Early on in my ministry I was a “hell fire and damnation” preacher. I learned it from my roots and most of my messages in those days were either of a discipleship nature or about everything I/we opposed. Going to hell was a common theme, and of course, you didn’t want to go there. On top of that, I was hard on “sinners” and “sin”…forgetting that I once was one and unwilling to admit that at times, I was still a saint who sinned!
Then, upon a season of reflection, I realized the harshness of my preaching at times and determined I would preach grace and love. That I would concentrate on the “positives” instead of the “negatives”. This type of preaching was received far more readily than the former. I stuck with it as did many other ministers of the gospel. Today there are many more churches preaching and teaching the more “uplifting” tenants of our faith than the supposed “downers”.
But what has it brought us?
My grandfather had a favorite saying, “The proof is in the pudding.” In other words, the mixture of ingredients determined the delicious flavor. If the ingredients were good, the resulting pudding would taste good. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t know until you tasted the results of the mixture.
Has our “soft on sin” approach to preaching produced a “pudding” in our society that taste bad? I fear so. What’s worse, it’s made many christians much too soft on sin. The proof is in the consistent voting for immorality rather than morality. We have failed in many circles to declare “God hates sin”. Does He love the sinner? Yes. That’s why Jesus died. But, that does not change the fact God still hates sin and when people refuse to walk in righteousness, the result will eventually be judgment.
Grace is not an excuse to sin nor to allow sin to go unabated in our lives or society.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I STILL BELIEVE IN GRACE PREACHING AND CONCENTRATING ON THE UPLIFTING PARTS!!! God knows how much more we need grace today. But could it be that we need to have a little more balance in our preaching? Could it be that there needs to be just a little more “there will be hell to pay” if we don’t change our ways?
…I believe so.