Balanced Preaching

When I was out today at a very busy meat market, there was a man there who was sitting in a corner spot with a huge Bible and he was quoting very loudly nothing but verses about God’s judgment. Most of the verses were from the Old Testament. As I was waiting for my number to be called, which was quite a while, I never heard him preach the Good News that there was a remedy for the judgment to come. He preached nothing but condemnation. As I was seeking Holy Spirit guidance on whether to speak quietly to this man about giving the people the hope of the Good News, an elderly Christian man tried to quietly reason with the man, but all this man did in return was to continue, in his very loud and disruptive speech, to hurl condemning verses. As I left, for the rest of the day I prayed and sought the Holy Spirit on how to sort out what occurred. The following is what I was given, which I would like to share:

In John 16:8, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit: “When [the Spirit] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (ESV).

The world is a sinful place, and one of the Holy Spirit’s tasks is to convict the world of its sin. No amount of preaching, pleading, or pointing of fingers will bring about the conviction of sin, unless the Holy Spirit is at work in the sinner’s heart. It is the Spirit’s job to convict. The world must also be convicted of righteousness, and this, too, is something the Holy Spirit does. There is a righteous standard we are all held to, despite the world’s stubborn denial of absolute truth. The world is facing judgment, and the Holy Spirit also convicts them of this truth. There is a day of reckoning scheduled—a day in which the holy God will mete out justice and rid His creation of sin. The influence of the Holy Spirit in an unsaved person’s life will lead that person to the realization that he is guilty, that God is just, and that all sinners are deserving of judgment. Once a sinner has been awakened to his soul’s great need, the Spirit will point him to Christ, the one and only Savior and Refuge from judgment (John 16:14). In all of this, the Spirit uses His “sword,” the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17), and the result is a regenerated heart. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17).

2 Corinthians 3:6 says, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” With these words, Paul summarizes the key difference between the Old and New Testaments: the first covenant was based on obedience to the written law (the “letter”), but the second covenant is based on the blood of Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

First. what does Paul mean by “the letter kills”? Simply that the Old Testament Law, which is good and perfect (Psalm 19:7), reveals all people as law-breakers (Galatians 3:10). The law “kills” in that the penalty for breaking God’s law is eternal death in hell (Romans 6:23; Revelation 21:8). As God told Moses the lawgiver, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book” (Exodus 32:33). Even if you sin only once in your whole life, it’s the same as breaking all of God’s laws (James 2:10), just as breaking only one link in a chain breaks the whole chain. The written law—“the letter”—was chiseled in stone by the finger of God and is the unchanging standard by which all are judged. The law cannot give us righteousness or eternal life in heaven (Galatians 2:16). It can only condemn us as sinners, and the sentence is death. Heaven is where perfection is required (Matthew 5:20, 48; 19:16–21), and “the law made nothing perfect” (Hebrews 7:19).

Second, what does Paul mean by “the Spirit gives life”? Simply that the Holy Spirit rescues us from our hopeless situation. God saves us from death and grants us eternal life when we are born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6), and, later, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are Spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).

In Mark 16:15, Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel (Good News) to every creature.” (KJV). When we examine the very first sermon delivered by Peter, notice that after Peter preaches conviction, he does not leave his audience abandoned. He completes the Good News by giving the people hope by telling them there is a remedy:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (Acts 2:36‭-‬41 NKJV)‬‬‬‬

For us today, a balanced, biblical message consists of the reality of hell, a warning to escape it, and the only way to do so—through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins. If anyone just preaches judgment without it being balanced with the Good News, it is not preaching the Gospel. As a matter of fact, it is only preaching the Bad News! It is only preaching condemnation, not conviction! Condemnation will drive a person away from God, whereas conviction will drive a person to God.

Also beware that at the opposite end of the spectrum is the false preaching that leaves out judgment, hell, repentance of sin, and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as total LORD over one’s life in total humility. I call this false preaching the ‘Gospel of YOU’ or ‘Leave Out The Negative Gospel’. It’s mantra is ‘Become a Better YOU’. The bottom line is that it’s all about YOU, not Jesus!


About annointing

Defender of the Christian Faith
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