Being Berean

I like to listen to sermons.  Preaching is cool.  I love that my husband has several hours of sermons from different preachers in our iTunes library.  We’re discriminating listeners, however.  It’s not (only) the format of communication that delights us.  It’s the unpacking and giving of the word of God that makes me happy.  Preaching is the way God designed for his word to be brought to people, which is what makes it so great.  But if it is not the word of God, but of someone else, that is presented, the preaching is no longer lifegiving.  In fact, it’s lifedraining if the errors and lies are not recognized.

How can a listener tell if a preacher is giving God’s word?  After all, he’s done lots more studying that I have, right?  And he maybe went to school to learn how to preach, and this is his job, so of course he is good at it.  By what authority can I challenge anything he says?

As a Christian, I have the Holy Spirit.  His presence makes the Bible understandable to me as I read and pray.  If what the preacher is saying is not supported by what God’s word (the Bible, Scripture) says, then he is either mistaken, deceived, or lying.  As “the average Christian”, I should be consistently reading the Bible and comparing what I read to the sermons I hear (and the books I read).  Some will be right on, some will be questionable, and some will be quite harmful.  Depending on the centrality of the issue to the heart of Christianity, I may continue to listen to the preacher (for instance, if he got some names or dates wrong).  Things like the following from these popular folks, however, make me want to vomit.

Creflo Dollar. “There is a way out of every negative situation you face in life. [Acts 14 – continue in the faith through many tribulations] There is someone who can help you no matter what you may be going through. [True – help IN our trouble.] There is a means of escaping times of despair, failure and darkness.  [Yes, death and eternity with God.] That way is Jesus Christ! Jesus is your Great Escape from bondage, sickness and financial hardship. [Why then was Jesus bound, wounded, killed and poor?] He is your means to bypass the snares of the devil and dance your way to victory every time.  [He is not a “means”, he is the End; we are for him, not he for us.] By trusting Him and His Word in every situation [it’s not about situations in this life, which is just a vapor], you will pass each test with flying colors, and move to the next level of success in life. [Success in this life is never promised in Scripture.]”   In short, SPEW.  [my comments added]

Joel Osteen. I looked through his writings on his website, including the 22-page emagazine, Hope For Today.  I see a lot of sentences saying that I am God’s friend, and that I can have success through Jesus.  If I asked the question from Acts 2, “What shall we do,” I would not find an answer.  The Bible answers this question this way “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Joel Osteen’s organization leaves this out.  Without it, he is not preaching Christ.

Marilyn Hickey. (This is her salvation prayer.) “Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that I need Your help.  [More, we are dead, Romans 7.] I am not able to change my life or circumstances through my own efforts.  I know that I have made some wrong decisions in my life, and I turn away from those ways of thinking and acting that are not producing positive outcomes in my life. [Is this her way of saying that my evilness has separated me from God, and I want him to give me a new nature so I will bring glory to him?  Would that be a “positive outcome”?] I believe You have provided a way for me to receive Your blessings and help in my life [and save me from your eternal, just wrath]. That way is Jesus. [her emphasis] Right now, I believe and confess Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I ask Jesus to come into my heart and give me a new life born of Your Spirit. I thank You for saving me and I ask for Your grace and mercy in my life.  [including, I am assuming, in the life to come.] I pray this in Jesus’ name.”

I’ve just had these things on my mind lately, and wanted to share.


7 Responses to “Being Berean”

  1. May 1, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    I just want to tell you how much I love you… And how hot it is when you break down soteriology!

  2. May 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    It is not as hot when I forget to close a bold tag.

  3. May 1, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Yikes! Don’t think I know you well enough to read your hubby’s comments. *blush*

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts… I enjoyed reading them. I’m going to think ’em over again…

  4. 4 Angela
    May 2, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    “I believe You have provided a way for me to receive Your blessings and help in my life”

    What? What happened to provided a way for cleansing us from our sins…for Gods glory. This is a good post. Makes me want to listen to more sermons.

  5. May 2, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen what’s out there. Scary! SO glad we have the Word of God to weed through all the junk for us. Todd has a good website of screened for content sermons:

  6. May 8, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    great post, eva. love it!

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My blog. Herein read entries related to who and what is important to me. Feel free to leave comments. I feel free to delete them if I don't like them. So there. By reading about my life, readers should expect to begin to see their own lives as increasingly more organized and sophisticated, their homes cleaner and neater.

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