Ecclesiastes 7:2, states “It is better to got to a house of mourning Than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart.” There is no other place humanity comes face to face with their fragility and mortality, than at a funeral. As pop singer Whitney Houston was funeralized today, I decided to make this journey into the “house of mourning” via Internet.
From the start, I must say that I am truly saddened by the passing of such a great entertainer as Ms. Houston. I don’t know if she was saved. There were comments made during the funeral about her Bible being “marked up” that seems to give us some hope, but the final judgment is not for us. In fact, The LORD’s verdict on Ms. Houston has already been rendered and she is where she will be, eternally.
My concern, and the main reason I watched the service was for the preaching. I knew that there would be other world famous entertainers at this memorial. I knew there would be many in attendance that did not know Christ. How do I know they did not know Him? Well, some of them have works that have gone before them. So I knew by their fruits (Matthew 7:20). Ironically, the minister chose his text from Matthew 6:33. The significance is that both the scripture that tells us to examine the fruit of people, and the passage preached, are found in Christ’ discourse known as the “Sermon on the Mountain (Matt. 5-7).
The context from Matthew 1 – 4 informs readers that Jesus is King. Matthew 5 – 7 is instruction on how to get into His Kingdom. What better audience to tell how to get into the King’s Kingdom than a room full of people who more than likely know nothing about Him or of His Kingdom?
When Jesus began speaking this message of the Kingdom, He informed them from the start that the way into this Kingdom was brokenness over sin (Matthew 5:3 – 4). I do not recall one mentioning of sin in the minister’s sermon. This poses a problem. Jesus made sin an issue emphatically. What kind of minister of Christ makes what Jesus deemed most important, unimportant? Sin prevents man from having relationship with the Father – with Christ – with the Holy Spirit. Sin prevents humanity from entering into God’s Kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
The Gospel contains a message about sin and the preventive nature that it has on humanities relationship to the King. Therefore, if you fail to preach sin, you fail to offer a true message of hope that will produce true converts, and false converts are worse than out right Christ – rejecters (Rev. 3:15 – 16). If you do not preach sin, you should not preach grace. There is no Gospel without sin and the implications of it (wrath, judgment, hell, grace, repentance, brokenness, restoration etc.). “For” as Stephen Olford once said, “until you know how deep sin goes, you’ll never believe that Jesus had to go to the cross.”
Not only did the minister fail to preach on sin, from a positive side, he did preach that God wanted people prosperous. It is heart breaking to know that he made this statement to many people who were prosperous already apart from living for the King. The danger is that it makes them believe that since they are prospering then God must be blessing, and if God is blessing, then He must be in favor of what they’re doing. Both what the preacher did not say about their spiritual condition, and what he did say about their material condition (as though their material condition was a sign of their spiritual state), was fatal.
This was not the Gospel of Christ at all. Should we rejoice in this (Phil. 1:18)? I mean, after all, Christ was preached. I know some may run to this passage. I understand. The man said Jesus several times. However, Paul does not affirm a Gospel that fails to proclaim the message of Messiah. He rejects all false gospels and curses the ministers who propagate such deception (Gal 1:6-9).
What is even more amazing is how many Christians will put up with “a Jesus” that Paul rejected (2 Cor. 11:4). This concerns me greatly. Is the church (especially “black church” in this case) that confused? I pray that it is not, but today makes it even more obvious to me that this is the case. I pray for God’s mercy and a revival of true religion and reform.
I am sympathetic to the black church. I am becoming more sympathetic as the days pass. I am a black man. My father (a black minister for over 40 years), and my mother have lived through the “Civil Rights” movement with all the racism that went along with it. So, I can relate to wanting to feel good and uplifted when I go to church. However, we cannot choose these jovial feelings over the plain truths of Scripture even if we are made to “mourn” or feel bad over what God has spoken about our condition in His word. Ultimately, the brokenness leads to wholeness and restoration as we come to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin.
No, the minister did not preach the Gospel of Christ. He preached a false gospel and gave the people a false assurance. This was not just people attending the church, either. Millions watched Houston’s funeral on TV. Many were entertained. Very few, if any were convicted over their sin, which is the start of gaining entrance into the Kingdom of God. This was tragic on the minister’s part. He will give an account, as all ministers will for what they did in the Gospel ministry. We can only pray that God the Spirit would save in spite of this preacher’s shortcomings and failures in the pulpit.