I have a deep respect for people who claim to be religious. Unfortunately there are many different things which are being taught in the religious world that don’t match up with what the Bible says. One of those teachings was evident by a commercial I saw for some kind of denominational group out of Nashville, which stated there are many things taught in religion which are negative. The “pastor” in this particular commercial stated that they try to teach the positive messages of the Bible. It makes me think about the lines of the song “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative…” The positive messages of the Bible are great, but what about the things which are negative found in God’s Word? Do they not count? Should they not be preached?
When Paul was giving his farewell address at Miletus to the elders from the church at Ephesus, he told them that he “…did not shrink from declaring…the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27). Paul knew at times that he had to be negative in his preaching and teaching, and this was one of those occasions. He knew by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that bad things were going to happen in the congregation in Ephesus, and he was trying to prepare them in advance. What part of savage wolves entering the flock and wreaking havoc is a positive message (Acts 20:29)? If preachers are going to preach the whole purpose or counsel of God then they will have some negativity in their preaching.
The Bible speaks of Heaven and Hell. One is an eternal reward while the other is eternal punishment. Jesus spoke of both being a reality. The Bible also speaks of righteousness and lawlessness. You’ve heard it said that a preacher replied to someone who asked him what he was going to preach about by saying “sin, and I’m agin it!” Many pulpits in today’s time can have a tendency to be totally void of negative preaching. Maybe they think this is not appealing to the people. You can’t be into pleasing people as a preacher (Gal. 1:10).
One of the reasons that the Lord has not returned yet is because He is patiently giving people time to repent (2 Pet. 3:9). When preachers are preaching against sin, it is with the goal of having people repent, whether it is in regard to obeying the gospel or in regard to being restored as a Christian. God’s Word shows us that sin must be preached against in order to keep people from perishing eternally.
It has been said that the preacher stepped on someone’s toes with his sermon, but he must have missed because he was aiming for the heart. At times we all need our toes and hearts stepped on, because negative preaching needs to accompany the positive preaching in order to preach the whole counsel of God. I don’t want to be guilty of preaching the positive parts of the Bible only. While I do like to hear compliments, I’m not an ear-tickling preacher who is trying to fulfill the desires of the audience (2 Tim. 4:3). May I always strive to “preach the word…” (2 Tim. 4:2).
Jeremy T. Butt