Tell Them What They Want to Hear

Posted on: June 24th, 2012

Tell them what they want to hear and give them what they want is a ploy often used to secure another’s support. The truth is people are less likely to support someone if he rocks the boat of their convictions. Perhaps that is why politicians check the winds of public opinion before they develop or state their position on difficult issues. It may also be why they change their “convictions” so often. They realize the importance of appealing to the majority in an election.

It is also a trick used by religion since early times. Aaron told the Israelites, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:1-6). This statement followed a series of events which ended with Aaron making a golden calf for the people. It was what the Jews wanted to have and hear at that moment.

False prophets did the same in the Old Testament to keep their power and influence (Jer. 6:13-14). They comforted evil rulers and people by telling them what they wanted to hear (Isaiah 30:9-11). When control mongers face the possibility of an uprising against truth, they often give in to error.

The same problem continues today in the denominational world. Denominations should not exist, and the fact they do compromises truth. God states there are one church, one faith, and one baptism (Eph. 4:4-6). Yet most “Christian” faiths teach that you can belong to the church of your choice and believe what you want to believe. They even deny God’s teaching on baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

Each has its own faith, doctrine, and practice based on some creed or declaration of faith from man. Most have a governing body which decides official policies, and these guidelines can and do change with the whims of its membership. For example, in May of this year (2012) the United Methodist Church gathered to discuss and decide several issues. On the top of the list was the matter of homosexuality and the nearly one thousand delegates from around the world voted to keep their current position. The point is not what they decided, but rather that they would even dare to have a vote. They are saying “man can choose to change what God has already decided” (Rom. 1:24-28).

Sadly, many denominations accept homosexuals into their “faithful” membership and even allow practicing gays and lesbians as ordained ministers. But this is just one issue of many decided by church leaderships. Some now accept abortion rights, women clergy, and divorce for any cause just to name a few other changes in official church dogma.

Not even the Lord’s church is immune from this appeal “to tell them what they want to hear and give them what they want to have”. Paul warned Timothy that some Christians would prefer and seek out teachers who do exactly this (2 Tim. 3:3-4). Peter talks about those who use “great swelling words of emptiness” to “allure” Christians back into sin (2 Peter 2:18-19).

Over the years, we have witnessed some local churches becoming soft in their preaching, not wanting to offend weaker members. It is accurate to believe that even if we speak the truth in love it will drive some away (Matt. 15:12-14). As a result, many elderships and preachers decided it is better to water down the gospel than to “push” some out of the church. However, if we do not stand for the truth there is no hope to save anyone, not even ourselves (Gal. 1:6-9).

The Oak Hills congregation is a prime example of what can happen if we do not stand firmly on God’s Word. Max Lucado said the following in an article that appeared in the Express News on September 6, 2003. “When it comes to strategy, when it comes to approach, we want to do whatever seems most effective at the time.” This statement was in response to the church dropping the name church of Christ and adding instrumental music to their worship. The same article compared Oak Hills with “other evangelical churches” as having the same “core values”. This included rejecting baptism for the forgiveness of sins. They displayed more interest in telling people what they wanted to hear than telling them what the needed to hear.

So, do you think this cannot happen at the Grissom Road church of Christ or any other faithful congregation? It can and it will if we fail to teach and follow God’s Word. Little by little people begin to question and then dismiss Bible authority. When we become more concerned about numbers and less concerned about truth, the result is always the same. While I do not want to offend anyone, the most damaging thing I can say is “peace, peace” when there is no peace. To combat this trend, we need preachers and teachers to speak the truth under all conditions (2 Tim. 4:1-2). Elders must watch, teach, and oppose error regardless of the cost to numbers (Acts 20:28-31). It is not popular and it is not what some want to hear, but it is what everyone needs to hear. God’s truth is the only message that saves sinful man.


– Terry Starling