What best describes the sermons you hear each week at church: Sirloin steak or cotton candy?
Are you substantially fed from the message, or are you hearing that which only tickles your taste buds? Can you describe them as messages of substance, or are they fluff?
What kind of sermons are you getting a steady diet of today when you attend church? What TV preachers attract you?
I saw two images on Facebook today. One was of a large church - actually, a gigantic sports arena converted into a church, with thousands of people jammed into the seats. Below that image was a church with people sparsely seated around the auditorium. The caption on the large church said, "When you preach what they want to hear" -- and the caption on the other photo read, "When you preach the truth."
Paul told Timothy (2 Timothy 4:3-4) "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables." Those words, simply put, say, "the time will come when people will no longer listen to "warning" sermons that convict, but rather '"feel good" sermons that soothe."
Folks, those days are now upon us. The trend today is for a large number of the population, if they go to church at all, they are drawn to a place of entertainment — a place where they can come away feeling good, a place where either Jesus is totally left out of the message, or else, He is portrayed in whatever way pleases the crowd.
I just wonder how many of the thousands of people that jammed that sports arena would shuffle out the door if Jonathan Edwards of the 18th Century would show up unannounced, some Sunday morning and preach his sermon, "Sinners in the hands of an angry God," -- or 20th Century Baptist preacher, R. G. Lee, preaching his famous sermon, "Payday Someday?" It was common for people sitting under the sound of those messages to break out in shrieks and cries of conviction of sin, and openly cry out to God. In my 71-year lifetime, I have seen very few instances of that.
What preacher among us wouldn't want people to leave the church house with hope in their hearts? But the way for people to leave with hope in their hearts is to leave with the assurance that Christ lives in their hearts — rather than giving some sort of hope of blanket prosperity and health.
There are "preachers" today who "preach" to throngs of people every week, who will stand before the God of judgment at the Great White Throne one day, and cry out, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matthew 7:22-23.
My long-time friend, Waxahachie native, Hunter Bonner said recently, "I'll take a revival in a small church preaching the truth of Christ, then an arena full of people wanting their sins validated."
Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.