By Jason Neil Soto
I’ve attended church for most of my life, and listened to many sermons. I’ve heard various pastors from a number of denominations speak on a whole variety of Biblical topics. There are a few things I’ve noticed not spoken from the pulpit. Here are five things I’ve never heard pastors say.
1. “The New Testament’s emphasis is on the resurrection of Jesus, not the cross.”: It seems that a lot of pastors don’t realize a simple fact: In order for the death of Jesus to have any meaning, you have to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. I don’t know why this is such a radical idea in today’s Christian church. I’ve heard plenty moving sermons on the death of Jesus, spoken with a large wooden cross hovering in the background. Yet outside of Easter, the resurrection is barely spoken of, much less defended. This is completely opposite the message given in the New Testament.
“In order for the death of Jesus to have any meaning, you have to believe in the resurrection of Jesus.”
Yes, there is a detailed explanation of the death of Jesus in the gospels, but that is a setup for the main event, the resurrection. In Acts, the message that Peter is preaching is focused on the resurrection of Jesus, not His death (Acts 2:14-36). Paul says that salvation comes from submission to Christ as Lord, and belief in His resurrection (Romans 10:9). He goes to great lengths to explain the resurrection of Jesus, and says that if He was not raised, then we are still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15). The truth that Jesus is raised and ascended sets up the fact that He is coming again (Acts 1:9-11).
The emphasis on the resurrection in the Bible seems to have been lost in our current Christian church. The writers of the New Testament did not fear the message of a resurrected Christ. Neither should our pastors.
2. “Biblical miracles are not a normal event.”: Saying something like this could get you kicked off of many pulpits in America. But according to the Bible, its true. There’s a reason miracles have their name, they don’t normally happen. Its not everyday that the dead are raised, the blind see, and the Red Sea is parted. The Bible has short moments of historical time where a large amount of supernatural events occur (esp. Moses and Jesus). But the majority of historical time proceeds according to “natural” events.
The church today pushes the idea of miracles. The idea of what a Biblical miracle is becomes cheapened to mean something like, “I made it to church today. What a miracle!” Songs are sung about believing in miracles. Plenty of sermons are preached that say if you just have faith, all things are possible. People are made to think that if they just believe, a man will come knocking on their door with a bag full of money to fix all their problems. Some Christians forget that we have to work for a living, and instead want to treat God like a magical genie. But Jesus rebuked the Jewish people for constantly seeking a miracle in order to believe in Him: “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (Matthew 12:39) Would Jesus say the same thing about todays Christian church?
“Some Christians forget that we have to work for a living, and instead want to treat God like a magical genie.”
3. “Prophecy is hard to figure out”: Pastors are under pressure to sound like they have a deep knowledge of everything in the Bible. Half the time they will simply borrow from some other pastor on a particular subject that is difficult to understand. This is especially true regarding Biblical prophecy.
You will rarely, if ever, here a pastor say, “I’m not too clear on what this means.” The reason this is worrisome is, it’s exactly what happened to the Jewish people in Jesus’ time. They had convinced themselves that they understood the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. The religious elite were not able to consider the idea that what they understood about Messianic prophecy was wrong. If history repeats itself, the same will probably happen to Christian pastors as end-time prophecy is fulfilled.
Clearly the Bible says that Jesus will return. Let’s keep what is clear in the Bible, and be less dogmatic about what is unclear.
“Let’s keep what is clear in the Bible, and be less dogmatic about what is unclear.”
4. “Genesis and Darwin can’t possibly both be true”: Pastors are intimidated by science, or what passes as science today. When scientists put out theories in order to justify their hunger for atheism, pastors run and hide.
“When scientists put out theories in order to justify their hunger for atheism, pastors run and hide.”
The idea that the earth is billions of years old, and that all of life evolved from a single celled organism, explicitly contradicts the Biblical narrative. Many pastors fear sounding unscientific, choosing to instead create elaborate theories for how the two ideas could fit together. Simply said, they don’t. First, billions of years is a heck of a long time for the Bible to glance over. According to Genesis, the world can only possibly be thousands of years old, not billions.
Second, and more importantly, the root problem with the two theories boils down to death. In Darwinian evolution, death is a good thing, with dead beings piling up on each other for eons before what could possibly be construed as an Adam and Eve. This directly contradicts the Genesis creation account, and the gospel. In the Bible, death is a result of sin entering the world. Death is a bad, unnatural thing, a curse from God, causing Jesus to have to die in order to provide a way out from it. Progress has been made due to ministries like Answers in Genesis. Still, too few pastors boldly defend Scripture against attacks made in the name of science.
5. “The New Testament does not command Christians to tithe”: Tithing is taught in the Bible, and Jesus did affirm this principle (Matthew 23:23). But the way some pastors preach on this subject, you would think there were chapters upon chapters commanding Christians to tithe, with angelic accountants sitting in heaven crunching numbers and bringing a daily report to God. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Giving is encouraged in the Bible. In fact, if pastors asked their congregation to give like some early Christians did in the book of Acts (2:41-47), people would be fleeing out the doors of the church in a hurry! Imagine you were listening to the sermon one Sunday, and your pastor asked you to sell you house, all of your possessions, and share it with everyone in the church? That’s what the early Christian church did: “Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.” (Acts 2:45) Tithing is a good Biblical principle, but not a law slavishly to be chained to, no matter how much a pastor may want to enforce it. Christians are not under the law, and that includes tithing. They are saved by God’s grace. Instead of giving because you have been commanded to, give willingly and with a joyful heart. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
“If pastors asked their congregation to give like some early Christians did… people would be fleeing… in a hurry!”
What do you wish your Pastor would say? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Jason Neil Soto is a Christian writer who works with church plants in San Diego, CA. He has a Bachelors in Religion from Liberty University. This was taken from his website JasonNeilSoto.com