Say what you mean & Mean what you say!

Warning! This post may be controversial!

The saying Say what you mean and mean what you say has been coming back to me over and over again recently. If you read this blog regularly, you will know that I preached at my church on Remembrance Day. During the time leading up to last Sunday, as I was preparing my message, I had an urge to do a two point sermon as opposed to a three point sermon. Why? Is there anything wrong with two point sermons? No of course not!

The reason why I was tempted was because I didn’t really want to talk about sin, knowing that there were to be visitors there who would come for comfort and love. Being the nature of the service, I asked myself would it even be right to talk about sin?

The thing is that I was doing a gospel presentation; victory through Jesus. But people need to know why they need to share in that victory! If people don’t know that they think/say/do things wrong and that those things separate them from God for eternity, then why bother with Jesus?

God was speaking. He said; Dean, if nothing else, people need to know the root cause of war, terror and destruction. What did I learn from that prompting? That we must never compromise with the message that God has laid on our hearts to give. Obviously, I kept to my three points; you can listen to the sermon here if you like.

Worryingly, a lot of evangelical preachers are leaving out the traditional, true gospel message of salvation through faith which saves us from sin, evil, death and destruction. Instead, they’re replacing it through a nice, fluffy ‘God wants to bless you’ gospel and that God will bless you in your life, as long as you stay positive and happy. If you’re not preaching the truth, then what are you preaching? I would suggest that you’re preaching a lie.

I’m sorry, but those sorts of sermons are readily available in the ‘Self Help’ section of Waterstones or W H Smith. I have no wish nor desire to fork out twenty quid for a load of verbal diarroeha that’s been recorded on some paper. Oh yeah – that’s aside to the fact that these books don’t help, and actually propel people down a path that causes them to overwork, strive and put demands on themselves that they will never achieve. And to add to that, the Truth says that people can’t help themselves, ultimately, and that they need to be helped by the Helper. The one who conquered death and sin. The one who’s victorious. Jesus.

What’s even more worrying is that people who aren’t Christians are recognising what I would deem the heresy of “not telling the whole truth, thus telling a lie”. Have a look at this:

I don’t doubt for a second that Joel Osteen is a Christian. His father had an amazing ministry that saw Lakewood Church (now the USA’s biggest single church) grow tremendously under his preaching and ministry.

Yet Joel Osteen has grown his church threefold since he started his ministry, seemingly through the power of making people feel good. Of course, I could be wrong, but it does come across as that on the TV channels that broadcast his church services. I’m not stupid or naive enough to think that all the people there are Christians. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Christians are in the minority in that place, judging by the Joel Osteen Ministries Programme on many religious TV stations. I’m really sorry that I’ve picked him as an example, but he’s the one guy who sticks in my mind. When I just became a Christian, I trolled the internet for Christian speakers and Joel Osteen was the one guy who never mentioned Jesus or his sacrifice.

The main point of this article isn’t to ostracise or single out famous preachers. It’s to merely remind all of us who are Christians that we must say what we mean, and mean what we say. If you’re a church leader, or a preacher, don’t fall into the temptation of watering down or compromising the truth! As I said a few days ago, we must preach the full, true gospel.

Because if we don’t, we’re preaching a lie. And that lie will push people away from God as opposed to drawing them to him. And at the end of the day, it will be us who has to give an answer as to why we did that.

Serious stuff. But thoughts on this need to be converted into action.

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • I agree, it’s very important to preach the whole message of the Gospel. And as someone said, a part-truth presented as the whole truth is an un-truth, so we need to be careful not to lie by omission.

    I guess where it gets trickier is knowing what to include and exclude in individual sermons and services. You can’t say everything at once. Preaching ‘the whole counsel of God’ takes time. So the important thing is knowing what to focus on in any particular occasion, while making clear what you’re saying sits within a broader context.

    Some Christians get so hung up on trying to say everything at once on every occasion is that they end up churning out the same generic Gospel presentation every time. But you can’t do justice to every aspect of the Gospel in a stock formula, such as the Four Spiritual Laws or Two Ways to Live or whatever, as useful as they can sometime be as an introduction or framework. The Good News is big! God’s plan is deep and wide and changes everything.

    • Thanks for commenting, Caleb. Completely agree – we need to have balanced minds when we’re thinking about this subject!

  • Well for what it’s worth, I think you made the right call. Our vicar – who might come across as very open minded, liberal type of Anglican in demeanour – made the connection between sin and the horrors of war that we are remembering pretty clear in his sermon too.

    I suppose the balance between not talking about it or dwelling on it too much is quite hard and I have every admiration for preachers like you who dare to stand up and give sermons! Still, it is a reality for us and has to be attested to.

    • Yet we can’t be left in a place where there doesn’t seem to be any hope! Because the Christian faith is good news!

      • Absolutely. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that our Hope comes from our Creators love, not our wisdom or works or anything like that. There is always Hope because there is a loving Creator who just can’t keep his hands off his beautiful (if a little spoilt here and there) creation and loved it so much he even had to knuckle down in the dirt with it!

  • Eva

    “Instead, they’re replacing it through a nice, fluffy ‘God wants to bless you’ gospel and that God will bless you in your life, as long as you stay positive and happy.” I really can’t stand this kind of thinking. It much too closely resembles that horrible book and movie “The Secret”, and ultimately leads to victim blaming and all sorts of magical thinking and delusions. The prosperty gospel makes it sound like God OWES you something because of how wonderful, positive, and hardworking you are, and I’m definitley not down with that!