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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Preaching on Hell—Then and Now

I am reading a book entitled A Time to Laugh…Grandpa Was a Preacher by Leroy Brownlow.  Here is a short take from it:

"At a preachers' conference that was held to discuss the merits of preaching on hell, the chairman pointed him out and asked, 'Do you preach on hell very often?'

'No, not often.'

'Why not?' inquired the chairman.  'Is it because you feel that you are not effective on this topic?'

'No, because it disrupts the service.'

'How's that?' continued the chairman.

'It's like this,' explained grandpa, 'the audience becomes so fatigued fanning that I have to declare a recess about every five minutes.'" (Page 23)

Funny, yes, but while funny there is truth here about the preaching of days gone by versus today.  Growing up in the 50's thru the early to mid 60's I often heard sermons that would figuratively speaking curl your toes and send chills up your spine.  In those days hell was real and man was in present danger of ending up there without faith, gospel obedience, and living thereafter a faithful Christian life.

Today it seems no one is afraid of God and everyone seems to believe that in the end no one is going to hell despite their disregard for spiritual things in this life.  The idea is just so you are a decent person, the way society today defines that, then all is well and you will be okay in the end.  No need to worry about reading your Bible, obeying all those commands, attending worship services, etc.  Why even non-Christians may get to heaven seems to be the thinking of the day.

Many despise all that old-time fear-mongering preaching but one wonders whether or not we are better off today without it than we would have been had we kept it up?  After all, those preachers of days gone by did preach on other subjects as well but they made it clear there were things you had to do to be saved and you left those services not doubting for a minute but what they were right.  If a tornado (think hell) is headed directly for you don't you think you might be better off if the weatherman (think preacher) warned you versus giving you soothing words of peace and all is well?

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Love Versus Love

In 1 Cor. 13 Paul talks about and defines love.  If we believe he was an inspired apostle of God then his words were the words of God.  He claims as much when he said earlier in the book, "These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (1 Cor. 2:13 NKJV)

All of us seem to have our own dictionary when it comes to defining terms.  We want words defined the way we desire they be defined even if it means we write our own dictionary.   Even the word "is," as small as it is, came into question as to its meaning if you remember the days of Bill Clinton.  The word "love" is a word we all seem to want defined the way we want it defined.

American society today has defined the word love in a way that is contrary to the way the Bible defines it.  Love for the adulterer, for the one engaged in fornication, for the active homosexual in America today means you tacitly embrace them in the very acts which the Bible calls sin.  And, we are afraid not to do it as the ones involved are often family members or friends whose love we do not want to risk by upsetting them.  The end result is we never rebuke the sinner and he or she goes on their merry way as if all is well with their spiritual being.

They are not to be rebuked for sin, in today’s society, but are to be treated as if they were righteous.  You seemingly are to rejoice that they have been made free to sin without stigma.  If a couple has a child outside of marriage you are to think how wonderful it is that they have a child.  This reaction to sin is now called "love."

Of course, that means our society would have condemned John the Baptist who refused to hold his tongue with Herod and Herodias but rather told Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have her." (Matt. 14:4 NKJV)  Today we want to do what Herod did and persecute the one who speaks out against sin.  We would say John the Baptist was a hater and intolerant, the only true sinner among the three, and that beheading was too good for him.

But how does God define love?  In 1 Cor. 13:6 Paul says of love, "It does not rejoice at wrongdoing." (ESV)  The Bible has declared adultery, fornication, and homosexuality to be sin or wrongdoing (1 Cor. 6:9-10) yet how many Americans rejoiced with the coming of no-fault divorce freeing up the adulterer from blame?  How many rejoiced with the most recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage?  That was seen as being merciful, tolerant, and a loving act, and it was about time they received equal rights and ceased to be discriminated against.  There was no point in discussing it with God for if he was to disagree he would be wrong and besides we define love nowadays, not God.  Yes, we have love versus love and the only question is whose definition will prove to hold up in the end.  Most of the world seems to be staking their claim on man, not God.

Our society has had a desire to redefine sin for we as a people have been unhappy with some of God's declarations on it.  Sin is no longer sin because of anything God has said in the Bible but sin is now what man declares it to be.  It is no longer what the Bible declares but what man declares.  It is what seems wrong in man's eyes, not in the eyes of the God of the Bible.   

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isa. 5:20 NKJV)

Woe, woe, woe to man.

[To download this article or print it out click here.]