The sermon hit hard this week. Pastor Brian’s use of Elisabeth Elliot’s quote was particularly jarring.
“Faith is not inferred from the happy way things work. It is an act of will, a choice…”
Truth be known, I do not have the gift of faith. Yes, I have faith that God is sovereign—faith that he will indeed accomplish what he sets out to do—I just don’t have much faith that his sovereignty will keep me from places I would rather not go. I would not have chosen to struggle with adult literacy. I would not have chosen cancer at 22 or a brain tumor at 36. I would not have chosen the many ministerial struggles I have encountered as one of your pastors. Even with hindsight being what it is, I still would not choose those things. But, to paraphrase Alfred Lord Tennyson, “Ours is not to reason why.” It is incumbent upon me as a child of God to entrust myself to my Sovereign Father. He knows the best way forward, and it is the best way forward, even if it does lead through the Valley of the Shadow. I needed to be reminded of that this past week. I needed to hear a sermon that hit hard.
But what about you?
Do sermons ever hit hard?
I can think of no greater evidence of a “seared conscience” (1 Timothy 4:2) than a soul that is never moved to conviction while listening to a sermon. Yes, a good sermon should always comfort us with the hope of the Gospel, but it should also challenge us. For a sermon that is all comfort, and no challenge is wholly inadequate to present us with the comfort offered through the Gospel—it can only offer counterfeit comfort. It’s a good thing Pastor Brian doesn’t preach those sorts of sermons here. It’s a good thing he only preaches good sermons.
With that said, a seared conscience is a tricky thing. A seared conscience has a way of filtering out all the conviction of a good sermon. A seared conscience has a way of identifying shadowy comforts in each point. In other words, a seared conscience has a way of only hearing what it wants to hear, only seeing what it wants to see.
When was the last time a sermon hit hard for you? When was the last time conviction pierced your ears whilst sitting in the pew? It’s not unchristianly to struggle with sin (sin, this side of glory is just reality). It’s unchristianly to not feel convicted. As Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Embrace the conviction. Find real Gospel comfort.