I too often hear empty phrases about a full, rich, and deep God.
“God loves you, right where you’re at.”
“God wants you to live your life to the fullest.”
“God doesn’t want you to be hurting.”
“God wants you to be happy.”
Well, actually, no.
How dare we make shallow phrases based on what we think will comfort our hearts, and put it in the name of God Himself.
Today, I preached the Gospel in front of about forty high schoolers.
I preached the cross of Christ and the glory and victory found in His resurrection.
And yes, I preached about how we are utterly sinful and our unrighteous practices and lives are an abomination to God.
Yes, I preached a reality and warning of hell.
It sounds brutal. It sounds extreme.
And it’s sad that it does. Because, my friend, this is the Gospel at its core.
Many times in preaching the Gospel, we make Jesus sound attractive, but we neglect the grittiness of the Gospel. I’m so guilty of it.
“When I met Jesus, He gave me hope and joy and made my life complete.”
See, with that, I would want Jesus.
But I wouldn’t realize how I need Him.
“Jesus died for you because He loves you.”
With that, I would want Jesus.
If He died for others, He must’ve been a really good man.
But I wouldn’t realize how I need Him.
“God doesn’t want you to be hurting or sad or angry or depressed. God wants you to trust Him and live your life to fullest.”
But where is the Gospel? Where is the saving power of God?
How often have we fallen for a sugar-coated, watered down Gospel that makes us feel good, accepting our sin and comforting our guilty hearts.
Here’s the thing: If I don’t brutally realize how my deep sin not only has separated me from God, but that I have His mighty wrath awaiting me at my death… I will not understand my need for a Savior.
I needed to know how sinful I was.
I needed to know how my sin separated me, cast me out of the presence of God.
I needed to know that God despises sin.
I needed to know that hell was real, and that I was going there upon my death.
Only after that did I understand how desperately I needed a Savior.
And only after that, did the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ shatter my heart of stone.
Only after that did I come to know Christ Jesus.
I must know the depth of my sin to know the depth of my Savior’s love for me.
Dear friend, it was once said by Spurgeon that when we think too lightly of sin, we think too lightly of the Savior. He also said,
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
I fear that if I preach a sugar-coated Gospel, the blood of those who heard will be upon my hands at their death.
I fear that if I preach a sugar-coated Gospel, the screams of those in hell would go straight to my ears.
My friend, this is it: I love them too much to not speak of hell.
I love them too dearly to not tell of how great their sin and how great the Savior.
“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life..”
2 Corinthians 2:15-16a
Yes, people may get offended. But yes, people may come to realize their need for a Savior.
Some hearts will harden and others hearts will melt.
The Gospel will fall sweetly on blessed ears, and in light of that, it’s all worth it.
There’s no Gospel of Heaven without a warning of hell.
There’s a hope of divine love only after the reality of divine wrath.
There’s washing into pure white only after the revealed scarlet stains.
There’s a promise of peace only after the midst of raging war.
There’s a bid into the light only in the revealed darkness.
There’s a glorious salvation only after reality of horrid condemnation.
There’s a celebration of unity with God only after the mourning of eternal separation.
There’s a rejoicing in friends of God only after an acknowledgement of once enemies.
There’s news of everlasting life only after the horrid news of assured death.
There’s a blessed righteousness only after the abolishing of cursed sin.
There is great joy of salvation, but only after great mourning of sin.
May we stand for a Gospel that breaks, that pierces and kills before it saves.
For that was our Savior.
May our souls break at the foot of the cross. May we be pierced with the reality of wrath due to our sin. May we die to ourselves, crucified on the cross with Christ.
And yet immediately thereafter saved by our sweet Jesus. Crimson stains wiped to the purest of whites. Now abiding in the Beloved of God. Ushered into life everlasting, with the hope of glory when Christ comes back to establish His good, good Kingdom.
Our sweet Jesus deserves the careful, intentional, and Biblical preaching and speaking of his own cross, of his own resurrection, and his own hope of glory.
My sister, be bold. Your sweet and risen Jesus looks on you with love, love deeper than any fear or lack or tremor.
Preach it, and preach it truly. Love deeply.
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16
With much, much love. And a boldness to speak the Gospel in truth. -Melissa
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