Faithlife Sermons

Sermon Tone Analysis

Overall tone of the sermon

This automated analysis scores the text on the likely presence of emotional, language, and social tones. There are no right or wrong scores; this is just an indication of tones readers or listeners may pick up from the text.
A score of 0.5 or higher indicates the tone is likely present.
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“And now, go, write it before them on a tablet
and inscribe it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come
as a witness forever.
For they are a rebellious people,
lying children,
children unwilling to hear
the instruction of the LORD;
who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’
the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
prophesy illusions,
leave the way, turn aside from the path,
let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.’”
[1]
The earnest Christian will not have been walking in The Way for many days before she hears of the Laodicean Era, a reference to the final period of this present Age of Grace.
The reference speaks of a time when the true Faith will be nearly extirpated from the earth.
That dreadful era will be marked by mass defections from the Faith once for all delivered to the saints.
Though true faith will not be eliminated, proclamation of the Word will be truncated, attenuated, vitiated.
What is not often understood is that matters won’t seem particularly dreadful to those occupying the pews during this Laodicean period.
In fact, religious fervour will be vibrant throughout this period.
At that time, the ecumenical dream that has been long held by many church leaders will have been realised beyond their wildest imaginations.
I’m not a prophet, though I do believe that all who occupy the sacred desk in this Church Age are appointed to preach prophetically.
We who bear the honorific “Pastor” are responsible to preach in such a way that the will of God is made evident to all who listen, though we have no mandate to serve as seers.
Nevertheless, I cannot help but wonder if the absence of the prophetic voice from the pulpit presages the dark days of the Tribulation—that dreadful time when though mankind will be religious, the most will be largely lost?
In fact, I wonder if Laodicean preaching is not even now dominating the modern pulpit.
As churches focus on entertaining the masses, and as multiplied voices instruct the preacher how to make his message palatable to sinful listeners, the pressure mounts to temper the message, presenting just enough religion to sound Christian, but not so much as to be offensive.
Modern belief has been defined as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”—a new religion that encourages confessing Christ as Lord without demanding submission to His reign over one’s life.
Tragically, what is being presented is not simply a watered-down version of the Christian Faith; it is, in fact, not-Christianity.
Thus, youth ministers are to be entertaining, youth activities must always be fun, Sunday School teachers must be enchanting and preaching must avoid offending.
Especially must preachers avoid insisting upon adherence to biblical doctrine.
Laodicean preaching is not new—it simply is growing in popularity among a populace that is increasingly ignorant of the Word of God and of the will of God.
Focused on fulfilling their own desires, contemporary worshippers flock to the latest spokesman for self-fulfilment and self-gratification.
Pastoral web sites focus on instructing readers in the art of making people comfortable, discouraging addressing sinful behaviour or speaking of controversial issues.
Tragically, Laodicean preaching does appear to be in the ascendency in this day.
LAODICEAN PREACHING IS DRIVEN BY THE PEOPLE AND NOT BY THE LORD.
“Go, write it before them on a tablet
and inscribe it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come
as a witness forever.
For they are a rebellious people,
lying children,
children unwilling to hear
the instruction of the LORD.”
Dorothy Sayers, a well-known British author, possessed a knack for unmasking misperceptions concerning the Faith.
In her day, many people professing concern for the state of the Faith, attempted to redefine Christian practise and teachings.
Their efforts were fuelled by an apparent boredom with presentation of doctrine.
Sayers countered this apathy and biblical ignorance of those who professed themselves Christian.
Tragically, despite the passage of time, little has changed in the restless search for alternatives that will make Christianity palatable.
Consider some of the arguments Sayers presented during the period when the British were hard-pressed by Hitler’s armies.
“Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as a bad press.
We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine—dull dogma as people call it.
The fact is the precise opposite.
It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness.
The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man—and the dogma is the drama.”
[2]
“Now, we may call [Christian] doctrine exhilarating, or we may call it devastating; we may call it revelation, or we may call it rubbish; but if we call it dull, the words have no meaning at all.
That God should play the tyranny over man is a dismal story of unrelieved oppression; that man should play the tyrant over man is the usual dreary record of human futility; but that man should play the tyrant over God and find Him a better Man that himself is an astonishing drama indeed.
Any journalist, hearing of it for the first time, would recognize it as news; those who did hear it for the first time actually called it news, and good news at that; though we are likely to forget that the word Gospel ever meant anything so sensational.”
[3]
“…[T]he cry today is: ‘Away with the tedious complexities of dogma—let us have the simple spirit of worship; just worship, no matter of what!’
The only drawback to this demand for a generalized and undirected worship is the practical difficulty of arousing any sort of enthusiasm for the worship of nothing in particular.”
[4]
“It would not perhaps be altogether surprising if, in this nominally Christian country, where the creeds are daily recited, that there were a number of people who knew all about Christian doctrine and disliked it.
It is more startling to discover how many people there are who heartily dislike and despise Christianity without having the faintest notion of what it is.
If you tell them, they cannot believe you.
I do not mean that they cannot believe the doctrine; that would be understandable enough since it takes some believing.
I mean that they simply cannot believe that anything so interesting, so exciting, and so dramatic can be the orthodox creed of the Church.”
[5]
“Surely it is not the business of the Church to adapt Christ to men, but to adapt men to Christ.”
[6]
“It is the dogma that is the drama—not beautiful phrases, nor comforting sentiments, nor vague aspirations to loving-kindness and uplift, nor the promise of something nice after death—but the terrifying assertion that the same God who made the world, lived in the world and passed through the grave and gate of death.
Show that to the heathen, and they may not believe it; but at least they may realize that here is something that man might be glad to believe.”
[7]
Reading her comments, one is struck by how prescient she was; her comments concerning the professed people of God in Great Britain could easily have been written today about professed Christians in Canada!
It sometimes seems that the average Christians seeks just enough religion to inoculate against feeling compelled to take a stand.
More energy is expended on evading commitment than is spent on making church members feel good about themselves.
Laodicean preaching asks the people, “What do you wish to hear?
What would you have me say?” Having a job is more important than being true to Him who appoints to holy office for Laodicean preachers.
Nor should any assume that this phenomenon is something new to the Faith; Laodicean preachers have infested the Faith since earliest days.
One such Laodicean preacher was Moses’ grandson.
The story, recorded in Judges, begins with a man named Micah.
Micah stole from his mother, but his conscience got the better of him and he confessed his theft.
He had stolen silver that his mother had dedicated to make a carved image—a stunning violation of the commandment of God against such accoutrements to worship.
Already, the Faith was degenerating into ruin and disrepair.
So, Micah made himself a shrine, an ephod and household gods.
All he lacked was a priest to preside over his new religion [see JUDGES 17:1-6].
A Levite from Bethlehem happened to be passing through, and Micah invited him to serve as his priest.
His invitation to the Levite was, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes and your living” [JUDGES 17:10].
The Levite consented.
Understand that not just any Levite could be a priest; only one who descended from Aaron’s lineage could serve as a priest.
In fact, we will learn later that this Levite was the grandson of Moses [see JUDGES 18:30].
Let that fact sink in!
Moses’ grandson had become a hired preacher, saying what he was paid to say—preaching for a salary!
When one is paid to deliver a particular message, he will discover that it is quite easy to be hired away from the one who hired you in the first place.
After all, it is the money that is important to the paid preacher—not fidelity to the Word.
If you are hired to say something, you had better continue saying what you are paid to say.
If someone else likes what you say and wants to hire you, undoubtedly you will sell yourself to the highest bidder.
Tactfully, you will have become a religious whore, prostituting yourself and your message to the highest bidder.
That is what happened to Jonathan, grandson of Moses.
The account is given in the next chapter.
In effect, he received a better offer.
He would have a larger audience, more prestige, a better salary—and all he had to do was to say what he was paid to say.
Keep the people happy, and he had job security.
“When [a band of Danite warriors] went into Micah’s house and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, the priest said to them, ‘What are you doing?’
And they said to him, ‘Keep quiet; put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to us a father and a priest.
Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?’
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