If you asked me I would probably say, “dunno”. But since you asked I will point you to a good review of Bishop Jakes’ sermon titled Touched. It has a caution attached to it! The reason why I have decided to run a sermon review is so that you may learn how to compare what people are preaching in the name of God with what the Word of God actually says. Here is an excerpt of Daniel Neades’ review:
T.D. Jakes is the leader of The Potter’s House, a 30,000 member congregation located in southern Dallas, Texas. I had never heard a T.D. Jakes sermon before, though I knew of his reputation. I was curious to see – if only via an Internet video stream – the man that Elevation Church reminded us was named ‘America’s Best Preacher’ by Time Magazine. Would I be able to uncover the secret of his mystique? And would he preach the Biblical Gospel?
Jakes [after a long introduction gets to the pulpit amidst cheers] changes tempo – he’s back in control. He has everyone stand for the reading of God’s word. Jakes reads from the King James Version – he is reassuringly and self-deprecatingly old school.
We begin with the eighth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verse forty-six:
“ And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.“
He elaborates a little on the text, then moves quickly to Hebrews 4:15–16. He wants to ‘play with these two texts and see whether we can get them to cohabitate [sic] together.’
Jakes jokes with the crowd as he waits for them to find the book of Hebrews. They laugh adoringly with him.
Jakes begins to read:
“ For we have not an high priest which cannot be…
He pauses for a fraction of a second.
He enunciates the next word – ‘touched’ – with explosive emphasis.
He continues his recitation:
“…with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come [‘How?’, Jakes interjects] boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Jakes reads with passion and feeling. You could listen to him read Scripture all day and still be eager for more.
He explains that he read all of that to get one word: ‘Touched, touched’.
“ Touch is the theme of tonight’s sermon.
Jakes changes pace. The crowd needs their release, a moment to reflect upon the word ‘touched’. The background music, which had stopped unnoticed minutes before, now resumes as Jakes prays, beseeching the Holy Spirit for His glory. Jakes’ humility is again on display:
“ There really is no preacher but You. There is no glory but Yours. There is no word but that word which proceedeth out of Your mouth. And we come before You like sparrows with our mouths open, waiting for, for bread to fall into our mouths. Feed us O God, until we want no more.
As Jakes finishes his prayer, he builds up to another carefully crafted crescendo – higher than the last, but nevertheless merely anticipatory of those yet to come. He truly is lord of the rhetorical arts and master of his own voice, consciously aware of the effect of his intonation’s every nuance.
Jakes begins his sermon proper. He talks at length about the importance and power of human touch. Words are insufficient – some meaning can be conveyed only through touch.
His discussion moves back to the book of Hebrews. He outlines with an infectious enthusiasm his understanding of the book: it is a comparative analysis of the Old and New covenants, ‘so that we might understand that what we have in our contemporary society – through the blood of Jesus Christ – is a better thing.’
This is the evening’s second mention of the blood of Christ. Surely, we must be hearing Gospel?
Jakes holds forth on why the New Covenant is better than the Old:
“[God] always takes you to something better, never lesser. God is always in the business of taking you forwards, never backwards. He’s not in the business of diminishing you, he’s in the business of increasing you. He doesn’t want to divide you, he wants to multiply you. He doesn’t want to subtact from you, he wants to add on to you. And wherever God is, He will take you from faith to faith, and from glory to glory.
The crowd laps up the rhetoric. This is what they have yearned to hear. Jakes waits for the applause to quiet.
A niggling doubt begins to surface.
Is this the Gospel? That God is in the business of ‘increasing us’? Is that why the blood of Christ was shed?
What of John the Baptist, who said ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30)? Has not the Lord ‘made all things for himself’, ‘even the wicked for the day of doom’ (Prov. 16:4)? Are not all things made for His benefit and His glory? Paul said – did he not? – ‘For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.’ (Rom. 11:36)
But perhaps Jakes is speaking of a spiritual increase, whereby, in the language of Luther’s Small Catechism, our old nature is drowned by daily sorrow and repentance, put to death, ‘that the new man should come forth daily and rise up, cleansed and righteous, to live forever in God’s presence’. For twice already Jakes has invoked the blood of Christ – surely he will bring us the Gospel.
Jakes tests his sway over his audience. He tells them, ‘Look at someone and say it’s getting better’.
He has them utterly in thrall…