For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13, ESV)
I want to do everything I can to encourage believers everywhere to not water down the message of the Cross.
Don’t soften the blow of the sword of the word of God so as to not offend anybody or hurt their feelings.
That’s the whole point of the Word of God, the sword of the Lord: It separates soul from spirit. Knives hurt when they’re used to cut! Don’t change the message in order to make it more acceptable to the culture because they will never accept it, especially if they’re left to determine the terms on which they will accept it.
As long as the crowds didn’t understand the Gospel, they loved Jesus. But as soon as they understood the implications of the radical claims, they killed Him.
Why do we skirt around the narrow path Jesus took?
Why do we think that if they did it to the master, we, the pupils are going to be able to escape it and do a better job with the Gospel? We sometimes act like Jesus had a PR problem and we could help Him with His image.
The passage used at the outset states how when our thoughts and intentions are held to the standard of the Word of God, a living sword, we are as though naked and exposed.
We are stripped of any defense we can hide behind when our darkness is exposed by the light of the ultimate standard — God’s standard: His Word.
Sadly, most in the Church don’t even realize this aspect of the Gospel, because we’ve worked so hard to make it all into something nice and inoffensive. We don’t want people feeling pressured, pushed away or excluded in some way.
After living in a few cultures, I’ve seen the mega-church seeker-sensitive method of church growth, and I’m not implying that large churches are all guilty of watering the Gospel down, because that is not the case. I’ve also grown fond of the lives of various revivalists and evangelists throughout church history who preached Christ and Him crucified, and frankly I’d rather take the tried and true method of using the law when showing sinners we are sinners before God. It’s much better to have people offended with me but have the clear Gospel presented to them now, than to have them like me now but be offended when they’re spending eternity in torment, when I could have told them, but I didn’t out of fear of saving face.
Jesus said things like
“I am the way, the truth and the life, NO ONE comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Pretty politically incorrect and exclusive if you ask me! But yet, that’s what the message is.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” (Matthew 7:13)
I was recently sharing the Gospel with someone and using passages like Romans 3:23 stating “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God“, and 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I was able to persuade this person by the grace of God that by His standard and by her own admission, she would not be spending eternity with Her loving Creator unless she repented of sin and accepted His free gift of salvation.
She agreed that this was so and was expressing gratitude for the way I made things clear to her, but as of yet, didn’t want to make any kind of commitment to Christ until she could process it some more.
Oddly enough, my approach offended her Christian friend who had introduced us! I wasn’t showing “enough love”, and was “pressuring her” to make a decision. I was being “too direct”.
Of course I was! You don’t perform heart surgery with a dull blade and certainly don’t want to fail to be direct when it comes to the very thing you’re working on — the person’s heart.
When I see someone crossing the street without looking, not realizing a mack truck is fast approaching them, I’m direct in that situation also and don’t use gentleness! The hour is urgent and none of us are given any indication of when our lives could come to an end. If someone is made aware of the condition of their soul, I’m compelled to do whatever I can to persuade them to accept the gift of eternal life Christ purchased for them on the cross.
The Bible gives such mandates:
I CHARGE [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by (in the light of) His coming and His kingdom:
Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.
For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,
And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions. (1 Timothy 4:1-4, AMP, bold emphasis mine)
Sadly, enough people in the Church spend so much time ‘loving’ people that they leave out the harsh reality and don’t do any of what the first couple verses state, and fall into the category Paul refers to here as ones providing the Gospel message that soothes those with itchy ears.
I am motivated by love for people to do whatever I can to stop them in their tracks and prevent them if possible from continuing in their determined journey towards eternal separation from the loving Father. I’ve heard Dave Roberson say that his definition of an intercessor is someone who gets in the way of people trying to go to hell.
The Holy Spirit isn’t just about goosebumps and “liquid honey glory clouds”. The Word says that He is the agent who draws all men to Christ, but simultaneous to that is His role in convicting the world of sin (John 16:8). Sadly, I think much of the contemporary Church leaves this part out because of how messy it might be.
We’ve created such a watered down message that we’re not used to the convicting presence of God.
We want the miracles, but we don’t want the repentance that the fire of His presence brings.
On the one hand I am coming up against the idea of being so pre-occupied with not offending someone or starting an argument over their soul or eternal destiny that we never actually do it. I’m talking about when we fear man’s reaction more than we fear a loving God who deserves to have His Bride in eternity.
But I’m also not condoning or endorsing being an obnoxious and insensitive jerk, either. There’s two ditches to avoid falling into. I heard a quote by Paul Washer once that a knife in the hands of a fool will kill, but used skillfully in the hands of a trained surgeon it brings life. But the problem is that many of us have dulled the blade so as to make sure it doesn’t cut or hurt anybody! The knife or sword of the Word cuts so deeply that it divides soul from spirit.
You can’t perform ANY surgery with a plastic butter knife! When a dentist is drilling your teeth, he knows he’s hitting the right nerve BECAUSE it gets an uncomfortable reaction out of you, and if he’s skilled at his job, he won’t stop doing what he’s doing just because you’re in a little bit of pain.
As for worrying about our presentation, remember the Apostle Paul said “woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16). Woe to us if we were more concerned with building numbers of people under our roof, but that will perish in eternity because we had tried changing peoples’ hearts using a pillow rather than the blade of the Word of God.
What are you building, preacher? Your own big church with lots of people and a steady stream of income from offerings? Or are you presenting the penetrating heart-convicting Gospel that no matter how few or many people enter eternity because of you, at least they are going to be entering eternity?
Woe to us if we continue to portray Jesus to the world as some limp-wristed effeminate hippie who just wanted to spread love and get everybody to get along, and forget that He’s coming back as Judge and King to rule.
I believe that in Revelation 1:16 where it mentions Jesus having out of his mouth a sharp two-edged sword, is not about a literal sword, but the words and pronouncements of truth and justice. In fact, for those who view Jesus as just loving and would never would hurt a fly, I wonder what spectacles they read the book of Revelation in, which depict His coming back in fury for His Bride (the Church). What do you see happening for those who are not apart of His Bride?
I’ll give you a hint: it ain’t that pretty.
Friends, eternity is a long time, and God is not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9b). So why don’t we obtain His heart and view the lost and dying around us with a renewed sense of urgency do what everything we can about it?