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When we arrive at wit’s end we can be sure of one thing: we have exhausted every means of solving a problem that we know. We could not turn the business around. We could not restore our marriage. We could not save that loved one’s soul. We could not right the ship of a sinking church. We could not fix whatever it was despite all our efforts. It is a helpless feeling.
It is called ‘wit’s end” because every ounce of wit and wisdom we hold has been poured out. Life has out witted us. Sin has out witted us. It is beyond our capacity to resolve or solve.
Kevin DeYoung shares some insights from Grant Wacker’s new book on Billy Graham.
Whether we like it or not, the Word of God preached has been commoditized. The Christian does not need to go to his or her local church in order to hear the Bible preached anymore. This is a blessing in one sense because we have the opportunity to listen to the preaching of pastors around the world or listen to our pastor’s preaching when we’re away from home. However, the commoditization comes with many negative effects, namely, that many Christians feel they can skip the worship service and listen to a podcast later on the way to work the next day.
This is the reality, however much we love it or resent it. The question is this: “How do we adapt to it?”
We know that it is by grace that we are saved — it is a free gift of God: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8–10).
As you taste the preciousness of this gift of salvation by grace alone — knowing that you are completely undeserving — you want everyone to taste and savor this truth, too.
Like James Merritt, I’m a descendant of Confederate veterans too. But my family history is more complicated than just that. I’m a part of another family now, a bigger family that spans heaven and earth, a people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and language. The gospel frees us from scrapping for our “heritage” at the expense of others. The gospel frees us, as the Bible says, to “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom. 14:19). The gospel calls us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). What hurts one part of the Body hurts us all.
The ministry of preaching cannot be divorced from the ministry of soul care; in fact, preaching is actually an extension of soul care. There are a host of reasons why it is important for pastors who want to preach meaningfully to know their flocks as well as they can, but here are three of the most important.
Throughout church history, external pressure has exacerbated internal divisions. That’s why we’re tempted to confuse the source of our suffering. We think the world’s opposition means we’ve done or believed something wrong. Not necessarily. In the New Testament, internal divisions are common and external opposition is normative. We’re told to seek peace in the church, not with the world. Only Jesus brings perfect justice and peace when he returns to rule (Rev. 22:12).