Preaching: Relevant and Pertinent

By Larry Ray Hafley

Preaching should be relevant and pertinent. So what else is new? Every generation seeks to teach timely topics. Yet, each fancies that it is the first to stress the need for “up to date” declaration. Subconsciously, it is assumed that past eras were content with the proclamation of an antiquated, out-dated gospel. This is a delusion. Unto itself, each age is “modern.” Those in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for example, did not imagine that they were ~iving in “the past.” Frontiersmen did not conceive of themselves as settling “the old west.”

To be sure, years have a way of threading and weaving their own particular and peculiar webs and fabrics of error and difficulty. No truth should ever be ignored because “every one believes it.” No error should be neglected because “every one knows it is not so.” This is the surest and swiftest means to guarantee apostasy. Admittedly, however, certain issues are more “live” in specific periods than in others. To be relevant and pertinent, the current item that requires attention must be hit harder and more frequently and fervently. But it is not totally a , matter of being relevant and pertinent. An issue of contention, whenever it thrives, must be met decisively and vigorously. No, not simply because it is timely, but because it is a matter of truth. Preaching the word does not qualify itself by being modern or even old-fashioned. The faith is set forth, or should be, because it is the truth, the word of God.

Just as “the preaching of the cross” will always be “foolishness” unto those that “perish” (1 Cor. 1:18), so it will be irrelevant and outmoded unto them. It cannot be made relevant to such a class. Altering the gospel is the same as denying it (Gal. 1:6, 7). To dress it up in modern attire is not the answer. That would make the gospel perverted rather than pertinent. True, our century is not like others socially or culturally. However, it has one common denominator with all others-sin. Whether man lives in a bamboo structure, a mud hovel, a penthouse apartment, or a palatial palace, he sins. Whether a man eats with his fingers, with sticks, or with elegant utensils, he sins. The only remedy for sin is the gospel. The story of the suffering of the Son of God will be timely just as long as men need to be saved from their sins. It will be disdained and despised as an ancient relic by all who put it from them and thereby judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life. Worry not at all about being modern or ancient. If you find a sinner and preach the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, you will be relevant and pertinent. If you do otherwise, you will be damned.

Truth Magazine XXI: 10, p. 153
March 10, 1977