Should we explain to people about their sins against God? Or will that be unnecessary?
WoF teachers do not often preach on repentance, sin and judgement so much because they have a different definition of what repentance is. For example, Joseph Prince was invited with Joel Osteen on TBN Praise the Lord program in October 1 2012 and he said the following: “You know the word repentance, as Joel said, is from the Greek word metanoia which literally means to change your mind. And every time me or Joel preach the word without using the word repentance sometimes. But people’s minds are being changed all the time, from thinking this way negatively from positive.” So their definition of repentance is simply changing your mind, from negative thinking to positive. Again this is the doctrine of positive confession taught of the cult New Thought. It is also the teaching of the seeker sensitive movement which teaches that church growth means good church. So anything that will try to bring the unchurched into the church shows spiritual growth in number and in spirit. The aim is to give the seeker, what they want. So this methodology suggests that it is best to leave the doctrines which make people uncomfortable and guilty and complicated. Don’t even use the word ‘doctrine’ or ‘hell’. Rather, they decide that ‘love’ is the main subject. God’s love for man. They even go as far to allow ungodly things to excite the ungodly the bring them in. In other words, they use carnal means in order to attract carnal minds. They forget however man’s attitude to God also which will lead us to understand the need to be saved and sanctified by Him. This naturally will introduce the doctrine of repentance also.
Genuine repentance is a change of mind indeed, but it happens when God grants it to the sinner (Acts 5:31, 17:30). Repentance also means turning away from sin and turning to Christ by faith alone (Matthew 1:15). The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. As A.W Pink put it “Repentance is a Spirit-given realization of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and a taking sides with God against myself”. We have a sense of fear, sorrow and a strong desire and hatred towards sin. Hence it is not merely thinking ‘negative’ to ‘positive’. Biblical preaching must first help the sinner understand the exceeding sinfulness of sin as part of his fallen nature and sin as a deed. Biblical preaching first focuses on God Holiness and then man’s condition and man’s attitude to God. In short, here a summary of how biblical preaching of the Gospel begins. God is Holy. Since God is Holy He is good. We are evil and we have sinned against God. If then God is good and we are evil then what does a Holy God do with wicked sinners like us? You see then the sinner has a reason to fear God because He is Good.
C.H Spurgeon gives us a very good reason why preachers must do so: “The preachers work is to throw sinners down in utter helplessness, so that they may be compelled to look up to Him who alone can help them.”.
In 2 Timothy 4:2 the Apostle Paul instruct’s Timothy on what is the normative biblical way of preaching “Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.”
So withholding doctrines which teach us the total depravity of man, the justice of God and the judgement to come for sinners, is a harmful thing and a dangerous thing. Because if they are not told of the reality of their nature and sin, they are deceived to believe that they are good. Again, a word from the Prince of Preachers : “These people do not get a true healing because they do not know the disease under which they are suffering. They are never truly clothed because nothing is done to strip them.” And I was one of those people. I can testify to the truthfulness of this danger. For i was a false Christian and a hypocrite under the label ‘saved’ for a long time.
Is it not reasonable that when the sinner is convinced of his own fallen state and sin against God; that he will mostly value receiving the Gospel with a helpless heart seeking for mercy? After all, do we come to God for our material wealth and physical health and our positive thinking? Or do we come to Him because if we don’t have Christ, we have nothing? We come dear friends to Christ because without Christ alone, we have nothing.
Application: I was once introduced to the seeker sensitive teaching also. I say this in order to make you the reader understand that I have been in that place where it can be summed up as a motivational speaking about self-esteem. By nature we all desire to hear positive things to begin our journey in life. Here is a question that helped me begin to think about this more seriously: what’s the difference between the world’s preaching with the Christian preaching? The Scriptures warn us that false preachers will come and “they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lust’s shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”(2 Timothy 4:3-4). That is the method of worldly preaching. So guard your ears dear reader and know what Christian preaching sounds like. Study the word carefully and commit yourself to it to be an approved student of the Word. Here are some texts of Scripture to help: Matthew 23, Matthew 7:14-27, 1 Corinthians 1:18, 2:2, Galatians 1:10-12, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Titus 1:9, 2:1. So that you may be able to discern, with the help of the Spirit, what is being preached in the pulpit. Most of these false ministries have not much to teach on church history and the history of preaching either. And this is one of the ways they can lie and convince others that they are what they claim to be.
So I would also suggest to read and hear sermons from the past, to give you an idea of how the normal way of biblical preaching was done. I’ve already mentioned C.H Spurgeon to look to. There are countless books of his sermons and writings which are very edifying for the soul. There is the history of the Reformation and the Great Awakening which was used mightily by God to bring sinners to God through John Calvin, Martin Luther, William Tyndale, Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. And lastly friends, let us not judge according to our feelings on this subject, but by the prevailing and glorifying truth of God’s inerrant and infallible Word. For the heart can easily be deceived, so as to make us as children “tossed to and fro, carried about with every wind of doctrine,” (Jeremiah 17:9, Ephesians 4:14).