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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Is Fire and Brimstone the Message?

I suppose a lot of homes are built around the principle: Do right or pay. The only motivation is to fear the punishment of those in charge. That is not the message of the gospel. 

I have, on some occasions, heard people ask me to preach a message of fire and brimstone. They ask me to preach hard sermons to bring those rotten sinners to repentance. I explain that I am one of those rotten sinners. I explain that I used to preach that way. I explain that, while I believe in a literal hell, that is not what motivates me. I explain that the gospel's message is one of love and forgiveness. I know there are consequences and I can't avoid them but I must preach the message as it is presented. I tell the truth about the consequences but focus on the work of Christ.

It is grace that saves us- not fear. Grace comes as we realize what has been done for us by Jesus. We come to Him, not because we have cleaned up our acts or have become something other than sinners, but because we are imperfect sinners who accept the gift of forgiveness that God has paid for through the blood of Jesus.

God did not send Jesus to condemn the world. He sent Jesus into the world to give life. He did so because of His love. He is the perfect Father who comes for His children. He does so to protect and provide. He does so out of His love.

Yes, there is a place where the worm never dies and the fire never goes out. It is horrible. It is the place that God sent Jesus so that we would never go there. 

Maybe fire and brimstone is easier to believe. I have had people who are caught up in sin tell me that they wished they could believe in forgiveness. I want them to know that whatever line they think they have stepped over, whatever line they think they can't cross back from, whatever thing they have done is paid for by the blood of Jesus. They can believe that God will send them to hell but not that He would die for them so that they can have forgiveness. 

God did not send Jesus to tell us how bad we are. He sent Jesus to save us. That's the gospel message. Then, I serve my Lord out of love- not fear. (I'll talk about godly fear tomorrow.)

John 3:16-17 (ESV)

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

1 comment:

Brian Johnson said...

My British website looks at the gospel message preached by Peter and Paul in the Bible and compares this with today's message: