by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Acts 20:18-38
I. When we look at the various denominations around us, it is hard to miss their enthusiasm and the emotional quality to the things that they do.
A. They really get involved in their worship.
B. The bigger churches services are large productions.
C. A friend once told me about a revival he attended in Florida.
1. It has been going on for the last 20 months!
2. The two nights he went, there was a crowd of about 3000 in an auditorium that only held 2000. They had to use closed-circuit television to classrooms for those who could not fit.
3. He couldn’t stop praising how impressed and uplifted he was by the services.
4. But I couldn’t help thinking that he never mentioned the topic of study or if he learned something new from God’s Word.
II. What do we mean by emotionalism?
A. Webster’s : “The cultivation of the superficial emotions; the tendency to yield to the emotional or exalt the emotions; to view matters more from feeling than reason or morals.”
B. Similarly, an emotionalist is “one who practices the art of exciting emotions in others, a sensationalist.”
III. Christianity is not unemotional
A. Deep feelings of joy, a solid sense of security, a firm feeling of duty, responsibility, and purpose in life are all proper emotions
B. Christians benefit from feeling a real fear of sin, a deep grief of his fellow men being in the bondage of sin, and even jealousy (in a good sense) of the church and the gospel.
C. These emotions are the result of evidence presented to the mind.
1. Man is first a rational being.
2. Man can control his emotions and actions by the exercise of his will
3. And God holds us accountable to do just that
D. If man is born totally depraved, then sin, guilt, punishment and their counterparts of obedience, forgiveness and heaven would be unreasonable ideas.
1. How could you feel guilty about something you have no control over?
2. How could you be forgiven of something you didn’t chose to do?
3. If a person must wait for an emotional, miraculous experience from the Holy Spirit before he becomes obedient, then God is responsible for the person’s actions. Man would be helpless and therefore not responsible.
IV. Man has control over his emotions
A. James 1:26 - We must control our tongue
1. We are responsible for what we say!
2. Matthew 12:37 - We will be judged by our words
B. James 1:19-20 - We must control our emotions, such as anger
C. Notice the qualifications of elders - Titus 1:7-8
1. Not soon angered
4. An elder must be able to control his emotions
5. Uncontrolled emotions affect righteous judgement
D. Words describing control
1. The Greek word “sophron” occurs 13 times in the New Testament
a. Means: discreet, sober, temperate, self-control, sober-minded, sound-minded
2. “Nepho” appears 7 times
a. Means: watchful, awake, alert
3. “Semnos” appears 7 times
a. Means: seriousness, gravity, levelheadedness, or an evenly controlled emotional state.
E. As Christians we grow up into maturity
1. Matthew 11:28-29 - Take up Jesus’ yoke and learn from him
2. II Corinthians 3:18 - We change into the image of Christ
F. Beneficial emotions are the result of our faith, not the source of it
1. We hear God’s word. Our belief in it compels us to obey which produces joy, peace, and good feelings.
2. Joy in learning God’s word - Jeremiah 15:16
3. Received the word in both affliction and joy - I Thessalonians 1:6
V. The downfall of appealing solely to the emotions
A. Emotional preaching’s purpose is to make people feel good through the use of smooth speech.
1. Smooth speeches are a symptom of false teachings - Isaiah 30:10
2. Notice God’s condemnation - Isaiah 30:12-13.
B. Sermons should teach and apply sound doctrine
1. People will react to the message
a. Some will be pleased, some grieved, some disgusted and will reject the truth, some will weep, some will rejoice.
b. Example: Acts 17:32-34
C. An appeal to raw emotion is empty
1. Strong feelings will not make a person a mature Christian
2. Tear-jerking, heart-pulling speeches will not produce full-grown Christians.
3. Notice that the master teacher, Jesus, did not stoop to such tactics.
VI. Emotionalism is creeping into the church
A. One man I knew was disturbed when he went back to the congregation he grew up in. The people were applauding the teachers after class!
B. Is applause so wrong in the church?
1. Applause in our culture is the appropriate response to a performance.
a. We don’t applaud the condemnation heaped on us by God’s Law
b. We don’t give a standing ovation to the Lord’s Supper, though we approve of the partaking and what it represents
2. Clapping in worship turns the service into performance-oriented acting instead of an act of bowing before the throne of God.
3. Clapping or cheering shows the worship has turned into dramas designed to stimulate the audiences instead of the audience offering their hearts to God.
4. Worship is a time for meditation. Clapping and cheering disrupts the mood and spirit of worship.
5. Those who clap, applaud the performance, not the message.
a. Why do they withhold applause to the beautiful truths of the Gospel when it is presented in a less than elegant style or when the content doesn’t appeal to them?
b. The applause is for the messenger that people like, not for the message.
6. Most importantly, there is no authority for clapping and cheering
a. There is no command or example found within the Scriptures.
b. Nothing infers that God finds the practice acceptable in His worship.
VII. Yet Christians do show emotions
A. We weep and rejoice together - Romans 12:15
B. We greet each other warmly, as if we are welcoming family - I Peter 5:14
C. But the emotions don’t prove we are religious