Please do yourself a favor and take this challenge; read the sermons recorded in the book of Acts this week and then listen closely to the sermon you hear preached from the pulpit in your particular church this coming Sunday. The challenge I am offering is for you to differentiate between the content of the sermons you read during the week with the content of the sermon you will hear this coming Sunday and see if you can find what component has been left out of ones you read. You read that correctly…I think I may have discovered something that God has failed to include in all the sermons He published in His best seller of all time…the Bible. I’m a bit over-whelmed at the present because I believe all my study of the Scriptures for the past 34 years may be paying off with the realization that I alone may be responsible for a unique and historical discovery concerning the Scriptures i.e. an omission by God. (Sarcasm mine)
Below is a list of the sermons I found in the book of Acts. This list is not intended to be all inclusive, as there may be other speeches I have not listed that you would consider a sermon, if so, just add them to your list.
I found six preached by the Apostle Peter:
1) Acts 2: 14-41; Peter preached to the Pentecost crowd to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.
2) Acts 3: 12-26; Peter preached to the crowds in the temple area the resurrection of the dead through Jesus.
3) Acts 4:5-12; Peter preached to the Sanhedrin the healing power of Jesus.
4) Acts 10:28-47; Peter preached to Cornelius and his household (Gentiles) that Gentiles can be saved like the Jews.
5) Acts 11:4-18; Peter preached to the church in Jerusalem that Jews and Gentiles alike are granted God’s salvation.
6) Acts 15:7-11; Peter preached to the Jerusalem council that salvation by God’s grace is available to all.
I also found six preached by the Apostle Paul:
1) Acts 13: 16-41; Paul preaches to the Jews at Antioch of Pisidia that Jesus was the Messiah and the Old Testament is fulfilled.
2) Acts 17: 22-31; Paul preaches to the citizens of Athens about Jesus, the resurrection of the dead and of judgment.
3) Acts 20:17-35; Paul preaches to the Ephesian elders while at Miletus to remain faithful in spite of persecutions and false teachers.
4) Acts 22:1-21; Paul preaches to the crowd at Jerusalem and recounts his conversion and speaks of his ministry to the Gentiles.
5) Acts 24; Paul while giving his defense preaches to Felix and Drusilla about righteousness, self-control, and of the judgment to come.
6) Acts 26: 2-23; Paul while giving yet another defense preaches to King Agrippa, Festus, and Bernice about his conversion and his zeal for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I found one preached by the deacon Stephen:
1) Acts 7:2-53; Stephen preached about Jewish history and that the Jews were guilty of killing the Messiah.
I found one preached by the Apostle James:
1) Acts 15:13-21; James preached to the Jerusalem Council that circumcision is not required of Gentile converts to Christianity.
Now…we’re often reminded by our church leaders (elders), teachers, and preachers that what’s written in the Scriptures is there for us to use as an example, and yet I found that there is something missing in content from every single sermon recorded by the Holy Spirit. Did you, as I did, find the missing ingredient as you read these sermons? How could God obviate (leave out) such an important part of a sermon in every single instance without exception? Or did He? God is not and has never been guilty of leaving out anything needed to get His message across to any audience regardless of race, creed, age or gender. He is so serious about the gospel and saving the world that He not once put even one joke in the sermons His servants preached as they spread the gospel during the first century.
The result of many of the sermons you read, if you took the time to read them, is there were multiple converts to Christianity and it’s my belief that the reason is because of the seriousness and truthfulness of the message. Not one sermon was preached with jokes included to attract the audience into liking the speaker or to make his message sound more attractive. “It is the preaching of the gospel that saves men” (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4), not the jokes that some think should accompany that gospel message in order to hold the attention of the audience. Our contemporary preachers need to get out of the pulpit and get a job in a comedy club somewhere if they want the approval and applause of men. If God had wanted laugher as the result of His worship service sermons, I think He would have made mention of it as He wrote the Scriptures. He left a certain pattern for ministers of the gospel to follow; it just seems that few are willing to follow these days.
At the turn of the century, there were no jokes in the sermons being preached. Hell was preached hot, sin was preached black, adultery, drunkenness, fornication and all other sin was preached in the same manner, loud and clear, and yes, even the gospel was preached with the same intensity as a message on sin. All were preached in love to the extent that the hearer was told that if they refused the message, they’d be eternally lost. Preachers of old were not out to make friends as the result of their sermons…they wanted to make converts.
I guess our bible colleges (I use a lower case “b” simply to point out that it seems the Bible I know and read is no longer the book of emphasis being taught) are at fault for instructing their “wanna-be” preachers to go “lite” on the subjects that convict of sin (be seeker friendly), tell enough jokes during your sermon and the result will be that you’ll hold the attention of your audience and it will also make you popular with them.
Seems even when the theme of a sermon is on as serious of a subject such as Hell, when and if Hell is ever preached, these contemporary “wanna-be’s” start it off with a joke.
Here’s an example: A drunken man gets on the bus late one night, staggers up the aisle, and sits next to an elderly woman. She looks the man up and down and says, "I've got news for you. You're going straight to hell!" The man jumps up out of his seat and shouts, "Man, I'm on the wrong bus!" Now…I find this hard to laugh at, and yet if you look around the congregation after a joke such as this, you’ll see members laughing out loud and commenting to one another, “Now that was a good one.” Some even applaud. I’ll tell you something else…the more you laugh, the more jokes are included the next week. And if you happen to have some poor sinner in need of a Savior in one of the pews, how could you ever expect him/her to take the message seriously? It’s no wonder at all to me that our “invitations” are generally void of anyone walking the isles seeking salvation. I guess it could be said that “If the messenger doesn’t preach the message with conviction…there’ll be no conviction conjured.” There is nothing funny about Hell, heaven, sin, Jesus, the cross or any other subject that could be the subject of a sermon. It appears that in many churches even Communion meditations are fair game to this atrocious behavior as well.
Compare the content of your “Sunday school class” or “Bible study class” lesson that takes place either before or after the worship service. Does it include jokes and worldly illustrations like the sermon you hear each week? Probably not and the reason being is that it’s probably being taught by a “lay” person that is a serious student of the Scriptures and knows that his/her message is equipping you to be a better “Christ follower” and “fisher of men” during the coming week.
Now do yourself and your preacher both a favor…when you shake his hand as you leave the service, remind him of how lousy and out of place the jokes were and tell him how much better his sermons would be if the jokes were omitted altogether.
P.S. If you didn’t like this post and its content, please tell me how to improve my message as well, so that in the future I might perhaps scratch your itching ears. I apologize for the sarcasm but not for the content of this post.
My thanks to Michael, a brother in Christ, who is my corrective grammarian.
To purchase a copy of his book, “Keeping Covenant with God – Living by the Blood of Jesus”
Bing or Google: ISBN-10: 146101073X