The Sin of Preaching Algebra

Remember the first time you took a course in Algebra?  Most of the equations revolved around “solving for X”, that is, figuring out what the letter “X” represented in the equation.  There were various mathematical actions you could do to the equation so that, eventually, you could give a definitive answer as to the value of the variable “X”.  And those are fine skills to have in an Algebra class, but they should not be needed when listening to a sermon.  What am I talking about?  Let me explain…

In Scripture, we are told preaching should be done “in season and out of season” meaning regularly and continually.  It should be “line upon line and precept upon precept” meaning it should be done with clarity and with each teaching resting on the teaching before it.  Preaching should be a right-handling of the Word of Truth.  And most importantly, this preaching of the Gospel message “repentance and the forgiveness of sins” should be preached throughout all the Earth.  But are these things the trademarks of what we commonly see around us today?  Sadly, no.  I recently had occasion to sit through a sermon that reminded me of the hundreds upon hundreds of similar sermons I have heard before.  It had less than 5 minutes of actual Scripture, at least 20 minutes of anecdotes, illustrations and amusing stories, and worst of all… it was all about the Gospel.  Please hear what I am saying….it was all about the Gospel.  Nowhere in the sermon was the Gospel actually preached.  No mention whatsoever of sin, repentance, or the attributes of a just and holy God.  Not one mention of atonement, propitiation, regeneration or bearing the fruits of salvation.  None of it.  Zero, zilch, nada!  This sermon got me thinking.  It reminded me of something, but of what?  Finally I got it…it reminded me of algebra!  Why?  The word Gospel was mentioned many times… how important it is, how great it is, how it has great side-effects….but never an actual presentation of what the Gospel is or why I need it!  I was left trying to put together all the clues and performing various mental functions to solve for “X”, that is, to figure out the speaker’s definition of the Gospel.  I shouldn’t have to do that!  For a message that is so incredibly important, the messenger has a duty to the King to deliver the message with clarity and boldness.  For a preacher, simply talking about how great the message is but never actually delivering it is a dereliction of duty!

Preaching the Gospel (or listening to a Gospel presentation) shouldn’t be an algebraic exercise.  It should be clear, concise and bold.  To the appropriate audience, talking about the Gospel is fine, but this discussion must also include a clear definition/presentation of the Gospel message itself.  The Bible states that we have all broken God’s Laws and stand guilty before a just God that will in no way pardon the guilty.  But God incarnate died on the Cross taking the punishment of His people while giving us the righteousness of God in the eyes of the almighty court.  When in faith we repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone to pay for our sins (believing He was raised from the dead) we are saved.  This true belief and this true trust is shown outwardly by repentance of sins from the moment we begin to believe until the day we die and are taken to our saving Lord.  The dead person inside us is made alive again by the Spirit of God, and our outward life and profession reflect that we have become new creatures and alive to God.

What was that last paragraph primarily about?  It was the Gospel!  The good news of salvation!  How long did it take?  The Gospel message can be summarized in 7-8 sentences and presented audibly in 2-3 minutes.  If this were a sermon, those who are convicted and desiring to know more would be given a chance to approach after the service.  How hard is it to preach the Gospel?  It isn’t hard at all!!  And yet countless of modern preachers only talk about the Gospel week after week, month after month.  “You need Jesus!” they say, but don’t tell us why.  “You should know the Lord!” they proclaim, but don’t introduce us to Him.  “It is urgent that you also preach the Gospel” they encourage, while never once even telling us what it is.  We believers all still have sin in our lives and need to hear of Christ’s atoning work on the Cross on a regular basis, and we need to hear it clearly.  Nobody should be forced to “solve for X” and figure out the Gospel message.

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9 Comments on “The Sin of Preaching Algebra”

  1. Delwyn X. Campbell Says:

    @R&R – No I wouldn’t, I’ve been a non-follower of “Hustle’n’Flow” Dollar for almost a decade. I’ve heard that he has said that non-tithers should be shot, but I have not personaly read teh article in which he is quoted on that. Still, it is consistent with his attitude about money (lol).

    Reply

    • revivalandreformation Says:

      Hustle n Flow! Ha…I love it. That is precisely what this video is about. Quite dramatic and as far as I see, could lead to criminal charges being laid against him in the future if he’s not careful. Imagine walking into his church unaware of his thoughts about tithing and then hearing that from his mouth? You would die a thousand deaths while you sat in the middle of all those “yes-men”.

      Reply

  2. Delwyn X. Campbell Says:

    I think the problem is that everyone is trying to be like those TV preachers who are in the business of selling dvds. You have to leave the audience wanting more if you’re going to sell a lot of dvds.

    Remember when a sermon would last 30 minutes, tops? Now, an hour is standard; why? Thank those TV preachers! An average Religious TV show is 30 minutes, of which about 15-20 minutes is the sermon. They need the show to last for the month, though, so that they can sell those dvds. Therefore, teh TV preacher stretches the message out with all of these anecdotal stories. The best at the game, in my opinion, is T.D. Jakes. Have you ever heard his sermons? They are almost like radio dramas.

    The guy preaching at the local church has to compete with these guys, or else his congregation will think that they are missing out on something. Like the old saying goes, if you want to solve the case, “follow the money…”

    Reply

    • revivalandreformation Says:

      Yes, you’re right! My in laws have tried to go to the local churches, but every-time go home disappointed and dissatisfied because they have Creflo Dollar to compare them to. Not only are the sermons dragged on for weeks and sometimes months, but their music, advertisments and all the glamour takes up time as well. How can a person ever hope to get anything nourishing out of this kind of “E-Church”, when it takes you 55 minutes out of the hour just to understand the subject of the message?! Take a gander at this video, and you will be quite shocked over Mr. Dollar’s mentality regarding non-tithers…

      http://revivalandreformation.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/pay-your-tithe-or-get-shot-creflo-dollar/

      Reply

      • ChurchSalt Says:

        Just remember, Creflo didn’t create these followers… they are a greedy and idolotrous people who have willingly put him in that place so that he can tell them what their idolotrous ears want to hear. Pray that God grant them conviction, repentance and belief unto salvation!

    • ChurchSalt Says:

      I think you may be right in that many preachers know they are being compared, but what I often see is that local guys are trying to mimic the friendly, inoffensive and harmless aspect of the popular guys. They don’t want to come out and preach sin, repentance, atonement, the inability of man to save ourselves, etc because it is just so irrelevant and so offensive. So instead, they dance around the whole issue and just keep telling us we need Jesus, but not telling us why or exactly what it is Jesus does (other than the nice side-effects (those always sell)).
      Can you imagine a messenger of the King back in the old days standing in the middle of town yelling, “I have a message from the King, and you need to hear it….yup, really good message here! Just wait until you see the changes coming! Wow… really, really good message…..sure enough!” and then leaving town? Today’s common message, even by many with good intentions, is disgraceful due to lack of knowledge, spine and sound doctrine. I pray that our Lord raise up more bold and faithful messengers!!

      Reply

  3. revivalandreformation Says:

    I always hated algebra!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

    • ChurchSalt Says:

      Me too. Solving for “X” is the last thing on my mind come Sunday morning! I guess a lot of preachers think everybody already knows the Gospel, so just vaguely talking about it will suffice. Sad, sad, sad…

      Reply

      • revivalandreformation Says:

        Kind of reminds me of the school that brought in a Magician that tried to make math fun by doing magic tricks…sound familiar?

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