Have you noticed, as I have, how over the last couple of decades almost every sermon in nearly every church, the vast majority of radio and television programs that are aired, revolve around how Christians can live ‘better’ lives? Now, while it is very true, and in fact a commandment from God, that we are to “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord…” (2nd Peter 3:18) that is not all that we are to do. It seems to me that the verse “ever learning…” (2nd Tim. 3:7) is more suited to the church, as it were, in this present age, for though many may be learning, they are not growing, much less applying the Word into their lives. Now of course this is not all, for the faithful are always present, but this seems to be becoming the norm.
As I have stated in other letters to you, many pastors now see their main duty as one of a ‘spiritual physician’, and the pulpit or church is the hospital. It is easy to see how this came about, for Satan and his ways of deceiving have not changed since day one, “Are you sure that is what God said?” Many enter the church building with few things on their mind beyond “fix me”, seeking resolution within the words of the speaker at the podium for peace within themselves. “I feel like he was speaking just to me” assists in helping these individuals ‘feel better’ about themselves, that they are alright in God’s eyes, and that intuition, that nagging feeling that they should be doing more for the Lord goes away for a while.
Many pastors, not all of course, but many are well in tune to this, and as long as it fills the pews, they will keep singing the same song, “You’re okay, God loves you, go about your life as you were.” If any of those attending voice a need for more to do, they are placed on committees, asked to help with the pot-luck dinners, or perhaps do some cleaning or other work around the church grounds. Those who desire to start an in-depth study group are politely reminded that this will probably not be a good idea, for it may be in conflict with the way that particular church has always gone.
These particular leaders of the congregation have no problem encouraging the attendees, but very rarely do they preach or even speak of conviction. The word conviction means “a firmly held belief,” but for the believer, it can mean so much more, for were we not convicted of our sins while we were still in them and was it not our Lord that did the convicting.
Why are so many that lead the worship service practically having to beg on a regular basis for the people that attend to at least read their Bibles, much less study them on a regular basis. Why is conviction a word that will empty the seats over time, while a four-week course on the Book of Revelation will fill them to overflowing. “Ye shall be witnesses to me…unto the uttermost pats of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) How many church’s have weekly discipleship course anymore, revealing thru the Word of God how every single born again believer is to “Go into all the world.” (Mark 16:15) How many stand in front of the congregation and preach how we are to “Cast our burdens upon the Lord…” (Psalm 55:22) and go and help others who are in the throws of pain and suffering, leaving everything in our own lives to His will.
How many are speaking about the “wide and broad gate that leads to destruction” (Matt. 7:13) and that all those that do not accept Jesus Christ as Savior will burn eternally, and that it is your responsibility to “study to show yourself approved” (2nd Tim. 2:15) and to go and do all that you can by the power of the Holy Spirit to reach the lost. Or do many not want to be convicted, do they desire not to be called to a higher purpose by the Lord than the most minor, ‘in-house’ tasks, “That’s not my job, that’s what we pay the pastor to do.” Believe me my friends, these tasks are necessary and noble, but there is more we are called to do.
For those of you that are really reading this, I would ask you to try something over the next few weeks. Every single person that you have a conversation with, even if it is only for a few minutes, with those that have not professed Christ as Savior, envision them in your minds eye on fire, screaming in eternal suffering, completely and forever without any hope at all. Your heart will break within you, and the Holy Spirit will give you the words that they need to hear. For me personally, I have heard words come out of my mouth that I was not prepared to speak, truths that I had not studied, but had read in the Scriptures, a love that was for the person I was speaking to that could only have come from God through me for this person.
I am not suggesting we go back to the time when nearly every sermon was a ‘fire and brimstone’ revival meeting, though the fear of the Lord was met by ears that were open at many of these. Satan’s ploy is working quite well, “God is love, you are all that matters, they’re in His hands after all, and you wouldn’t want to shove Jesus down their throats.” Man is easily deceived, there is very little balance anymore in the pulpits, conviction and discipline have been replaced with feeling good and entertainment.
Love is the defining trait of the Christian, but not just toward our fellow believers, and never toward ourselves, for we are to “die to self” (Gal. 2:20) this love is supposed to, and I might even say meant to, be expressed toward the unsaved, the lost, those whom Jesus came to seek. Put yourself in the Lord’s place, as it were, for a moment. How do you think Jesus is going to feel on that day when He has millions, perhaps billions of human souls cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:15) Will His heart be bruised, will He need time alone to weep bitterly for those that He also loved that chose not to love Him. While our precious Savior is wiping away all of our tears forever more, they will be burning, screaming, wailing. Will He come and find you and ask you “why didn’t you tell them.”
O my brothers and sisters, see them on fire, pour your heart out to our Blessed Lord and ask Him to make the lost a burden to your very soul. Beg Him to take away all personal embarrassment when you meet them, to ‘put you off to the side’, as it were, and to use you for a vessel for His words to flow thru to them. “Perfect love casts out all fear” (1st Joh 4:18) the love that He has imparted to us, we freely give back to Him who first loved us (1st Joh 4:19) We do this with continuing praise of His Majesty, by serving our fellow believers with no desire of any recompence, and by speaking to the lost, and we are so blessed, to lead them to the Lord of Glory.
It is not right, nor is it the will of God that we sit in the pew Sunday after Sunday searching for words and verses from the speaker that will make us feel better about ourselves, those that will lift us up. We are to lift up the name of Jesus to a lost world, it is our job, it is a commandment, not a choice.
He promises you only this from them that will not listen when you obey His will in this area, they will hate you, for you have shown them that they ‘can’t make it’ to heaven on their own merits. Rejoice in that day, for your Father in Heaven will be well pleased with His obedient servant who was not ashamed of Him.