Recently in a discussion I had with an Oneness Pastor he explained to me how he approached a particular passage at the supposed behest of God. The approach was to allegorize the text to fit a particular expirence in his life. I said, “So then you analogize the text rather then use exegetical methods?” To which the response was, “That is what Jesus did in the parables…” To which I responded, “No…” and that was as far as I got due to being cut off and ending up in another direction. So here is my response, Jesus did not take the Word of God and read an alternative meaning into it with parables. Parables were exactly what Christ claimed they were for, “Mark 4:10-14 ESV And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. (11) And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, (12) so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.” (13) And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? (14) The sower sows the word.” Note well the parables were designed to enable some to have the kingdom of God given to them but others to be excluded from the kingdom, the truth of Sovereign election! Now the reason I left Christ trailing off on the explanation is to show exactly what Christ did with his parables, he explained the meaning to those to whom it was granted. Christ did not leave us without the explanation for us to go and invent our own meanings. And likewise Christ did not take established Older Testament Scriptures and import fanciful analogous meanings into the text. Rather when He spoke of the Older Testament text it was always showing what was hidden in plain sight…the contextual Christ centered meaning. Dare we should do any different?
Archive for the ‘Oneness Sermons’ Category
Give It Back
“Turn in your Bibles to Exodus 22 verse 7, ‘If a man gives to his neighbor money or goods to keep safe, and it is stolen from the man’s house, then, if the thief is found, he shall pay double.’ Now turn in your Bibles to John 10 verse 10, ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.’ I would like to preach to you on this topic, “Devil give it back, it belongs to me!”
This is another classic Oneness Pentecostal sermon I heard plenty of times in various ways. In this sermon the theme is that you are promised certain things in your life from the Bible, health, prosperity, even happy family life, etc. However the reason you don’t have them is that the Devil has stolen them from you, now it is partially your fault for letting it happen by relaxing your faith, standards, or your guard. I have even heard during these types of sermons the following story used as a sermon illustration. The story goes as follows, a man had a dream in which he went to heaven and saw there a large warehouse type building and as he looked inside he saw large gifts and treasures. The man asked Jesus what this building is and Jesus with a sad expression on his face said, “These are the treasures and gifts I want to pour out on my people but they simply will not believe me for them.” Wow if you have to resort to making God a pathetic sad being in order to sell your lousy theology you are really so far removed from the God of Scripture you should just throw your Bible in the trash!
While the confidence in a Sovereign God is stripped away and the fear of a slippery devil is substituted in its place, happily the preacher is here to proclaim to you the way to get your blessing back but even more, get it back doubled! Here is how, simply by twisting the text and misinterpreting the passages you can show that the thief is the devil, the payback is something the devil can issue and by using Jesus to counteract the thief you can make all this happen by coming to the altar and getting the victory, which was usually declared on a person once they enacted the Pentecostal rituals. These rituals are often visualized in dramatic “break-throughs” which include but are not limited to: loud sobbing and weeping, long periods of intense loud tongue-talking, and an exhausting time of peer influenced prayer, dancing, or jumping, etc.
And while I have seen firsthand the excited listeners’ response in the midst of this type of a message worse still I have seen the long term results of this type of “preaching.” If you think carefully about this set up I think you will agree the implications of this are huge! The preacher is excused from wrestling along with his members over their difficulties and hardship. All he simply has to do is shift the focus on the devil as the culprit, the parishioner as the deciding factor and any problems brought to him are turned directly on the head of the struggling member. While this certainly makes the life of the preacher more tranquil it has the opposite effect on his parishioners, tiring rather quickly of hearing the pithy responses to their traumatic problems they simply turn inwardly opening themselves up to anyone number of alternate routes. These can range from the extremes of self imposed spiritual warfare with no limit to the creative imaginations at work behind those scenes, to the seemingly less extreme yet equally dangerous light hearted approach to dealing with God and the devil.
Sadly all of this could be avoided in the case of the Pastor who may well have good intentions and bad education and theology by a reasoned well balanced exegesis of the text of Scripture. But in the case of the Pastor who may have used this tactic to silence the problems brought to him in a malicious attempt at restraining his members access to him, the only thing that can be said is if he does not repent he will rue the day he tied heavy burdens on mens shoulders and did not help to ease the load.
So the question is now, what does it mean when we find ourselves facing loss and difficulty? Are we to blame? Is God? Or the Devil? Or something heretofore undetermined? Well the first thing I think we should examine is our immediate reaction. Do we find a Sovereign behind all that transpires? If not, why not? Does not Scripture affirm God as the ultimate filter behind every occurrence in all of history? I concur that it does proclaim this and it delights in this affirmation indeed to the praise of His glory! So if we can and should acknowledge the Sovereign the next question is, is this His wrath at work against me or His chastisement or even His loving kindness? I think the answer will depend primarily, before any other type of introspection transpires on whether or not you are a son or daughter of the Lord. Born not of the will of the flesh, but on the will of God. The next question will likely be; how can I know that I am born of God? The Biblical answer is have you come to Christ as your Only Hope and treasure? Do you follow Him not being swayed by the voice of another? If so (imperfectly I might add) then you are born of God! And if that is true then any calamity that befalls you will ultimately prove to be for your good and Gods glory! It may not seem like it at the time, it may take years to see it differently or even it may be that on the other side of the Jordan your vision will acquire the perspective to finally see what your faith fought to hold onto; the proof of God’s good plan for your life to glorify Himself. If however you are not born of God then consider this: that tragedy as horrible as it is, will someday be like heaven to your mind considering what awaits those who hate and despise the Lord. Think on these things. Remember I’m available for questions or comments. Until next sermon, listen, evaluate and test to see if it is from God: there is no other way then by God’s own word.
Growing up in the church environs I did I heard a lot of sermons, mostly bad or awful sermons rarely I heard a good one. One sermon I heard a few times by even a few preachers was “Trophies of Hell” if said sermons were not all entitled this then the premise was the same. The idea was to promote the concept that God and the devil are competing for the acquisition of mens souls, sort of like a poker game where the stakes are eternal. And the devil although willing to take any soul as a prize, was particularly enthusiastic about the souls of those who have an affiliation with God. These were proclaimed to be his trophies, and the devil was said to have exhibited them high on his “mantle” for all to see. Examples were put forward such as Adam and Eve, Cain, and Judas these were relegated to hell without question by the preacher. And the way they went to hell! Why, they were grasped by the menacing hand of Satan right under the nose of the Almighty Himself, it was almost as if God in His infinite wisdom didn’t see it coming! The sermons intent was to scare you into church if you were wayward or better yet to nestle you deep within the confines of the Oneness Elite club to the point where your autonomy was lost. Depending on the lengths the preacher would go to and the gullibility of his listeners he well could have a panic at the altar, a near stampede of folk rushing to avoid becoming the devils latest display.
This type of preaching of course gave the hearer absolutely very little confidence that their salvation was obtainable, also it made the devil either an equal with God or a near equal with God. Perhaps even worse was this notion that the devil was the ruler of hell as if he is as comfortable in hell as I am in the warmth of my home when it is 30 degrees outside. Growing up I assumed that hell was merely the devil’s house and that he would entice us to make it our home where as it was a pleasurable place for him it would be torment for me with the devil administering the torture I was to feel forever. I was astonished to discover that the devil was not the “ruler” of hell nor was it his home and even further that he is not in a contest with God. But where did I receive this panaply of intellegence? The Holy Scriptures! The Bible was the great destroyer of the influence of Pentecostal superstition and the great informer of the God’s honest truth. This type of preaching, scare tactic was designed to manipulate the hearer into responding the way the preacher wanted them to, obviously there must be some satisfaction in this as many times as it was used in my years of Oneness attendance!
So the question then is, “What does it mean when a person goes to hell?” Is it that the devil has won a battle with God? Is the Lord of heaven and earth going to be eternally disappointed? Does God wish that there was some way He could have broke through this persons will and in lieu of their eternal condemnation have given them eternal joy? This touches on the very fabric of who God is…is He God who rules all things well and brings about His purposes? Or is He at the mercy of His creation? Perish the thought! God is God and if a soul goes to hell it is not as if God was unable to stop it…it is that it is His purpose to bring about the exaltation of His glory. Now this may shock you, but hell glorifies God. It is no place where the devil will display his trophies against a disappointed eternal God! If a soul goes to heaven God is glorified by the display of his grace, this is why we have no cause to boast. If a soul goes to hell God is glorified by the display of his justice, no one can accuse God of unfairness one gets what they do not deserve: grace and another gets what they do deserve: justice. Since the fall of Adam and Eve we as humans have rallied to dethrone God and usurp His dominion and Godhood. One way we do this “religiously” is to take the matter of heaven and hell and the dispensing of grace and justice out of Gods hands and place them in our own. Think on these things. Remember I’m available for questions or comments. Until next sermon, listen, evaluate and test to see if it is from God: there is no other way then by God’s own word.
I will, God willing start a new segment on this site I have entitled it “Oneness Sermons.” For what it is worth, I vacillated between “Oneness Sermons” and “Crazy Sermons”. What I aim to do is to describe some of the most common sermons I heard as a Oneness Pentecostal and review the themes and concepts in retrospect.
Check out my first review: Trophies Of Hell