DOCTRINE FOR THE SLOW-WITTED & ILLITERATE?!?
Jonathan Edwards long ago preached a very famous sermon called, “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God.” It is reported that Edwards had poor eyesight, wore thick glasses, and actually bent over his sermon manuscript and read it to his congregation. His scripture text was, “Their foot will slide in due time.” Deuteronomy 32:35. Before Edwards was through preaching, many of his hearers were holding onto the posts in the building in fear that they were going to drop off into hell. In most circles today, Edwards’ hearers are considered to be the victims of poor education, and superstition. With our advanced education and technology we are sure we know better than they, and consider “hellfire and brimstone” preaching to be ludicrous. How often has such preaching been severely criticized for trying to “scare people into religion?
When was the last time you heard a sermon on hell? Most any preacher who has ever attempted it will likely tell you that it is a very difficult subject to preach on. For this, and other reasons, it is seldom dealt with. It is much easier, and more pleasing, to speak of positive things like God’s love, heaven, and redemption.
But turn on the tv and it won’t be long until you see someone advertizing a pill, or a medical examination, that you don’t dare do without. If you have certain symptoms it just may be prostrate cancer, or warnings of an impending heart attack; you might have cancer. Why is this? Actually it is quite simple. We see this kind of advertizing because marketers know that fear is a great motivator. So it is alright to use fear to sell products but not to try to turn people to Christ. The devil, the enemy of our souls, has many such clever devices.
What is the truth of the matter? Do we turn people to Christ through love or just what? Apart from love there is no Christ and no salvation but love is not the primary motivator that moves people from sin to salvation. The scripture says, “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.” Prov. 16:6. Without the fear of God, people who would be religious, presume on the goodness and grace of God and live their religious life as they see fit; which means their life is devoid of true righteousness. They likely attend a lively and growing church while they live a life that demonstrates that they have made provisions for religiosity, and sin. Not out-broken sin such as drunkenness, fits of temper, and such like, but “little white lies,” envy, jealously, and likely their favorite: gossip. What is the problem? The scripture writer tells us:
The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.
The Apostle Paul, who is generally considered to be the greatest exponent of Christianity that ever lived, said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” 2Cor.5:11.We have a lot of “religion” today but very little righteousness. Perhaps what we need is more fear of God! That, and a whole lot less “feel good religion.”
You may build and pastor a megachurch with your own particular brand of Christ but I would remind you that, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” There is a heaven to gain, and a hell to shun. It is high time you woke up to the fact and started declaring it loud and clear. Preach it from the “housetops.” Or, in other words, let it fly! And what would be your motivation for this? Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:27&28. “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
“And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:28.