The Feel Good Gospel and The Feel Good Preacher

Jim Miller
Gray Maine

 

In this day and age everywhere you turn you hear how loving and merciful our God is. This is true but it has been carried to the extreme so much so that preachers are no longer preaching the true gospel they are preaching a feel good gospel seeking to please their hearers. Some who read this may for the first time in their lives hear the true word of God. Some preachers will preach whatever is necessary to hold on to their position seeking to please all that attend and thus just tickle the ears of the congregation.

There was a time in this country when you could tell a sound preacher from one who thinks more of his position by the gospel he preached. Today it seems that all people want to hear is how loving and merciful God is and if a preacher hits a sore spot with some in the congregation he gets called on the carpet for upsetting them.

I remember a time when the preacher would have been thrown out on his ear for preaching a weak watered down gospel that seeks to please men rather than a sound gospel that rebukes those who need it, that edifies and builds up the members of the Lords church. Today there are to many spineless, weak kneed preachers who do not really care about those they preach to. We have allowed politically correct speech and the doctrine of don't hurt my feelings take over and rule in place of the gospel given to us by the apostles.

We have allowed Emotionalism to take the place of truth. Preachers play on the emotions of the congregation, they emphasize that how you feel and how you react to those feelings is what God wants from His children. Today the cry is don't tell me what I am doing wrong just tell me how good I am and things will be just fine. We live in a time when no one wants to take responsibility for their actions and preachers seem to be fine with that and pander to these whims instead of standing solidly upon the word for good or bad.

Did Christ and the Apostles teach love and mercy?

The answer is Yes, of course they did. Christ loved man so much so that He gave His life on the cross for us. Yet there were stipulations to accessing this love and mercy. The Apostles showed their love by teaching the word given by the Holy Spirit to the known world at the time. Yet they taught those same stipulations given by Christ also. People and preachers today want to forget the words Obedient and faithful. This begs the question how can you access Gods love and mercy if no one teaches you the truth both the good and the bad.

There is nothing to fear when the plain, and positive good news of Christ is preached. There is a subtle tendency today to exalt the feelings aroused rather than the faith delivered. Souls cannot be saved by a superficial stirring of the emotions. People must be instructed in the righteousness of God as found in the word. This teaching is sufficient to "move" them, unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). Emotions, must be taught to be secondary to the truth. The appeal must be made through the "word of truth" (James 1:18), the reaction thereto will manifest the emotion preceded by knowledge of the truth. "The I love you; God bless you, brother" seems to be the call not only  from members of the congregation these days but the preachers too.

These folks soon become completely devoid of the truth, the solution for every objection they face from others critical of their actions which have no Bible authority to support them is "I love you" which is really no answer at all. It is simply shallow emotionalism. These people claiming to have the truth show no concern for the obedience required to obtain that love they so covet, they work themselves into an emotional frenzy and anything they choose becomes acceptable to their conscience.

Paul wrote about the greatness and excellence of love saying it never fails and endures all things. He stated that love "rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth" (1 Cor. 13:6). The truth is the only realm in which true love can exist. When the truth is not respected in the church, it is not going to make any difference whether hugging, holding hands, crying or saying "I love you," even happens. This isn't love! No matter how many accomplishments a church claims if what is being done and taught is not authorized, there is no reason to rejoice. The New Testament still says love rejoiceth not in iniquity, but in the truth. "Iniquity" is dative singular and means unrighteousness. Thayer says this iniquity is "opposed to the truth" (pg. 12). Therefore, any action which is not approved by the truth of Gods word does not allow for rejoicing. Among the emotionally charged believers their subjective feelings take precedence over the objective truth revealed by the Holy Spirit unto man. When one's feelings are accepted as the standard in faith and morals then the word of God is brushed aside and all it becomes is cheap emotionalism. This is what some preachers and churches want; they are happy and rejoice in it! Real love, genuine love,  rejoices not in such false teaching, but in the truth. It takes very little to satisfy some today. You need to stop trusting your inner feelings as a guide and demand the word of God as your standard.

Sound Preaching

The true preacher of Gods word must be sound in his preaching. Christians MUST demand that preachers proclaim ALL the truth.

1. Paul instructed Timothy to "hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me" (2 Tim. 1:13). Titus was told to "speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1; cf. 1:9; 2:8).

2.  The word "sound" means "whole or healthy as in being sound in health" (cf. Vine 4:55). Thus, sound preaching is that which is spiritually healthy and wholesome. Paul equates "sound doctrine" with the "gospel" (1 Tim. 1:10-11). Thus, sound preaching is according to the gospel. The book of Titus which focuses on soundness (1:9, 13; 2:1, 2, 8), begins with the basis and standard for soundness: the revelation of God (Titus 1:1-4). Thus, sound doctrine is that which is according to the revelation of God. It includes any and all that is in the revelation of God. From Titus we see that it includes such subjects as God's nature (1:2), eternal life (1:2; 2:23; 3:7), the grace of God (1:3; 2:11-12; 3:4-7), elder's work and qualifications (1:5-9), refutation of false teaching (1:10-16), personal godliness (2:1-10), home relationships and responsibilities (2:4-5), our speech (2:8), our example (2:7), the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (2:13-14), obedience to civil law (3:1), how to treat others (3:2-8), baptism (3:5), the work of the Holy Spirit (3:5) and dealing with a heretic (3:10).

The honest preacher must preach all the word.

The faithful man of God must not preach his opinion or his own thinking on Bible topics, he should always "speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11). Paul said his message was the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13). Today too many preachers think that their words and wisdom and opinions should be received by their congregations with the same fervor that the gospel is. More often than not today we hear  sermons that give little or no Bible reference at all. True Bible preaching is just that: preaching the Bible! The whole council of God!

Our preaching must point to God as source of all creation (Acts 17:24) it must be preached as the authority for our lives (Acts 17:30-31). God must be the object of our faith and trust. Paul preached in a manner so that his audience's faith would not be that of the "wisdom of men but the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:2-3). Preaching is not designed to please men, but God (1 Thess. 2:4-6). Any preacher worth his salt will not seek to convert men to himself but ONLY to God. The preacher who truly care for those he is preaching to does not seek his own glory but he seeks to glorify God, if not it will take very little to destroy that kind of faith.

The true preacher of the word refutes error. Paul charged Timothy to "Preach the word. . . convince, rebuke, and exhort…" (2 Tim. 4:2). Titus was to instruct elders to stop the mouths of false teachers and rebuke them sharply (Titus 1:9-13). Preachers must defend the gospel (Phil. 1:17), even militantly (Act:17:6). Just a casual reading of the New Testament shows that the Lord and his apostles stood firmly against the errors of their day (both in and out of the church) and answered all arguments of the false teachers. Proclaiming the word leaves no room to tolerate sin. Thus, the preacher must reprove (2 Tim. 4:2). Worldliness must be denounced (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19- 21; 1 Pet. 4:3).

Preachers must proclaim God's grace, he must teach the sacrifice of Christ without which redemption is not available (Eph. 2:5, 8, 13, 16). The preacher must tell men what has to be done to obtain salvation through the blood of Christ (Acts 2:22, 36, 38).

Preachers must use the inspired word to instruct others in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Teaching others that right living is the way of going "on to perfection" (Heb. 6:1) teaching others to  mature in the Lord. The sound preacher teaches people about Gods instruction on the home, the marriage, prayer, worship, godliness, honesty and proper attitudes.

Bible preaching distinguishes between truth and error. Proper preaching will always differentiate the Lord's church from denominationalism. The preacher who's preaching could be presented in any denomination without objection isn't Bible preaching. The sermons in Acts 2, 3 ,4, 8 were distinctive enough for men to see that they needed to change! The message that gets results will first demand results. Peter and Paul called for repentance (Acts 2:37, 38; 17:30-31). A change of heart and life was demanded. Application must be made to the people. Peter charged those to whom he spoke he said "you" have crucified him (Acts 2:21-22).

Preachers are not entertainers

Today people are looking to be entertained and hear all the good things they can about themselves and how loving and merciful God is. People today will heap to themselves the preachers that will only tickle their ears. There is a real need for the right kind of attitude on the part of the hearer.

"Am I Willing To Grow?"

The parable of the sower shows four types of people but only one is going to grow and be useful in service to God. We need to be like the hearer in the parable that bears fruit. There is a gradual ascent to hearers as Christ explains the qualities of the four kinds of soil/hearer. The first one was altogether unreachable, the second was just shallow, the third had possibilities of a good harvest however, even this hearer lacks the depth/understanding necessary to stay loyal to the Lord. It is only the fourth hearer that has the proper attitude and (heart) to bringing forth fruit to God's glory. This persons growth is caused by true belief and willingness hear and follow the word of God (Lk. 8: 11), yet today even the word of God will not bear fruit without being planted in "good soil" (Matt. 13:23), or "an honest and good heart" (Lk. 8:15).

The Preacher who delivers the word of God will get different responses, these different responses from those who hear his sermons cannot be blamed on the messages or the way it is presented as long as it is the truth. When teaching the Jews of the first century the listeners were those who shared the guilt of putting Christ to death had different responses. On two occasions the preachers spoke very pointedly concerning the hearers’ sin and guilt before God. Peter’s sermon convicted his audience of sin by telling them Act 2:22  Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Act 2:23  Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. Yes, they were guilty of crucifying the Son of God and he let them know it in no uncertain terms.

Stephen was just as pointed. In fashion worthy of emulation by preachers today and (which would  be rejected as unloving and overly harsh by those of today), Stephen addressed the guilt of his audience stating: “Act 7:51  Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Act 7:52  Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Act 7:53  Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. Act 7:54  When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.” Stephen rightfully accused them of betrayal and murder.

Why the different responses? The answer lies in the hearts of the individuals who heard the message. So, we go back to Jesus and His preaching of the sower who sows seed on various kinds of soil. When all the hearer's want to hear is the love side of the gospel and when preachers only preach the love side of the gospel the church falls from grace and both are to blame.

Folks you have to get back to the whole council of God and make sure your preachers give you that whole council or your are going to be lost. 2Th 2:9  Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 2Th 2:10  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2Th 2:11  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 2Th 2:12  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

You must make a choice and my prayer is you will come back to the truth and I say to you preachers out there preach the word ONLY in its entirety holding nothing back.

 

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Author: jfm

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