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.

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