Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20:21 (KJV)
Today we are awash in wrong teachings about getting someone biblically saved. We have formulas, acronyms, 4 spiritual laws, 5 spiritual laws, 6 spiritual laws, and tactics. This is good – as long as it produces fruit. We need converts, not concerns. We need possessors of Jesus Christ, not merely professors of Christ. We need churches full of wheat, not tares. Sheep, not goats.
“1,2,3 repeat after me” prayers do no good if one has not fully come to a position of repentance. The Gospels speak over and over on the subject. If you convince me with plain words – but I am not yet sorry for my sins, and I have not yet come to an understanding that I am in danger of Hellfire for all eternity – you’re having me pray way too soon.
There should be evidence of a changed life. “joe Sixpack” spends his time outside of work watching tv, and drinking beer, watching things on TV that are sinful. A Hyles-type Baptist comes to the door, knocks, a five minute conversation ensues, and Joe Sixpack finds himself manipulated into a prayer. The “Evangelist” leaves, and Joe sixpack goes back to his beer and his tv. There’s no nagging feeling of, “I shouldn’t be doing this.” There’s no sudden elation of being free of a sinful life – mostly because the issue was not addressed. His life over the next few weeks may show some half-hearted attempts at finding a church – “after all, I’m a Christian now.” That tapers off shortly, his new Bible mostly unopened and seldom read. He goes back to or continues drinking his beer. The guys on his bowling team may joke him from time to time about calling himself a Christian, as they witness the hypocrisy of his being the same as them, but calling himself a Christian. He dies later on… and awakens in Hell, his terrified screams beginning as he realizes that he will burn FOREVER. “But I’m a Christian!” He wails – and realizes that several million other people in Hell are screaming the same thing.
This is not a thing to dismiss lightly. Of the 143,000 people per day that enter Hell, how many of them consider themselves Christians?
This thought should frighten pastors and evangelists. The average Christian may not need to worry about it. but if someone is in the ministry and they aren’t the least bit worried about this – then I wonder if God really has called them to the ministry.
Preaching The gospel requires the Truth about sin
A sinner cannot repent of sin if they are not told about the coming judgment on sin. They have no pressing need to repent of that sin if they are not warned of the penalty for that sin.
A sinner cannot accept Jesus “just as I am.” The time honored Hymn is a little misleading to this generation, who does not have the benefit of the preaching of a John R. Rice to call sin “sin. Nor the eloquent fervor of a Charles Spurgeon. This generation is unique in American history, in that most Americans are as ignorant of the true Gospel as the citizens of any country in the 10/40 window, such as Burma or India.
We have to take the time now, to explain concepts like a righteous and holy God, sin, a coming judgment, and eternal punishment in Hell – before we can get to things like vicarious atonement, propitiation, and salvation.
Our gospel addresses today jump right to vicarious atonement, without stopping to explain why the sinner needs that atonement. Without understanding that need, Evangelist Ray Comfort describes this as a sinner “trying Christianity.” “Well, drugs and alcohol aren’t working out good for me – I’ll try this.”
There is no dedication to it. No commitment. Only a curious, “I’ll try it.”
However, if urgency is added to it, and the sinner becomes aware they are a sinner, and in need of salvation to avoid eternal punishment in a literal hell, with literal flames – and not merely some wistful “eternal separation from God” as Billy Graham describes it – then they will (once convinced of that eventual end) urgently seek God for forgiveness.
Turn or Burn
The Gospels and the Book of Acts both stress repentance. Yet it is missing from almost all Gospel presentations.
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish Luke 13:3 (KJV)
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:5 (KJV)
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matt 4:17 (KJV)
Jesus spoke several times about Repentance. Jesus also spoke about Hell more than He spoke about Heaven! And yet, Hell and Repentance is missing from most Gospel presentations.
There’s a common saying in Christianity today, something disparaging about “Preachers and hellfire and brimstone sermons.” I notice they rarely say “Pastors” because a Pastor is implied to be educated, but a preacher implies someone with a Southern Accent, the implication of being a redneck – whatever that is – and obviously uneducated.
That’s not an argument against hell and brimstone sermons, it’s more an argument against education, if that is the case. In actuality, education and intelligence has nothing to do with it. Charles Spurgeon spoke on Hell a lot, and his sermons were so eloquent that some of them are unintelligeable to today’s hearers!
Why preach Hell and Brimstone sermons? Because if you don’t, people will not be saved. I guarantee that. Because if you say, “I’m saved!”, I’ll ask you “Saved from what?” Think about that for a bit. Do you have an answer?
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:32 (KJV)