Some Brethren Just Cannot Endure Long Preaching
As you all know very well, I tend to be what some would call long-winded in preaching. When I have been away at Gospel Meetings this, for the most part, has not caused any difficulty. Among faithful brethren they have the concept of preach it hard and preach it long. However, on several occasions, I have found some who do not like a sermon to last longer than thirty minutes. Some say they just cannot pay attention to anything that lasts longer than thirty minutes. Some say that they cannot sit that long. Others argue that it just is not necessary to preach that long. Now, in all fairness, I have heard some sermons that lasted twenty minutes and were ten minutes too long simply because the point of the lesson was made early and the second half was a repetition of the first. However, that is not always the case with long sermons. Why is it that some brethren just cannot sit and listen to a long sermon? Let us entertain some thoughts along this line.
For Some Brethren Any Lesson is Too Long
Some Christians are so in name alone. Their deeds display that they truly are not faithful to the Lord. For these individuals they just cannot endure sound doctrine no matter how long the lesson is. In warning about this, Paul penned: Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (II Timothy 4:2-4).
In the days in which Isaiah was prophesying he found a similar problem to what we find today. He found that the people of God just did not want to hear the truth any longer. They wanted good words, fair speeches, and no correction. In fact, Isaiah wrote of the problem with the following words: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us (Isaiah 30:9-11). So, for some, the length of a lesson is not the true problem. It is that they just do not want to hear the truth!
For Some Brethren Time Can Be Spent Better Elsewhere
Some so-called Christians spend their time in worship services planning what they will do with the remainder of their day. Worship is to them a chore. It is something they do before lunch on a Sunday morning. Thus, when the man doing the preaching begins to go beyond the imaginary time limit, they get uneasy. They have plans, preacher. How dare a man take time from the Steelers game, the family picnic, nap time, or anything else?
In Acts 20:9 Paul was long preaching. This context is the primary reason saints assemble on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7ff.). Is a sermon error if it is short? NO! Is a sermon wrong if it is short because a bunch of worldly Christians set the standard? Absolutely! As I have said many times, I will be done preaching when I finish! The faithful have no problem with sitting and learning the word of God. This, to a faithful Christian, is the most pleasurable experience of their week.
How can someone sit through a three hour ballgame, tell you the play by play, and still argue that a 1 ½ hour sermon is too long? They can do so because their interest is not in spiritual matters! Their focus is on the world, the events of the world, and what they see as profitable.
Some Brethren Just Dont Like to be Told What to Do
As a result of pride, some brethren do not like being instructed. To the faithful saints this is absurd. To the unfaithful, long preaching is worse because they feel they have to get it from the preacher for a longer period of time. First off, if a preacher is sound he is preaching the word of God, not his own words or agenda. Secondly, the word of God is meant, in part, for correction. Notice what Paul penned to Timothy: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (II Timothy 3:16-17). For these individuals it is not the preacher, per say, it is the message. Too long is too much for them.
Some Brethren Need to Get Their Priorities Straight
Some time back in a Gospel Meeting I was holding, I stressed to one of the elders of that local work my displeasure in the criticism I was getting for preaching too long. He said he wanted to give me some valuable advice from experience. He said if they want short preaching they will turn you off at thirty minutes so you are basically wasting your time anyway. He said we needed to be patient in allowing brethren to grow and allow them to see the value of longer lessons. I say, what a farce.
If brethren reject preaching that is long, what does that tell you about their study time? Can one go to Heaven without studying the word of God? It seems to me that the Lord is clear in His instructions for us to learn. Jesus said: Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me (John 5:39). When we speak of nobility (high character) among children of God, we recognize those who study as noble: These [the Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts 17:11). A Christian must be able to handle aright the word of God (II Timothy 2:15). A Christian must be able to give an answer (I Peter 3:15) when they are tested as we ought to be (I Thessalonians 5:21 and I John 4:1).
Preaching, when from the word of God, is a source of spiritual food. Jesus said: It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Christians have a hard time wanting to be fed because their priorities are set on carnal things. Paul had to address the problem with the brethren in Corinth: And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase (I Corinthians 3:1-6). As Christians, we are to have our affections set on things above, not on the things of this earth (Colossians 3:1-3). If we do not enjoy hearing the word of God preached, how can we argue that we are a people of a spiritual mindset?
Television, sporting events, secular entertainment, and a host of other things of this world have grabbed the attention of many Christians. Preachers and elders then contribute to the problem by demanding short lessons to appeal to the lack of attention people want to pay to the Gospel.
The Psalmist said: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night (Psalms 1:1-2). I often imagine how wonderful it would have been to witness the following: And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the Lord their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the Lord their God (Nehemiah 9:3). I have wondered how great it would be to find brethren who would be willing to assemble daily in fellowship and to study the word of God (Acts 2:46). To truly represent New Testament Christianity is to love the Lord, His word, and truly desire to serve and worship Him. This includes having the desire to hear and preach the Gospel (Acts 5:42; 20:20)!
Brian A. Yeager
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