Francis Chan on What Drives Prophetic Preaching
For those who speak a challenging word, the Word of God is fire in the bones.
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Editor's note: Before conducting this interview with author and pastor Francis Chan, I went to the Cornerstone Church (Simi Valley, California) website and watched his welcome video (the interview was conducted before he announced his resignation). In it he describes some of the convictions with which he started the church. He says things like, "Let's teach everything the Bible says, even if it doesn't set well with us at times. Who are we to judge God's thoughts?" "I want to prepare people for the moment when they face God." "He is the judge." That sounds like the heart of a prophet walking in the footsteps of Jeremiah, but like the Old Testament prophets, Francis also says, "We don't want to just live this life in fear. We want to have a love relationship." In this interview, Francis reveals well the heart impulses of preachers who bring a challenging word.
What makes a sermon prophetic?
For those who have the gift of prophetic preaching, it's as though God screams out to them from the words of the Bible. When I want to know what the Lord wants me to share with his people, he has made it clear to me at times, and biblical passages will come to mind. But there are also life callings—things he's given me that I've been passionate about because of my involvement in the church. I see the way people live and the things that are incongruent with the way that believers whom God approved of lived. Things such as the fear of God and a high view of his Word—a trembling at his Word—have been lost in American church culture.
Seven or eight years ago the Lord opened my eyes to the need to care for those who are in need around the world. He did this through my experiences but also through Scripture. All those passages leapt at me. Other leaders around the States were getting the same message from the Word.
Then a few years ago there was a leading to understand and emphasize the Holy Spirit. Those passages screamed out at me from the Scriptures. I don't think it was a coincidence that at the same time a lot of my friends who are leaders around the States were getting the same message.
In the last two years the focus has been on what the church is supposed to look like. What type of relationships are we supposed to have with one another biblically? I saw the stark contrast between the connection of the family of believers in the Bible and what we see today in the American church. Every time I'd read those passages, it just wouldn't leave me alone. And sure enough, as I looked around, other leaders were wrestling with the same things.
It's clear who are not the true prophets. A lot has to do with their lifestyle. When you look at the warnings about false prophets, much of it has to do with their character: their greed, lack of love, self-centeredness, pride. That shows them to be false teachers and reveals their hypocrisy. Paul tells Timothy you need to guard your life and doctrine closely.
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