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"Watered down" Preaching?

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A "Heart Felt" Plea to Preachers:

First let me say, that this is not easy for me to write. The last thing I would ever want to do is offend, or hurt anyone.
There are things that the Lord lays on our hearts that are sometimes so hard for us to speak on. This is one of those things. The intention here is to "exhort", not "put down" anyone. I want to make this perfectly clear. With this said I ask that everyone reading this, please read with an open heart. My prayer is that all of us would prayerfully consider these things.
There is something that the Lord has laid on my heart for quite some time now. Something so heart breaking that it brings me to tears when I think of what it has done (and what it is still doing). It's a "trend". A trend within the church (corporately) these days. A trend which seems to be becoming more dangerous to the church, than those who oppose the church! A trend so "subtle" that many do not even see it coming!! It acts like a "cancer" eating away at the fabric of our christian faith. Slowly eating away until our faith itself is questioned! Those that do see it coming and question it are usually "mistreated", or "given the left foot of fellowship" for noticing. It's sometimes called "seeker" friendly preaching. Its the idea of making the gospel more "seeker friendly" for those who would otherwise be opposed to hearing the gospel in all its truth. Its with absolute tears that I am writing these things. Only after much prayer could I do this.
This dangerous trend has flooded the church by storm. Its "effects" are so wide sweeping that many do not even know that it has "hit" them! The intention was to make the gospel "seeker friendly", but unfortunately in many cases, it becomes a "watered down" gospel. A gospel that is void of much of the truth!
Some ministers so interested in increasing numbers (and some perhaps even making names for themselves?) end up doing more harm than good. They preach sermons leaving out much of the truth in order to please people. Now I am not saying we should go back to the old "fire and brimstone" preaching. Most of us would probably agree this type of preaching is not very effective! But what I believe God is calling us back too, is preaching the gospel in truth (and preaching it in love of course)! Not the world's truth (which of course is not "truth" at all)!!
Now as many of us know the world is all about "itself", its "desires", etc. Doing what pleases it, not God!!!! Being a friend to the world is dangerous. We must remember this:
 "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?"
                                                           (James 4:4-5 NKJV)
Unfortunately this happens though. A minister, wanting to bring new people in will "omit" parts of the gospel to keep from offending people. What we forget is that the gospel itself is offensive! Why is is "offensive"? Because it calls us out, our sin, our "shortcomings". It "sees right through us":
 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
                                                           (Hebrews 412 NKJV)
But it also gives us the words of life:
 "For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
                                                          (Romans 10:13 NKJV)
It call us on our behavior and exhorts us to turn to God (that's what it is all about)!! We realize that our lives are sinful and we are in need of being reconciled to God!!!
When we come to Christ we are "escaping" our sinful lives not running back to them!
what is astounding though is how little of people in church even read, or understand the Bible! In fact many do not even understand that repentence has to come before salvation!
Or what God's standards are for His children's lives? Some do not even know what His standards are!
 When those in the congregations are not "fed" all the truth, but a "watered down" version, it robs them of the truth! When someone is told in a sermon that unhealthy lifestyles are okay, or they are not told they have to repent to be saved, what good is the sermon doing them? None at all! Those who preach such things are responsible for misleading them!! The gospel must always be preached in truth. Paul the apostle knew this:
  "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ."
                                                       (Galatians 1:8-10 NKJV)
It absolutley breaks my heart that a minister, who is suppose to be a servant to God and His people would ever water down His word! What is wrong with us as servants of Christ, that we would do such a thing?
Do we not understand that we are in charge of those placed under our care? Are we not responsible for them? But some preachers? They care more about numbers, or being popular (or both?) than the souls of those they are over!
When God gave us Jesus Christ (to save us from ourselves, our sinful lives, etc.) He did this so that we would be reconciled, and come "back to fellowship" with Him. To know Him, worship Him, serve and glorify Him! He did not do this so we could go back to our old way of living!!
Those who oversee in the church are given to help lead God's people:
  "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
                                                    (Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV)
But what happens when we do not share all God's truth? They, and we, will fall! Much like those in Israel who were misled by their "shepherds" during Jeremiahs' time:
 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the LORD.
                                                       (Jeremiah 23:1-2 NKJV)
God in turn was not happy with them and they were overthrown by the king of Babylon. What makes any of us think that "watering down" God's word is acceptable? Or that it is "overlooked", not seen by God? Do we not undertstand that N-O-T-H-I-N-G is hidden from God's view:
  "These things you have done, and I kept silent;
         You thought that I was altogether like you;
         But I will rebuke you,
         And set them in order before your eyes."
                                                            (Psalm 50:21 NKJV) 
I have met many people who have been "misled" by erroneous preaching. Adults, and youth alike that have strayed from God's word and partly due to the fact that much of God's truth was "withheld" from them from behind the pulpit!
It destroys their faith and their trust! The pain I have seen this cause to people is so heart breaking. As ministers of God's word we should always remember that we are "accountable" for what we teach:
 "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment."
                                                                  (James 3:1 NKJV)
It's time that we, as ministers of Christ, all "wake up" and get R-E-A-L-! When we withhold the truth from behind the pulpit we are "deceiving" those we are speaking too! These are people very precious to the Lord!! How can we out of a clear consiense ever "water down" the gospel? Either to please them, others, ourselves, or try to be popular? We can't EVER!!!
We are here to do as the Lord commands us:
  "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”
                                                              (Luke 17:10 NKJV)
It's not our place to omit, distort or change God's word!
God's word stands forever:
  "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,"
                                                        (2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV)
 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away."
                                                        (Matthew 24:35 NKJV)
We are obligated as ministers to preach His word in truth! We should always do this in the best possible way. Prayerfully and in love!! But we NEVER have a right to alter it! Not for us, or anyone else!! Remember God sees all things, there is no "hiding" anything from Him:
  "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
                                                          (Hebrews 4:13 NKJV)
If you are doing this, remember this, there is ALWAYS forgiveness from the Lord! The question is, are you going to turn back to Him?
Remember He chastens those He loves:
  "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

      My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
      Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
        For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
      And scourges every son whom He receives.”

 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?  For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
                                                      (Hebrews 12:5-11 NKJV)
 I encourage any servant of Christ that reads this, to examaine yourself and ask yourself this, "am I being faithful to God's word?"
Remember, when God calls us to preach He "entrusts"  us with those He loves, those He created. And He being a Father, wants the best for His children!
 Truly there must be tears in His eyes when His servants mislead His children. Consider this!
And heres a parting thought:
But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea."
                                                                (Mark 9:42 NKJV)

Rev. John Heintzman
Evangelist Non-Denominational
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POHOM Columbus, Ohio
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