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Recurring Issues of Open Air Preaching - you should be preaching love

Open Air Preachers are always told that they should be preaching on God's love for us, "just like Jesus did". Is that true? Is that what Jesus preached?

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There was an editoral some weeks ago which expressed many of the objections concerning preaching God's love as opposed to preaching repentance. Here is the editorial, foolowed by my response.


Preacher's threats distract from message
Posted on November 21, 2008 4:54 AM

Jessica Turnbull is a senior majoring in journalism and is The Daily Collegian's Friday columnist. Her e-mail address is jlt5044@psu.edu.

For at least 30 years, a preacher has stood in the same place in front of the Willard Building, shouting Christian messages to entering and exiting students.

The constant presence of a Willard preacher represents the exchange of ideas that can happen at a large and secular university like Penn State.

But the Willard preachers can be poor representations of healthy debate and of Christian beliefs, as a confrontational and tense debate last Friday clearly showed.

Members of the Atheists and Agnostic Society confronted former, but recently returned, Willard Preacher Clarence "Bro" Cope last Friday while they were dressed in imitating suspenders. The exchange ended with Cope making a threatening remark about being armed.

"If I am insane, you ought to seriously be concerned that I don't pull out my knife and slit your throat," Cope said.

Penn State Police said they investigated the incident and found no reason for charges. But regardless of police action, the exchange brings a sour note to healthy debate on the Willard steps.

The Bible is full of examples of men and women who proclaimed their beliefs by standing on street corners or in churches and preaching. Jesus himself gathered huge crowds as he preached.

But Jesus spoke a message of love that was difficult to hear. But it seems to be getting lost in the angry confrontations that occur on the steps.

A university is a place for the exchange of ideas. Forty thousand students are going to have 40,000 different ideas about life, morals and religion. Hopefully, differences can lead to debate so Penn State students can learn from one another.

Healthy debate -- exchange that involves respect from both sides -- is an important aspect of being a student. And not all debate and education happens inside the classroom.

But when debates involve shouting matches and thinly veiled threats, are listeners impacted in any way?

The First Amendment gives anyone the right to speak about his or her beliefs. I applaud anyone who has the courage to be exposed in a personal way by discussing personal beliefs in a public setting.

But the style of exchange that can occur at the Willard Building worries me. I want to tell anyone who has ever had questions about Christianity to find another forum for information. The Willard preachers do not represent every Christian.

Jesus' message is about relationships, ones that are personal and respectful. Jesus was also not put off by people walking away from his message if they disagreed with Him. He spoke about repentance in love.

How can anyone believe a message of love through an angry debate?

A personal discussion with a Christian is more representative of Jesus than yelling back and forth. The Willard preachers contribute to the exchange of ideas by standing day after day on the steps. But I don't want the message of Christ to become lost in the angry confrontations that seem to result from the preachers' style of evangelism.

My parents remember Cope standing on the same steps when they were Penn State students. Current Willard Preacher Gary Cattell has been preaching since 1997. Cattell became interested in the profession of preaching after seeing Cope and another preacher hit with a pie by opponents while speaking at Willard in 1979.

So after decades of shouting at passing students, is this style of debate helping anyone?

Jessica Turnbull is a senior majoring in journalism and is The Daily Collegian's Friday columnist. Her e-mail address is jlt5044@psu.edu.


Willard Preacher responds to columnist's argument
Posted on December 4, 2008 4:54 AM

Normally I do not respond to columns like Jessica Turnbull's "Preacher's threats distract from message" (Nov. 21), but this one is different. You see, Jessica is trying to claim authority for her column by asserting things that just are not true. Worse than that, she is holding Christianity up as something it is not, nor has ever been.

"The exchange ended with Cope making a threatening remark about being armed. 'If I am insane, you ought to seriously be concerned that I don't pull out my knife and slit your throat,' Cope said."

Apparently Jessica did not take the time to view the video that went along with the article. The remark I made was a rhetorical remark made to point out the fact that Nat Jackson did not believe what he was saying. From the video it is clearly evident that no threat was made. No one who was there nor the administrator quoted in the article thought so. The only one who thought so was Jessica. That is not even close to journalism's ethical standard of objectivity.

"But Jesus spoke a message of love that was difficult to hear," she wrote.

In fact Jesus did not speak of love. His message was primarily about repentance and the consequences of not repenting. His very first message was this: "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"

In the gospels, He used the word repent or some form of repent in 26 verses, perish in nine verses, condemnation in 10 verses and love in terms of God's love for us in only one verse. And even that one time was more balanced toward condemnation than love.

The only verse where Jesus spoke of God's love is John 3:16-21,35: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

But in this same context, love is mentioned only once but various aspects of condemnation are mentioned more than nine times. Jessica's statement about Jesus speaking a message of love does not agree with what was written.

Her statement isn't even reasonable. A man is not killed for publicly loving the audience. According to Jesus, the reason He was hated was this: "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil."

According the Jesus, He was hated because he testified to the world that they were condemned in their sin. In fact, the secret of the power in His ministry was not based solely on love, but also upon hatred.

Jesus was not killed for standing up and telling people He loved them. He was killed for standing up and telling the people that if they did not repent, they would perish.

"The Willard preachers do not represent every Christian," she wrote.

We don't represent ANY Christians at Willard. We represent Jesus. We are there to defend God against His detractors. In truth, we represent the way Jesus said the Church was SUPPOSED to be viewed. Jesus said His followers would be afflicted, arrested, beaten and persecuted. He said that we would hated by all men. He said that everyone who even wants to live a godly life WILL suffer persecution.

"Jesus' message is about relationships, ones that are personal and respectful," she wrote.

Jesus' message was about only one thing. The only issue that He spoke about ever was whether or not we love God as we ought. If we love God, and love our neighbors as we ought, everything else falls into place. Every other message in His entire ministry is an offshoot of this one issue.

Jesus never showed respect for that which is not worthy of respect. In two instances He called women dogs. He called Herod a fox. He called His own disciples wicked and perverse. He called those who debated with Him fools, blind, snakes, vipers, sons of the Devil, murderers, hypocrites, wicked, adulterous, stupid and blockheads. All one has to do is simply read the encounters that Jesus had with His detractors.

"How can anyone believe a message of love through an angry debate?" she wrote.

There are numerous places in the Bible when Jesus spoke in anger. Here are just a few of the many.

When He drove the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip, was He smiling and speaking in a subdued voice? No, He was angry.

When He rebuked the Pharisees He was angry. Mark 3:5: "And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other."

When He rebuked His own disciples, He was really ticked off. Matthew 17:17: "Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me."

When He debated with the Pharisees, and called them morons, He was angry.

Matthew 23:17: "Ye fools and blind."

The word translated "fools" is the Greek word moros, from which we get the English word moron.

"A personal discussion with a Christian is more representative of Jesus than yelling back and forth. The Willard preachers contribute to the exchange of ideas by standing day after day on the steps. But I don't want the message of Christ to become lost in the angry confrontations that seem to result from the preachers' style of evangelism," she wrote.

I find it hard to believe that Jessica has EVER read the Bible. The Bible says this about Jesus and His (and our) relationship with the world.

Matthew 10:22: "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake."

Matthew 24:9: "Deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake."

Mark 13:13: "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake."

Luke 21:17: "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake."

John 15:18: "Ye know that the world hated me before it hated you."

John 15:19: "Therefore the world hateth you."

John 15:25: "They hated me without a cause."

John 17:14: "The world hath hated them."

I could go on and on. Christianity was NEVER supposed to have a good reputation. Christianity is SUPPOSED to be hated. Your view that Jesus was well liked and loving is not in agreement with what The Bible says about Him. He was despised and killed, not loved and accepted.

"So after decades of shouting at passing students, is this style of debate helping anyone?" she wrote.

Yes. We have posted a sampling of the letters on our Web site, Fruit of the Ministry, for those who are interested in what our ministry produces.

Jessica, what do you want? You say you are a Christian, but apparently you don't want Christianity in the way that Jesus said it was supposed to be. You want it to be acceptable to the world.

Luke 6:26: "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets."

That is the main fault of most Christians. They want to be loved and accepted by the world. Jesus said that anyone who loves the world more than Him will not make it.

Think of me as the solution to this problem. I am restoring the church to it's destined place.

Clarence "Bro" Cope is the Penn State Willard Preacher.
But again I wonder, who are we to tell someone to change their lives when we have stuff in our own lives? Jesus was PERFECT so he had authority to go around calling people out.
We as humans are not perfect so to go around acting as tho we are and ondemning other people when we ourselves do some of the same things is hypocritical.
We all lie, we all think wrong thoughts, we all get angry. Those are sins.
We can tell the truth to people but the Bible says to speak the truth in love.
Ephesians 4:2 -3 says "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace"
Eph 4:15 "15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ."
We are responsible for the unsaved CHristians and we need to get them saved. But how can we expect to save someone if we call them, names, yell, tell them theyre going to hell and make them think they are hopeless?
When Jesus worked he did love people. The woman at the well, he loved her. He didnt condemn her. He didnt call her names.
Zaccheus is another example. He could have yelled at him, said he was hell-bound. But no, he said, "Hey dude im coming over for lunch and were gonna hang out."
At times Jesus was hardcore, but he was righteous in anger. And it was usually at Religios Leaders.
And I know you say "well John the Baptist and Paul were hardcore". They were, but they are not our example. Christ is. He loved people first. Everywhere he went people followed him. Do you think they followed him because they wanted him to yell at them? COndemn them? Call them names? No, I am poretty sure they didnt. They loved Jesus. Not everyone, but that is to be expected.
Jesus had the greatest ministry of all time!!! Yes, he did say "repent"! but he never (as far as I know) went around saying, "hey lesbian! you "carpet muncher", youre going to hell!" (as i have heard you say before).
Jesus loved people. He had a good mix of love and judgement!!!
Just about everything you said indicate you do not have any real knowledge of the scriptures. Your views are based upon a common cultural opinion which is actually not based upon scripture, but on how we think things should be. I will respond to your questions, but I can not do it today. In fact I won't be able to do so until the end of net week. However I give you my word that I will answer every objection you have from the Bible, and not my opinion.
i would like that. Please use full scriptural context. Not just one verse but the verses ahead of it and behind it. Anyone can say the Bible says onething and then you read the whole passage adn realize that thats not what it was saying at all.
Thank You
On another note you said, "Just about everything you said indicate you do not have any real knowledge of the scriptures."
I am still studying and learning but my dad however is one of the wisest man i know and he even agrees with me saying Jesus acted in love.
James 2:13- because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
That verse is true. If I were to judge but not show mercy, then I would be condemned. But since I am daily denying myself and going out to preach to the lost to show them the way to salvation, then I am adding mercy to my judgment. It is God's mercy that gives us repentance, and it is through warning them of their danger that the love of God is demonstrated. Judgment without mercy would only tell them of their condemnation but not tell them how to escape. Since I do both, I am demonstrating the same love that Jesus showed. I am laying my life down for the enemies of God so that they may repent and live. There is no greater love than this.
Im sorry. I dont want you to feel attacked. thats not my intention.
I know that your heart is in thje right place and you do wants ppl saved.
I just dont understand the way you do it.

You said, "daily denying myself and going out to preach to the lost to show them the way to salvation, then I am adding mercy to my judgment"
The definition of mercy is : mer⋅cy  /ˈmɜrsi/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [mur-see] Show IPA
–noun, plural -cies for 4, 5. 1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence:
What you stated sounds more like sacrifice than mercy. Which it is great you are willing to sacrifice your time and reputaion for the call of God but again that is sacrifice not mercy.
We are called to have mercy which is defined above and honestly i see a huge lack of kindness, charity and ompassion out of the street preaching methods you choose to use.
Luke 6:41 41"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
1 Corinthians 4:1-3
Apostles of Christ
1So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
1 Cor. 4:2020For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?

1 Cor. 13 is the definition of LOVE. If you truly love people you will do what it says. Be kind, patient, slow to anger, not rude.
I like your choice of verses. I am not judged by you. You go out on the streets, preachd for 32 years, laying your life on the line, risking death almost every day, THEN come back to tell me how it is to be done.
again, i am not and do not mean to come across as attacking. I am only trying to understand the basis for your methods. thats all.
Im not judging you. For all I know you could be the only one of us to be doing it right and the rest of us are going about it the wrong way. I am merely trying to find out why you do what you do nad I would like to know what got you into doing it? I am interested. :)
Be Blessed

Bro Cope said:
I like your choice of verses. I am not judged by you. You go out on the streets, preachd for 32 years, laying your life on the line, risking death almost every day, THEN come back to tell me how it is to be done.
Sierra, when I began to preach 32 years ago, I believed as you do that I should preach love. So that is where I started. But what I quickly found out from the Lord that that is not what He had in mind. You see, preaching about God's love for mankind reverses the problem, and reverses the very central truth that Christianity is supposed to accomplish.

The problem is not, and never has been, that God loves the world and nobody knows it. The problem is that man does not love God. When I started out preaching, I was under the same false delusion as you. I found out that EVERYBODY already believes that God loves them. It is because of this belief that they FREELY SIN. They believe that because God loves them that He will not judge them and cast them into Hell.

Because they already believe that God loves them, they have no idea of the danger they are in because of their sin. The Lord showed me that I had to address the real problem - they did not love Him. The Bible says that if we love God we will keep his commandments. He says he loves God but does not keep His commandments is a liar. You will not sin against someone you love with all of your mind, heart, soul, and strength (Commandment #1)

Jesus in the NT spoke about God's love for man exactly one time. That was John 3:16. But even that was balanced out in chapter 3 by these verses:

18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

and again

36He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

On balance, Jesus did not preach about the love of God for man. He preached on man's lack of love for God. His first message was in Mark

Mark 1:15
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

In the book of Acts, the love of God for man is not mentioned even once. And with possibly only one exception, every other reference to the word love in the entire NT deals with our need to love God or our need to love one another. The focus of the NT addresses the issues of man's lack of love, not God's love for us. God's love for us has never been the issue. It has never been lacking. It has never failed. It is steadfast. It is unshakeable. Man's lack of love for God is the issue. That is what I must focus on.

If you go to a doctor, he does not treat you first then examine you later. Even so we try to bring people to God before they clearly see the sin that separates them from God. We want to apply the solution before the people accept the diagnosis. It is backards.

Before Jesus ever uttered one word, God had already been working for some time in Israel. John the Baptist had been preaching, and all he preached about was repentance. There is no recorded instance of John ever mentioning love. He focused solely on presenting them with their sin and calling them to repentance. By the time Jesus started His ministry, the majority of all of Israel had already acknowledged and repented of their sins. Even so, the majority of Jesus' preaching was on repentance.

We have not had the benefit of having John precede our preaching. Therefore, we have to start from the beginning each time. The starting point is trying to bring people to the understanding that they are separated from God by their sins. It is only after someone can admit to that condition that we can present to them the solution - salvation from sins through faith in Jesus.

To be speaking to people about God's love before they repent is an evil in God's eyes. Shocked? Here is why.

Ezekiel 13:21-23

21Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

22Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:

23Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

and again

Malachi 2:17

17Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?

The primary purpose of preaching is not to comfort sinners but to discomfort sinners IN THEIR SIN. They must be brought to the point of knowing the grave danger that they are in, not instead, to be convinced of how much God loves them. Their understanding of God's love is the main thing that they already use to justify continuing in their sin. Telling people about God's love is sometimes effective, but only if the person already is aware of the condemnation that they are in.

In addition, telling people about God's love is a sure fire way to avoid receiving the reproach of Christ. People will not persecute you for telling them about how valuable they are to God. Unfortunately, in the mind of the sinner, it reinforces the problem. They already think of themselves as the center of the universe, as the most important being in the universe. In trying to bring them to repentance, you can not do that by reinforcing their self image of great worthiness. Face it, man already sees himself in the place of God. Telling him things that make him the focus of God's attention only exacerbates the problem. Appealing to the sin nature to bring people out of sin is utter madness.

We are to be restoring God to His rightful place as the center of OUR attention. We are not to be convincing the world that they are the center of HIS attention. Doing so denies the Father of what is rightfully His - worship. Worship means to attribute great worthiness to God. Most evangelism which focuses on God's love for us accomplishes the opposite. It wrongly convinces sinners that they are worthy. God does not want people who feel "worthy". He wants broken and contrite hearts.

Focusing on God's love for man, in addition to taking attention off the real problem, it makes the problem of man's selfishness worse by deluding him that he is the center of God's attention. That is just no so. It is we who are breaking the first commandment.

Deuteronomy 6:5
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

It does not say

And thou shalt be loved by the LORD thy God with all His heart, and with all His soul, and with all His might.

The emphasis on the love of God is really the root of most of the problems in mankind. The reversal of our centrality for God's centrality is the very problem, and indeed the very definition of the fallen state. We must not appeal to the love of God to solve the problem that man already sees himself as God. All we do is reinforce the problem.

We can not convert sinners from being sinners by appealing to the very thing that made them sinners. And that is supplanting God and His kingship with our own sense of divine worthiness. Telling people that God loves them does not act to destroy that lie, but acts to reinforce it. We must tell them that they are in danger.

As far as God even loving them, it is questionable.

Psalm 5:5-7

5The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

6Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

Psalm 7:11
God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

To tell someone who by his actions shows his hatred for God that God loves Him and delights in him is encouraging him in his rebellion. It is far better to risk his anger and hatred to tell him the truth. And that is that unless he repents and forsakes his sin, God will send him to Hell - His love for mankind notwithstanding. God's love does not cancel His judgment. Only salavation can do that. And the only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and forsaking of sin.

After getting a sinner to the point where they recognize their sinfulness and that they deserve Hell, then we can tell them of the Love of God without the danger of reinforcing their delusion that they are worthy to be god themselves.
Thank you for sharing your heart with me. It has given me alot to ponder, pray about and study!
I would love to talk with you in person about it sometime when you are in Tioga County!
Be Blessed!

Bro Cope said:
Sierra, when I began to preach 32 years ago, I believed as you do that I should preach love. So that is where I started. But what I quickly found out from the Lord that that is not what He had in mind. You see, preaching about God's love for mankind reverses the problem, and reverses the very central truth that Christianity is supposed to accomplish.

The problem is not, and never has been, that God loves the world and nobody knows it. The problem is that man does not love God. When I started out preaching, I was under the same false delusion as you. I found out that EVERYBODY already believe that God loves them. It is because of this belief that they FREELY SIN. They believe that because God loves them that He will not judge them and cast them into Hell.

Because they already believed that God loved them, they had no idea of the danger they were in because of their sin. The Lord showed me that I had to address the real problem - they did not love Him. The Bible says that if we love God we will keep his commandments. He says he loves God but does not keep His commandments is a liar. You will not sin against someone you love with all of your mind, heart, soul, and strength (Commandment #1)

Jesus in the NT spoke about God's love for man exactly one time. That was John 3:16. But even that was balanced out in chapter 3 by these verses:

18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

andf again

36He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

On balance, Jesus did not preach about the love of God for man. He preached on man's lack of love for God. His first message was in Mark

Mark 1:15
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

In the book of Acts, the love of God for man is not mentioned even once. And with possibly only one exception, every other reference to the word love in the entire NT concerns with our need to love God or our need to love one another. The focus of the NT addresses the issues of man's lack of love, not God's love for us. God's love for us has never been the issue. It has never been lacking. It has never failed. It is steadfast. It is unshakeable. Man's love for God is the issue. That is what I must focus on.

If you go to a doctor, he does not treat you first then examine you later. Even so we try to bring people to God before they clearly see the sin that separates them from God. We want to apply the solution before the people accept the diagnosis. It is backards.

Before Jesus ever uttered one word, God had already been working for some time in Israel. John the Baptist had been preaching, and all he preached about was repentance. There is no recorded instance of John ever mentioning love. He focused solely on presenting them with their sin and calling them to repentance. By the time Jesus started His ministry, the majority of all of Israel had already acknowledged and repented of their sins. Even so, the majority of Jesus' preaching was on repentance.

We have not had the benefit of having John precede our preaching. Therefore, we have to start from the beginning each time. The starting point is trying to bring people to the understanding that they are separated from God by their sins. It is only after someone can admit to that condition that we can present to them the solution - salvation from sins through faith in Jesus.

To be speaking to people about God's love before they repent is an abomination in God's eyes. Shocked? Here is why.

Ezekiel 13:21-23

21Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

22Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:

23Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

and again

Malachi 2:17

17Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?

The primary purpose of preaching is not to comfort sinners but to discomfort sinners IN THEIR SIN. They must be brought to the point of knowing the grave danger that they are in, not instead, to be convinced of how much God loves them. Their understanding of God's love is the main thing that they already use to justify continuing in their sin. Telling people about God's love is sometimes effective, but only if the person already is aware of the condemnation that they are in.

In addition, telling people about God's love is a sure fire way to avoid receiving the reproach of Christ. People will not persecute you for telling them about how valuable they are to God. Unfortunately, in the mind of the sinner, it reinforces the problem. They already think of themselves as the center of the universe, as the most important being in the universe. In trying to bring them to repentance, you can not do that by reinforcing their self image of great worthiness. Face it, man already sees himself in the place of God. Telling him things that make him the focus of God's attention only exacerbates the problem.

We are to be restoring God to His rightful place as the center of OUR attention. We are not to be convincing the world that they are the center of HIS attention. Doing so denies the Father of what is rightfully His - worship. Worship means to attribute great worthiness to God. Most evangelism which focuses on God's love for us accomplishes the opposite. It wrongly convinces sinners that they are worthy. God does not want people who feel "worthy". He wants broken and contrite hearts.

Focusing on God's love for man, in addition to taking attention off the real problem, it makes the problem of man's selfishness worse by deluding him that he is the center of God's attention. That is just no so. It is we who are breaking the first commandment.

Deuteronomy 6:5
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

It does not say

And thou shalt be loved by the LORD thy God with all His heart, and with all His soul, and with all His might.

The emphasis on the love of God is really the root of most of the problems in mankind. The reversal of our centrality for God's centrality is the very problem, and indeed the very definition of the fallen state. We must not appeal to the love of God to solve the problem that man already sees himself as God. All we do is reinforce the problem.

We can not convert sinners from being sinners by appealing to the very thing that made them sinners. And that is supplanting God and His kingship with our own sense of divine worthiness. Telling people that God loves them does not act to destroy that lie, but acts to reinforce it. We must tell them that they are in danger.

As far as God even loving them, it is questionable.

Psalm 5:5-7

5The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

6Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

Psalm 7:11
God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

To tell someone who by his actions shows his hatred for God that God loves Him and delights in him is encouraging him in his rebellion. It is far better to risk his anger and hatred to tell him the truth. And that is that unless he repents and forsakes his sin, God will send him to Hell - His love for mankind notwithstanding. God's love does not cancel His judgment. Only salavation can do that. And the only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and forsaking of sin.

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Book Index. These discussions are intended to be a book.

FORMATEach topic is one to two page, beginning on the right hand page. One in Christ…See More
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