The Bible is full of comfort, hope, and good news, but to the natural man who despises God and His ways, there is some very uncomfortable information. And though we are to do everything in love, the feelings of our hearers is not something God has commanded us to tip-toe around when we are called to, in season and out, preach the whole counsel of God. We are never to allow other’s mockery, insults, or even scornful looks to frighten us or hinder us in the proclamation of the truth of the Gospel. (Isa. 51:7 & Jer. 1:7,8) We are to preach strong –for that is characteristic of preachers in the Bible, including Jesus. Eternal souls really are at stake and we cannot afford to have or tolerate beliefs of error; nor can Christ’s love in us allow others to continue in deceptions to their own demise. Ignorance does not lead to Eternal Bliss. There is one way for sinful man to be reconciled to a perfectly Holy God; and the sinless God/man named Jesus, who –even history tells us –did walk this earth –and did die on a cross… and did conquer death by rising three days later… really did claim that He alone was that way, that gate. (John 14:6 & 10:7,9) And He said that once a person goes through that gate, he becomes “born from above” (John 3:3) and will NO LONGER be “of the world any more than I am of the world.” (John 17:14 & see also v. 16 & 18)
In other words, we act very differently from the world (–or so we should) because we are very different beings from worldly beings. We have become completely different creations (2 Cor. 5:17), have been “bought with His own blood” (Acts 20:28), have been “transferred FROM the kingdom of darkness INTO the Kingdom of the Son” (Col. 1:13) –that kingdom which Jesus spoke of in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world”; yet of which He also referred to in Matt. 11:12 –“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been boldly advancing, and bold men lay hold of it.” It is the Kingdom of Light advancing within the kingdom of darkness. Therefore, we live according to completely different rules –in our thoughts, heart loves, and lifestyle. If this is not the case, then as 1 John 2:4 says, our word-claims are merely lies.
Those who rightfully teach and preach firm, sobering truth are not attempting to frighten their hearers who are already carefully being obedient to Phil. 2:12 –“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” No, much of the “hard sayings” are actually to be aimed at the “elite group”, those “masquerading as apostles of Christ” (2 Cor.11:13), those Pharisees and hypocrites who say they know and love the truth, but do not. Unfortunately, these are often the very ones who are in the pulpits, claiming to be “experts in the law”; yet just as in Jesus’ day, they lead many in the flock astray. As Jesus rebuked these religious teachers in Matt. 23:13-16, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to… You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Woe to you, blind guides!”
Jesus commences another rebuke to the arrogant Pharisees in John 9:41: “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
So rebukes are reserved for those who have ample opportunity to read and hear the truth, but because of certain reasons will not bow their knee to truth. These reasons can include such things as this: Love for sin and pleasure, pride in not wanting to admit error, fear in not being a people-pleaser, clinging to the beliefs of some peer group one is trying to impress or belong to, or just plain laziness in putting forth effort to study and find the truth.
The aim of preachers of truth is not to discourage those who are trying their best to find truth and walk in obedience to Christ. Indeed, admonishing one another in Bible Studies, church, on the street, or through email is for the purpose of encouraging one another as Heb. 10:25 says, so that “we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (v. 24) If we are rising to this challenge, as any “Olympic athlete” would, then there is no occasion for legitimate discouragement, is there? But it does seems to me, that the only reason one would not want to hear fervent preaching of Truth is because one is in rebellion and prefers to cozily remain there.
We are to “test ourselves” “to see whether we are in the faith” / The Truth. (See 2 Cor. 13:5) Matt. 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” This verse alone is one of our best self-tests. We must ask ourselves: “What do I hunger and thirst after? Is it righteousness more than anything else?” If it is, we will be managing our time accordingly –to seek after it, to study it, to “train ourselves to be godly.” (See 1 Tim. 4:7) Yes, our reward is living with Jesus in blissful Heaven forever, but is not our goal something else? Is it not: CHRIST-LIKENESS? If it is not, then our hearts are not clean, not renewed, not born again. No wonder one can’t keep from habitually falling into sin –because the sad reality is, is that he or she has not actually had a nature-change. Self never went through the death process of “being crucified with Christ.” (See Rom. 6:6,7 & 7:4-6 & Gal. 2:20 & 5:24 & 6:14) Those motives then –in doing the “churchy-Christian thing”– is only a stench to God. (See Isa. 1:12-16 & Amos 5:21-23)
BUT if our motives are pure; if we “forsake our wicked ways, our evil thoughts, and turn to God, –He will abundantly pardon.” (See Isa. 55:7) For the LORD says, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My word.” (Isa. 66:2) Yes, for those who this is true of, may we also keep in mind that Jesus had immense compassion on the “common folk”. As Matt. 9:36 tells us, “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
However, again, to the “blind guides”, Jesus said things like, “You blind fools! …Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside [your hearts and minds –then pure actions will follow]… Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! …You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog [–or insult & slander] in your synagogues [in your churches]… O Jerusalem, Jerusalem [–you who were given so much opportunity], you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matt. 23:16,26,29,33,34,37,38)
Yes, this speaks of the Jews, but it also applies to the modern Christian church. Because she forsakes The Truth, she will be left desolate. And the church is forsaking at record speed –turning to all sorts of “golden calf” idols –images and doctrines they worship which are only made up in their own darkened imaginations –breaking the 2nd Commandment which says, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below…” (Ex. 20:4) Yet they pretend they are doing nothing of the sort…
So, may all of us who preach, teach, evangelize, etc., “speak… not to please men, but God, who tests our hearts.” (1 Thes. 2:4) And may we pray for one another “that words may be given us so that we will declare FEARLESSLY the mystery of the gospel” (see Eph. 6:19,20), for “if anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” (1 Peter 4:11) That is a sobering command, but for those God calls, we are “compelled to preach. [In fact,] Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16) For “His Word is in my heart like a burning fire… I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jer. 20:9) So, as “the Sovereign LORD says [in Ezekiel 3:27], ‘Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they [most of the churches] are a rebellious house.'”