When the Sleep of Jonah Is Not Passive but Abusive (Part 3)

Victor Chininin Buele

Continuing to show a kind of preaching that may look like expository preaching if you turn your head about 45 degrees, squint your eyes, take copious notes, and try to do exactly as it says, we have gone through a couple of marks of such preaching already.

We have established that this counterfeit preaching instills doubt on the hearer’s heart (but hardly ever on the preacher) by magnifying radical depravity in the hearer and minimizing the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. We have looked at ways in which this preaching drives in the concept that grace is silence and silence is grace, always instilling an equation that a confidence is the same as covering up unrepentant sin, that we are guardians of stories or of reputations in order to keep things quiet that shouldn’t be secret. Repentant sin is not something that goes in a vault. It comes up. In celebration.

Today, we will discuss the third mark of this abusive preaching: demonizing doubt and challenge.

Counterfeit Preaching Demonizes Doubt and Challenge

We saw that we are taught that grace is silence and silence is grace. What do I mean by that? Everybody has questions. You hear something in a sermon, and it raises up alarm bells. It could be because you are guilty of sin that the Word is exposing. You go on to resolve the dissonance between what you heard and what you are living. You have two choices: you either repent of the sin or you may excuse it away in a number of ways (dismiss it as not being sin, or as not being as bad as other sins, or as being statistically acceptable by the society at large, or that it is a rare indulgence, whatever).

The problem is that there is one mental and spiritual process that takes place before this choice. Is the preacher preaching the truth?

If you think about it, everybody loves the Bereans. In theory. Who are the Bereans?

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Acts 17:11

They are famous for excelling at this mental and spiritual process of examining the source of truth, the Scriptures, to see if what was preached to them was true.

So, before action is taken, we decide whether we are listening to the truth or not. And that is where this pesky mark of counterfeit expository preaching creeps in.

It suppresses the questions even from being asked out loud. The person who has bathed in this preaching will resort to accepting unquestionably the words preached as if they were true. If doubt arises, a spiritual problem is assumed in the hearer, or a lack of understanding or knowledge or experience. Thus, in what’s boasted of as grace, the person preaching is supposedly given honor by not asking him about it.

This is the wrong way to sort out the dissonance. If I hear something preached, and it sparks in me a conflict, I must carefully and prayerfully inquire the Word to see if it is true or if I’m being deceived. I must carefully and prayerfully make sure I understand what was being preached and how and where it came from in the Bible.

If the exposition or application are found to be consistent with the overall biblical text and the history of redemption, then I need to take action to kill my sin as I repent and find a way to restore what I have broken.

But if the exposition or application are eisegetical, or put another way, if it’s whatever the speaker wanted the text to say rather than what it says in its proper context, then we must ask questions. And we must ask them out loud. And please remember, these false teachers are often sounding like they are offering an exposition of the text. You may even be stuck in a long series that’s gone on for a few years on the same book of the Bible. Remember, the question is, does the text say what they preacher said? Does the text ask me to do what the preacher asked me to do?

Everybody loves to commend the Bereans. But I suspect that because we don’t have an instance of the Bereans challenging a false teacher in the book of Acts, we somehow have concluded that they did not confront false preaching. And maybe they never needed to do so. Yet, the whole point of examining to see if something is true is to know the truth.

This counterfeit kind of preaching requires the appearance of being a Berean while keeping any objection or questions suppressed. It paints it as taking things in the best possible light, as giving grace, as showing honor, as being godly and submissive, and teachable, as being the personification of 1 Corinthians 13. Víctor keeps no record of wrongs.

So, allow me to ask this big, takeaway question to you, What will happen when you raise your question to your pastor?

If you are afraid to ask it, that tells you a lot of what you need to know.

The pastor’s reaction will also tell you most of what you need to know.

Will you see humility even if error is not spotted or acknowledged? Will you see humility even if there is a difference of opinion that seems at least immediately not something easy to sort out? Will there be humility and true grace in the face of disagreement? Will there be repentance if sin is called out and appropriate (even public) restitution be made?

Or will you get mockery, excuses, manipulation, smooth speech, dismissive laughter, bellitling? Will the person turn the table on you and start talking about your sins? Will the person want you to see asking the question as sin, disrespect, disloyalty, ungratefulness, bitterness, unforgiveness, hardness of heart on your part? Will you start getting a regurgitation of your sins or will you start seeing a bully at work?

It is all around us. Men who are supposed to be shepherds calling sheep names, being rude and disrespectful and dismissive.

This kind of counterfeit preaching puts you in your place, so to speak, and clearly communicates (as indirectly as it does, it does so rather easily) that if you have questions, you need to trust the man up front. Asking the question will not be welcomed. It will not be encouraged. And it can be the end of the appearance of peace. It will cost you. And if you were in the circle of trust, you will be out of there.

Be not deceived, this is requiring you to lie to God and to swear allegiance to a manipulator who is deceiving the people of God and turning them away from a pure and sincere devotion to Jesus Christ.

I asked a question to my pastor this week. Not an easy one. He responded saying in clear and no uncertain terms that my questions are welcomed and that they were not received with hostility.

I felt safe. I felt cared for and shepherded for properly. I still have questions and will keep on asking them because the horror of living under counterfeit preaching that demonizes doubt and challenge is not worth it. God knows all, and “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 ESV).

If you live under this oppression, know this: we have walked this path, and we are happy to walk it with you. There is freedom. God saved you for freedom.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

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