The Value in the Negative Message

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Just when it looks darkest is where hope shines brightest.

When you tell the people all these things, they will ask, “Why has the Lord decreed such terrible things against us?  What have we done to deserve such treatment?  What is our sin against the Lord our God?”

Then you will give them the Lord’s reply: “It is because your ancestors were unfaithful to Me.  They worshiped other gods and served them.  They abandoned Me and did not obey My Word,” (Jeremiah 16:10-11, emphasis mine).

Dear friends, I tell you that there is value in the “negative” message of warning about judgment.  As a person filled with the Holy Spirit and specifically gifted with the supernatural gift of encouragements[1], let me explain about my gifting.  Encouragements (called exhortations in the older versions of the Bible) is not a gift of holy cheerleading.  Though often there is that aspect to it.  Sometimes encouragement involves a good swift kick in the rear.  It gives me no pleasure to deliver that kick, but if I yield myself to the leading of the Holy Spirit and obediently deliver that kick, I often see a good result from it.

Think of it like riding a horse.  A horse that has been correctly broken and trained will speed its pace at a simple flick of the reins.  But a horse that has not been thoroughly broken and trained will sometimes respond to the reins and sometimes need to be goaded with the spurs.  And it takes an understanding of that particular horse to know how hard to goad it.  Too hard and it could buck you and bolt.

I know that I have a wide readership.  Some have been broken and trained.  But not all of them.  This is why I seek God for wisdom before I write a word.  So when God gives me a word about impending judgment, I know that the word is important.

A word of warning is like surgery.  I am very squeamish and cannot watch surgical shows where they show the scalpel cutting into the flesh—even if I know that the surgery is going to save that person’s life.  But what if I stopped the surgery because I know that being cut open is going to be very unpleasant for the person.  My interference could ultimately cause that person to die.

In sharing the Gospel one-on-one, it’s important for the person to know that they have sinned.  If you ask them, most people will tell you that they are a good person.  But that is not true from God’s holy perspective:

People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart, (Proverbs 21:2).

No one is righteous—not even one.

No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.

All have turned away; all have become useless.

No one does good, not a single one, (Romans 3:10-12).

As the old hymn asks and answers:

What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Jesus spoke harshly to the Pharisees—even to Nicodemus who became His disciple[2].  But He spoke tenderly to the tax collectors and prostitutes, who were well aware of their sin.  Nowadays with all the sin that our society has tolerated (and permitted, accepted, legally-sanctioned, and even celebrated), our personal moral compasses can tend to lose the way—yes, even Christians!

George Whitfield said:

It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.

And D.L. Moody said:

No unrepentant sinner will ever get into Heaven; unless they forsake their sin they cannot enter there.  The Law of God is very plain on this point: “Except a man repent.”  That’s the language of Scripture.  And when this is so plainly set down, why is it that men fold their arms and say, “God will take me into Heaven anyway.”

Things haven’t changed much since Moody’s day.  No, they’ve only gotten worse.  And we’re so afraid of giving offense because somebody might go all P.C. Police on us.  The Word of God is absolutely and unashamedly not politically correct.  It will offend.  And sooner or later they will start throwing us into jail (and worse!) for speaking the truth in love[3].

When I give a negative message about the coming judgment that is exactly what I’m doing: speaking the truth in love.  The whole point and purpose is to save souls.

If we tolerate a person’s sin it might seem like love, but we are actually “loving” that person right into hell.  And there are some Christian denominations that are actively doing this.  They think they’re being loving representatives of Jesus.  But Jesus who tenderly told the cowering leper, “I am willing [to heal you]” is the same who tied a whip out of ropes, turned over tables, and drove the money-changers out of the Temple[4].  Jesus has a passion for holiness.  The first century Christians had a passion for holiness, and so should we.

The bottom line is that the Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance[5].  Don’t make repentance a dirty word.  Do your sins make you feel bad?  Good!  Because Godly sorrow leads to repentance[6].  Without repentance, church is just a motivational feel-good club.  You might as well just stay home and watch a romantic comedy on TV.

But if you’re willing to honestly face your sins and to put yourself under the holy scalpel of Jesus, He can remove the tumorous growth of iniquity in your heart.  It’s the ultimate life-extension surgical procedure because you’ll come away with life everlasting.  Your personal judgment will be eternally settled in your favor.

But the corporate judgment concerning America?  We, the American Christians, must pray for our country because the prognosis right now is not good.  The warning of the hurricanes did get people praying, and that’s a good thing.  But we can’t stop now.  We should be praying daily for our country and specifically for Revival because that is God’s will for our country.  And I believe that there will be a Great End Times Revival.  Why?  Because it’s prophesied in God’s Word[7].

You may not have the spiritual gift of encouragements, but if you’re called to preach the Word of God, preach the whole Word.  If you’re called to teach, teach the whole Word.  All Scripture is inspired by God[8], even the parts we perceive as negative.  God is good!

[1] Romans 12:8.

[2] John 3:10 seems rather harsh: “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?”

[3] Ephesians 4:15.

[4] John 2:15.

[5] 2 Peter 3:9.  Read the whole chapter to understand that the context is End Times.

[6] 2 Corinthians 7:10.

[7] Zechariah 10:1 & Joel 2:28-29.

[8] 2 Timothy 3:16.

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