There's a world of difference between practicality, and pragmatism.
He sits in the front row, squarely in front of us. He only knows three words in English. He repeats them over and over again.
I happen to think that, taken in the right measure, this was an excellent piece of counsel. It could be over-pressed, with the result that pastors would never preach on passages or Biblical themes they judge "not practical," such as the doctrine of God, election, atonement, and on and on. That would be a great betrayal, and a great failure as a pastor.
Certainly Jesus and the apostles could never be accused of such baffling, misty abstraction. If Paul gave three chapters of rich doctrine in Ephesians, he follows it up with
If I dare whisper the thought, I think this was a shortcoming of Spurgeon's — at least in all the sermons I know of. He preached glorious, timeless sermons on the person and work of Christ, the covenants, and the authority of Scripture. But I don't think I've yet come across a "Tell Me How" sermon opening Scripture on marriage, work, or the like. Those topics must feature in preaching the whole counsel of God.
Practicality, then, is (A) Biblical, and (B) light-years removed from....
Self-justifying goals Christians have set include:
- Increased "giving" (invariably financial) among churchgoers
- Increased attendance
- Increased professions of faith
- Increased actual (i.e. conversion) baptisms
- Happier people
- People who report feeling closer to God
- Greater book sales
- Compliant children
- Better reputation among the lost
- Those who don't see a thing wrong with these as self-justifying goals.
- Those who have actually read their Bibles.
- The Christian's goal must be to please God (Deuteronomy 6:5f.; Matthew 6:1-6, 33; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 1:13-17, etc.).
- Doing what pleases God may be the direct cause of temporal disaster.
- Doing what pleases God will be the direct cause of eternal delight.
- Getting murdered by your brother for honoring God in faith
- Being hated by the most powerful in the land for telling God's truth
- Having people run away from your preaching (i.e. a small congregation) because you preach the truth straight
- Being out of sync with your spouse for remaining faithful to God
- Being framed, slandered, and killed for remaining loyal to your family
- Seeing your good name destroyed because of your love for Christ
- Having co-workers start a vicious slander-and-ouster campaign because of your godly excellence
- Being abused, even physically, to doing right in God's eyes
- Enduring a life of persecution, deprivation, and temporal misery