Incomplete preaching

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«Watch over yourself and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in so doing you will save yourself and those who hear you. »

1 Timothy 4:16

The purpose of this article is to denounce the types of preaching that are unfortunately not in line with the Gospel.

 

What I wish to expose to you is that today, if you attend a protestant type of church, you may find yourself in one of these types of church preaching:

 

  • The Gospel of Cheap Grace

  • The Gospel of Condemnation

  • The Gospel balanced (as preached by Jesus)

I. THE GOSPEL OF CHEAP GRACE

In general, these churches pride themselves on being more into evangelisation. That is, making new disciples.

 

As a result, they put a lot of emphasis on the love and grace of God. All or at least most of the preaching will be about grace.

 

Grace is not a problem at all because it is the means by which we are saved and this makes it one of the most important themes.

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"For it is by grace you are saved through faith. And that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."

Ephesians 2:8

However, if this speech refers only to grace, it is not fully representative of what the BIBLE teaches about evangelism. This is where the problem lies.

 

In fact, during these masses and/or preaching sessions, one will hear mostly phrases such as : 

  • God wants to have a relationship with you

  • God is enthusiastic about you

  • God loves you

And this is true throughout the entire sermon.

Moreover, the verses quoted are usually the same, which means that others are omitted. On the other hand, sometimes the verses are not even recited in their entirety. Some parables are never mentioned, such as "the wheat and the chaff". Everything is carefully chosen. 

 

It can even happen that during the preaching, no verse is quoted in full, but that is not serious, as long as you retain the essential, namely:

"God loves you"

The reason for these choices is thoughtful and strategic. Indeed, these churches tend to think that they need to do things differently to attract people, and to avoid "shocking" them.

 

Their aim is therefore to immediately reassure people, by presenting them with the image of a loving GOD who loves them. All this without addressing the topic of sin, repentance or sanctification, as we do not know the audience we are addressing and have no knowledge of the trials the audience is going through.

 

I agree that taking into consideration the difficulties a person is facing can be a commendable reason for not addressing their sin right away. Indeed, one does not want that person to come to church and be immediately judged as a sinner, they need comfort first.

 

This may be due to the excess of some churches that are in the "gospel of condemnation". A theme that we will address later. All this to say that going from one extreme to the other is not the right choice, because in fact part of the GOSPEL is thus concealed and this, whatever the objectives and motives defended.

 

Concealed for what? Because in these preachings or masses, you will notice that at the end, it is declared that:  

 

"Jesus died for us for our sins, do you wish to accept him? And follow him from now on?"

 

While often the preaching has no connection with this invitation, its understanding and implications.

 

Indeed, a person's conversion in this setting is quite superficial, because they don't understand what they are committing themselves to, or what it really means to be a disciple. 

 

They will be told to go and feed with your brothers in meetings or on the internet: which is a danger. Do you know what the person is looking at on the internet? What theology they are following? You leave a newborn baby to be preyed upon by ravenous wolves who cleverly go on the internet and then wonder at the spiritual immaturity of the sheep.

 

But the person has little choice, because eventually the preaching that made him raise his hand is the same for 52 days of the year. At this point, many make the choice to either stay but for the friends, or to change communities (because they want to know more), and finally some also choose to return to the world altogether.


Ultimately, as a result of all this, it can be concluded that not telling people the whole truth is ultimately a lack of love. As a result, there is also a lack of confidence in the Gospel's ability to reach people in the 21st century. People need to hear the whole truth of the Gospel, the whole message, in order to make an informed decision beforehand, because it is only by hearing the whole Gospel that we understand how much GOD loves us.

II - THE GOSPEL OF CONDEMNATION

In general, these churches pride themselves on being MORE in "SANCTIFICATION". That is, to no longer live in sin.

The main ideology is centred on this. 

 

In itself, it is a good thing to give up those things that take us away from GOD. But, there is the way to say it and above all, is this the Gospel? 

To be in a Church and hear every Sunday a guilt-ridden preaching, making us look vile and to leave every Sunday feeling hopeless as people who are worth nothing other than being "spiritual punching bags"? 

 

"You are Sinners"

"You will go to hell"

These are the phrases that people in these churches hear all too often. 

 

The problem with all this is that Grace is very little addressed or addressed in an attenuated way that leads one to believe that Grace is not enough, not so important.

Many people from these churches have a rather limited knowledge of grace and GOD's love. It could be summed up in John 3:16 but in the literal reading without being further explained through other biblical events. 


One of the recurring themes is also Hell, indeed in these churches many live in guilt and fear, which in the long run can be very burdensome. The way in which the Gospel is preached is therefore felt more as "bad news", and as a result of these practices, one can easily notice that these churches have a clever tendency to become legalistic. In contrast to the Gospel of love, the other extreme is the Gospel of fear, and love has little or no place in it.

 

This results in some people leaving these churches or the Faith, because they have been hurt. Those who remain go to other churches and discover the missing link through a church where preaching is balanced or the other extreme.

 

This is again the consequence of a Gospel that has lost part of its message.

 

"But as for you, man of God, flee from these things, and seek righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness."

1 Timothy 6:11

So what is the solution to these extremes? 

 

The only solution is to explain Grace and Repentance clearly and completely.

III - THE SOLUTION

 

GRACE

It is by understanding Grace that a pure and perfect conversion followed by repentance can eventually manifest itself. To begin with, let us see a definition of grace.

 

Grace: Remission of all or part of the sentence of a convicted person or commutation of that sentence to a lesser punishment. (source: Larousse)


Presidential pardon: The presidential pardon allows the President of the Republic to remove or reduce the sentence of a convict. If you are sentenced to a prison term, you will be released before you have served the full sentence. If you are sentenced to a fine, the amount of the fine will be reduced. Unlike an amnesty, a presidential pardon does not erase the conviction. The President of the Republic does not have to justify his decision to grant or refuse a pardon.

 

We can see two things:

  • The pardon is granted by an authority

  • The pardon is granted to a Condemned person


 

Without this pardon, the convict is AWARE that the sentence will be fully carried out. According to the Bible, what are we pardoned for?

 

According to the Bible: 

 

"He who sins is of the devil, for the devil sins from the beginning. The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:8 

 

Sin is disobedience to God. In this verse we can see two more things:

  • That the devil is the one who initiates sin

  • That those who sin are like the Devil

  • The Son of GOD came to destroy the works of the Devil

The last part is the most important, because it shows an action of GOD to undo an action that has been done, and this seems to be related to sin. Let's look at another verse. 

 

"For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 6:23

 

This verse, popular among Christians, is necessary to understand grace. Indeed, with this verse we understand several things:

 

  • Sin brings a death sentence

  • But that GOD has given a free way out of that condemnation

  • This is eternal life in Jesus

 

Therefore, the following verse makes total sense.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

 

So we can see in this famous verse several things:

  • God

  • Only Son

  • Death

  • Eternal life

 

This last verse is unequivocal and allows us to understand that we are condemned to death, as a result of sin, but in order not to suffer this, God gave his Son so that we might have eternal life. 

 

And it is only by knowing this that one understands the Gospel Message and that a conversion can take place in a sure and certain way. For it is necessary for the person to know that he was clearly condemned because of sin, that he had a death sentence hanging over his head. 

And when the person becomes fully aware of this, two choices are really open to him:

  • Refuse the Gospel knowingly

  • Pure repentance

 

I would like to draw a parallel with two equally concrete examples. A condemned man in an American prison who is on death row understands perfectly well the meaning of having grace. And in this example, he is aware that he is condemned.

 

The second example is the parable of the debt, which presents grace in a perfect and extended way to his neighbour (Matthew 18:21-35). In this parable, the man who comes to ask for mercy is also aware of his condition and that is why he asks for mercy.

 

This is also in line with the words of Jesus when he says:

 

"And Jesus answered and said unto them, They that are well have no need of a physician; but they that are unwell. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners."

Luke 5:31-32

For in all cases, people are either aware of their condition or are made aware of it.

Being exposed to the whole Gospel makes it possible to understand the state in which the person finds himself, it also makes it possible to realize that he now desires to change his attitude and way of life in order to no longer be in disobedience, and to do so will begin a path of sanctification with the help of the Holy Spirit.

 

Thus, with balanced preaching as Jesus and the apostles did, with meditation and the communion of the brethren, she will grow.

However, without this journey telling the person that God loves them, without them knowing they are condemned, is not only not the full message of the Gospel, but by approaching the subject like this, they risk not being converted for the right reasons.
 

And as Jesus said:

 

 "Repentance and forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

Luke 24:47

REPENTANCE

An article has already been written on this subject in french. You can find it here.

 

It is useful to specify that repentance includes an internal change of the person who questions everything and chooses to change his perception of things, his understanding, his feelings towards things around him, his way of judging as well as his determination.

 

Does this sound familiar?

 

"Do not be moulded by this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern the will of God: what is good, what pleases him, what is perfect."

Romans 12:2

 

For for any conversion, repentance is indispensable, and this theme is regularly addressed in the Bible. 

 

Here are some fairly clear and non-exhaustive verses:

"After John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.

And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe in the gospel."

Mark 1:14-15

 

"Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Acts 2:38

 

Here we see clearly that Jesus was preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and asking individuals to repent. This is inseparable from evangelism. Moreover, to explain grace effectively as the Gospel explains it, it is impossible to ignore repentance.

 

The solution is also in the statement of these two verses which summarise the thought of the Gospel:

 

For God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:17

 

I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose life, that you may live. 

Deuteronomy 30.19

 

There is the presentation of life, death and the fact that God wants you to live. This is also the process that Jesus uses in the vast majority of his parables.

 

In the first one we see that the Gospel of condemnation has no place, and in the second one we see that death must be presented as well, in order to clearly and voluntarily choose life.

IV - CONCLUSION

 

It is important that the messages we teach or preach are in line with the way the Gospel deals with the subject. We must be complete, and not devise strategies in God's place that cut out parts of the Gospel in order to win converts that become superficial. A disciple preaches the message of his master; if he modifies it in any way, it is no longer the message of the master. We should not be surprised if, when the master returns, he does not recognise certain people who refer to his words, which are biased, and to him as a disciple. 

 

Whether it is the Gospel of Good Grace or the Gospel of Condemnation, they are not the Gospel as Christ revealed it.

 

With regard to the former, it should be noted that there is an indelible link between repentance and conversion.

 

Especially since in the Bible, when a person agrees to follow the Lord, he or she is baptised immediately. Today some people choose to follow Jesus without repenting. This is because the preaching does not reflect the full message of the Gospel of Christ and has become a marketing strategy.

 

However, the question can be clearly asked:  Conversion without repentance.... Is it really a conversion?

God has never asked for a change of strategy. Even in the most dangerous cities of the world, the apostles did not change their strategy. They got killed because of it, but it also caused revival in the places where they left their lives.

 

It is imperative that pastors causing this type of conversion, return to God's strategy.  For the opposite produces newborns who are never strengthened in the faith. At least give your sheep whole milk if not solid food, so that their conversion is based on firm assurance and not emotions. 

 

Make disciples and a community of teachers as the Epistle to the Hebrews says:

 

 

"We have much to say about this, and things difficult to explain, because you have become slow to understand. For you, who long ago should have been teachers, still need to be taught the first rudiments of the oracles of God; you have come to need milk and not solid food. Now whoever is on milk has no experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose judgment is trained by use to discern what is right and what is wrong."

Hebrews 5.11-14

 

Or what Apostle Paul says in his First Epistle to the Corinthians:

"For I, brethren, was not able to speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to carnal men, as to children in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, because you could not bear it; and you cannot even now, because you are still carnal. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not carnal, and do you not walk according to man? 4 When one says, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are you not men? Are you not men?

1Corinthians 3.1-4

As for the second, we must remember these last verses which are clearly missing:

 

"Fear is not in love, but perfect love banishes fear; for fear supposes punishment, and he who fears is not perfect in love."

1 John: 4.18 

 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, temperance."

Galatians 5:22

 

Indeed, the fruits of the Spirit are clearly missing, and a cult of harmful fear. We are not perfect indeed, but there is no need to make people feel guilty and take away all hope as Christ does.

 

In conclusion, every church should have the Church of Philadelphia as a model. Every pastor, elder, and other decisive members of the congregation must see to this. The question is not: are they doing it? but are they putting the means in place? Every church needs to look inward and ask itself what kind of church it is at present.

 

For they may inadvertently find themselves in the same situation as Sardis (Revelation 3:4-6) and Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-19) for example. However, this may be the subject of another article.

"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: 'The Holy and True One, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shuts; who shuts and no one opens, say these things. I know your works: behold, I have opened a door for you, and no man can shut it: because you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not forsaken my name. Behold, I will bring those of the Synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews, and are not, but lie; behold [I say], I will bring them and make them bow down at thy feet, and they shall know that I love thee. Because you have kept the word of my patience, I will also keep you from the hour of temptation, which is to come upon all the world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one may take your crown from you. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the Temple of my God, and he will not go out any more; and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my new name.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Apocalypse 3:7-13