It’s The Tone
I think I started preaching when I was around 21 years old or somewhere around in there, and my first preaching job lasted three months. I actually have been in a church behind a pulpit, and like I said it lasted for about three months. They hired me basically for two reasons. One, I would work for a hundred dollars a month and that seemed to cinch the deal. There weren’t too many questions after that. The second thing was, that I was very young and I obviously was young looking, and so I am sure they felt in the back their minds that I could be controlled and influenced, that I would never step out the lines of what they had in mind. So when I began to preach radical things like you need to love your Baptist neighbor and things like that, I was shortly fired. That was a long ordeal. Well, all through the years, there have been certain complaints said about my sermons and certainly books and publications. They don’t seem to follow within the parameters of the lines that people like and usually when push comes to shove, what they will say is, “It’s the tone.” They will say things like, “I just don’t like the tone of his sermon.” In fact, they probably won’t like the tone of this sermon. Because my response right now is, well just grow up. They will say they seem so harsh and so unloving. Also, that it reeks of pride and self righteousness. And that so many things that I say are just over the top. There is just no need to go that far, or to that kind of extreme. In fact, young Christians that are seeking and looking toward God, you only cause them to stumble because it is just so far over the top. Not to mention that I have been accused many times of playing word games with people as I share the truth. And then of course, the bottom line thing that seems to grate most the people the most, is the sarcasm that sometimes comes out in my writings and my speaking and even in my conversations. The reason why I say that I don’t care about their complaints and their whining and grumbling, is because it wouldn’t make any difference. I could stand up here as the nicest preacher that you could imagine. In fact, I get all kinds of requests to be certain ways and suggestions in my writings, leave this chapter out or add this one in. And I could try to be everything that everybody wanted me to be, but it wouldn’t do any good. There would be no more repentance if I was a nice guy or if I was a mean guy. And Jesus said that in Matthew 11:16.
Matthew 11:16 – To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting . . .
And that is the whole bottom line. Everybody is sitting around. The reason why people don’t like my tone is because my tone says, “Get up and do something.” What the sarcasm says is, “Get up and deal with it.” In fact, a lot of this is an invitation to wrestle things out, to engage in dialog, to debate, to pray, to wrestle, to humble oneself. But this generation is like children. They are just sitting down and like children when they go to play, what do they do? They spend most of their time talking about the rules. One night Carla and I couldn’t help but laugh. We were watching some kids attempt to play hide and seek out in our front yard and neighborhood, and they were spending all the time they could saying this is what this rule is, and this is what this rule means over here, and this base here, they never could get around to playing the game. I eventually wanted to over there and go, okay guys, these are the rules, now go play, but I didn’t. They are like children sitting in the market place, children hanging out and they are calling out to others, and what they say to other people is verse 17.
Matthew 11:17 – We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.
It is true that I am a dirge. I have come to that conclusion a long time ago. My wife has confirmed that to me. Other people have confirmed it to me, and I have confirmed it to myself. In fact, there was one night, you have probably heard me tell the story, but I will tell it again, that I was down stairs. I used to work nights and I was singing to the Lord and Carla was upstairs sleeping. She hears this whaling and this crying going on and she is going, “My goodness, what is wrong with him? God must really be convicting him of some sins. There must be something deep going on within his soul.” So she comes downstairs and she goes, “What is the matter?” I go, “I was just singing.” So my singing sounds like a dirge. That is my character. That is how God made me. It is not going to sound any better. That is why I can’t find it easy to sing unto the Lord, because I go, “What is that coming out my mouth?” It is also true that my wife is a flute. She is the more gentle side. She is the more kind side. It doesn’t mean the offense isn’t there or the power isn’t there. You have all felt that. But she is the flute and I am the dirge. And I have seen the same amount of repentance when she speaks to people as I have seen with myself. It doesn’t matter. The children are calling out and they are saying,
Matthew 11:17- We played the flute for you, and you did not dance.
You wouldn’t even celebrate in the message of the cross. I could come in all nice, talking about this is blessings of submission, this is the glory of humility, this is the grace of God at His power. Indeed, a lot of my sermons are like that and a lot of the writing, not everything is a dirge. But people refuse to dance. They refuse to celebrate. They refuse to call it a festival when we say that we can’t eat with certain people, or we have to disfellowship or take care of sin within the body. People don’t dance. They don’t feast. They don’t find it to be a joy. We are slow to move in that direction. So I could play the flute and it wouldn’t necessarily change anything.
Matthew 11:17 – . . . . we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.
Nobody would weep and nobody would wail. Even though God was doing all of these things.
They were like children, just sitting around, calling to one another, saying, “I want to play this, and I want to play that, but you won’t dance.” And the other children are saying, “I will do this and I’ll do that.” But nobody will actually get up and do anything. So the question that you have to ask yourself, is my tone from the Holy Spirit? Does it come from God or does it come from myself? There are a lot of people that are preachers out there that I know are hell and brimstone kind of preachers and that is the way they are day in and day out. You hear them from the pulpit, you sit down at the table, they are pretty much the same, because that is the character that they like. Each person will have to decide whether my sarcasm, or whether my tone, or mannerism comes from the Holy Spirit or not, and that is the question to ask.
In verse 18, Jesus goes on to lament their problems.
Matthew 11:18 – For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon.”
No matter what God seems to do, whether a flute or a dirge, men will not repent. They will not change. In fact, people slander. You look at John the Baptist, who came preaching with fire, preaching strongly, demanding righteousness, and you say, “Oh, he has a demon.”
Matthew 11:19 – The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners.’”
It seems that no matter what God does, He can’t win. Men refuse to repent. And so for those people that say, “I just don’t like his tone,” well you need to grow up and deal with it. I may indeed be a dirge. There may things that are over the top, but we are going to see here in a moment, that it comes from the Holy Spirit. In the next verse Jesus says,
Matthew 11:19 – But wisdom is proved right by her actions.
You got children sitting in the market place, and you got action. Look at people’s lives and see what is there. Let’s go to John 12:48. Jesus says,
John 12:48 – There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.
Jesus Christ came sitting down with gluttons, with sinners, with tax collectors, and they would not listen to His words and God says, or Jesus says that one day God will judge you for not accepting those words and the way that Jesus came. God sent John the Baptist preached in a certain manner and men rejected that manner and calling him demonic. They will have to give an account to God who sent him to speak in a certain way.
Hold your finger there in John. Let’s go to 1 John 4:6. Because it isn’t just the words that are spoken, but it is also the manner in which a man speaks that it comes from God, if he is dead to himself and alive in the Holy Spirit. In 1 John 4:6, John says this:
1 John 4:6 – We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us.
Whoever knows God will accept the sarcasm. Whoever knows God, will accept and rejoice in the tone. In fact, there are some individuals that never notice the tone. They won’t even know what I am talking about here.
1 John 4:6 – . . . and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.
Those who reject the mannerisms of either John the Baptist or Jesus Christ show that they are rejecting God, because God has sent John the Baptist and God has sent Jesus Christ. God sends His servants to speak in a certain manner with certain words and there is no instrument that would ever turn to God and say, play me in a certain way. You don’t go home and pick up a guitar and the guitar begins to speak to you and say, “I want you to play this song in this manner.” A man that is dead to himself and full of the Holy Spirit preaching as God calls him to preach, speaking the words as God calls him to speak, in the manner in which He calls him to speak, is somebody that we need to listen to. John says this is how we recognize the spirit of truth and spirit of falsehood. I know this does away with a lot of cult busting kind of groups out there. Because John is very literally saying, “This is how I test whether something comes from the Holy Spirit or not.” If I am talking to somebody and they accept what I am telling them, then I can tell that God is giving them insight. If they reject what I am telling them, in the way I am telling them, I know that they are rejecting God. Now I know that sounds self righteous. But let’s read it again.
1 John 4:6 – We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.
I don’t have to give a man a check list and say, “Do you believe in the Trinity? Do you believe in this, do you believe in that?” If he says yes, yes, yes, that doesn’t mean that he loves the truth, or that he loves God. But if he accepts the mannerism, if he accepts the tone, if he accepts what is being said, if he accepts the spirit by which a man is speaking and he rejoices with that, then I know that he is of God. This is how we recognize the spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. That is how we do the dividing, to find out who is of God and who is not of God. Sounds self righteous? Don’t like the tone? You are going to have to deal with it because that is exactly what it says. And I am not going to alter it. I am not going to change it. I am not going to make it softer, because it is a safeguard. Those who cannot get past the offense of the cross of a few sermons are not prepared to stand before a Holy God. Somebody who can’t pick up a track or read a book and not be so offended that they put the book down, will never be able to stand before a Holy God that will search their hearts. If you can’t put up with a little sarcasm, if you can’t put up with me pointing to some specific sins in your life, how do you intend to stand before the Living God? Let’s go back to John 12:49. Jesus says,
John 12:49 – For I did not speak of my own accord. . .
And that is the whole issue here. I know a lot of preachers that speak of their own accord, of their own Bible knowledge. They went to Bible College, they went to speaking school, and so they stand at the pulpit and preach of their own accord, out of their commentaries. Look, you can go online and order all kinds of sermon indexes to preach all your sermons for the next year. They are outlined for you. They are actually word for word and you can get up and do it. You don’t have to do anything. It is on your own accord that you speak and put forth the effort. Jesus says,
John 12:49 – For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say . . .
And look at the next part,
John 12:49 – . . . and how to say it.
God literally came down to Jesus Christ and said, “Here is what You need to say, and this is how I want You to say it.” And so if I am dead to self, and God is working His Holy Spirit there, God is saying, “I want You to preach this particular gospel this way and this is how I want You to say it” and it may have sarcasm in it. It may have a tone that people don’t like. It may have a little bit of fire to it. It may ring a little bit of John the Baptist or Jesus Christ, but that is how God has chosen to speak.
John 12:49 – For I do not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.
Now look at this in Verse 50.
John 12:50 – I know that this command leads to eternal life.
Now why does it lead to eternal life? We think of eternal life in terms of asking Jesus in our heart. We think of eternal life in terms of believing upon Jesus Christ. But Jesus Christ is saying this command to preach and say what God has chosen for me to say and how to say it leads to eternal life, and why does it lead to eternal life? Because a man is dead to himself. He is dead to his own opinions, he is dead to his own righteousness. He is dead to what he wants to be, he is dead to what people want him to be, and he preaches according to what God works and wills through him. It means he has eternal life. He has the very character of Jesus Christ in him.
John 12:50 – I know that this command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.
Now this shouldn’t be some big metaphysical thing out here that we think, oh this is for some special person.
Look at 1 Peter 4:11. This should be your normal everyday Christian walk. This should be how you talk to your wife or your wife talks to you. This should be when you are bumping into people in the neighborhood that you are saying what God calls you to say in the manner that He calls you to say it. But we pick and choose how we want to speak and when we do that. We want preachers that will speak to us how we choose for them to speak to us. But a man is dead to himself that speaks to other people as God calls him to, understands and rejoices in the fact that God moves and works in all kinds of different ways.
In 1 Peter 4:11 it says,
1 Peter 4:11 – If anyone speaks, . . .
If anyone opens his mouth to talk, what attitude should he have? He should have the same attitude as Jesus Christ, what we just read in John.
1 Peter 4:11 – . . . he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.
When you open your mouth to talk, you should be dead to your own conversation, and dead to the way that you want to say things, so that you are doing exactly what Jesus Christ did, and you are full of eternal life. Then when you tell your wife that you love her, it should be with Jesus Christ commanding you to say it and telling you how to say it to your wife, and if you rebuke somebody, or you share the truth with them, it should be according to the words that God gives you to speak and in the way that He wants you to speak to them. That is eternal life. That is being full of the Holy Spirit. That is humility. That is brokenness and it leads to the rich life that is in Jesus Christ.
Look at 2 Corinthians 11:19. Let’s look at a little sarcasm that Paul had. If you don’t like sarcasm, well you are just going to have to deal with it. Sometimes I wonder what Bible these people read.
2 Corinthians 11:19. Paul says, and he writing to the Christians that he loves in Corinth. He says,
2 Corinthians 11:19 – You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise!
Is he not making fun of them? Try and say this in a gentle way. Imagine if I had you turn to somebody and say to them in the kindest voice you could, “You are so wise, you put up with fools.” How is that going to come across in a loving, kind, dignified way?
2 Corinthians 11:19 – You gladly put up with fools, since you are so wise!
“You are so holy, you are so righteous, you put up with people that we can’t put up with.”
2 Corinthians 11:20 – In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or explodes you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face.
You are so wise, you can put up with all these things. And then he mocks at making confession of sin.
2 Corinthians 11:21 – To my shame . . .
“To my shame, I can’t do it. I am so weak, I am so sinful. I am not as spiritual as you guys are. I can’t, pray for me.”
2 Corinthians 11:21 – To my shame, I admit that we were too weak,
“I am not spiritual enough. Me, who is in Jesus Christ. Me whom Jesus Christ met on the road, where I fell down and I was blind for several days, and baptized with Jesus Christ and caught up to the third heaven, I am just too weak to put up with anybody who comes in and slaps me in the face. Pray for me, brothers.”
2 Corinthians 11:21 – To my shame, I admit that we were too weak for that! What anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about.
In the middle of his rebuke for them, in the middle of shaming them, what does he throw in there? Was the sarcasm necessary? “Come on Paul, couldn’t you have said it in a more dignified way? Couldn’t you have left our pride a little in tact? We are trying to do the best we can. Why are you making fun of us? Why are you mocking our desires for God? We want to do what is right. We want to hear what you have to say and if you will just come with a little better tone, we will listen to what you have to say.” Every single complaint that I have heard could have been sent back to Paul. But God had chosen for Paul to say these words and this is the manner in which He chose for him to say them. Because the flesh has to be dealt with. Our pride has to be crucified. Our dignity has to be put on the cross. Our sin must be dealt with.
Look at Mark 10:37. Because Jesus Christ plays word games. In fact, how many times did Jesus Christ actually ever give a clear answer? I can remember one time, sitting down with a certain lady and she had some questions and attitudes and I was just leading her through one question after another question. You know how you can do, I am telling her how it is and I am gently going, well what about this? And if you do this and where does this go? And finally, she just got mad. She goes, “I don’t like what he is doing.” And they call that word games, as if I am just trying maliciously trap them. I am trying to get to them to see their sins. In Mark 10:37 it says,
Mark 10:37 – They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
The apostles come to Him, they want something.
Mark 10:38 – “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said.
And Jesus Christ knows they don’t know what they are asking. So He is setting them up. He is playing word games. He is taking advantage of their ignorance. He even said it himself.
Mark 10:38 – Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?
He knows what they are going to say. He knows what their words are going to be. So He is going to use their words against them. Now a bad heart would say, you are playing word games with me here. You are taking advantage of my ignorance and my pride. Why didn’t you just turn to me and say, “You don’t know you are talking about? You are in pride, shut up!” Not that they would have liked it any better. Because Jesus Christ wants to crucify the pride. Jesus Christ wants to shut us up. Jesus Christ wants us to get quiet before God, so that we shut our mouths and contemplate who the Living God is, before we open our mouth and talk. He wants our pride dealt with so that we are humble. It is not just enough to turn to somebody and say, “You are in pride.” He is going to crucify the pride that is there. It is the most loving thing He can do, even though it looks like a word game.
Mark 10:39 – “We can,” they answered.
And you know they said it with gusto. These guys weren’t laid back. “Why, you bet we can do it!” If there is any hope they get to sit at the left or right hand, you better believe it. “We will go through that baptism. We will drink that cup. Not a problem.”
“Okay,” Jesus said to them. “Sure, why not?”
Mark 10:39 – You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with.
Be careful when you get answered prayers brothers and sisters. But he doesn’t give them everything they want. He doesn’t warn them and say, now before you ask this question, or before you answer this question, you better contemplate what is going on. You know how tricky I can be with what I am saying.
Mark 10:40 – . . . but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.
The Holy Spirit works in a lot of word games because there is a lot of sin that needs to be dealt with in our hearts and our lives. And God wants to teach us that our words mean things. He wants us to honor our words. He wants us to as Ecclesiastes says, let our words be futile. Because God is in heaven and you are on earth.
Turn to Luke 7:23. People complain “It’s just over the top. There was no need to say it that way.” And it is not over the top to say, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away”? That is not over the top? It is not over the top to say “If your hand causes you to sin, go home, get a knife, saw it off, and throw it away”? Oh, that is not over the top? If some man wants to go to his father’s funeral and he comes and he asks, “Jesus, let me first go bury my father.” And Jesus says, “No, let the dead bury the dead.” That is not over the top? Jesus Christ just couldn’t have turned and said, “Now, look. I know you are hurting right now. I know you are going through a lot of stress. There are a lot of problems going on in your life and I know you love your family and you want to do what’s best, but you know, if you just turn your back on those things and follow Me, there is this huge reward you are going to get in heaven, not to mention eternal life. The streets are full of gold and everything else. Don’t you want that instead of going back and burying your father?” Jesus Christ turns to him quick. He goes over the top. Let the dead, He judges his whole family and everybody that is at the funeral that is visiting. Let the dead bury the dead. It is sarcastic. It is rude. It is unloving. It is everything that we don’t like. It is called the offense of the cross. Yes, I say things that are over the top. I think they are over the top. There are sermons that I listen to and I can’t believe that I said it and that I said it in that way. Indeed, when I read “Hating for Jesus” and read through that book, I go man, that hurts. Why did I put that it there? I know why I put it in there. It is over the top and I will tell you why it is over the top. Because hell is serious. The only people that whine and complain about things being over the top, don’t take their sin seriously. They think hell is over the top. They think, why would God send someone to hell for eternity, forever and ever, torturing them in the heat and in the fire? Oh sure, we know it is for our friends or for the Hitlers of the world and all those people, but why would God take the average guy that lives next door and put him in hell forever and ever? That is over the top. The reason we say that is we don’t see our sin as it is and we think it is over the top. But it is not.
In Luke 7:23. Jesus says this about Himself.
Luke 7:23 – Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.
Jesus Christ is over the top. That is why they crucified Him. They didn’t crucify Him because He was a nice Pharisee that hugged the babies. They crucified Him because He was over the top. He testified that what they did was evil and they hated it. He played word games with them. He out maneuvered them. He trapped them. He showed them their wickedness. And they put Him on a cross because of it. They conspired to see that it was done. They didn’t like His tone. They wanted Him to heal, but don’t heal on the Sabbath. They had all kinds of rules. They had Him in a box. And the same thing happens to the pastors in the church today. People want a certain pastor. They have got him in a certain box. This is what we want in a pastor. Some churches go through pastors every six weeks, so they can’t ever find one that fits in their box. Just this morning when I was working on this sermon, or finishing it up, I received this letter. I want to read it to you. Keeping in mind, blessed is the man who doesn’t fall away because of Jesus Christ. Here is a man that received the tone with a humble heart.
This letter comes from Africa.
Dear Brother Joshua, I got your letter and hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten you as He is doing to me.
What is the Holy Spirit doing? What can he hear? What voice is he listening to? How can I test whether this man is receiving the truth or not? Because he is listening. Because he can get past the tone.
I met Tim when he was via the internet by reading one of his sermons online. I decided to get in touch because I took a thorough bashing.
He wanted to be in contact because the offense of the cross, because the tone showed him who he was. The tone is a massive safeguard for this body, because anybody who can’t get past the tone, you don’t want him in the pews. Actually, I am probably too nice, as I look around here.
I decided to get in touch because I took a thorough bashing and I was ultimately led to the cross. The offense of the cross is doing its work. I have finally found the narrow way. And my fervent prayer is that nothing will derail me from the path the Lord has set me on.
He has come in contact with the Living God because of a tone, because of an attitude. Not just what is said, but the manner in which it was said and the Holy Spirit was able to work. And brothers and sisters, when you share the gospel with other people, don’t try to have a tone. I don’t attempt to do this. I don’t even like it. I would rather be something else. I would rather be able to love the babies and be nice. I can’t even say what I am supposed to be, but I would like to be that.
He goes on to say:
To most people Tim Williams sounds vindictive.
You know, I am bitter. I was wounded by the church. I was wounded by the cross. And the cross comes after my sin and He didn’t let me off and I am not going to let you off.
To most people, Tim Williams sounds vindictive. This is because many of us have hardened hearts. I love this conversation because he includes himself in the group. His tone sounds like John the Baptist, when he called the people coming to hear him a brood of vipers, or when Jesus Christ called Peter, “Satan.”
This man is healed by the tone. And by the way, John the Baptist didn’t run around all the time shouting fire and brimstone. If you will notice when people came to him one on one, (I am giving you a little foreshadow here as my wife calls it) when they came to him and said, “Well what should we do, we are Roman soldiers?” he answered very nicely. I am not the same in person as I am when I stand here at the pulpit. We will get to that in a moment.
Let’s go to 2 Corinthians 10:10. I don’t walk around shouting like this. I don’t walk around with a fire and brimstone kind of attitude. For one thing, it wears me out. And the Holy Spirit would have to continually keep me up there to do this.
2 Corinthians 10:10. There is a reason why I am offensive behind the pulpit. There is a reason why I am offensive in books. There is a reason why God has done that and I have already alluded to one fact. It is a safeguard for this body.
2 Corinthians 10:10 – For some say. . .
Now they are talking about Paul.
2 Corinthians 10:10 – . . . his letters are weighty and they are forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.
Same thing. His writing is toned. Look at his tone. It is weighty, it is forceful. Let me read you a few of Paul’s tones here.
2 Corinthians 1:23. Listen to what Paul says.
2 Corinthians 1:23 – I call God as my witness. . .
How self-righteous can you get?
2 Corinthians 1:23 – I call God as my witness. . .
Come on down God.
2 Corinthians 1:23 – . . . that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.
Oh what a big bully he is. “I didn’t come to Corinth because if I came you all would be in trouble.” Now what kind of tone is that? Is that weighty? Is that forceful? It certainly is. And those who could listen to Paul and listen to why he was saying that and why he skipped a trip would have repented and been ready for Paul to come the second time.
1 Corinthians 4:21, Paul says,
1 Corinthians 4:21 – What do you prefer?
Sarcasm. And these are the choices Paul gives. There are not three options. There are only two.
1 Corinthians 4:21 – Shall I come to you with a whip?
Got a choice, I am going to come with a whip, going to come in among you guys. I am going to deal with your sin,
1 Corinthians 4:21 – Or in love and with a gentle spirit?
And it is not my fault. It is not my tone. I don’t have the issue here. It is up to you. Which do you want? A little sarcasm, a little tone there.
1 Thessalonians 2:10 – You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.
Can you imagine if I stood up and said that? Or if I put it on the internet or in writing? You are witnesses and God is our witness. I mean everybody know their pastors are hypocrites. Everybody knows nobody is better than anybody else. I mean that is the standard knowledge and so to stand up and to say, “Look God is my witness. You are my witness, how holy, righteous, and blameless we were among you.” You would be called self righteous and arrogant on top of everything. And then Galatians 6:17 has got to be one of my favorites. Go ahead and turn to it. I will wait for you to get there. Galatians 6:17.
Galatians 6:17. Paul says,
Galatians 6:17 – Finally,
Let me give you a little warning. This is how he ends his letters. Let me give you a little warning here.
Galatians 6:17 – . . . let no one cause me trouble.
“Well, who do you think you are Paul?” I mean in today’s church, this kind of humility is unknown. Nobody even wants it.
Galatians 6:17 – Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
What is he pulling? Doesn’t that sound self righteous and prideful and arrogant? It does if you don’t know God. But since I do know God, and since I do know the Holy Spirit, and since I do know there is a gospel that honestly changes men, I take that as a warning. Since I know there is a Christianity that is real. Since I have experienced crucifixion with Jesus Christ and do so on a daily basis. Since I have tasted his righteousness that He can work, I know that it is obtainable for a man to say this and to write this, in all the humility that is in Jesus Christ and I had better watch my step. The gospel that I preach is not a lie. It has the ability to change a man down to his heart, for him to be pure. And if the Holy Spirit says you can turn to someone and say,
Galatians 6:17 – Let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus Christ.
I need to pay attention. You see the reason people whine and complain and moan and groan about the tone is they don’t really believe their Christianity has power. They have never really experienced it for all their talk and all their beliefs and all their studying, and all the things that they do, they have never tasted the true power or they wouldn’t say something so stupid.
Let’s go to 2 Corinthians 10:6. Again look at Paul’s attitude. The authority that he has from the Holy Spirit. The manner in which he speaks. The tone in which he writes his letters.
2 Corinthians 10:6, Paul says,
2 Corinthians 10:6 – And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience.
How does he intend to punish them? All the cult watchers are turning over in their tombs. How dare a man have that much authority and that much power, but it is there. And the Holy Spirit is either alive or He is not.
2 Corinthians 10:6 – And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
I dare say in the church, most pastors don’t even understand what that means. And I am not going to explain it today.
2 Corinthians 10:7-8 – You are only looking on the surface of things. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he. For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it.
There is a power, there is an authority. There are some things that come from Jesus Christ. And those people that whine about the tone can just stay outside and whine about the tone. There is a need for sin to be dealt with. There is need for this body to be protected. There is need for this place to be a safe place. There is a need for a holiness to reign. And if sarcasm accomplishes that, then sarcasm will be blessed.
2 Corinthians 10:9. He says,
2 Corinthians 10:9 – I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters.
The goal here isn’t to be a fiery preacher. I don’t sit down and work at my sermon and go, how can I make this the most offensive thing that I can possible make? I have been accused of that. I don’t try to be any of these things. I am telling you. It is the cross that crucifies and what comes out, comes out. If I was trying to be something then I am entertaining my group. I am trying to impress myself. I would be what we refer to as a false prophet.
2 Corinthians 10:9 – I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters.
We are not trying, Paul is not trying to do anything. It is just what is necessary. It is what has to be done. If it could be done some other way in a more gentle fashion, he would do that, the Holy Spirit would do it. The bottom line is you deserve the sarcasm. You deserve the offense. Rejoice in it.
2 Corinthians 10:10 – For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.”
Now why are they saying this? Because something obvious is happening here.
Look at 1 Thessalonians 2:7. That Paul is not appearing to be the same person that he is from his letters. Again, I am not the same person day in and day out that I am here at the pulpit, or when I write certain books and certain things. I am not the same person all the time. I am not trying to be offensive. It is whatever the Holy Spirit wants to work at the time and what is of benefit for the other person.
1 Thessalonians 2:7 – . . . but we were gentle among you . . .
1 Thessalonians 2:7 – . . . like a mother caring for her little children.
So his letters over here are forceful. By the way those are his sermons. Paul couldn’t say, “Start the video tape.” He didn’t put makeup on before he went on to preach. But those were his sermons. That was a recording, so they were weighty. They were forceful and there is a reason why. We will see that here in a moment. But in person, he was gentle. He was caring. Well, you find a preacher, and I have met preachers like this, that talk as loud in person as they do in the pulpit. They will say, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” (using a loud and forceful voice) And you go to introduce yourself and they will put their hand out and go, “Hi, I am John!” (using the same loud and forceful voice) They are the same character. Bottom line, there is no movement of the Holy Spirit. He is what he is all the time.
Let’s go to 2 Corinthians 13:10, and let’s see why Paul and why God works it this way. 2 Corinthians 13:10 gives us the answers as to why my sermons are sarcastic, why the tone is not acceptable. Why I sometimes go over the top.
2 Corinthians 13:10 – This is why I write these things . . .
This is why.
2 Corinthians 13:10 – This is why I write these things when I am absent.
And here is the logic. Here is the love.
2 Corinthians 13:10 – . . . That when I come, I may not have to be harsh in the use of my authority.
And so he doesn’t have to be that way when he is there. When he fellowships with them, he wants to care for them and to love them and to have fellowship with them, not to spend his time rebuking. What kind of joy and fellowship is that? Those are guys on power trips that like that kind of thing. That is a guy that likes to throw his weight around and be impressive about who he is. But the goal here is fellowship. In other words, listen to the tone in the sermon, repent of your sin, get it over with, so that we can sit down together and have a meal together and rejoice in the Lord. When I have to sit there and rebuke you and when I have to have a tone then, and when I have to be sarcastic then, that is not what I want to do.
2 Corinthians 13:10 – . . .that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
The reason why the books are tough is so that I don’t have to be that way when I am there in person. We can talk. We can dialogue. We can reason. We can pray. We can fellowship. That is why the sermons are the way they are. So I don’t have to do it. Do you want me to do it? It is your choice. I guess I could get up here and try and be nice and ask God to do that and be gentle and then when I am in person behave like this towards you. Now which would you rather have? A semi impersonal kind of rebuke up here that you can pick and choose what you want to listen to and take back in the prayer closet and apply it when you see fit, or me walking in your house, all preaching and talking like this all the time. And I have been known to do that from time to time. There times when my house has gotten out of order and I get up and start barking orders and everything gets back in line. Now I don’t think they want me that way all the time and I don’t want to be that way all the time. It is to keep sin out and to keep love in.
2 Corinthians 10:11. Though I need to give a little bit of a warning here. There are people who have taken me for a fool. They think, “Oh okay, he is that way in his sermons, you know, he is up there in front of the pulpit, putting on a nice show. He writes those things in the way he does, in order to sell books. I mean the reason why he entitled his book Hating for Jesus is to draw attention.” I don’t know why they thought it would sell books, but that is beside the point.
2 Corinthians 10:11 – Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.
If I have to be forceful, I will. If I have to be sarcastic, I will. I don’t want to be that way. I can remember one time, and it doesn’t happen that much. I can remember one time when I used to work nights and I was resting back in the bedroom. I could hear a couple of brothers talking with somebody. And this guy was just pouring out his sin and all of his contempt and who he was and what he was doing. They were dialoging with him, and they didn’t know any better. And I don’t know how many of you have seen me in the morning, but it is not too much of a pretty sight. So finally I am laying back there and just again the Holy Spirit working, I just get up, walk on out there, and say, “There is the door. You can leave now.” And of course, he sits there kind of stunned, and I said, “Out the door, now.” And I said it a little more firmer than I am saying it now. I will be what I need to be in order to protect the body. I will allow the Holy Spirit to work what is necessary. Not that I run around doing that all the time. No. Probably one time in ten years that I can remember. Now I do it in little bitty ways. When you guys sit in my office and you whine about something. I say, “Go pray about it. There is the door. Go figure it out.” And yet people whine and say, “Well, I don’t want to follow Timothy. I don’t want to idolize him.”
Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 7:12. I will say it right now. If you do what I tell you to do, if you do what I preach, if you do what is written in the books that I have written, you won’t idolize me at all.
2 Corinthians 7:12 – So even though I wrote to you . . .
I want to read through this, and we are going to go back through it.
2 Corinthians 7:12 – . . . it was not on account of the one who did the wrong or of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are.
All right, let me finish with this statement and pull this together for you. If you do what I tell you, you will not idolize me. Done with, taken care of, okay? But on the other hand, you won’t become self righteous and arrogant, a little Lone Ranger Christian out here that doesn’t need Timothy Williams. Let’s read again what Paul says and you ask yourself if this sounds like some cult ego maniac. Verse 12.
2 Corinthians 7:12 – So even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong. . .
I did not write to you because some guy was wrong and I am taking care of the issue. I was not indignant about the injustice in the situation.
2 Corinthians 7:12 – . . . it was not on account of the one who did the wrong or the injured party.
I could care less about who was doing wrong to each other. But rather that before God, and there is the key, you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. Such love is considered blaspheme in a church today. Such an attitude, such a tone, such a mannerism. What do you mean Paul? You didn’t care about what was wrong here? You just wanted to see if they loved you or not? That is cult leader first class, to those who are cynical, to those who don’t know the power of the love of the gospel, to those who have never gotten past the tone onto the resurrected life. Let me tell you what this is. It is like two children. There are sitting there fighting with one another. Have you ever heard the quarrels? Have you ever heard the fights? Have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t really care what the issue is and I don’t care who is beating up who, and I don’t care what they are fighting about, whether it is a cookie or whatever, or what went on yesterday morning. I am just going to walk into the situation and say, ‘Okay, guys, break it up. Let’s love one another.’” That is what he is saying. It is about loving one another in the purity that comes from the Holy Spirit. It might look like on the surface of things that Paul is being self centered, but he is not. It is coming from the Holy Spirit and in the sight of God he says, “I wrote to you, so you might know how much we really love one another.”
Now let the injury go. Let the fighting cease and let us love one another. Those looking on the outside, those reading it on the outside don’t have a clue of the kind of love that we are talking about here. They call it a cult. They call it a tone, sarcasm, selfishness, self righteousness. They call it pride. They call it arrogance. They call it anything but what it is, but love. They can’t see past the surface of things.
Let’s go to Galatians 1:8. So I said if you do whatever Paul said, if you do whatever I say, you won’t idolize me. Because this is what Paul also wrote;
Galatians 1:8 – But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
This is the message of the cross. It is beyond Tim Williams. As we have already said, so now I say it again. If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned and he includes himself in this.
All right, enough said on that. Let’s go to 2 Kings 5:1, and let’s see what is going on here. What’s with all this whining and complaining? I just don’t like his tone or sarcasm. And he sounds awfully pride. He is definitely unloving and unkind. Jesus was never that way. You can tell I have heard it a lot, haven’t I? I have gotten it memorized over the years. What’s going on is people are trying to keep their dignity and their sin at the same time. Or to put it a better way, they are trying to get rid of their sin while holding on to their dignity and it will never happen.
2 Kings 5:1 – Now Naaman was a commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master . . .
And there is the core of the problem. He has got leprosy. But everybody that knows him, thinks he is a great man and indeed God has given him this victory.
2 Kings 5:1 – He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
He has got a problem. He has got sin. But everybody else thinks well of him, including himself. When people say they don’t like my tone, what they are saying is, I am worthy of a better tone than that. When they say that they don’t like my sarcasm, what they are saying is, “I am beyond sarcasm. I am more holy than that. I don’t deserve it. My righteousness is greater than that.”
2 Kings 5:2-3 – Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
You love her faith. She is not hesitating. There is not a “Maybe, he will heal him.” Either the message of the cross is true or it is not. Either we have the power and the truth or we don’t. And when people walk around with, well this is my opinion, and this is what I think over here, they haven’t got anything. That is what you do when you go to see a doctor. They give you their opinion, and if you don’t like it, what do you do? You get a second opinion. But when you come to God, you get His opinion, and there is no second opinion. So if I act like when you come to me and I give you something that comes from God and you say, “I am going to go get a second opinion.” I go, “Whatever!” If you get a little sarcasm out of the deal it is because there is no second opinion. No I am not saying I am right about everything and I am saying I walk with a lot of fear and trembling. We got all that covered, all right? But have the same faith she has. If you don’t know the message of the cross to be this kind of power, then you plead with God to show you it to be true. Because that command leads to eternal life.
2 Kings 5:4-5 – Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go . . .”
But these guys are important guys. You know they are going to go the wrong direction. Pride is moving them. Are they are going to go see the Prophet? No way! Uh uh! They are way too important for all that and the only way that they can respond is according to their pride. They need a little sarcasm in the situation.
2 Kings 5:5 – “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”
But Paul says, “Do we need letters of recommendation?” Here is a letter, you are important. This guy has got some lessons to learn before he gets started.
2 Kings 5:5 – So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver . . .
Oh, that is going to impress the prophet.
2 Kings 5:5 – . . . taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and . . .
Here we go,
2 Kings 5:5 – . . . ten sets of clothing.
“Ten sets of clothing. New jeans, Levis, all kinds of stuff. We are going to impress this guy.” “Hey, I am not a nobody. I deserve to be made well. Don’t give me the sarcasm, don’t give me the tone. I have been with Jesus Christ. He has given me great victories. I have got this gold, I have got this silver, I have got these ten suits. I have been in the church for years. Don’t give me that stuff.”
The letter that he took to the king of Israel read, oh boy, this is a long doozie. These guys are like, “We are important. We are here. Here is our gold and silver.” And this is what it says.
2 Kings 5:6 – . . . With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.
No hello, no goodbye, or how are you doing? We hear there is a Prophet there. No humility. No respect, no nothing. Here he is. Gold. Silver. We are important. Do the job. Just give me the answer. Don’t play this game with me. Don’t be coy. Don’t play word games. This is what I want. This is what needs to be done. Get it accomplished. Because why? He is important. Everybody needs to know he is important. People don’t like my tone. They think they are more important than they really are. People will call me up and say, “Oh, you know, you really shouldn’t put that much in your book, you should like take that part out, and soften that over here.” Well, who do you think you are? Who do you think I am? I am nothing. I had to take my orders from up above.
2 Kings 5:7 – As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said . . .
You see they went to the king. She said “Go to the prophet.” I don’t know what he was hoping. Luckily, I say luckily with a little sarcasm, the king didn’t have any faith.
2 Kings 5:7 – . . . Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!
Then Elisha stands up and goes, “Okay guys, what is going on over here?” Sounds like he is going to boast and brag. It is just the truth of the situation. They don’t have any faith.
2 Kings 5:8 – When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
Is he being self righteous? Is he being boastful? It is just a fact. Our God is alive. Our God works. The gospel is true. It can transform a man. What is your problem? Is there no God in Israel? Is there no God in the church anymore today? Is there no gospel that really transforms men? No, because I don’t like his tone.
2 Kings 5:9 – So Naaman went with his horses . . .
Hmmm, marching off. Horses, all his pomp, who he is, soldiers, mighty warriors.
2 Kings 5:9 – So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.
He is going to sit there in his chariot with all his horses, all of his grandeur around him and wait for Elisha to come out to him. Come with a proper tone. Come with respect. Come as I am worthy to be come to.
2 Kings 5:10 – Elisha sent a messenger to say to him. . .
And Elisha doesn’t even come out. Doesn’t even give him the respect of his name. It just happens that way. I can remember dialoging with a professor in Scotland. I can’t remember exactly how it went. But I guess he liked to be referred to as Dr. so and so, and I just wouldn’t do it. Not because I knew that. I just didn’t. God is not going to meet our pride and feed it. He is going to tell us what to say and how to say it, and He is going to come to you on those terms. And a lot of you, when you come and complain to me about when I am rebuking somebody or preaching in a certain way saying, “You know, that is a little tough. I don’t know if I like this.” Because you are afraid that one day it is going to happen to you. Well let me get rid of the fear, okay? Because it is going to happen to you.
2 Kings 5:10 – Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
No fanfare, comes by messenger. Yea, not even a letter. Not even certified. Not even any attention.
2 Kings 5:11 – But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me. . .”
He is all upset because why? The tone, the mannerisms, the way that God was coming to him didn’t honor his dignity and who he was. The reason people don’t like my tone is, I don’t give them the respect that is due them.
2 Kings 5:11 – . . . I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.
He had it all planned out. This is how God works. This is what the boss looks like. I am going go in and talk to Tim. I am going to tell him this report and he is going to respond this way. And we put God in a box. We want Him to come to us in a certain way and that sounds like a lot of church meetings. “Oh, Lord we want this. I need to be healed of this and we tell God, this is how You will do it.” Let’s read it again.
2 Kings 5:11 – . . . I thought that he surely would…
This is not a question of doubt. He had faith here.
2 Kings 5:11 -12 . . . surely he would come out to me and stand and call on the name of LORD his God wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel?
“Hey, here is a better way to do it. Here is a better way to preach it. Here is a better way to tone it down, to make it more acceptable.” I hear that all the time. If you just write it this way, you will get more people listening. You know, if you play the flute, people will respond. No they won’t. Not unless Jesus Christ is a liar. And so I will preach. I will declare. I will be what He wants me to be.
2 Kings 5:12 – . . . “Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
And that is what most people do and that is where they stay. They listen to these sermons. They become indignant about the tone and they shut it off and they go off in a huff. He is unloving, he is unkind. He is unmerciful. He doesn’t know the kindness of God. He is bitter. He has been wounded in the past. The church hurt him. I don’t know what happened to him, but he is a mess. They are in a rage. They are just ranting and raving, everything they can find and if they can’t find some error in the doctrine or something else, then it is the tone. Because their pride has been wounded. Actually the sermon did exactly what it was supposed to do. And every time they call me and every time they say that, all I can say is, “Well, praise God.” This is what God wanted to happen to Naaman. Because his leprosy was his pride. This is exactly what he needed. He needed this tone.
2 Kings 5:13 – Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”
The servants knew more than he did about the heart of God. How many people just refuse to be made well? You give them a sermon, they listen to it, or they read the book, and they don’t like the tone. And you try to tell them, you are not my servants, but you are servants of the Lord and you try to tell them in the same way. If He had told you something great or if He had offered you some huge blessing, wouldn’t you have done that? This is simple to do. How hard is it to do the things that we are talking about around here? None of these things are that difficult.
2 Kings 5:14 – So he went down . . .
He humbled himself. He took a lower position. Gone is the gold and the silver and all the pomp and those things.
2 Kings 5:14 – So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him.
In obedience he went. Get past all the sarcasm. Get past the tone. Get beyond the offense of the cross. If you don’t like the tone, if you don’t like the mannerism, then ignore all that, and write down what is being said to be done and just go do it, and then come talk to me about my tone, because I haven’t seen the obedience increase, whether my wife plays the flute or whether I sing the dirge.
2 Kings 5:14 – So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.