasphemer here (if such there be, and I have no doubt that there are), would abandon that vile, inexcusable, useless habit, which lowers men in society, defiles them before God, and ensures their condemnation. Filthy speech puts those who are guilty of it among the chief of sinners, and to them will certainly be meted out a terrible vengeance in that day when God shall solemnly curse those who have so glibly cursed themselves. It will be an awful thing for the man who used profane imprecations to find out at last that his prayers were heard, and that they will be answered. O swearer, beware lest the Lord God hear thy prayers at once to thine everlasting confusion! Sit down at this moment in deep contrition, and weep to think of the many times in which thou hast defied the God of heaven, and uttered words of provocation against the God in whose hand thy breath is. Not yet has he cut thee down. Oh, wonder of mercy! Take heed to thyself. Above all, marvel that there should be mention of mercy for such a one as thou art.


Carla Rolfe said...


I can't thank you enough for taking the stand on this that you have. It's a wearisome stand to take, but I'm sure glad you do it.


cyd said...

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. Proverbs 21:23

"Those that would keep their souls must keep a watch before the door of their lips, must keep the mouth by temperance...they must keep the tongue also, that no forbidden word go out the door of the lips, no corrupt communication. Keep thy heart, and that will keep thy tongue from sin; keep thy tongue, and that will keep thy heart from trouble." M. Henry

Speech reflects the heart. Our words matter greatly, and it grieves me to no end to hear more and more people, church leaders in particular, excuse away this new monster of coarse pulpit language as a simple "difference" among believers. Doctrine is as doctrine does, amen?

Psalm 19:14

SJ Camp said...

Thank you both for these words of encouragement and the Scriptures too.

Pulpits are not for entertainment but to preach the Word. I always enjoy my pastor--even if we disagree from time to time. I appreciate the fact that we see things a little differently on issues.

But we are in total lockstep on the essentials! And he never uses the pulpit as a place for foul speech or disrespect to the Lord.


dlytle said...

Somebody certainly needed to say that even if it's against popular opinion. May God raise up many more who walk only in the fear of the LORD. I thank God for you, my brother!

SJ Camp said...

Thank you "d".

The pastorate is being hammered today like never before; and it is spilling over into the realm of the authority of Scripture.

In postmodernism, all truth is subjective; biblically, all truth is absolute because the Author IS... The emerging church has been the most disruptive influence in the church in America the last five years. It will prove to be gangrenous and leaven at every level.

Contend for the faith...

I appreciate your comment here.

Michele Rayburn said...

Spurgeon appears to be speaking to the unbeliever about his sin in this particular passage, because he then says:

"Filthy speech puts those who are guilty of it among the chief of sinners, and to them will certainly be meted out a terrible vengeance in that day when God shall solemnly curse those who have so glibly cursed themselves."

But what is the solution, the remedy, for the believer? What Mark Driscoll needs is what we all need because we all sin just like him. James reminds us that "no one can tame the tongue".

Galatians 5:16 says:

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."


Galatians 5:25 says:

"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."

I think that part of Mark's problem might be, like so many of us, that he was raised in a legalistic sin-focused church and was never truly grounded in the knowledge of God's grace and of spiritual living, but instead was taught to stop sinning in his own strength rather than relying on God to work that work in him by His Spirit.

I think his sin problem may be a backlash, a rebellion if you will, to the legalism that says "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch..." (Colossians 2:21)

In context, Colossians 2:20ff says:

"If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, *why, as if you were living in the world,* do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!"... in accordance with *the teachings of men?* These are matters which have, to be sure, *the appearance of wisdom* in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence."

What is the Biblical solution then?

Colossians 3:1-11:

"Therefore if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is...not on the things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God...Therefore *consider the members of your earthly body as dead* to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed...and in them *you once walked,* when you were living in them...put them all aside: anger, wrath...abusive speech. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him...Christ is all, and *in* all."

And Isaiah says:

"You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3)

I like to paraphrase it by saying that God didn't say to keep your mind stayed on sin. He said to keep your mind stayed on Him!

I was looking at Ken Silva's "Apprising Ministries" and went to the link "Deception In The Church", which in turn led me to an article by "Herescope". It said a very interesting thing. It said in an article entitled "The Dominionism of Sin" (Aug. 4, 2007):

"This blog [Herescope] spends a considerable amount of time examining and exposing the swift rise in our age of the false doctrines and practices of Dominionism.

"Indeed, it is human nature to seek human solutions to overcome the fallen nature of man. And that, in brief, is precisely the temptation of the heresies of Dominionism.

"Dominionism promises that mankind can better himself, perfect his nature, change societies, cultures and governments; and even reverse the effects of the Fall, build the kingdom of God on earth, bring Jesus back as King, and restore Paradise.

"It is easier to look outwards at the world and try to fix it than to look inwards at the heart. For it is the heart, and the dominion of sin over the heart, that truly must undergo transformation."

( 2007/08/dominionism.html)

And that really sums it up for me. We can try to tell people what to do, do, do all day if we want to, but it will not change the person's heart unless he is told how to be, be, be.

It may seem easier to tell people what to do, but it cannot change the heart. There will usually only be a temporary fix, if anything. Only God can change the heart, and that may take time...and in many cases, a lifetime.

The biggest problem with sin in the Church is that too many of us do not know who we are, so we don't know how to be. And until we do learn who we are (in Christ), and how to be (in the Spirit), we will not be able to control what we do, because that control can only come from God's Spirit, not by "a man's will".

As we learn who we are, and how to be, and our focus is on Him, He will control our sin, by His Spirit, and in His His perfect timing.

Andrew Jones said...

and in our attempt to not offend anyone, lets not use the phrase "nigger" like Charles Spurgeon did.

Debbie said...

Michele, I think you make a very good point with regard to this sort of “overstepping the bounds" as an unhealthy reaction to legalism. It is now a systemic problem in the Church and a very serious one because there are incalculable repercussions that emanate from it. This (speech that is not honoring to God) is just one.

When Isaiah beheld the glory and holiness of God, he saw his ruin because he was a man of unclean lips. Of all the ways in which he may have seen his own sinfulness contrasted with God’s holiness, it was his unclean lips that caused him to say “Woe is me …” (Isaiah 6:5) Of course, the rest of the chapter tells us the good news of cleansing and restoration!

My girls have heard me say it so many times: just because something is prevalent does not make it permissible. Like Isaiah, we too “live among a people of unclean lips” as heard in the chatter of our culture. The distinction should be clear and easily observable when we speak.

Michele Rayburn said...


I really appreciated your comment. You made some good observations.

When Christians say that they are against Legalism, sometimes I wonder if they even know what that entails.

The tentacles of Legalism reach deep down into our lives, producing false guilt, self-abasement, and an unhealthy obsession with sin, which results in saying and believing things that indicate that we feel worthless, unloved, unforgiven, and unacceptable to God.

As I said before, what Christians need to realize and need to appropriate in their lives is who they are in Christ, how to "be" in Christ, and how to "walk by the Spirit". The alternative is to "walk in the flesh".

We need to focus on Him, not focus on our sin.

You've probably heard it said that if you're told to not think of pink elephants, the next thing you're thinking of pink elephants.

So when we are taught about sin, somehow we just can't stop thinking about that sin, and about continuing in that sin, and then about how we are going to resist that sin.

But it's going to be in our own strength, if we're not being told, straight from the Word of God, how to depend on God to deliver us from a particular sin, and if we're not being told how to "walk by the Spirit".

Because these teachings are so neglected, it leaves a spiritual void in people's lives. And that is the reason that I believe we have so many legalistic churches, which sometimes leads to false churches, "movements" and cults.

All of them have one thing in common. In a subtle, man-centered way, they are seeking to earn God's love and favor by what they think they can do for Him, not realizing that they already have His love and favor.

All of the false religions have no risen Savior. But the true Church has a risen Savior, and if we truly want to exalt Him in our lives, then we should be looking to Him, focusing on Him, walking in Him, depending on Him for everything, including the strength to overcome our weaknesses.

Try thinking about your sin and focusing on the Lord at the same time. I think you will find that you can't do that. And yet that is what I think Christians are taught to do.

But the result, I believe, is that we will become "the double-minded man, unstable in all his ways".

The Apostle Paul says in Romans 8:5-9, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace..."

In Romans 7:25, Paul says, "So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."

Paul knew the struggle against sin like all of us, and how he could not "serve in the newness of the Spirit" and "in the oldness of the letter [of the law]" at the same time. But he proclaimed that we have been delivered from the law, having died to it. (Romans 7:6)

And we should continue to proclaim these truths in the Church today.

Debbie said...

Michelle, VERY well said. This is perfect --- my daughter and I were having a similar conversation on Tuesday. We were interrupted, but I hope to pick up where we left off. You’ve given me some good thoughts that hit just the right tone and tied it all up so beautifully with the Scripture verses you noted. I’m looking forward to sharing them with her though I’m always happily surprised at how much I end up learning from her …. she’s really wonderful.


Andrew Ramsey said...

Dear Mr. Camp,

as a missionary reading this, i find it disturbing how you view contexulization. i think you've confused contextulization with syncritism. in that, you've become sectarian in your thinking and it is a sin.

granted, mark does have some growing up to do in substance and style, but i do agree with one thing he does say. he says in the book, the radical reformision, that we are all missionaries and the only difference is whether we are good ones or bad ones.

with that said, contextualization is necessary. Jesus used the common things of his day (i.e. farming, mustard seed, weddings, ect) in his parables. In Acts 17, Paul quotes a greek philosopher to illistrate a point in his address to the epicurians and stoics. on top of this, i have heard numerous stories of missionaries in the jungles of columbia and elsewhere using some things in the tribal cultures to communicate the Gospel. I highly recommend the books "peace child" and "bruchko" both put out by YWAM publishing.

as far as scatalogical language, i think you've forgot that paul used some of that language in dealing with the judiasers in galatians 5 where he talks about how he thinks that if they (judaisers) think that they are holy by doing circumcision, then why should they go ahead and emasculate themselves instead of taking just a little but of the foreskin off.

Debbie said...


I know you addressed your comments to Steve Camp, so I hope you don’t mind if I share a quick thought for what it’s worth.

You said, “Granted, Mark does have some growing up to do in substance and style…” This IS about substance and not about style.

For some it would seem that, in attempting to put the Gospel into “context”, the context itself has somehow become a part of the message leaving the hearer with something that is strangely anemic and diluted. Since the Gospel is anything but anemic or diluted, it follows that contextualization could lead to a form of syncretism. I’m quite certain that this is not the intention --- it is, unfortunately, the outcome.

As a “missionary kid” (I was born and grew up in Brazil where my parents were missionaries for 36 years), I understand the idea that as individuals, there must be a certain cultural identification that takes place through understanding the conventions and customs of those among whom we live. There is something very “put-offish” and prideful when “the messenger” doesn’t care about this very basic notion. I’ve observed that love for those to whom we minister will compel us to care. However, the Gospel itself is entirely different because it transcends time and culture and will never need to be “put into” anything in order to be effective. It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to do this. We are only asked to be faithful in honoring His Word.

Thanks for allowing me to insert this thought into the conversation.

Hebrews 4:12

PDS said...

Are we back to this again?

SJ Camp said...

No, they are.