A high school in my area sent an email out a few days ago about a student who was involved in a single-car accident on the way to school. He passed away today. Our lives are fleeting vapors.
This life is fraught with constant uncertainty. Even in the midst of good times, heartache and tragedy may be a phone call or door knock away. Bad things happen and we all understand that they are just part of living. We take precautions and try as best we know how to insulate ourselves and loved ones from harm. The reality is that traffic accidents, natural disasters, crime, sickness, and other life-altering events are an eventuality if we live long enough.
Some things happen because of the evil intent of others while many events are accidental or natural. Regardless of the source, most of these tragedies are out of our control. Occasionally, someone does come along with a warning to prepare us for the inevitable. A skilled physician sees an anomaly during an exam. Through treatment, they are able to prevent the further spread of disease. But can you imagine the outrage if the physician failed to adequately warn the people they’re supposed to protect because they didn’t want to scare or offend patients? That is exactly what is happening as many preachers fail to warn people and the consequences are eternally tragic.
Dear Christian friend, I’m writing this article with a sense of humility and love for the Church and fellow preachers. The issue at hand is so critical, if my admonishment makes you uncomfortable, that’s a start because what I’m aiming for is a holy sense of urgency. Roughly 175,000 people die and go into eternity every day. People’s souls are literally hanging in the balance between Heaven and Hell. We don’t have a moment to waste.
As ministers, we have one primary job and that is to preach the Gospel. Unfortunately, in many churches and ministries, that isn’t happening. Instead, we have a growing number of preachers who distort the grace of God. Numerous pastors, teachers, and evangelists are consumed with selfish ambition and envy( Philippians 1:15-16). Counting members, upward mobility, and getting the surrounding community to like us causes many preachers to compromise the truth of the Gospel. The message becomes so distorted that many people who hear it will assume they are saved when they’re not. A number of years ago during a Sunday morning service, I heard a young preacher tell a large gathering essentially that they were okay and God was basically pleased with them.
No repentance, no brokenness, and no warning (Galatians 1:9-10).
This type of preaching has no place in a Christian church. Are we so consumed with people-pleasing that we would neglect to tell people that God is a holy all-consuming fire and that apart from repentance and faith in Jesus, they will die in their sins? God forbid! You might say, “Howard, isn’t that a bit harsh?” No friend, what’s harsh is not telling people the truth about the danger they are in. Imagine knowing about the Titanic, September 11th, or the Indian Ocean Tsunami a few days before it happened. Wouldn’t you do everything in your power to warn people? You wouldn’t spend months trying to get them to know and trust you first so they see how loving you are. You would risk your dignity, reputation, and possibly even your life to warn people. It is the most Christ-like thing we can do.
The Bible is replete with examples of shepherds who fail to warn people. In fact, God is so concerned with preachers and prophets who don’t warn people to repent and turn to Him that He rebukes them (Ezekiel 3:18-21). Moreover, He says, “My anger is kindled against the shepherds.” This is because they mislead people, telling them everything is okay, God is pleased with them, and judgment won’t come (Jeremiah 14:14-15, Micah 3:11). All of these examples point to the fact that God holds ministers accountable for failure to warn people.
Don’t believe the lie that you must first earn the right to share the Gospel. This is simply a worldly method to ingratiate ourselves to the community via a spiritual bait and switch with no biblical precedent. One preacher gives the following example:
“On my plane flight tomorrow, how am I supposed to earn the right to witness to that person? Am I supposed to pour his drinks for him? I have the right commanded to me by Almighty God to witness to him or her and you can be assured I will pray for that opportunity, and I will take advantage of that opportunity.” — Mark Cahill
Amid the tepid, seeker-sensitive approach to reaching the lost, Leonard Ravenhill asked preachers timely questions:
“Is soul-hot preaching a lost art? Have we conceded to impatient snack-bar sermons, spiced with humor to edge jaded spiritual appetites?”
Dear ministry friends, Let’s put aside all human craftiness, cunning, and marketing campaigns in our misguided effort to win public opinion. Instead, let’s rely on the power of the Holy Spirit through faithful Gospel preaching to save souls (Ephesians 4:14).
Look at the current state of our world and the cesspool of sin people are drowning in. Evil is called good, truth is supposedly relative, and society is imploding. Wars rage, lawlessness increases, and love is waxing cold. Please discern the times we live in and know that our redemption draws near. As we wait for redemption, lost people blindly race toward the judgment and wrath of a holy God.
As His disciples, we have no excuse for failing to warn people. We must preach the whole truth of the Gospel and warn people about the coming judgment, repentance, and faith in Jesus. It is a loving thing to warn people. Jesus loves everyone and desires that all people come to Him (Matthew 9:36).
May God bless you as you make Him known.