Sermons

Summary: People hurt themselves and others through their own selfish sinfulness; and it is not uncommon for a minister to condemn a congregation with fire and brimstone not realising that this condemnation promotes them to do the same to others. Read on …

  Study Tools
  Study Tools

Summary: People hurt themselves and others through their own selfish sinfulness; and it is not uncommon for a minister to condemn a congregation with fire and brimstone not realising that this condemnation promotes them to do the same to others. Read on …

This sermon was delivered to the congregation in St Oswald’s, in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 4th December 2011. (A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow & Dumfries)

Isaiah 40:1-11 Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 2 Peter 3:8-15a Mark 1:1-8

Prayer: Merciful Father, you sent your messengers, the prophets, to prepare the way for our salvation: give us grace to heed their warnings that we too may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Our reading this morning is from the book of Mark chapter 1, verses 1 to 8. “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: `Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'" John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Introduction

Many years ago I saw this cartoon of a preacher who was about too enter the worship service. He was wearing a black robe and he stood with a sneer on his face as he looked at the congregation waiting for the service to begin. In his hand the preacher was holding a file that says "Sermons on Hell", and as he stood there before the service, his hand was on the heating thermostat as he was turning it up to over the 100 degree mark.

The cartoon tried to depict in a humorous way, the torments of hell, an approach that has been all too common, full of fire, brimstone and condemnation.

This approach begins with a correct observation however that people do hurt themselves and others through their own selfish sinfulness; and it has been common for a minister with such a sermon to tell the congregation that their sins will send them to hell.

Then; taking this approach sincerely, the congregation then minister these self same hurts onto others. They actually condemn others for sins they themselves have committed only a few days, or few weeks prior.

You know the type I refer, ok it is not as bad as it was, but somehow, these people forget the beatitude where Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

And the sad part is that these people think they are doing the Lord’s work by forcing people through condemnation, to change their sinful, hurtful ways.

I will give you an example, when I lived in Edinburgh many years ago I remember street preachers who would go out in public places and preach fire and brimstone; and while there is a place for street preaching, their brand of it was troublesome.

They would point their fingers at people passing by and tell them they were going to Hell for their sins; and when the passers by would try to defend themselves, the preachers would yell at them and try and convict them with every kind of sin they have committed in an attempt to draw self pity and remorse; and sins probably committed by the preacher himself and that is how he could quote them quickly.

In one sense these preachers were right, as there are a lot of people who live lives of Hell because of their sin; but this approach depends on scaring people into changing their ways, by threatening them with Hell fire and damnation unless they did something about it like repenting, and changing their ways.

You may ask, what is wrong with this, well, these preachers only turn up the heat, and in doing so, they ignored the core of the Gospel message that God is love, and that he loves us all and will forgive us all; and in doing so God himself will change our ways whether we want it or not. The onus in the New Testament is on God changing us, and not us making the change as so many new age thinkers, and scientologists try.

Download Sermon With PRO View On One Page With PRO
Talk about it...

Nobody has commented yet. Be the first!

Join the discussion