Many people today doubt the relevance of God’s Word. They would rather read USA Today, Time, or Newsweek than the Bible. They believe that the Bible is outdated and irrelevant and has nothing to say about abortion, stem cell research, global warming, and terrorism.
But the Bible has much to say about these contemporary issues. Pastors should show the relevancy of the Scriptures by preaching an occasional message or series of messages on contemporary issues.
Consider the following steps and examples of how to preach answers to contemporary issues from the Bible.
Watch television news and read the newspaper to discover contemporary issues and learn different perspectives. The recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the ban on partial-birth abortion would provide an opportunity to preach a pro-life message from the Bible. The Terry Schiavo case raised many questions regarding euthanasia and what is right and wrong in caring for terminally ill patients. The opening of the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky made national headlines as atheists protested its opening. Many theological issues need to be addressed as well: elder rule, egalitarian and complementarian views on the role of women in the family and church, charismatic practices, and the emerging church.
Research the issue and discover the different views. For instance, when discussing origins, it is important to distinguish and explain evolution, theistic evolution, progressive creation, and literal six-day creationism. Genesis 1 should be interpreted literally, and it says that God created the world in six 24-hour days.
Discern the worldviews that influence each issue. For instance, secular humanism influences secular counseling. Freud taught that problems are based on past relationships with parents. Carl Rogers taught that problems are based on the failure to actualize your full potential. Christian counselors, on the other hand, use the Word of God to show people they need a Savior and that He is the answer to their sin problems. Rather than excusing people for their sins, Biblical counselors confront people with what the Bible says about their sin problems. Biblical life-change occurs as a result of conversion and Biblical mind-renewal (Romans 12:1, 2).
Learn what the Bible says about contemporary issues. In my pastoral ministry, I regularly preached a pro-life message for Sanctity of Life Sunday in January. It is essential that you discuss the Biblical basis for life. God created man and woman in His image and commanded them to reproduce (Genesis 1:26–28). Life is a gift from God. God gives children as His gifts (Psalm 127:3). God oversees the growth and development of the unborn child in the womb (Psalm 139:13–16). God views the unborn child as a person. God set Jeremiah apart before he was born to be a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:4, 5). John the Baptist leaped for joy in the womb of Elizabeth when she heard that Jesus was to be born (Luke 1:44). The Greek word for “baby” (brephos) used to describe John the Baptist before he was born is the same word used to describe Jesus after He was born (Luke 2:12). God condemns the taking of innocent life (Exodus 20:13). God is concerned about the unborn and about women in crisis pregnancies (Genesis 16:1–16).
Give practical action steps for people. In my pro-life message, I gave these steps:
Pray for our government officials to take a pro-life stand.
Vote for pro-life political candidates.
Support pro-life crisis pregnancy centers.
Teach our teens about the dangers of premarital sex.
Encourage unwed mothers to have their babies and give them up for adoption.
The Bible has the answer to the contemporary issues of our day. It is important that pastors, Bible teachers, and missionaries preach the Word of God in this age of apostasy (2 Timothy 4:2–4). The Bible is relevant, and it provides the answers for people and their problems.
Dr. Gary Gromacki, Associate Professor of Bible and Homiletics
Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania
(Reprinted with permission from Paraklesis Newsletter, a publication of Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.)