Sermons that have disappeared from our pulpits
May 20, 2003
There are some things that have come into my life that I wish would just disappear. Things like the poison ivy in my yard, income tax and old age. But there are other things that I don’t want to lose. They are valuable and I still need them in my life. Things like family photos, my falling apart old Bibles and a score of cassette taped sermons that still speak to me after the 50th time I have listened to them.
I have noticed that there are some sermons that seem to have vanished from many of our pulpits today. I am going to write about some of these in the weeks ahead. Sermons that once brought life and health to the church are, in some circles, thought to be too abrasive and not suitable anymore. At least one prominent denomination went so far as to remove hymns from their official hymnal that made mention of "the blood". How tragic! For the scripture says, "…without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin" (Hebrews 9:22).
When was the last time you heard heart-challenging sermons on the blood, hell, tithing, spiritual warfare, demons, sacrifice, brokenness or suffering? Just to mention a few. Without a solid foundation in these and other fundamentals of our faith, we grow lethargic and can even turn into what I would call "functional universalists".
No good Baptist who believes the Bible would ever allow the label "universalist" to be hung on him or his church. Why? Because we believe the Bible’s clear teaching that there is a literal heaven and a literal hell. But, we can be theologically correct believing that when a lost man dies without Christ, he goes to spend eternity in Hell and yet daily live our lives as if everyone is going to somehow make it to heaven. This is what I would call "functional universalism". J. Harold Smith stated, "dead orthodoxy is worse than liberalism."
Too many times, especially at funerals, Christian people try to give a universal hope to grieving family members that their lost (and physically dead) loved ones have somehow made it to heaven at the last moment. Somehow, they received a second chance to repent. The truth is, scripture tells us "it is appointed for men once to die and then the judgment" (Heb 9:27).
"Charles Spurgeon said, ‘Preaching that ignores the doctrine of Hell, lowers the Holiness of God and degrades the work of Jesus Christ.’
"Dr. W.A. Criswell said, ‘If you say there is no Hell, you say the Bible is not the Word of God!’
Do you believe there is a final destiny of the wicked called Hell (Luke 16:23; Rev 21:8)? … I thought so. This now begs the questions, "Do you live your life with a burden that this judgment is just a heartbeat away for any lost person you know? Have you told the people in your life of a coming judgment? Or, are you a ‘functional universalist?’"
Love the people of your life enough to warn them of the coming judgment. (Ezekiel 3:18-19). Don’t be afraid. God did not give you a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). If God didn’t put fear in your heart, then who did?
Bill Faye says, "Success in evangelism is NOT bringing someone to Christ. Success is sharing the truth about Jesus Christ in the fullness of the Spirit and then stepping back and letting the Holy Spirit do His work."
What a joy it is to see someone’s eternity change right before your eyes. I just love it when God uses me to tell the story!
You are loved!