What’s the Joke?
By Nathele Graham
Why is it that so many pastors refuse to preach the pure word of God? This is a trend that’s been growing over the course of many years. Today it seems that preachers are more worried about being politically correct rather than Biblically correct. Instead of preaching God’s truth it’s more important to appease the congregation rather than pricking consciences and bringing sinners to a right relationship with Christ. It’s a sign of the times, but nothing to be proud of. “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 unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Jesus never patted anybody on the back for their sin, but forgave them and told them to stop sinning. He never got angry with the common people, but had many confrontations with the religious leaders who compromised God’s truth. Maybe the religious leaders today should take a look at Scripture and learn from Jesus. A good lesson in preaching is seen in the Book of Acts.
Pentecost occurs a few weeks after Passover and Jewish men were expected to celebrate it in Jerusalem, and so the Apostles were gathered there. They had no idea what was about to happen. There was a sound like a mighty wind and what looked like tongues of fire sat upon each of them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. Things have never been the same since! The Holy Spirit gave them power and boldness to share the Gospel. The people who saw this didn’t have a clue what was happening. “And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.” Acts 2:12-13. It was Peter who explained. He didn’t joke or cite worldly “authority”, but quoted Scripture as his authority. That sermon brought 3,000 people to salvation Maybe today’s preachers should learn from Scripture rather than seminaries that teach psychology and give lessons about how to build a congregation rather than how to share the Gospel.
Peter recognized that prophecy was being fulfilled and used Old Testament Scriptures to teach the crowd. “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;” Acts 2:16. Joel 2:28-32 foretold a time when God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh and people would prophesy and have visions from God. We always think that prophecy will be fulfilled at some other time, but today we are seeing prophecy being fulfilled. Unfortunately, most preachers don’t teach it so most Christians are as ignorant of prophecy as the crowd to whom Peter spoke. Peter had more to say, and none of it was politically correct. He spoke God’s truth to the crowd.
Peter explained who Jesus was and that He had been crucified, but rose from the dead. “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Acts 2:23-24. Peter didn’t sugarcoat what had happened and he directly blamed those who were listening. How many in the crowd had seen the miracles Jesus had performed? How many had received healing from Him? I also wonder how many of them had been in the crowd a few weeks before yelling “Crucify Him”. Brothers and sisters, remember that Jesus died for your sins and my sins, just like He died for the mocking crowd around Peter. It was not a joking matter, but very serious. There were souls at stake, and Peter spoke through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He not only quoted the prophet Joel, but he also quoted from Psalm 16 where King David stated that he knew that the Messiah would come and conquer death. “Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” Acts 2:30-31. Because Christ conquered death and sits by the right hand of God, the Holy Spirit was poured out that day God promised this and we still have that promise today. It’s too bad it isn’t spoken of from our pulpits. Christians might be more aware of the power we have through the Holy Spirit and we might win more souls to Christ.
Peter ended with a declaration of Christ. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36. Those powerful words brought conviction to the sin-filled crowd who listened. Peter’s sermon was so intense and convicting that the listeners were cut to the heart and pleaded to know what they needed to do to be saved. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37. Good question. Peter had the answer. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:38-39. This promise was meant for the people listening that day, as well as people in distant lands and distant times. It’s meant for you and me. Peter said to “repent”. The Greek word “metanoeo” translated “repent” means to change your mind about something. For the sinner who comes to Jesus, it means that you must change your mind about sin. The worst and deadliest sin is rejecting Christ. Because Peter spoke frankly, many people came to salvation that day. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” Acts 2:41-42. Notice that they didn’t say a few words, get baptized, then return to their previous way of life. Once you accept Jesus for salvation, other sins should begin to repulse you. Anger is a sin and you should change your mind about it. Sexual immorality is a sin that you need to repent and stop participating in. Pride is a sin and needs to be removed from your life. There are more and the Holy Spirit will guide you in a closer walk with Jesus. They continued to fellowship with the Apostles who taught them God’s ways. It’s important to fellowship with Christians and encourage each other to grow in faith.
So, what about today? How many times do you sit in a pew and hear one joke after another? Or else Scripture takes second place to a secular book and very few Scriptures are quoted. When your pastor quotes John and Paul, is he quoting the Apostles or the Beatles? “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2 Timothy 4:1-2. Sound doctrine is only found in Scripture. Christians have been forgiven of our sins, but we need to be encouraged to continue to turn from sin that compromises our witness to the world for Christ. Unfortunately, the “feel good gospel” taught by Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, and others have compromised the truth and people get upset if their own sin is brought to mind. “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 unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4. That time has come.
I admire Peter. He sinned by denying Christ, but when Jesus restored him, Peter had no fear in serving Christ. His sermon on Pentecost should be an example to preachers today. He didn’t tickle ears nor did he appease the government. He spoke the truth in a way that convicted 3,000 people of their sin and they understood their need for Jesus. Peter would not be silenced from preaching God’s truth even when faced with imprisonment for preaching about Christ in the Temple. The high priest had forbidden the Apostles to preach the Truth, but the Apostles knew who their true authority was. “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey them.” Acts 5:29-32. Too many pastors today keep silent on certain subjects in order to stay tax exempt. They’re more afraid of offending “Big Brother” than they are of offending God. The silence in the pulpits has led to professing Christians looking and acting like the world rather than reflecting Christ as we should. It’s not only pastors who are to blame for letting the congregation starve, but also deacons who allow Scripture to be subordinated to the government gag order. How many people have been led astray in order to remain tax exempt? If you allow the gospel of big government to be taught rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then woe to you when you give an account before the Bema seat of Christ. “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” James 3:1 (NKJV). Think about that, pastor, when you choose to water down your teaching.
Can we blame the pastor and deacons alone? Brothers and sisters, you can read. You have no excuse for not knowing Scripture. Christians are afraid of being judgmental if they confront sin so many condone it. That leads to bad doctrine and sin within the congregation being accepted. Because many pastors joke about Scripture and don’t call sin what it is, sin, Satan is sneaking into congregations. Satan is on the inside of our hallowed halls and Christ is on the outside. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20. That’s the epitome of Christianity in the final days. Guess what? We’re there. Sound doctrine isn’t tolerated and preachers don’t care. Christ is on the outside while jokesters are on the inside. Brothers and sisters, don’t sit around waiting for your pastor to feed you the pure word of God. You can read…you can study…you can pray for understanding and the Holy Spirit will open God’s truth to you. Scripture is our guide “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. We’re living in the end times, and if you’re not living by the word of God then you’re in the crowd that mocks Him. Scripture, not the latest self-help book or psychology article, is your guide.
Today we see the evil influence of Satan filling people with hatred. Mobs of people spew hatred, burn businesses, injure and kill people while calling for an end to law enforcement. The savagery has grown to the point of frenzied hatred. Let me ask a question. What if a man who was empowered with boldness of the Holy Spirit would preach the truth to these deceived people? Would 3,000 of them turn from their wickedness? Would those 3,000 people share with others? It’s not the people who are the enemy but the satanic force that drives them. It’s really nothing to laugh at. Souls are being lost and Christians keep silent. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul talks of putting on the full armor of God. He ends with a prayer request. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,” Ephesians 6:18-19. You have to know the Gospel in order to share it, and that takes serious study. Scripture contains words of edification, encouragement, and reproof. It needs to be held in authority.
So, what’s the joke? There is no joke. Teach against sin, but teach about the forgiveness that only comes from Jesus Christ. Sin isn’t funny and God’s truth isn’t to be laughed at.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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