Paul was familiar with the responsibility of the watchman"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God". Paul knew as a Christian, he was required by God to declare the full counsel of God which includes His wrath to those who don't repent; and the riches of His mercy, love, and grace to those who repent of their sins.
We don’t come to campus to condemn but to warn the students of the terror of the Lord. The bible says in John 3:18 that the students were condemned before we showed up on campus “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
By the way, God makes a clear distinction throughout the bible between lip service and true belief. True belief works its way out in obedience. Jesus said in John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father" (conditional love).
But people don't understand that this is the love of God: that we warn you of the terror of the Lord and the judgement to come. Jesus knew that most of mankind was on the road to perdition and the most loving act is to warn men of the destruction to come unless they repent. Jesus said “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction” Matthew 7:13 Jesus also said “not everyone who says ‘Lord Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven”, He also said “Many are called but few are chosen” Jesus’ very first sermon was “Repent and believe the gospel” Matthew 4:17. This isn't the "love" that most Christians have in mind, but these words are from the lips of Christ.
Most of the church today would probably condemn Jesus if they heard Him preach and call Him a legalist or hate monger. Yet Jesus during His 3 year ministry thought that preaching repentance and warning men of eternal damnation was the most loving message He could preach. Additionally He said that He spoke on that which the Father told Him to speak. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom which entails love. As Machiavelli wrote: "The people must first fear the prince before they can love him..." (paraphrased).
This is why Jesus spoke as He did; men are to approach God with fear and trembling and this is often mentioned in the New Testament as well as the Old Testament. Jesus didn't say God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life; He said "Fear the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell". The Law of the Lord is perfect unto converting the soul; not preaching unconditional love. Maybe this is why the churches are dominated by the unconverted today.
This wouldn't surprise me, most of modern Evangelicalism has long departed from preaching the full counsel of God; and this is borne out in a divorce rate that mirrors the world, the abortion rate among Evangelicals is staggering; 50% of pastors surveyed have pornography problems. I know a staff member at one of the Mega Churches in the Phoenix area; he says that 90% of the young pre-married couples that he counsels are sleeping together. Yet the ministers will not let go of the ear tickling unconditional love sermons that fill the churches and pay the rent. Unfortunately, most pastors are "small businessmen" and are interested in church growth and approval from their members; add a large mortgage payment to the equation and the pastors in these large churches are at the mercy of the tithers. The paradigm shift of the church in the 70's went from holiness, obedience, and sanctification to motivational speaking, prosperity messages and seeker friendly messages that have in effect emasculated the gospel.
The entire theme of the bible is God’s warning of eternal damnation and that men should repent and change their ultimate destinies – this is the love of God. What our critics call love is really tolerance and acceptance of sinful behavior; but as you read the bible, God is not tolerant of sin or disobedience. What greater love is there than to warn someone of their impending doom if they don’t repent from their sins?
If you were a dermatologist and you saw some skin cancer on your patient’s nose and you didn’t tell her about it because you didn’t want to ruin her modeling career or offend her; would you be acting in love? Especially if a year later, instead of having to remove the tip of her nose, she now has to have her entire nose removed? I would say that most Christians today are more concerned about people liking them and building churches than they are about warning their fellow man of the terror of the Lord. They would rather see you spend eternity in hell than get some egg on their faces by preaching an unpopular (but true) message. Jesus said "woe to you when all men speak well of you". If we were loved and adored by the students; I would have to stop and make sure that I was preaching what Christ commands us to preach.
Paul wrote "knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" 2 Cor 5:11. Solomon wrote “open rebuke is better than secret love” Prov 27:5, and in Ecclesiastes 12:11 it says “The words of the wise are like goads…” Goads were sharp stakes that were fastened to the front of an ox cart; when the ox would kick too far back, he would be poked by the goad. This goading was a painful process but it taught the ox to walk the straight and narrow. God's word is to goad the unbeliever and comfort the Christian. When the sinner acknowledges his or her sinfulness and repents (commits to ceasing from sin presently and in the future); then we will preach God's mercy and grace.
But when people aren’t living up to God’s standards - they don’t want to hear it, even though this goading is for their own good. Most Christians on campus give us the most trouble because we have listed the sins that they live in and they don't want anyone to tell them that it is not OK. They want to believe that since they are under grace, God will let them get away with their sins, just as long as they have bible study and attend church. I wish more Christians today had the love for God to put their pride and lives on the line and show the love of Christ, warn their neighbors of the eternal damnation that awaits them unless they repent from their sins. God commands that we be watchmen and warn the unbelieving world.
What about our banner? We are addressing the sins that are common to college students. Christians on campus say that Jesus and the Apostles would have never preached this way… Let’s look at what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:9: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” But the Christian students will say that Paul was speaking to the church in this passage. True but this reasoning they employ would entail that none of the New Testament could be preached or shared with unbelievers since it was written to the church, and I find this hard to accept.
Additionally Paul tells us that his ministry was to call the unbeliever to repentance; couldn't we build a cogent argument that he preached against the sins of his day to the unbelievers?
Wouldn't Paul have had to address the sins common to his audience in order to instruct his listeners what they need to repent from? Here are Paul’s own words: “Consequently, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance .” Acts 26:19-20.
For the young Christians that don't like us calling masturbation a sin; I would refer you to the scriptures where Jesus says "Any man that lusts over a woman has committed adultery or fornication in his heart". This would entail masturbation as well - unless you can masturbate without thinking about a woman in which case I would give you a psychiatric referral. The term sodomy entails masturbation as well as homosexuality and oral sex-even among married Christians. The Christians on campus constantly argue with us about our banner and style of preaching; they claim that it is not biblical and is unchristian. We have been around long enough to know better than this. These young Christians don't like the banner because most of them are committing the sins that we list and they don't want to feel convicted of their sins. They have fallen for a false message of grace and somehow think that God doesn't mind their sinning; yet the bible tells us that the grace of God has appeared teaching all men to say no to sin. Grace is not God's relenting from His hatred of sin; grace is the power to live above sin. According to Paul in Romans 6, any Christian who sins daily is not standing in the grace of God.
Allow me to list what Jesus and His Apostles preached to give you a better understanding of God’s love for the world. Remember that from Noah to Paul, and all the prophets in between; these men were preachers of righteousness and had a heart for leading the lost back to repentance and faith in God.
- Jesus’ first sermon “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” Matthew 4:17
- Jesus gives the Great Commission “repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations…” Luke 24:47
- Peter’s first sermon “Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…Be saved from this perverse generation” Acts2:38-40
- Peter’s preaching “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away…” Acts 3:19
- Paul’s preaching “…God is now commanding all men everywhere that men should repent because He has fixed a day when He will judge the world…” Acts 17:30-31
- Paul’s boldness “how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:20-21
- Paul’s ministry purpose “Consequently, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance .” Acts 26:19
- Peter on God’s love “…Not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
- Jesus’ final words to the church “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” Revelation 3:19
I close with a word from the wisest man who ever lived: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments; for this applies to every man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13) - Solomon