Colossians 1:28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
The apostle Paul rejoiced in suffering and afflictions for the sake of the church because God gave him the task to deliver the Gospel to the Gentiles. Previous to that, the “mystery” had been hidden from the Gentiles throughout the generations, and it had now been laid at Paul’s feet to reveal the saving message of Jesus to the non-Jewish world.
The foundation of that message was Christ, “the hope of glory”. And how is that hope communicated?
The Hope of the world is communicated
through the preaching of God’s Word.
In our modern age of techno-wizardry, plain old preaching is considered by many to be slow, lame, out-dated and inefficient. Not according to God. This preaching is made up of two parts: warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom. In the church today there is a sore lacking of both warning and teaching when it comes to the Gospel. We rarely warn, and typically, only lightly teach the true and complete Gospel. What we do today for the most part, is “sell” the Gospel. What do I mean by that?
Well, we live in a market-driven world of a zillion choices. There are innumerable things competing with the message of the Gospel. So the tendency is to package the Gospel in such a way where the benefits & features are emphasized, and the cost & sacrifice are minimized.
The typical message of the Gospel today is that “Jesus loves you”, “Jesus will improve your life”, “God promises an abundant life of blessing” and for the most part the general idea is communicated that if you turn your life over to Jesus… all will be well in this life and the next. Just “git’em to say yes” to Jesus.
While all of those positive things are certainly true to various extents, and certainly wonderful, the problem is that is only half of the truth. We need to honestly disclose the cost and the sacrifice that is part of being a Christian. Does that mean that someone cannot be saved if they are not told that “part” of the Gospel? No, not necessarily (but it tends to produce short term converts who fall away when the going gets rough). However, it absolutely means that they are going to be in for rude awakening when that “cost” part of the Christian life comes to fruition.
- Matthew 10:22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (NKJV)
- Luke 6:22 Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake. (NKJV)
- John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (NKJV)
- 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. (NKJV)
- Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (NKJV)
When we teach someone about the Gospel, we need to teach them both the benefits and the cost.
What about the warning Paul speaks of? It is obviously not the benefits you warn about; you don’t warn someone they are about to receive a reward. You warn someone when they are in trouble or in danger.Concerning the Gospel, what is there to warn people about? Of course, one thing is hell.
The true Gospel includes a warning about hell.
This is an aspect of the Gospel that is not only neglected nowadays, it is downright ignored. Why? Because it is seen as a “negative” way to present the Gospel in an age of “positive” Christianity. It is considered a bed selling technique. And often I hear people say “you can’t offer the Gospel as fire insurance”. All of those ideas are utterly foreign to Scripture.
Jesus spoke more of hell than he did of heaven. So the apostle Paul was only following the perfect example of Christ by teaching AND WARNING all men about hell when he proclaimed the Gospel.
- Matthew 3:12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (NKJV)
- Matthew 18:9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire. (NKJV)
- Matthew 22:13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (NKJV)
- Luke 16:23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (NKJV)
- Luke 10:15 And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades. (NKJV)
- Luke 16:28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ (NKJV)
Beloved, make no mistake… you are not selling fire insurance when you tell someone well about the reality of hell. You are telling them the truth, and telling them what Jesus and the apostle Paul would tell them.
It is no more “fire insurance” to tell someone about hell
than it is “health-insurance” to tell someone
about a train that is going to run them over.
It is no more negative to tell someone they are eternally condemned to the fires of hell than is negative to tell someone that if they don’t eat right they will get sick. Hell is a reality. Jesus knew it and proclaimed; so did the Apostles; so did Paul. We should to.
I’m your friend if I warn you about casual sex or cigarettes;
but I’m an intolerant religious zealot selling fire insurance
if I warn you about eternal hell. Yeah, that makes sense…
It amazes me how we will be truthful about every other dangerous or hurtful thing we encounter (cigarettes, casual sex, bad diet, fast food, etc.) but we consider it ill mannered, mean-spirited or just plain old bad “religion” to warn someone about the fires of hell.
Consider this statement from Jonathan Edwards, one of the greatest preachers of all time, whose milestone sermon entitled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” spawned a massive revival in the early days of America (emphasis mine):
“So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of, all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.”
In short, what Mr. Edwards is saying here is “you’re going to hell because God is angry over your sin; and the only thing keeping you from going there right now is God’s patience and mercy”. When was the last time you heard someone say that any Gospel presentation? “You’re going to hell, and you better turn to God before its too late”. Nope, that just would fly into today’s “seeker friendly” church environment.
Don’t sell someone short when you present the Gospel. Present the entire message, teaching every man and warning every man in all wisdom; proclaiming to them the good news of Jesus love, the cost of taking up your cross and follow Him; and also, the reality of their eternal condemnation and eternity in hell if they don’t respond and obey God.
That is the message of Jesus Christ. That is the Gospel preached by the apostle Paul. That is the Good News.
Lord, Help us to spread the Good News of Your Son in the way that YOU want. Teach us not to SELL the Gospel, using our own tricks to get people to say ‘yes’; but to merely share the entire message and let You handle the results. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you find yourself sharing a very feel good, easy-to-say-yes version of the Gospel? When is the last time you heard someone preach or witness about the reality of hell? When is the last time you warned someone yourself? If Jesus spoke of it often, should we?
Application: The goal of the sharing the Gospel is not to get as many people to say “yes” as possible; the goal is to get as many people to genuinely “take up their cross and follow Jesus” as possible. That’s an entirely different thing. We should share the whole message of Christ: good and bad, blessing and consequence, positive and negative, reward and punishment…. and let God do the work of salvation.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?