"No Guilt" Preaching

A local denomination is advertising a contemporary worship service called "Soul Solutions." It is being billed as "Contemporary Worship for the 21st Century."

Of this service it is claimed one will "hear positive, practical messages which encourage." Another section of the flyer says "No guilt."

This 'feel good about yourself' style of preaching dominates the religious scene today. While I have no problem with preaching "Positive, practical messages that motivate," one would do well to note what kind of preaching dominates the pages of God's Word. Even a casual reading of the preaching of Moses, the prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus and the preachers of the Great Commission reveals preaching designed to convict and correct, not caress and console.

Jeremiah is known as "the weeping prophet." Because of this, one might think his message would be primarily one of consolation, but this would be an erroneous assumption.

In Jeremiah 1:10 the Lord said to Jeremiah, "See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant." What do we see about Jeremiah's task in preaching? Four negatives and two positives.

In Jeremiah 23:29, the Lord describes His Word, "Is not my word like fire? saith Jehovah; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" Jeremiah was a preacher who "had something to say" as opposed to many of today's preachers who "have to say something."

The preachers of the New Testament were also "tell it like it is" preachers. John the Baptist began his preaching with a call to repentance (Matt. 3:2). His preaching disturbed his hearers as all of Jerusalem and Judea and the region round about Jordan went to him and were baptized, confessing their sins. Apparently, John's preaching was a cry of warning against the wrath of God. Note these excerpts from our first exposure to John's preaching: "Ye generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth fruits meet for repentance ... and now also the axe is laid at the root of the trees, therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Matt. 3:7-8, 10).

Don't forget John's indictment of Herod which cost him his life, "It is not lawful for you to have her" (Matt. 14:4).

In the first gospel sermon, Peter twice accused his audience of the murder of the Son of God, (Acts 2:22-23,36). Peter's preaching pierced the hearts of his hearers; it didn't give them warm fuzzies. Finally, look at the preaching of Jesus. He did not travel around massaging the fragile psyches of the people of His day. He began His public ministry with a call for change on the part of His hearers, "Jesus began to preach, and to say, 'Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"' (Matt. 4:17 cf. Matt 15:7-14).

Repentance requires a change of thinking that results in a change of lifestyle. How can this be accomplished without some measure of guilt? Jesus' preaching offended many of His followers, causing some of them to follow Him no more (John 6:66).

There is a place for positive preaching. The pulpit cannot be used to beat people down week after week, but there must be a balance of reproving and rebuking to go along with the exhorting (II Tim. 4:2). This is the kind of preaching that saves the souls of men.

by Todd Clippard

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