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SPOOKED BY A SERMON!

Someone has observed that preaching in the first century as recorded in ACTS left people either mad, sad or glad.  Acts 24 records at least one other kind of response to the gospel.  Luke, the author of ACTS, records the incident between the apostle Paul and Felix the Roman governor as follows in Acts 24:24-25- 'After some days, when Felix came with his wife Druscila, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.  Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgement to come, Felix was afraid and answered, "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.' " The King James Version says that "Felix trembled" as Paul preached!  Paul's powerful sermon about Christ and the coming judgement shook this powerful politician and scared him half-to-death!  The Greek word for "afraid" or "trembled" is the word emphobos and suggests he was alarmed and frightened to the point his body shook and trembled!  Felix's response to this frightening sermon was a common but tragic one- "Go away for now." So far as Scripture records, Felix never found it "convenient" to turn from sin and obey the gospel and prepare for the coming judgement of God.

When was the last time a sermon frightened you?  Have you ever been spooked by a sermon to the point of fear and trembling?  These days most sermons tend to soothe sinners rather than spook them.  Righteousness, self-control, and judgement to come are not very popular topics in many churches, and church growth experts would instruct modern preachers to stay away from such challenging topics if they want to see the pews filled with people.  Baby-boomer church goers who face a world of stress all week would rather hear about love, joy, peace, and how to have a good marriage and a good career and good self-esteem, so the experts say.  The apostle Paul preached many words that soothe and comfort.  But his sermons could also spook people at times, as the example in Acts 24 powerfully demonstrates.

John Gipson wrote about a preacher who, after hearing a sermon marked by eloquence and soothing charm, wrote in his journal- "Lord, preserve me from eloquence...let my words have a jagged edge."  Preaching should comfort the afflicted but also afflict the comfortable.  How is it in the church where you worship?  Do your preacher's sermons ever spook you?

Dan Gulley
Smithville, TN