Is the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, telling people that they are sinners and are going to hell? Is that really the Good News? Or is the Good News telling people that God loves them, in spite of what they have done, and that Christ has forgiven all of their sins? What message did Paul preach under the New Covenant?
I find myself always swimming upstream! I've often wondered why this is my lot in life! I am certain that being a pastor of a typical charismatic church, with good worship, a good message and good programs would advance my church much faster that it is currently advancing. If you know me at all, you also understand that I never seem to be able to travel those roads. Oh, I've been there! I was taught all of those things, but the more I understand God the more I just can't go there anymore!
I used to be able to preach a good hell-fire sermon just like the others that I patterned my ministry after. However, in the past few years I have found God in such a personal way that I can only share my new insight with people I minister to. I can no longer preach hell; I can only preach God's love!
I remember a day, many years ago, when I was spending some time in prayer in the church sanctuary where I had been pastor for several years. If I remember correctly, our church had been going through a difficult time and I, personally, was going through a lot of internal battle as a result. I was walking around, praying as I paced, asking God to move for me and our church. I will never forget that as I prayed I felt that I almost heard an audible voice, one of a few times in my life when I've heard God so clearly). The voice said, "No longer preach against sin, I'll take care of that!" I was astonished at not only hearing that voice but hearing the message of the voice! The voice continued, "Your job is to only lift up Jesus!" The thought that immediately followed was, "When I am lifted up I'll draw all men unto myself." (John 12:32) Those words were very hard hitting as I was a preacher who prided himself on preaching against sin. I can only begin to imagine the multitudes of people that I drove out of my church and away from God by just preaching against smoking cigarettes!
You see, I thought that I was preaching the Good News, but I wasn't! My message wasn't Good News at all! And Alas..I fear that much of the message of the modern Church isn't really the Good News either! You see, it's time to once again to begin preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. After all, Paul never asked even one person to pray a "sinner's prayer." He never preached a message of repentance, at least as we understand it today. Instead, Paul's message of repentance was simply, "Change your mind about what you think about God!" It's that simple...."If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you shall be saved." It doesn't get any easier that that!
Come on Church....It's time we forget all of the spiritual warfare, all of the sin stuff and preach that God so loved the world!
That's my take on things and I'll stick to it!
Grace and peace!