Section 7b ..
Sharing The Faith

003white  Index To Articles on Sharing The Faith


Christian Clichés

by Carol Brooks

Also See The Message of The Bible


What is a Cliché?
I Have Faith
Being Saved
I Have Jesus In My Heart
What Would Jesus Do?
In Jesus Name

What is a Cliché?
A Cliché is an expression, sentence or phrase that has lost its effectiveness and impact because of constant use or excessive repetition. The average Christian's vocabulary seems to be rife with clichés in spite of the fact that overuse and over familiarity may have virtually rendered the words meaningless.

This doesn't mean there isn't truth contained in the clichés.

There is.

And in our exceedingly busy days it is good for believers to take a moment to be reminded of something both comforting and important regardless of whether it comes to their attention via a T-shirt, bumper sticker, coffee cup, or the notice-board outside a church.

Apart from this clichés can do far more harm than good simply because words and phrases tend to become habits so deeply ingrained that they are often spoken without conscious thought and fail to communicate anything of any substance. I have to wonder if we have become so comfortable with trite phrases such as "I have Jesus in my heart" that we do not realize that by themselves these phrases are unlikely to make any sense whatsoever to the non-believer who is quite likely to dismiss them as unintelligible nonsense and dismiss us as a credulous superstitious bunch.

This makes unexplained catch phrases a dangerous impediment to the spread of the Gospel..

Additionally, I have to wonder if we have been hiding behind trite statements concealing the fact that we cannot express exactly what we mean and/or our knowledge is deeply lacking.

See The Contemporary Church - Why Christians Are Deceived - Biblical Illiteracy and 'Bumper Sticker' Theology
Unfortunately for the most part our entertainment oriented, anti-intellectual and superficial contemporary culture is geared towards dissuading us from using our minds, a trend that has carried over into the church resulting in a large segment of believers being biblically illiterate - relying more on feelings rather than knowledge

Here are some of the more commonly used clichés

I Have Faith
If someone were to ask you why you believe the Bible is the word of God is it at all possible that your answer would be because you 'have faith'.

That statement means absolutely nothing because whether you are aware of it or not faith plays a huge part in many, if not most religions of the world.

There is no question that the Bible says 'without faith it is impossible to please God' (Hebrews 11:6) but faith can mean two different things. It can mean reasonable trust based on evidence. OR it can mean trust or belief without evidence, or contrary to evidence.

The problem is most non believers who hear a Christian state they have faith are very likely to assume that said Christian believes in something that is not based on evidence.  It is a sad fact that most people (including many believers) do not seem to realize is that Christianity is perhaps the only religion that does not demand 'blind faith' from its followers. In fact, it is actually quite remarkable as to how many times, God, Jesus, the prophets, and the New Testament Apostles appealed to facts to support what they said and taught.

This is not the case when it comes to other religions that are based solely on what the founder of the religion said and whether the teachings seem to work in the lives of their followers. Besides which most 'holy books usually consist of endless streams of often mind numbing philosophy, with little or no framework or context.

See Faith and The Bible (Includes the role of faith in other religions)

The tragedy is that even many Christians are often unaware of the solid, factual foundations of their faith that is often largely limited to "this is what I believe because this is what the Bible says". While this may be commendable, it can also be very dangerous, simply because it is a naive untested faith that is more than likely to fall flat on its face when confronted with difficult questions.

So the next time you tell someone you have faith be prepared to give some of the reasons why. If you are not able to do so then you have not come one iota closer to actually sharing the Gospel. The following two articles should give you a good starting point.

See God and His Bible. The Reliability of The Old Testament

 Comparing Jesus With Other Religious Leaders... Why Jesus Is Without Equal


Being Saved
The warp and weft of the entire Bible is the story of salvation. It permeates the Bible from cover to cover. However, if you tell someone that 'they need to be saved', 'Jesus came to save them', or that 'you yourself are saved you might know exactly what you mean but have you ever considered whether any of these statements convey a single useful thing to the nonbeliever. Quite understandably they might think that you were in some kind of danger and someone rescued you,

The point is virtually all non believers are completely unaware of what salvation means, who they need saving from, and how this can be accomplished. Actually, I am not entirely sure that all believers are aware of that they are not saved from something but someone.

So let me put it in the simplest possible terms - Biblical salvation means being saved from death, i.e. being given eternal life. in God's kingdom also called "heaven".

See What and Where is Heaven
The Bible isn't at all silent on where "heaven" is and, even more importantly, what it will be like. Far from being some pie-in-the-sky ethereal place the other side of Pluto where everyone exists in a state of disembodied blessedness, it is exactly the utopian world most men and women can only dream of,

And what do we need to be saved from?

The short answer is that because of our sins we need saving from the wrath of the Father Himself.

When the Christian says they are saved their hearers should understand that they, like every other human on the face of this planet, have one overwhelming and stupendously important need... to be forgiven for the sins they have already been condemned for, and released from the death sentence that they have already been sentenced to. 

And if they don't want to die and stay dead they need to make dramatic changes in their lives.

See Sin
 If pressed it is likely that the majority of people in the western world would place themselves in the 'not perfect' category, but a far cry from 'sinners', or really bad people. Others believe that even if there is a God against whom we sin, He is too "loving" to actually hold our 'mistakes' against us, much less punish us for them. The problem is that the verdict is already in - because of your sins you have been condemned to death far more surely than any person sitting on death row in a federal penitentiary. In light of which, it is perhaps wiser to find out how God defines sin, rather than to trust in your own idea.

The Wrath of God
God's wrath is the just and measured response of His holiness towards evil. Because the Lord's displeasure comes in response to one thing and one thing only, His feelings would be far more accurately described by the more formal word indignation defined as 'righteous anger' or anger that is morally justified.

Yet the Gospel message is often reduced to overused and overworked phrases that defy understanding and strip the it of any real meaning. In fact two common catch phrases, "accept Jesus as your personal Savior" and "invite Jesus into your heart" are so entrenched in evangelical Christianity that few stop to consider whether they are Biblical - or even whether these phrases accurately communicate the truth of Scripture.

They are not and they do not.

When it comes to telling someone they need salvation, the message should begin with sin and the wrath of God. The bad news has to come before the good news. Telling someone that they can be saved is completely ridiculous if they neither know they are lost nor what it is they need to be saved from. Telling someone that there is a pardon available is an absolute waste of time if the person does not know they are already condemned.


See Salvation - Part I
When all is said and done, virtually all humans have two things in common. 1) Almost everyone is searching for a 'better life', if not a perfect one. 2) No one wants to die - our spirit rebels at the thought that no matter what we have accomplished in our seventy odd years here on earth, we are eventually going to become worm food. However, if your defenses are well honed and you claim to be satisfied with the short life given to you then don't bother with this article, written for those who do not wish to arrive at death's door without being certain of where it leads. The fact is Christianity alone offers you something you cannot get anywhere else - life without end in God's kingdom - that, in every respect matches the world most men and women would choose to live in. However, there is one stumbling block that keeps you (and everyone else) out of God's kingdom.

I Have Jesus In My Heart
There is no question that there is a Biblical basis for Christians stating that they have Jesus in their hearts.

When on the earth Christ told His disciples that the time was coming when they would not see him anymore and promised that he would send the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of the Father and Son) would to abide with them and would be in them. See The Holy Spirit... A Separate Person Or The Presence And Power Of The Father Himself

    "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:16-18 NASB)

    Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. (John 14:23 NASB)

Similar figurative expressions liken true believers to the sanctuary God commanded Moses to make (Exodus 25:8) and Solomon's temple both of which were built as a dwelling place for God (1 Kings 6:12-13 and 1 Kings 8:10-11)

    Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16 NASB)

    Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19 NASB)

    Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (2 Corinthians 6:16 NASB)

    that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (Ephesians 3:16-17 NASB)

    in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21-22 NASB)

This imagery has a very simple explanation. Because the heart is physically, spiritually, and emotionally the center of our being - it represents our entire being. Thus to say the Holy Spirit indwells a Christian's heart indicates that more then anything else he or she is subject to God's supervision, instruction, and influence.

Unfortunately, although this phrase embodies a profound message, in itself it comes across as irrational and superstitious and can possibly cause a non believers to wonder if you are entirely right in the head. Think about what you would say were the listener to ask you what exactly you meant?

Thus we should avoid allowing it to trip off our tongues to all and sundry.

See Why NOT To Ask Jesus Into Your Heart  
Anyone can ask Jesus into their hearts without a basic understanding of the Gospel message - without knowing a thing about sin and its consequences, that Jesus who is God Almighty took on human form and came to earth to die on the cross by which He paid for that sin, the reality of Christ's resurrection, and that they cannot live the rest of their lives however they please and still be welcome in God's presence.

What Would Jesus Do?
This question sometimes shortened to WWJD is liberally strewn across the evangelical Christian community - printed on coffee mugs, book marks, T-shirts. I believe the phrase originated in a sermon preached by Charles Spurgeon in 1891, and popularized by book entitled In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? written in the early 1900s by Charles M. Sheldon who wanted to employ social reform to convert people many of whom were in dire need.

There are several positive sides to this question. All of us need a moral compass in our lives and there can be no greater role model than the Saviour Himself.

The problem is that we cannot always know what Jesus would do in all circumstances. Were you to ask ten people what Jesus would do in a given situation, you would probably receive at least several six different answers simply because people would have different ideas of how the Saviour would act. Even His disciples were often surprised and shocked by what He said and did.

The primary value of this well-worn question would be if it gets us to stop and think before speaking or doing something that may not be pleasing to the Saviour.

Finally, I would like to address

In Jesus Name
It is quite interesting as to how when they pray so many Christians will end by saying that whatever they were praying or asking for is "in the name of Jesus,” or "in Jesus' precious name".

This makes me wonder whether they think (if they think about it at all) that using Jesus' name will add a little more forcefulness or persuasion to their prayer. Or perhaps invoking Jesus' name is a spiritual formula that will ensure the petition/prayer is answered affirmatively.

Neither of which is true therefore what we really need to do is to stop blindly repeating a 'formula' and think about it for a moment.

Also see The Prosperity Doctrine and The Word of Faith Movement

In the book of Acts people were saved and baptized in Jesus' name, healed the same way, (Acts 3:6) and evil spirits were banished in the name of the Savior (eg. Acts 16:18). However, there isn't one occasion in the entire New Testament that tells us that someone prayed "in Jesus' name'.

However, there are three verses in John's Gospel that some seem to understand as God giving us carte blanche to ask whatever we want of Him provided we ask it in Jesus' name. 

    1. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. "Whatever you ask (Gk. aitesete) in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. "If you ask (Gk. aitesete) Me anything in My name, I will do it. (John 14:12-14 NASB)

    2. "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask (Gk. aitesete) of the Father in My name He may give to you. (John 15:16 NASB)

    3. "In that day you will not question (Gk. erotesete) Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask (Gk. aitesete) the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.  (John 16:23 NASB)

Since all of us are (or should be) fully aware that anything requested 'in Jesus' name' will not automatically be granted, the church had to come up with an alternative explanation for what are commonly seen as rather difficult verses. Unsurprisingly except for the precise wording they all pretty much say the same thing.

Got Questions

    The Father willingly grants our requests because of Jesus' standing. Of course, if we are asking for things that we don't need or that are contrary to the character or will of Christ, then we cannot expect to receive those things (see James 4:3). When He said He would give "whatever you ask in my name,” Jesus was not delivering a magical formula for getting whatever we want. He was giving us a guiding principle to align one's desires with God's. When we pray "in Jesus' name," we pray according to the will of God; we pray for what will honor and glorify Jesus. [01]

Bob Josey

    When He said He would give "whatever you ask in my name,” Jesus was not delivering a magical formula for getting whatever we want. He was giving us a guiding principle to align one's desires with God's. When we pray "in Jesus' name," we pray according to the will of God; we pray for what will honor and glorify Jesus... So, we should not ask for things not in His will nor expect to receive things that are not in His will. [02]

David Guzik writes

    In My name is not a magic incantation of prayer; it speaks of both an endorsement (like a bank check) and a limitation (requests must be in accordance with the character of the name). We come to God in Jesus' name, not in our own.... "To ask 'in His name' or do anything 'in His name' argues a unity of mind with His, a unity of aim and of motive."(Trench) [03]

The reasons commonly put forth for our requests not being granted usually boil down to 1.) we are asking for selfish reasons. 2.) We are living in sin or have unconfessed sin in our lives or even that 3.) the Father is seeking to deepen our reliance on His grace to see us through a bad situation.

I am sorry but these well-worn excuses seem to be the only possible response to the charge that God does not do what He said He would - that is answer any prayer made in Jesus' name. I say this because I am sure that most believers can think of occasions when none of the above apply. For example we (without any unconfessed sin in our life) may be praying for a close friend's five year old to be healed of Leukemia. No selfishness involved and I have no idea how healing this child or the thousand other very sick youngsters prayed for would not be consistent with the will of Christ who healed everyone that asked Him.

It is unfortunate that the same old reasons are passed down from generation to generation tripping off the tongues and pens of those who should have given the entire matter a little more thought/a closer look.

So What Did Jesus Mean?
What should be quite obvious is that Jesus' name or not many of our prayers are not answered which means that either Jesus made a false promise or there is something we are not getting

I believe I will plump for the latter option.

And what we are not getting is the fact that in every one of these cases Jesus was speaking to His disciples, and not making general statements that apply to all Christians everywhere and at all times.

The verses beginning with John 13:12 through chapter 16 are all part of Jesus' final discourse made to the disciples right after they celebrated the Passover and just before He was arrested. Beginning in 13:31, much of what He told them was to prepare them for His death and promise they would see Him again.

In chapter 14, Jesus told them they would go on to do greater work than He did then built up their confidence by adding that He would do whatever they asked in His name. This promise was quite obviously connected with the "greater works". MORE

That the Savior was speaking to His chosen disciples is made obvious by much of what He said (All emphasis added)

    "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. (John 15:15-16 NASB)

    and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.  (John 15:27 NASB)

    "A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me."  (John 16:16 NASB)

    "Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. (John 16:22 NASB)

Promises and Prophecies
However, although the overall message of the Bible is an unbelievably simple one, one has to remember that we are dealing with a book that was written thousands of years ago, by people of a different time and culture who didn't boast a degree in communications or journalism.All of which means that the Bible is not the easiest book to read. In the middle of the promises made to the disciples, in John 16:2 Jesus also warned them of the difficult times that lay ahead - that they would be persecuted.

    They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.  (John 16:2 NASB) 

Several verses in the book of Acts confirms this prophecy was fulfilled. For example

    When it was day, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul.  (Acts 23:12 NASB)

Also see Acts 17:5 and Acts 21:27-30

However, the disciples must have been aware that the Jews were already up in arms. When Jesus healed the young man who had been blind from birth, they questioned his parents asking how it was that he could now see. Their response was that they did not know and they needed to put the question to their son. Note why they did so... (Emphasis Added)

    "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself." His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, "He is of age; ask him." (John 9:18-23 NASB)

In other words, although the climate was already hostile Jesus was warning His disciples that it would get worse.

And the oppression didn't stop with them but has continued on through the ages with very obviously the worst being yet to come when the antichrist comes to power.

See Dominionism especially Chapter VI - Joel's Army and Where This Diabolical Doctrine is Likely To Take Us
It is entirely possible that the Joel's Army delusion will bring about the events prophesied to take place at the opening of the Fourth Seal when, as Jesus said, everyone who kills you thinks that he is offering service to God (John 16:2). (Yes, Matthew 24 and the Seven Seals of Revelation are parallel prophecies) The Fifth Seal is John's vision of the souls of people under the altar whom he said had been slain for the word of God, which means they were Christians who had been martyred on an unprecedented scale.


End Notes
[01] What did Jesus mean when He said He would give us "whatever you ask in my name"?

[02] Bob Josey - Thriving in Jesus Chapter 10- Praying in Jesus' Name - May 8, 2022.

[03] David Guzik. Enduring Word. John 14 – The Departing Jesus. https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/john-14/


Sharing The Faith