First, let me explain what I mean by rhetoric. Rhetoric is simply natural oratory which uses language to persuade the natural mind to act in a predetermined way. One of the best examples is Winston Churchill, who was able to rally the British Empire during their darkest hour of World War II.
Notice what it says on the picture of the pulpit above. It says “Preach the Word” not “Speak the Word”. Bottom line being: “Reliance ALONE upon rhetoric and natural oratory skills has no place here!”
Before I elaborate further, I would like for you to read the following two PDF’s from John Piper who is able to explain much better in depth than I can:
Let’s face it, two of the most important benefits of going to ‘church’ on Sundays is to be in fellowship with other believers and to hear a message preached that hits home and has spiritual impact. If the message isn’t labored over during the week by the speaker to be timely, tailored, on-target, spirit filled, and God directed—why even have a speaker behind the pulpit? Why not set up a projector and tune into one of the vast choices technology gives us access to today?
When I get up and leave after ‘church’ is over to face the world, I do not want to be the same person that I was when I came in. I want the sermon that was preached to challenge me to move to higher ground. I want something where I find myself mulling over for days afterwards. I want something that causes me to look into my spiritual mirror where I can see all my rough edges that need to be addressed. I need conviction, not condemnation. I need spiritual encouragement, not just human motivation.
The one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. (1 Corinthians 14:3 ESV)
There should be a definite distinction for adults between all three main segments of the typical going to ‘church’ on Sundays: Sunday School Class, Sunday Worship Time, and the Sunday Sermon. Sunday School Class is for growing in the knowledge of the Word. Sunday Worship Time is for breaking up any fallow ground in us and allowing the Holy Spirit to minister His gifts. The Sunday Sermon is for closely connecting us spiritually to the God who created us and died for us through the preaching.
Our personal prayer and bible reading during the week are our fuel and oil that keeps our engines running as Christians. But, ‘church’ time is for tuning our engines and to keep them from running rough.
If your spirit is empty by Wednesday from what was preached on Sunday, you need to evaluate the situation. Is it ‘you’ where the problem is, or is it that you are a ‘victim of rhetoric’?