In recent years I have heard people express the thought that all they heard from a particular preacher was “fluff.” So what is “fluff” and is it good or bad for us. Some might argue that all preaching is good for us to a certain extent, but is it?
When someone mentions “fluff” I think of meringue on top of lemon pies. It is rather “light” and doesn’t contain much substance or taste. I also think of “fluffing up” a feather pillow. Again, there is not much substance within the pillowcase. So I suppose that preaching “fluff” has to do with sermons without much Scriptural substance. A sermon that contains 10 percent Scripture and 90 percent feelings and feel-good stories and opinions would, I suppose, characterize a sermon with a lot of “fluff.” On the other hand, a sermon that contains 90 percent Scripture and 10 percent other would not be a sermon with a lot of “fluff.”
We grow spiritually when, as babes, we feed on the milk of God’s word (1 Pet. 2:2). Eventually the babe has to eat solid food to continue its growth. As we continue our spiritual growth, we need to progress from milk to solid food (Heb. 5:12-14). “Fluff” will not produce growth. “Fluff” is neither milk nor meat because it is not Scripture. Can you imagine James writing, “Receive with meekness the implanted fluff, which is able to save your souls”? No, it is God’s word that saves and produces growth. Give me more of God’s word and less “fluff”!
This brings me to the question of why people would want to preach “fluff” or listen to “fluff.” I suppose all the feel-good stories and examples could be entertaining. Some people are really good at telling stories. Do you come to the assembly to be entertained or to grow? Aren’t we to let the word of Christ dwell in us, teaching and admonishing each other (Col. 3:16)? Wasn’t Timothy told to preach the word (2 Tim. 4:2)? Paul’s speech and preaching “were not with persuasive words of human wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:4). We have too many today trying to use persuasive words of human wisdom instead of the word of God!
“Fluff” avoids controversy. God’s word is a sword (Eph. 6:17) but fluff lacks enough substance of God’s word to be controversial. The truth is that God’s word contains controversial subjects. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). “There was a division among the Jews because of these sayings” (John 10:19). “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” (Matt. 15:12). “The multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles” (Acts 14:4). Was Paul beaten and stoned because he preached “fluff” (2 Cor. 11:24-25).
“Fluff” avoids condemning error. God’s word exposes error. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5:11). “Speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Tim 4:3). “There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies ... many will follow their destructive ways” (2 Pet. 2:1-2). “That he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).
“Fluff” avoids negative teaching. God’s word contains positive and negative teaching. We must preach and teach all of God’s word. Paul said, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Paul said, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16). Paul tells Timothy, “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” (1 Tim. 5:20). “He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death” (Jas. 5:20). God’s word condemns the sins of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). God’s word condemns sins of the tongue (Jas. 3:5-6; Eph. 4:25, 29). God’s word condemns sins of the heart (Matt. 15:18-19; Acts 8:21). “Fluff” doesn’t condemn anything. “Fluff” doesn’t convict the world of sin (Jn. 16:8).
How are people’s hearts to be convicted of right and wrong, of truth and error? Not by preaching “fluff” but by preaching God’s word; by preaching all of God’s word; by preaching a balance of both positive and negative; by presenting lessons of hope and encouragement; by warning about sin and false doctrine; by lifting up truth and exposing error; by lessons that contain God’s words and not our own. – Keith Crews