ought, must, should

When presenting a sermon I think that I heard that pastors and preachers should not use the words “ought”, “must” and “should” in their sermon points.  The reasoning behind this is because of the potential effect it may have on the listeners.  The audience or congregation may hear the points beginning with ought, must and should and feel like they are not doing enough for God.  The may feel guilt because they are not following the steps prescribed by the minister and then try to do more.  They will falsely believe that they are still under law because they are not meeting some criteria presented with the oughts, musts and should.  I believe there are some cases when these three words are appropriate to use.

We ought to remember the forgiveness of our sins by God the Father through Jesus Christ.  Jesus endured the nasty opposition of the Pharisees and others in His ministry.  He then stood silent before the Sanhedrin while on trial.  He only spoke to confirm His claims of deity for which He was on trial.  He then willingly submitted to the Romans to be flogged and nailed to a cross.  He hung on that cross as He suffered the wrath of His Father, endured separation from His Father as He turned away because the Father’s holiness cannot bear the presence of sin, and Jesus had borne upon Himself our sin.  He died on that the final death for all of mankind and rose again from the grave, the Passover Lamb whose sacrifice was accepted by our Heavenly Father.

We must study God’s written word, the bible, and endeavor to listen to good Godly teachers of His word.  He has worked through many men to write the books of the bible.  Within the pages we can learn about Him, understand the doctrines that Paul and the other apostles tried to convey to us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  In those pages we learn about our sin, we learn about the plan of salvation enacted on our behalf, and how we must learn these doctrines to defend against heresies and false teachers who are instruments of the devil who seeks to destroy the body of Christ, the church.

We should work out our salvation in fear and trembling.  We should be showing ourselves as valuable and loyal workmen who humbly submit to the yoke of our Lord and Savior.  Our Heavenly Father has set aside good works for us to accomplish.  These are what we should be seeking to do, not to earn our salvation because that is a gift from God to those who believe in His Son.  We should be doing these because of our love for our Lord and we should share His love for the lost sheep of the world.  Our desire should be that same as His desire by seeking to fulfill the Great Commission given by Him.  We are not sent to change the world through social justice and by setting up theocracies.  We are here as ambassadors to make disciples of men by sharing and teaching the gospel of Christ.

These, I believe, are the few times when the words ought, must and should be applied to us as servants of the Almighty.  We serve One who sits in Heaven on His throne at the right hand of the Father.  We have the His Spirit living within us so that we are not alone when we set out to do His will.

dreamers of dreams

These false teachers and false prophets are something else.  Their motives are easy to figure out, they want money and they want that money from the suckers who are willing to give it to them.  Where they get their, well, I am not sure one could call doctrine or theology.  Maybe it would be best to call them “fleecing points” or something because they are not teachings from God or the bible, God’s inspired written word, His revelation of Himself to His creation.  So their teachings are more based on wild interpretations of bible verses violently ripped out of context to support some idea they are using to get rich.  Easy to understand.

They love to talk about dreams.  In these dreams God reveals to them some catastrophic event that is going to happen in the immediate future.  We all must be prepared because there are some signs that only have been able to decipher because God gave to them the only key to understanding them.  We are all to listen to them and perhaps send them some money so they can share that secret.  They seem to be able to spend thirty minutes talking about the dream without really giving any details.  They can go around in circles of dialogue talking about how God revealed to them in a dream that woke them up in a cold sweat.  These dreams sound so fantastical and frightening that we must send them some seed money so that we can avoid being caught up in the horrible event that is soon to come.

It sounds like they get the basis of their teaching, I cannot call it theology because its basis is not found in the Almighty, from Willy Wonka.  In the movie, Willy Wonka leads the group into part of his factory and he has this quote, “We are the muscimakers, we are the dreamers of dreams.”  It seems that these false teachers have latched onto the “dreamers of dreams” part, especially the “we” part because they usually take credit for everything except the God part.  They all claim and impress on us that God has chosen them to share this message and they only can help.  We must believe in the messenger to avert certain disaster, not the One who gave the message.

Now, they were other people in the bible who interpreted dreams.  Joseph interpreted revealed his dreams to his brothers who immediately knew the interpretation.  But Joseph also interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s servants and eventually the dreams of Pharaoh which saved the nation of Egypt from famine.  Daniel not only interpreted the dream of Nebuchadnezzar but was revealed the actual details of the dream.  Daniel also had dreams of the future events of Israel and the coming of God’s final judgment.  Daniel and Joseph did not take credit for what happened, they gave the glory to God and diverted the attention from them towards God, understanding that He is the Giver of all things and they would not know anything if it was not revealed to them by God.

What a contrast Daniel and Joseph are compared to today’s false prophets and false teachers.  We should remember these two humble men of God when we hear people exclaiming about dreams of direct revelation from God.

mockery

I have heard some national teachers teaching some strange, umm, teachings.  They begin their teaching sessions by stating things like “the Holy Spirit spoke to me” and “I had a dream in which God gave me a revelation about such and such” or “I am going to teach you how to listen to the voice of God” or other such nonsense.  This brings on two really big problems that can be devastating to an individual believer, and undermine the church body and the bring shame to the name of their alleged Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

What if I was a new Christian and I heard one of these teachings.  Now I am sitting in a room in my house or apartment and I am waiting for the Spirit to speak to me.  I am doing everything they suggest.  I am setting the proper atmosphere and I am quieting my mind and my emotions.  I am setting aside a period of time each day to practice this teaching I heard.  It has been a weeks since I have started this practice and I have not heard anything, any small voice speak softly in my heart instructing me on anything or giving me special revelation.  In frustration I listen to other “teachers” and try their techniques and get no results.  I must come to the conclusion that I am either not saved or that I am just not selected to hear the voice of God directly.  I end up giving up on Christ or I make up an experience, or worse, I open myself up to a demonic influence and mistake it to be the voice of the Spirit.

The other scenario is that I hear this teaching and I abuse it.  I explore a life of sinful pleasure under the guise of evangelism.  I go to sex parties, or crack houses, or get hammered at bars, or any other sin that I find pleasure in, talk about Jesus to someone, and justify to myself that I perfectly fine doing the sin I am doing because I spoke about Jesus.  Then when questioned about my behavior I can just claim that God hasn’t told me to stop so I will keep doing it until I hear the voice of God directly telling me to stop.  I find no authority in the bible, only the audible voice of God telling me to stop, and that is the only way I will stop.  I have not heard it yet so I am going to continue indulging my sin and call it witnessing out of weakness.

The voice of God is only heard through reading of His word, the bible.  He has spoken and given to us all the instruction we need to conduct our lives.  We will make and use any excuse we can to justify our sin and pursue the desires of the flesh.  As it is written, God is not mocked.  He will not allow abuse of His name to continue without judgment.  I pray that this abuse and outright mockery of His righteous decrees will cease and people will repent of this false teaching.

mad-lib self-esteem sermons

I don’t understand why so many people are attracted to the preaching of Joel Osteen.  All of his sermons are the same.  They are the same message with the same examples of woes with the same prescription.  He opens up his sermons with a lame joke that makes me wonder if he has a neon sign that flashes “laughter” so the audience laughs for the television broadcast.  The he has that mantra about the bible.  And then his message which is basically the same message every week with little deviation.  It is like the Mad-Libs sermon guide by Joel Osteen.

That mantra is actually a bold-faced lie.  He has his audience hold up their bibles, recite positive phrases that alleges that the bible is all about building up self-esteem and self-image, and then claims that Joel Osteen is about to teach them biblical doctrine.  It is a lie.  If that was a true statement then his next sentence would be for his audience to open their bibles.  No, he doesn’t do that.  He goes on about how life has got you down, missed promotion, terrible traffic jam, don’t like your weight, one ear is lower than the other, your nose looks like a boxer’s nose, whatever fault you can find.  Then he tells them to stop being negative.  God never intended us to be poor, unhealthy, weak, in a poor station in life.  He always got good things in store for us and we must speak and think these good things so He can act on them.

No.  God does not promise us material comfort and free plastic surgery to improve our life.  He does not apologize for making one ear lower than the other, or for us having a pugnacious nose.  God does not promise us an easy life at all, with no problems or barriers.  He promises that we will face trials in this life and there will certainly be troubles.  What Jesus promises is peace, His peace, the peace He had when He was here before the cross.  Jesus was under the threat of physical harm from the Pharisees on a daily basis, especially as He got closer to the cross.  But He did not hide in some remote place.  He did not live in some mansion on a hill, overlooking the Jordan valley, sipping wine by His private well.

Look at the life of His disciples, the apostles who preached the gospel.  They did not have a life of wealth.  They were imprisoned, beaten, whipped, chased out of town, stoned and eventually martyred.  Only John seemed to die a natural death while the others were killed for the sake of the gospel.  Joel Osteen has taken the sacrifice the apostles had made for the sake of the gospel and for our sake, as it turned out, and is using for his own personal gain.  Is he suffering for the gospel in his multi-million dollar mansion?  Are people protesting outside his church because they believe his message is too harsh and puts people down?

His sermons seem like they are produced form Mad-Lib sermon outlines.  They have no substance, no depth, nothing eternal that affects the eternal standing of his listeners before the Almighty God.  He doesn’t warn them to repent of their sins, only to repent of the negative thoughts and self-image.  “Repent of your low self-esteem so you can have your good life now!”

When will this charlatan be exposed?  I pray that he repents of his false teaching and greedy propaganda that abuses the sacred word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

disgusted

These nationally known “bible teachers” are a big concern to me. They should be a big concern to anyone who professes to be a believer in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  It sickens me to hear them preach sermons that honor them and not the Lord.  It is horrific the way they change the purpose of the bible to talk about them and their audience instead of Who the bible is really about, Jesus.  They rip promises out of context, use verses for the purpose of affirmation, claim that they receive direct revelation from God but still feel the need to cite bible verses to support their “visions”.

What do my itching ears want to hear today? Do I want to be told I am special and I have to stop saying that I am not?  Do I want to be told that the ridiculous dream I have will be fulfilled by God if I just recite Joel Osteen’s mantra?  If I continue to speak towards a huge mansion will it become mine?  If I claim a promise of abundant wealth will I get a promotion I am not qualified for?

It is heartrending to hear the stench that passes as preaching in our church today. Why bother having bibles on the pulpit if they are not going to be used properly?  Why talk about God’s love if we are not willing to talk about His wrath?  The swine are trying to trample on the pearly gates but they are not able to gain a foothold.  Instead they trample on the suckers and fools that buy into their empty promises.  When a blind man leads another blind man they both fall into the pit.

contend

On the radio and television there are a lot of “preachers” claiming that they heard a prophecy or a special revelation from God. They talk about how they had visions like Peter on the rooftop in Acts, how God had showed through a dream how He had some prophetic message that they needed to proclaim to the world and that that particular preacher was going to be the special messenger to deliver that message.  These words were delivered just for them so that the words can be delivered just to their audience.  And they must put the right amount of enthusiasm into their delivery and the right amount of monetary donation I required so their audience can avoid the dire predictions.

There are some who are a lot more subtle in their messages. It difficult to believe if they truly know they are deceiving people or if they had bought into the lie themselves and have figured out how not to sound like a salesman.  They figured out how to articulate their message with the perfect inflection of emotion and the correct wording so as to be able to give the impression that they received a “word impresses upon their hearts” from the Spirit that they had to share, a word to bind people again to the Mosaic Law through 10% tithing and good works to the community.  They are so earnest and on the verge of tears as they make dramatic pauses and emotional appeals to commit to their special vision from God.

What I find peculiar is that, if these are special revelations from God, why do they need to appeal to bible verses to support their “visions”? If the claim is true that they received a direct revelation from God then would that not be considered equal to the authority of scripture?  They sure do give the impression that not buying into what they are selling is like directly disobeying the Almighty God.  So they quote scripture to support their supposed visions in order to subvert God’s authority as their own.  They believe they can convince us that they are the mouthpiece of God in the modern era and we must listen to them.

Anyone who says they are followers of Jesus Christ, claim that He is their Lord and Savior and that He rules from the right hand of the Father, must not be deceived by these charlatans. We must be thorough in our knowledge of God’s Word and what the Word teaches us.  We must be proficient in doctrine so we can recognize obvious and subtle errors and heretical teachings.  We must be vigilant and not let our ears be tickled by sermons that make us feel good inside and do not remind us of our sin and rebellion against our Creator.  Anyone who directs away from that perspective, that we are only found in Christ and His resurrection, that person we must contend with and say they are wrong.