“Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air” (1 Cor. 14:7-9).
Although the subject here is the gift of tongues and interpretation, the point being made is to speak in order to be understood. Too many preachers are not doing that.
GOP candidate Donald Trump is teaching preachers a lesson. Many may think he’s rude and harsh, but he speaks clearly and plainly and is quite difficult to misunderstand. Most of all, the people are responding to his message.
Perhaps we as preachers have robbed ourselves by being gray instead of black and white. Perhaps we’ve robbed the church of more converts and true followers because we think they don’t want to hear plain speech, when in fact, they do. Perhaps it is time to reconsider that in our quest not to offend them we are repelling them.
Ambiguity has no part in the gospel. There is to be a certain and clear sound coming from our pulpits. Political correctness has no part in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. If a preacher cannot speak clearly about the tenets of the faith, especially as it relates to such a sacred subject like marriage he doesn’t belong in the pulpit. He needs to get out and find another occupation. A politician might better suit one of such cowardice.
“You be careful when anybody comes to you with a sugar-coated pill or with a slimy tongue. They are always of the devil. The Spirit of the Lord will always deal with truth.” — Smith Wigglesworth
The root of the problem here is money, friends, and influence. Many preachers who are in the limelight will seek to talk in such a way as to not lose money, friends, and influence. Such preachers need to be reminded that our loyalty is not to people but to the truth. I don’t care how many favors the people have done for you or how much of a friend they may be. I don’t even care if they are close relatives. To prefer them over Jesus and the Scriptures is to be a traitor to the highest cause.
Both Elijah the prophet and Elisha his successor coined this phrase, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand…” (1 Kings 17:1, 18:5; 2 Kings 3:14, 5:16). Paul, the apostle coined a similar expression, “For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:17).
In both Elijah’s and Paul’s day, as it is today, there were many false prophets and apostles who peddled the word of God for money, favor, and influence. However, Elijah and Paul ministered in the sight of God. They were men of sincerity and truth, who feared God and hated covetousness. Such were the qualifications for leaders as far back as the time of Moses (Ex. 18:21).
What T.D. Jakes and other high profile religious leaders do when they are faced with a direct question in a public forum is they cower down and sugar-coat things they say to avoid offense and controversy. They say it is to keep the door open for the witness of the gospel and not cut the people off that they are trying to reach. But when do you tell these people the real, plain, clear truth? The way you win them is ultimately the way you are going to keep them. If you are going to win them with unclear speech and fuzzy doctrine then you must keep them by feeding them with the same. This is the reason we have so called gay “Christians” in our churches. They don’t really know where you stand because you’ve substituted influence for truth.
There is no question we are to love everyone, but there are certain standards in Scripture for membership in a church that professes the Lordship of Jesus Christ. “For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person’” (1 Cor. 5:12-13).
In case you didn’t know the subject at hand that Paul is addressing, here it is:
“I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person” (1 Cor. 5:9-11).
Paul is addressing habitual sin, especially sexual immorality in the church. In this case, it was incest. Paul was commanding the Corinthian Christians not to keep company with sexually immoral people who call themselves a brother (or a sister).
Here is a shocker for many: Exclusivity is a part of kingdom culture. Say what? That’s right. There is an exclusivity in Christianity. That would include gay “Christians”. Our sympathetic views toward this celebrated group in our culture is a form of cowardice and low esteem for the standards laid out in Scripture. Yes, you will be called hateful and bigoted. But that has been our problem.
We want to blend in with the pop culture instead of stick out. We don’t want to be hated or misunderstood. But isn’t that also a part of our kingdom culture?
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (Jn. 15:18-19).
Yet in all this, we are not to exclude the world. We are to keep company with them just as our Lord and Master taught us (Lk. 15:1-2).
The issue of habitual sin is a church and kingdom issue, not a world issue. I trust that Mr. Jakes and Mr. Houston in attempting to love the sinner, in this case the LGBT community, will find the wisdom to do so without compromising the Scriptures. Love with truth, compassion with conviction, mercy with might – that is the certain sound that everyone should be hearing.
Anything else is speaking into the air.