Book Part 1

Stop Preaching God's Love, For Heaven's Sake!

The root problem in the Church today

 Neil Baulch


 


 Dedicated to my beautiful wife Connie


Thank you


When I am often considered to be a devil


You know me truly, you know my heart


But when one dares to think I am a saint


You know I am truly ordinary


And you love me all the same


 


 


 


 


 


I am very grateful for those who helped me with this book with editing and suggestions: Marian Watson; Mike Perry; Terry Snell; Dennis Loewen. Thank you very much for your help.


 


 


 


 


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Stop Preaching God's Love For Heaven’s Sake!


The root problem in the Church today


© 2018 Neil Baulch


 


 


Table of Contents


Introduction


Section 1 The Church has a deep problem


Chapter 1.  We Focus On God's Love Far Too Much.


Section 2. Overwhelming Evidence


Chapter 2. God Is Love - 1John 4:8


Chapter 3. Names of God


Chapter 4. Angels Declarations in Heaven


Chapter 5. OT Prophecies Concerning Messiah


Chapter 6. NT Prophecies Of Coming Messiah


Chapter 7. John the Baptist’s Preaching


Chapter 8. Jesus' First Words Of His Ministry


Chapter 9. Jesus' Inaugural Sermon On The Mount


Chapter 10.Jesus' Teaching


Chapter 11. Was Jesus Mostly Tender & Kind?


Chapter 12. Was Jesus Always Kindly To The Sick


Chapter 13. Does Jesus Run To Help Us?


Chapter 14. What Did Jesus  Come To Do?


Chapter 15. Jesus' Instructions To The Seventy


Chapter 16. John 3:16


Chapter 17. The Love The Father Lavishes On Us


Chapter 18. God Loves Everyone?


Chapter 19. Unconditional love of God


Chapter 20. Great Commission


Chapter 21. Any NT Books Written On This?


Chapter 22. Any NT passage With This Title?


Chapter 23. Total Verses Saying 'God Loves Us?'


Chapter 24. Holy Spirit's Work


Chapter 25. Acts Preaching


Chapter 26. Paul's 'Important Points’ - Gospel


Chapter 27. Basic Doctrines Of Hebrews 6


Chapter 28. Early Church Fathers


Chapter 29. Church History


Chapter 30. Satan’s Aims Described In The Bible


Chapter 31. Any Prophecy Of This To Come?


Chapter 32. Are We Fulfilling These Prophecies?


Chapter 33. The NT Already Has An Over Emphasis On God's Love


Section 3 The Consequences


Chapter 34.  Depth Of Deception


Chapter  35. Consequences Of This Deception


Section 4  What Now?


Chapter 36. What Should We Do?


Chapter 37. Last Word


End notes


 


Bible Quotations


 


I believe Scripture to be the inspired Word of God and hold it to be my final authority in all matters.


 


I have used a simple English translation for as many Scriptures as I can - I want as many people as possible to understand the simple truths. If you are too spiritual to tolerate a simple version, you may be too spiritual to read this book. I have also inserted clickable links so that you may compare with more literal translations online.


 


NET = Net Bible® ©2006, Copyright: 2005 Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C


CEV = Contemporary English Version


Scriptures marked as "(CEV)" are taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1995 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.


BSB = Berean Study Bible (BSB)


© 2016 by Bible Hub and Berean Bible.


Used by Permission. All rights Reserved.


MKJV = Modern King James Version


Copyright © 1962-1998 by Jay P. Green, Sr. All rights reserved.


NASB = New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved.


NIV = New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


NLT = New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All Rights Reserved.


GNB = Good News Bible. Scriptures marked as "(GNB)" are taken from the Good News Bible – Second Edition © 1992 by American Bible Society.  Used by permission.


BBE = Bible in Basic English


The Bible In Basic English was printed in 1965 by Cambridge Press in England.


GB = GOD'S WORD® is a copyrighted work of God's Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission. Copyright 1995 by God's Word to the Nations. All rights reserved.


ERV = Easy-to-Read Version


Copyright © 1987, 1999, 2006, 2008 World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved. Used with permission


ESV = English Standard Version


©2001 Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.


KJV = King James Version


This is the 1769 King James Version of the Holy Bible.


TPW = The Pure Word New Testament


 © 2016, 2017 by One Path Publishing L.L.C.  All rights reserved.     



 


   


Introduction


To the church in Melbourne:


You know how every church group, every club, every organization, every movement has a ‘sacred cow’? A tenet, concept, an idea or something that they will blindly fight to protect?


That is what this book addresses - a ‘sacred cow’ in the modern Church, that most will immediately react against, and defend, with barely a rational thought to guide them.


This book is written to those who 'have an ear to hear.'


On a number of occasions Jesus is recorded as prefacing an important teaching with 'To him that has an ear to hear what the Spirit says.' So too with this book, it is for those who have an open heart and ‘an ear to hear.'


  


I do not write this for those who want to blindly defend the comfortable Christian existence. They will reject it. It is for those seeking answers as to why the Church is so shallow, self-centred and ineffective.


A friend questioned the value of writing this book, he said “Your target market will ignore you and the converted already agree with you.” Hmmm, true to a point, but even though only a handful of Christians I know agree, there are those in between, who sense that there is something more. It is to that growing few, that I write this book.


 


So deep is the conditioning, that this book is written more as a text book, with lots of Scripture quoted, many  examples and lots of quotations by Bible scholars.


 


This book is also a resource for those that want facts and figures from the Bible to effectively argue against this great delusion, with family, friends and believers wherever they be, just as Paul argued passionately for the truth:


Acts 19:8 Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God.         NLB


 


Our words can set free, or they can cut down. There is a time for both. Oh for the wisdom to know when to do which. I had mixed feelings in writing this book. One the one hand I love and grieve for the Church and I so much want to sound the alarm; on the other hand, writing all this can start to make one feel superior and I hate that. I thank God that I can now, for the most part, let it all go and resume my quieter, gentle self.


Section 1 The Church has a deep problem

Chapter 1.  We Focus On God's Love Far Too Much.

Who agrees with me that God loves us?


Who agrees with me that God has a great love for His children?


"I, Neil Baulch[i], do declare on this day:


1st August 2016, that GOD LOVES US!"


It can rightly be said, that everything God does, is by and through love.


 


Please remember while you are reading through to the end, that I clearly and definitely stated my firm belief that God loves us.


 


Now, this is my proposition:


 



We talk about, and focus on God's love for us, far more than Jesus did or the Bible does.


The Western Church is sick and dying, void of any real move of the Holy Spirit because of it.


We, the Western Church,  have grossly exaggerated how much God focuses on us, by a great over-emphasis on 'God's love for us' which has done untold damage to the Western Church. (Sadly, this is increasing true of the Asian and African Church too, but I am particularly addressing the ringleaders- the Western Church.)

 


Or in other words:


 


Seeker-friendly preaching, loud, bright music and lots of programs,  are not a sign that the Holy Spirit is in your church.


 


The general impression most Christians now have of Jesus' ministry, was that he went around preaching the love of God to all, being nice and helping everyone he met.


 


This is just plain wrong. If you bear with me, I will explain what I mean with a lot of evidence from Scripture.


 


The Bible has been hijacked by politically correct Church leadership and it is presented as a completely different document than the story and spirit of Christ.


 


So, let me lay out what I am going to do in this book, so you know where we are going:



 


1)  In section 1:


 I make the bold statement that we in the Western Church have a great overemphasis on God's love for us, which is wrong, sinful and destructive.


 


2)  In section 2:


I lay out the overwhelming biblical evidence for such a claim.


 


3)  In section 3:


I mention just a few of the ways this is so destructive and suggest what we can do to correct this sin and error.


 


And I make the bold statement that if we do not expose, root out and destroy this error, the organizational or institutional Church will die spiritually.


 


It really is that serious.


 


However, the true Church will never die, it will get stronger, but it will eventually be withdrawn from the institutional Churches.


 


The first objection I usually receive, is that such a statement cannot possibly be true, because we KNOW God really loves us.


Yet, when I prove from Scripture that we do indeed hold a great over-emphasis on it, the next common objection I get is, 'What's the big deal, why make such a big thing out of it?'


 


The problem that we cannot perceive by a superficial consideration, is that we have effectively lost our knowledge of truly who our God really is.  As bizarre as it sounds, generally, the Western Church now follow 'another', ‘only nice’ Jesus and a radically changed gospel that refuses to expose sin as Jesus did.


 



 


A belief in a super-loving God, does indeed neutralize the usefulness of the gospel.


By a subtle  subtraction of God's justice and the addition of a false, imbalanced love of God, we effectively substitute the God of the Bible for a manufactured 'nice' god, loosely based on the Bible. 


That is going to sound extreme, but please bear with me.


 


And we see the effects of such a substitution, for instance, Universalism (none go to hell, all go to heaven) could only flourish as it is these days, in an environment that did not understand the holiness and justice of God.


 


It would sound very extreme if I were to say that 'This over-emphasis on God's love for us has been one of the most destructive forces in the Church, throughout history.'


But if you were to read this book which I have written, and hear about evidence that you have not heard before, you may agree that it is not an extreme statement at all.


 


This may be the simplest thought ever conveyed in a sermon or a book and yet probably the hardest to accept in this age that we live.


In all that I am going to say, all I am really saying is: 'Stop talking & preaching so much about how much God loves us.'


It is doing great damage to the Kingdom of God.


 


Of the destructive traditions of men, that Jesus condemned, that annul Scripture, this seems to be the most deceptive and wide spread destructive in the 'good' churches of today.


 


Let me prove to you, that:


 


Preaching 'God's love' is just ‘Christian political correctness.’


 


Let’s call it ‘Christian Correctness’


 


Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) has been dethroned.


We preach in the modern Church of the Western World (and increasingly the worldwide Church) what could well be called the 'Sola Tenere' Gospel - 'God Only Tender'.   Or the 'Sola Affectus' gospel - 'Affectionate Feelings Alone'. This has become the only way to describe and preach about our God, and supposedly the only way we can legitimately understand  him.


 


Some may assume that my strong views about this, must come from a strongly Calvinist position, but this is not true. I am not reformed in my theology at all, quite the opposite, I strongly believe in man’s free will.


I do not propose these things from any particular theology, I read my Bible and take it as it reads, as best I can. Obviously, it is impossible not to be influenced by one’s doctrinal beliefs, at least to some degree, but as best I can, I take Scripture as it is written.


When the Bible says Jesus was harsh, I accept that as is; when Paul says they are ‘useless’ people; when Paul calls some ‘dogs’; when mere favouritism is call evil; when Peter pronounces the death penalty for a lie; when one in the church is acting sinfully is ‘handed over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh; I accept all these, as part of the Word of God, part of the Sola Scriptura. I do not make adjustments in my mind to weight the reading, to suit our ‘Sola Affectus’ (feelings alone gospel) basic assumptions or paradigms.


 


Today, everything of God, Scripture and ministry MUST be interpreted through the ‘Rosetta stone’ of Sola Affectus otherwise it will be condemned as far too harsh, and you will be condemned as well.


This book seeks to expose this destructive tradition of focusing so much on God's love, and suggest a much better way to think, live and minister. A way that pleases God, rather than tempting His judgment.


 


For so many years as I have talked about these things, ‘good’ Christians will agree and say to me something like “Yes, there is too much of the sugar-coated gospel these days.” They think that they understand exactly what I am talking about, but they only perceive a fraction of what I am talking about, and certainly not enough to set them free.


It is something like the typical iceberg illustration:



They really have no idea of the depth of the problem, they see the tip of the iceberg, but the massive size of the problem has not dawned on them as yet.


 


A Simple Question:


 


What % of the NT verses do you think, state that God loves us?


5%?


10%?


20%?


40%?


60%


 


What do you think?    Think about it and say it out loud.


 


Before we look at what percentage others have estimated, take a look at the following typical memes posted on Facebook by Christians. Notice the emphasis on self, that reinforces this thinking?:


 


Now, if your answer to what percentage of the NT verses do you think, state that God loves us, is as low as 5% you are still too high, but we will get to that later.


 


I did a small survey of 28 people from various Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, and asked 'what percentage of the verses in the New Testament state that God loves us?':



How could Christians possibly believe that it is stated 30, 40, 50, 60 , 70, 80 percent?


We really do have a big problem.


 


Whenever I mention something controversial, I get the typical objections "But God loves us you know."


I say, "Yes of-course, but we do not hear what the Bible really says and who God really is, because we focus so much on God's love."


To which they give me a look of disgust, because after all, 'God's love is all the way through the Bible, you silly man.'


 


When people believe this over-emphasis, you can preach all sorts of good challenging messages and it makes no difference - like water off a duck’s back.


The wrong belief MUST be exposed, insightfully deconstructed, broken, smashed....then, your general teaching will again have an effect. More about that later.


 


Now, even non-Christians believe this over-emphasis on God's love for people too, because we have been telling them it is so for a very long time.


 


So I have a question for you.


If we believe that we reach people with 'the love of God' rather than preaching sin and repentance, why are they not flocking into our churches?


 


We have done a very good job of telling the world that God loves them, if our theory is correct, there ought to be a direct correlation with crowds coming to Christ in recent years. They are not. Statistics[1] for the 10 years between 2001-2011 show that in Australia, the evangelical and Pentecostal denominations are maintaining their numbers. However, if you remove the numbers of immigrants joining the church as they come to Australia, the church is in significant decline.


 


Now you may then say, "But we need to get them into a personal relationship with us so they really know God's love." That would be a rather silly diversion, but if you did, then I would say, "Why is it that so many who do come into the church, repent, get baptized but months later, they have drifted away from Christ, back into the world, forsaking the 'gathering of yourselves together?’” 


If the latest Church attendance statistics show that it is generally the same as it was, how can that be, if all we need to do is to tell the unsaved that God loves them?


 


Truth is, we have dumbed it down to make it more appealing and find that we have made it impotent.


Yes, we the ‘good’ Christians have made the message of the Great Omnipotent God to be impotent.



What is not properly understood now, in the world and the Church, is that God hates sin with a vengeance, hell is frighteningly real and God is going to send billions of people to hell. Even 'good' people, who live a good moral life.


 


How dangerous is hell?:


Matt. 13:50 ...... into the place of fire. There the people will cry and grind their teeth with pain.”                                                                           ERV


 


Matt. 24:51 That servant will then be punished and thrown out with the ones who only pretended to serve their master. There they will cry and grit their teeth in pain.                                              CEV


 


Matt. 25:31  Then Jesus said, “Those people will be punished forever. But the ones who pleased God will have eternal life.”                                           CEV


 


This is just a few times that Matthew records these strong words of Jesus, there are many more in the NT. 


 


The world already knows about God's great love, so much so, that they now use it as a tool against us whenever one tries to share the 'full' gospel message with them. In self defense, they will say something like "You are judging me and your God is not very loving so I will not accept your God."


They use it as a weapon against the true Gospel and against the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. And we gave it to them. Willingly. Without reservation.


 


Oh, and that's not all, we Christians do the same thing


"You are judging me, you are not very loving so I do not have to accept anything from you.” Not even the truth.


 


Does this meme seem accurate to you?



How well does that fit with Isaiah's words below?:


 


God gave this message to Isaiah for the distant future, for us:


Isa 30:8  Now write this on a sign so that all people can see it, and write this in a book. Write these things for a future time. This will be far, far in the future: 


9  These people are like children who refuse to obey. They lie and refuse to listen to the LORD'S teachings. 


10  They tell the prophets, "Don't see dreams about things we should do. Don't tell us the truth. Say nice things to us and make us feel good. See only good things for us. 


11  Stop seeing things that will really happen. Get out of our way. Stop telling us about the Holy One of Israel."                              ERV



 


 




I might not agree with everything which Søren Kierkegaard says, but this is profound:



“The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. "


 


Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard


 


 

 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 



Where did we get this great emphasis on focusing on God's great love for us? We preach about, talk about it, we silence arguments with it, and discussions about it.


We demand that all Christians keep this focus, we interpret Scripture by it, even against other Scripture that tells us that Jesus is a wrathful Judge too.


 


What does the New Testament show us?


I thought about all the relevant areas to survey for clear statements of such things and this is what I came up with.


 


Let's look at the facts and take a closer look at these following areas to see where God has such a high emphasis on communicating His love to us.


 


Where Does God Show Any Emphasis On Speaking About His Love For Us?:


 


ETERNAL:


q  God Is Love - 1John 4:8. Really?


OLD COVENANT:


q  Are there any Names of God about love?


q  What do the Angels say about God?


q  Are there OT Prophecies about His love?


q  Do any NT Prophecies proclaim this love?


q  Did John the Baptist teach God’s love?


JESUS:


q  Jesus' first recorded words in ministry.


q  Jesus' inaugural speech: Sermon on Mount


q  Was Jesus' teaching only kindly?


q  Was Jesus only kindly to people in general?


q  Was Jesus only kindly to the sick & needy?


q  Did Jesus run after people to help them?


q  What was Jesus to teach and do?


q  Jesus' evangelistic instructions to the 70


q  Does John 3:16 support our over-emphasis?


q  What love does the Father lavish upon us?


q  Does God love everyone?


q  Did Jesus really come to preach God’s love?


q  Unconditional love of God, how so?


q  Is it in the Great Commission – Matt. 28?


NEW TESTAMENT:


q  Any New Testament books about it?


q  Any teachings/paragraphs in NT?


q  How many verses clearly state God loves us?


q  Does the Holy Spirit support this emphasis?


q  Do the apostles preach God’s love in Acts?


q  Paul's 'more important points of gospel'


q  Is it in the Basic doctrines of Hebrews 6?


BACKGROUND OF NEW TESTAMENT:


q  Does the NT have too little an emphasis on speaking of God’s love than what we need?


POST BIBLICAL:


q  Did the Early Church Fathers teach it?


q  Is it prominent through Church History?


q  What is Satan's chief aim?


q  Are there prophecies of coming such deception?


q  Are we fulfilling these prophecies?


 


 



 


I am NOT proposing some kind of 'theology by numbers' here, I am not proposing any theology, I am simply, from Scripture, exposing our 'great over emphasis' that, affects our theology. It is not in the Bible. It affects our theology so subtlety, but so greatly. When humans refuse to believe good Bible-based arguments, only statistics remain unchangeable and impossible to deny. And so, I present the abundant raw data and statistics, as recorded in Scripture - in the hope that this will pierce the fog and allow the light of Christ to shine through.


 


Those who push this over emphasis, want to keep it in the realm of ‘the vague', keep it mystical and distant  - 'Jesus just loves us' 'oh it's all through the NT just read it for yourself' 'you are getting too intense, everyone knows that God loves us'; rather than keeping their arguments connected to an objective reading of Scripture, this is because then they are tied down to facts.


So, if you do not want facts, this book is not for you.


 


Just to give you an idea of how intense God really is, consider this:


1Pet. 1:16  That's why the Scriptures say, "I am the holy God, and you must be holy too."   CEV


 


Matt. 12:36  I promise you that on the day of judgment, everyone will have to account for every careless word they have spoken.    CEV


 


Heb. 12:28 …….we must serve God with fear and awe in a way that pleases him. 


29  After all, our God is a destructive fire.    GW


 


Even careless words will be important at judgment. That is pretty intense.


 


Because the conditioning is so deep and the paradigm so set, I need to look at many pieces of evidence, so bear  with me. As you go through it all, it will start to make sense, but if you abandon reading, you very probably will not catch the essence.


 


I challenge you to pray for an open heart to hear whatever it is that God wants to say to you.


I thank God that anyone who has read up to this point, even if they reject the thesis of this book, will become painfully aware of how often we preached and talked about the love of God over the coming months and years.



 


Let me pre-empt the accusations that I have heard so many times. I am accused of being 'judgmental' 'self-righteous' 'who do I think I am' etc…. let me say:


 


I am a nobody. I know it and my wife knows it.


I have not achieved anything great in life.


I am more of a failure, than a great success.


But, I happened to see something that I need to tell you about.


I gazed at a picture of life, and happened to look at the exact spot where there was a problem.


I did not find this problem because I was trained to see it.


I did not find this problem because I am intelligent.


Nor because I am a very spiritual person.


And not because I was specially chosen.


No, only because I happened to see something about which I am compelled to make you aware.


 


Let's begin.


Section 2. Overwhelming Evidence

Chapter 2. God Is Love - 1John 4:8

1John 4:8  God is love, and anyone who doesn't love others has never known him. . .   


16  . . .God is love. If we keep on loving others, we will stay one in our hearts with God, and he will stay one with us.                               CEV


 


First of all, let's get the immediate context in mind.


Even though this passage is almost always given the title of 'God is love' in our Bibles, the context is about us not God. It is urging us to love one another - we must love each other because God is our great example of love. It was not primarily written to describe God's love. It certainly holds that profound truth in it, but that was not the main thing idea John was trying to communicate.


 


Notice that it does not directly say “God loves you?”


It states that God IS love and we are to copy Him. We assume that He refers to us, and that would be correct, but it not clearly stated. One needs to be very careful not to build a great theological emphasis on an inference rather than direct statements. Yet, this is the very thing we do with most of the references to God’s love in the Bible, as I will lay out in the following chapters.


 


Because of this passage, we, in an era where 'being nice' is seen as the perfect Christian, have desired to make God the pinnacle of perfectness in the eyes of the world. This has caused us to elevate His aspect of love so much, that other aspects of His character are considerably devalued.


An example of this is where there is someone in sin in the church, but we say nothing because supposedly, God wants to show grace, and supposedly He wants us to love them out of their sin.


The aspect of God's love has overruled direct commands like these :-


·       'rebuke a sinning brother' Luke 17:3


·       'expose sin' Eph. 5:11


·       'correct those who oppose teaching' Tit. 1:9


·       'leaders in sin must be corrected publicly' 1Tim. 5:20


·       'shun those disobeying to shame them' 2Thess. 3:14


 


This ought to be common sense. In any situation in life. When there is good discipline and authority present, there is little need to use it. Like a school teacher - the strict effective teachers have far less problems controlling the class than the other teachers.


Or parents who maintain a good level of discipline and authority, have far less testing of their authority.


Or a boss who maintains a good level of discipline and authority in the workplace, has better production and more disciplined staff.


 


As R.C. Sproul puts it:


"The worst thing that can happen to sinners is to be allowed to go on sinning without any divine restraints. At the end of the New Testament, in the book of Revelation when the description of the last judgment is set forth, God says, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still” (Rev. 22:11). God gives people over to what they want. He abandons them to their sinful impulses and removes his restraints, saying in essence, “If you want to sin, go ahead and sin.” This is what theologians call “judicial abandonment.” God, in dispensing His just judgment, abandons the impenitent sinner forever."[2]   


 


We are so blinded by this 'God is love'(we really mean 'tender' and only tender – Sola Tenere) gospel, we lose sight of basic common sense.


 


Why do we elevate the aspect of God's love higher than His holiness? Why do we, by our repetitive declarations, portray God almost as a single facetted Being of love alone? Scripture does not, as explained here:


 


The New International Commentary on the New Testament - Dr I. Howard Marshall on 1John 4:8:


8...But it is the subordinate clause in this verse which carries the real  emphasis and provides the theme for the next few sentences. "God is love" is rightly recognized as one of the high peaks of divine revelation in this Epistle. Logically the statement stands parallel with "God is light" (1:5) and "God is spirit" (Jn. 4:24) as one of the three great Johannine expressions of the nature of God. Some theologians give the impression that the present statement is superior to the other two, but there is no justification for doing this. We do wrong to exalt  the love of God as His supreme feature just because it is more congenial to our thinking. Nevertheless, it is true that "God is spirit'' describes his metaphysical nature, while "God is light" and "God is love" deal with his character, especially as he has revealed himself to men. It has been noted that to speak of God as love is not to reduce God to the status of an abstract quality. The statement refers to his action. Yet it signifies more than "God loves," for its effect is to claim that 'all' God's action is loving. Since love is a personal activity, the statement stresses the personality of God to the fullest extent. At the same time, the immense gulf between God and men is expressed; of no man could it possibly be said that he 'is' love. Only God is completely loving.


 


There is no need to enter into a historical survey of the teaching of Scripture on this point. It would merely demonstrate that this statement is simply the clearest expression of a doctrine of the nature of God that is attested throughout its pages. Equally it would show that outside the pages of Scripture there is no comparable picture of God!


 


God is all-loving and, equally, all-holy (1:5). These two characteristics do not stand in opposition to one another but belong together and determine his actions. Consequently, it is not surprising that John does not stay on the level of abstract theological assertion but proceeds directly to speak of how God has showed his love.                             (emphasis added)


 


Indeed.


It was John who correctly made this declaration that ‘God is love’ Jesus did not feel the need to state this truth during His ministry. But Jesus did feel it necessary to declare that He ‘was the Truth’:


 


John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.                   ESV


 


So we can also say that God is Truth or God is Life or God is the Way. They are all true.


 


This thought is going to be very challenging to many Christians, but only because we have created such a strong, misplaced tradition, about God and His extreme love for us.


 


An observation here that is helpful to explain why in the survey I mentioned earlier, that some would quote as high as 70%, 80%, 90% and even 100%.  As Dr Marshall says:


 


'Yet it signifies more than "God loves," for its effect is to claim that 'all' God's action is loving.'


 


I would totally agree that God does everything in love -  100%, if I had indeed, asked 'Which actions of God are in love?'


But that is not the question I asked. I asked 'what percentage of the verses in the New Testament state clearly that God loves us.' I purposely emphasized to each participant that it was only about how many times, and estimate a percentage of the New Testament verses stated this clearly.


 


You see, even though I clarified clearly what I was asking, so many Christians cannot differentiate between God loving us and how we are to evangelize the lost.


We hear the word love, and run everything together as one simplistic truth – God Is love, love is God, all that matters is love, we must love, we must be like God, do not define love as anything different from kindliness and tenderness. That is all.


We do not even think about it. It’s just trained belief.


Even though our definition of love is now false – true love will warn people a hell and discipline others for wrong belief.


 


For instance, when I say ‘We must preach repentance, not God’s love’ I get instant reactions as though I am saying that God has no love. I did not say anything of the kind, but we have an unnatural perspective on God and love, and we cannot tolerate any enquiry of how it is supposed to work. Words are fired and swords are drawn, to nip it in the bud. There must be no discussion that might have the remotest possibility of questioning our pet theology and deepest belief.


Someone says “But we are to preach the gospel in love.”


Of course I agree with that, but that is not what most hear. They hear ‘We are to preach God’s love to them in love.’


No, we are to preach the gospel in love, not preach the love of God.


But as I have said, whenever we use the term 'love' in this context (well many contexts really), it is automatically assumed that we are to preach God's love. And to preach God’s love is to preach it really nicely. Because after all, everyone knows that ‘love is the most important thing in the world. God is love and ‘...of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.’(Rom. 11:36) Love is everything. If we ‘love’ someone, God is there. In all His power. Without doubt. Even if we said nothing about the gospel.


 


The word ‘love’ has become the great interchangeable word for God. And we can use that great word invoking the fear of hell, in any situation or discussion to silence anyone who may have, even just a little forthrightness.


 


This is why I say that we are deeply conditioned, even deceived and our basic assumptions, our paradigms are deeply flawed.


 


Kevin DeYoung, critiques a book where the statement  'God is Love' was the starting point & the fundamental truth of God, and he says:


'For example, why should the statement “God is love” be given priority over John’s other “definitional” statements that God is light (1 John 1:5) or God is spirit (John 4:24)? And what about the “definition” in Hebrews 12:29 that “God is a consuming fire” or the repeated assertion that God is “holy, holy, holy”?'[3]  (emph. added)


Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan


 


Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 51 - 1, 2, 3John:


(b) To assert comprehensively that "God is love" does not ignore or exclude the other attributes of his being to which the Bible as a whole bears witness; notably his justice and his truth (cf. Ps 89:14; Deut 32:4; Rom 3:21-2; John 17:17). God's judgment (his wrath),  for example„ is just as much a reality as his love (cf. Isa 54:8; Rev 6:12-7). But theologically these cannot be opposed to each other. Such characteristics of God as his justice and his truth must ultimately be related to his essential nature as love, and may in the end be perceived in terms of his loving nature (see further, Stott, 160-61). Such teaching belongs, indeed, to 1 John itself, where we read of God's holiness (1:5), justice (1:9) and truth (5:20).                                             (emphasis added)


Stephen S. Smalley (Ph.D., Cambridge) is an internationally recognized Johannine scholar and Dean Emeritus of Chester Cathedral, England.


 


Further commentary by various scholars is listed in the  [ii]End notes.


 


So, even for the amateur Bible student (using free resources[4]) we find with a little investigation, that contrary to popular belief, that 'God is love' is not THE all-defining statement of God. It must not be the single facet of God that we elevate above all else. And worse, we should not be using it as a weapon, against talk of the other attributes of God that are hard. Nor using it against any Christian who appeals to other truths that we find less than comfortable.


 


Human nature will always favour and emphasize the nice things over the less appealing, that is why we must interpret Scripture with Scripture and 'work out our salvation with fear and trembling'[5] rather than drifting into a false tradition of men in our understanding.


 


CONCLUSION:


x God Is Love 1John 4:8 = not the emphasis we thought.


 



 


 


Typically, whenever I discuss these things with Christians and even pastors, with the clear Biblical evidence, they will react and say something like "Are you saying that God does not loves us?"


 


It's an obvious over-reaction in order to protect this precious, tradition of men.


Any time the high emphasis on God's love for us is questioned, the automatic reaction is to falsely hear that God's love itself, is question.


No, if I question the over emphasis, I am not questioning the principle and the truth of God's love for us.


Again, I will categorically state that God has a great love for us. It can rightly be said that everything God does, is through love. All I am saying is that we talk about and focus on God's love for us far more than the Bible does. This has had a devastating effect on the Church.


When you sugar-coat the Gospel to make it more appealing, you remove the God of the Bible from it and replace it with 'a god' of man and bondage.


 


Recently, while I was discussing this with a pastor, it became a little heated and finally in frustration he reacted with:


 "It does not matter if you can show me that the Bible does not say that God does love us that much, I am convinced it is true, because that is how God works."


 


Do you see what he did here?


 


In other words, ‘I am so convinced that God loves us so much (because of our tradition about that), that even if you prove from the Bible that we have a great over-emphasis on it, I will not accept it.’


 


And this is a pastor who, unlike so many, focuses more on challenging than all the ‘nice things’. Yet he believes in ‘God loves us soooo much’ which compromises his perspective, waters down his challenges, and barely challenges the congregation.


It has become an unshakable belief, though this emphasis is not in the Bible.


 


In another heated debate, a brother, who is now retired and who passionately laboured in ministry most of his life:


 "I don't care if the Bible never states that God loves us, we know He does love us so much, because it is in everything He does."


 


With our current worldview putting an over-emphasis on God's love, this sounds like a very spiritual statement, even profound, but it is not.


Again, he too is saying, that the Bible itself is not my authority, my traditions are more important. My traditions determine what the Bible emphasizes.


Yet we say that we believe the Bible to be the Word OF God, and it is our FINAL authority.


Well, only if it complies with our traditions it seems.


 


 


Another pastor reacted with this:


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


[6]


 


They interpreted the Bible and who God is, by the popular traditions of today- by what they ‘sort of, kind of remember’ the Bible says, rather than what IS in the Bible, printed in black and white. They do not allow the Bible to formulate their theology and beliefs.


They did not take that view because of WHAT the Bible reveals in plain writing, they took that view because it is what is dominant in our current Church perspective - one of our current traditions of men.


Or to put it another way, the Bible does not instruct or even infer that we should preach or build such an over-emphasis on 'God's love for us' but we know better than the Bible and our traditions are more spiritual than the Bible.


We boldly declare that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and we follow it. But we do NOT follow the inerrant Word of God,  when it conflicts with our pet doctrines of men.


What they are both saying to me, in effect, is that, even though  Jesus, Paul, John and all the Bible characters understood God's love for us, but they did not preach or portray it like we do, but we today, know better, and so we will have a much stronger emphasis on this than they.


 


No, it is an idol that must be forsaken.


 


How can I describe proper emphasis?


I will try……


 


I myself, feel very loved by God.


I also feel very humbled by God's greatness.


(So, please do not try convince me that I am so special.)


 


I feel very loved by our Holy God.


I also feel very sinful and unworthy at times.


I am not crushed, for He died for my sin. Oh what a wonderful grace, therefore, I remain very humble .


 


I feel very loved by our Father God.


I also feel like a servant, slave and soldier in the Captain's Army.


 


I feel very loved by our Holy God.


I also am afraid of sinning against the Holy God.


 


I feel very loved by our God.


I feel very confident in coming into His Presence to tell Him my deepest thoughts.


Once I arrive, I am careful to be very humble.


 


Yes, I feel very loved by God.


Oh how I love God.


 


We must hold both truths at the same time, both are just as real as the other.


 


Consider this:


 


Heb 12:28 …….we must serve God with fear and awe in a way that pleases him. 


29  After all, our God is a destructive fire.    GW


 


John Newton understood this well when he said:


 


" I am a great sinner, Jesus is a greater Saviour!"


 


 


 


 


 


 



 


Chapter 3. Names of God

There are many names and titles of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit used throughout the Bible.


 Surely it stands to reason that if love was so extremely important above all other attributes of God, then there must be some names or titles of God that reveal this great love for us.


 


Check out this list on the BlueLetterBible website of 480 names - NAMES, TITLES AND CHARACTERS OF JESUS CHRIST.[7]  You can verify this for yourself.


 


Yet, there is nothing, except for this one obscure reference in the list:


Pro 17:17  A friend loves at all times, and a


relative is born to help in adversity.  NET


 


'A Friend that loveth at all times.'


 


Here are just a few of the Names & Titles that are often used:-


 


·       Elohim  :  God the Omnipotent


·       El-Elyon  :  the Most High God


·       El-Roi  :  the God that sees


·       El-Shaddai  :  God Almighty, God all sufficient


·       El-Olam  :  God the Everlasting


·       El-Bethel  :  God of the House of God            


·       El-Gibbor  :  the Mighty or Great God


·       Elohim-Elyon  :  God, the Most High             


·       Elohim-Saboath  :  God of Hosts. Omnipotent. 


·       Immanu-El  :  God with us    


·       Jehovah-Elohim  :  Lord God,  Redeemer-Creator


·       Adonai-Jehovah-Saboath  :  Master of Hosts


·       Jehovah-Jireh  :  the Lord will provide


·       Jehovah-Rapha  :  the Lord that heals


·       Jehovah-Nissi  :  the Lord my Banner or Standard


·       Jehovah-Kanna  :  the Lord who is jealous


·       Jehovah-Mekaddeskum  :  the Lord sanctifies


·       Jehovah-Shalom  :  the Lord our Peace


·       Jehovah-Shaphat  :  the Lord is Judge


·       Jehovah-Saboath  :  the Lord of Hosts


·       Jehovah-Elyon  :  the Lord Most High


·       Jehovah-Raah (or Roi)  :  the Lord my Shepherd


·       Jehovah-Hosenu  :  the Lord our Maker       


·       Jehovah-Gibborm  :  the Lord is Mighty


·       Jehovah-Tsidkenu  :  the Lord our Righteousness


·       Jehovah-Shammah  :  the Lord is Everpresent


·       The Life


·       God of Love and Peace (2 Cor 13:11)


·       Advocate


·       Faithful and True


·       Lion of the Tribe of Judah


·       Victorious One


·       Deliverer


·       Bread of Life


·       Son of the Most High


·       I Am


·       Judge


·       Risen Lord


·       Supreme Creator Over All


·       Redeemer


·       Messiah


·       Light of the World


·       Savior


·       Lamb of God


·       One Who Sets Free


·       Mighty One


·       The Word


·       Alpha and Omega


·       Lord of All


·       The Resurrection


·       Chief Cornerstone


·       Good Shepherd


·       Holy Servant


·       The Way


·       The Truth


·       Bridegroom


·       King of Kings


·       Sacrifice for Our Sins


·       Our Hope


·       Great High Priest


·       Mediator


·       Author and Perfecter of Our Faith


·       True Vine


·       Almighty One


·       Head of the Church


·       The Door


·       Prince of Peace


·       Son of Man


·       Beloved Son of God


·       Wonderful Counselor


·       Mighty God


·       Everlasting Father


·       Prince of Peace


 


Rather than names like 'God of Love' being repeated in many forms, most of God's names and titles are more about God's power, rulership and holiness.


 


How can it be that if the love of God for us is so important, and so prominent, that there are no names or titles that specifically declare this?


Did the All-knowing God make a mistake when inspiring the Bible writers or have we mere humans make a grave error in judgment?


Are we too, 'the blind leading the blind?'


 


Interestingly, Jesus introduces the title 'Father' to God and instructs us to address God as Father.


Love for us is implied in so many ways and places in the Bible, but there is no great emphasis and dwelling on it.  It is something that we now hollowly claim there is and exalt as high Biblical revelation. 


 


 


 


CONCLUSION:


 


x Names Of God = show no emphasis on His love for us, certainly the concept is there, but in no way can it be said to be an emphasis anything like what we live by.


 


 



Again, yes God love us. All I am saying is that we over emphasize this truth to the dumbing down of the other attributes and realities of God.


 



 


Chapter 4. Angels Declarations in Heaven

Have you ever thought about the importance of what the angels cry out over the throne of God?


As has been pointed out by others, the angels say not 'love' but 'holy':


 


Isaiah's Vision of the Lord:


Isa 6:1  . . . I had a vision of the LORD. He was on his throne high above, and his robe filled the temple. 


2  Flaming creatures with six wings each were flying over him. They covered their faces with two of their wings and their bodies with two more. They used the other two wings for flying, 


3  as they shouted, "Holy, holy, holy, LORD All-Powerful! The earth is filled with your glory."   CEV


 


And more than that, the angels shout it three times. Biblically as in our culture, to state something multiple times is to add emphasis to that thought.


 


And of course it is repeated by John in Revelation:


Rev 4:8  Each of the four living creatures had six wings, and their bodies were covered with eyes. Day and night they never stopped singing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, the all-powerful God, who was and is and is coming!"                               CEV


 


This RepentanceCry.com meme puts it profoundly:



CONCLUSION:


x Angels Declarations = no thought at all of God's love.


Chapter 5. OT Prophecies Concerning Messiah

There are over 300 prophecies in the OT  which have been fulfilled concerning the coming Messiah.


 


You can check out lists of Messianic prophecies on the internet :-


 


·       353 Prophecies Listing


·       365 Prophecies Listing


·       Bible.org listing of Prophecies Listing


 


None of them say anything about Messiah would teach of God's great love for us.


Showing love is implied, but not stated; nor is any emphasis on it implied.


And most certainly nothing like the notion that we have built.


 


These prophecies fall into the following general categories:


 



ascension


attested to


birth


character


compassion


conflict


cross


divinity


empowered


event


faithful


Gentile Saviour


gift giver


glorified


glory


healer


holy


hope giver


human


innocent


judge


king


kingdom


last supper


liberator


lineage


mediator


messenger


Messiah


miracles


name


place


priest


priesthood


prophet


punished


pure


redemptive


rejected


rewarder


ruler


servant


shepherd


suffer


surrendered


teacher


timing


type


misunderstood



 


 


Not one about God's love for us.


 


One speaks of compassion only:


 


The Lord's Chosen Servant


Isa 42:1  Here is my servant! I have made him strong. He is my chosen one; I am pleased with him. I have given him my Spirit, and he will bring justice to the nations. 


Isa 42:2  He won't shout or yell or call out in the streets. 


Isa 42:3  He won't break off a bent reed or put out a dying flame, but he will make sure that justice is done. 


Isa 42:4  He won't quit or give up until he brings justice everywhere on earth, and people in foreign nations long for his teaching.     CEV


 


Again, love might be implied but it is not stated as though it were above all other aspects of God's mission.  


 


The 3 lists of prophecies mentioned above, can be found here[8]


 


 


CONCLUSION:


 


x OT Prophecies = no clear mention, certainly no particular emphasis.


 


 


 



 


Chapter 6. NT Prophecies Of Coming Messiah

 


Let's look for this high emphasis on His love toward us in the prophecies concerning Jesus in the New Testament:


 


The angels announcing the arrival of the Messiah said nothing of him having a ministry of love from God, but rather, saving us from sins:


 


Through Mary: Luke 1:46-55


 


His mercy is mentioned:


Luke 1:54  He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy,                      NET


 


But nothing about telling of God's love. Some words about mercy to those who fear Him, scattering the proud, lifting the lowly and bringing down the mighty, feeding the hungry and withholding from the rich.


 


Through Zechariah: Luke 1:67-78:


Luke 1:67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied.........76  And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High. For you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77  to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. 78  Because of our God's tender mercy the dawn will break upon us from on high.              NET


 


Nothing about him showing God's love there either.


Only saving his people and forgiveness of sins.


 


To Mary:


Luke 1:32  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.


33  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.                       NET


 


To Joseph:


Matt. 1:21  She will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.                                     NET


 


 To the Shepherds:


Luke 2:11  Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.


12  This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger."                   


NET


Simeon's Prophecy: Luke 2:29-35


Luke 2:29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,


you may now dismiss your servant in peace.


30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,


31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:


32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,


and the glory of your people Israel.”


34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”    NET


 


Nothing there either.


 


Through Anna: Luke 2:36-38


Luk 2:36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher.....38....she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.                                                    NET


 


Nothing there either.


 


Of course, we know that God does all things through His love, but at that time they did not comprehend a 'God of love' and doing all things in love. So, if they did not understand it and it was so important to tell people, why was it not mentioned in any of these prophetic words?


 


CONCLUSION:


x NT Prophetic Words = no high emphasis on His love to us in the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah in the New Testament


 



Again, yes God love us. All I am saying is that we over emphasize this truth to the dumbing down of the other essential attributes and realities of God.


 


     

Chapter 7. John the Baptist’s Preaching

What are the first recorded words of John the Baptist's ministry?:


Matt. 3:1 In those days John the Baptist came into the wilderness of Judea proclaiming,


2  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."


3  For he is the one about whom Isaiah the prophet had spoken: "The voice of one shouting in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.' "


 


What did John preach?:


John 1:23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’?”....


... 29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"


 


John preached repentance not God's love:


Luke 3:3 He(John) went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:


“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,


‘Prepare the way for the Lord; 


make straight paths for Him.’


5 Every valley shall be filled in,


and every mountain and hill made low.


The crooked ways shall be made straight,


and the rough ways smooth.


6 And all mankind will see God’s salvation.”


7 Then John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit worthy of repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The axe lies ready at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”


 


Calling them to repentance and not, "Hey guys, it would be good if you could maybe see your way to apologizing to God for sin."


 


Nothing like what our 'good' churches say these days - "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, just confess your sin and God will give you an abundant life."


 


No, it was: “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit worthy of repentance. .....9 The axe lies ready at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”


 


Nothing recorded about 'God's great love for us'.


If it is soooo important as we make it out to be, it would have been recorded surely.


 


In fact, quite the contrary.


 


‘God has a wonderful plan for your life!’ 


We want to make it sound so attractive to entice people in. We make church ‘interesting’ to get them and keep them coming – to keep them interested. We are to preach Christ and Christ crucified, repentance to the unbeliever:


 



 


“Come and die.”


 


Think about it: if they need to be kept ‘interested’ they are not the kind followers that Jesus wants, they did not count the cost of giving up all for the great cause of God. Jesus clearly stated that prospective followers are to ‘count the cost’ of following Him, for they must ‘take up their cross daily.’


 


And if your retort is, typical of what I get from Christians, (and pastors), ‘You want to make it boring for people, that will drive them away, who would want to come to that kind of a Church?’


This is clearly a subjective over reaction, I did not say to make it boring.


If you have a church like that, it is NOT a church, it is some kind of lawless Christian club, where true lukewarmness is the law while you have a bit of fun together.


No, I said ‘do the work of the ministry as the Bible sets out. Do not try to make it so very interesting for them, and those who have indeed counted the cost will stay they will be truly and correctly interested.


The Bible does not say ‘make it interesting to keep them in’ it says ‘challenge one another as long as it is still called today’ and 'rebuke a sinning brother' and ‘shun those disobeying to shame them’ and to preach the true Word.


 


They would then understand the mission we are on, and be one with us, rather than needing some ‘child minding’ activities to keep them happy.


Christians are to find the Gospel interesting, to find the Kingdom work of God interesting, if not, they are not serious. They are to find God and His Cause for themselves in Scripture and prayer, in perseverance. And, when they do truly find God, they will welcome discipline when it is needed to help them keep focused.


 


 


 


CONCLUSION:


x John the Baptist's ministry  = no talk of a ministry of preaching God's love  - it is not even mentioned.


 


 



Again, yes God love us. All I am saying is that we over emphasize this truth to the dumbing down of the other essential attributes and realities of God.


See how Scripture does not show an emphasis on God's love for us, unlike what we ‘sort of, kind of,  remember’ it does.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 



 


Chapter 8. Jesus' First Words Of His Ministry

What were the first recorded words of Jesus' ministry?:


 


Matt. 4:1  Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.....12  Now when Jesus heard that John had been imprisoned, he went into Galilee.....17  From that time Jesus began to preach this message: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."                                 NET


 


1) Nothing about God loves you soooo much


2) Jesus preached 'repentance' not love, but we preach 'love' a shy away from 'repentance'.


 


Now, I am sure that Jesus preached about many things, but it is summed up as preaching ‘repentance from that time.’  Summed up as repentance because that was the emphasis of all that He was saying. Everything He was teaching, was filtered through the prism of repentance from sin and coming back to God fully.


But for us, everything is preached through the prism of ‘God loves you so much.’


 


Brothers and sisters, listen to me, what we preach and speak, IS the wrong message because, it is either about God loving, ever-encouraging us, ever-caring for us; or, has that basic belief  undergirding every other subject. A wrong emphasis.


What we preach and speak has largely destroyed the proper understanding in the Western Church, of the Holy God of the Bible, who hates sin with a passion.


 


And some of Jesus' final words to the Church were about 'repenting' too. And with a threat or a condition:


 


Rev. 2:5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.                         NIV


 


Most believers would dislike my use of the word 'threat' of God, as though God would never be so vindictive. Just as many reject the thought that God could hate a man, because that would make Him vindictive and man-like.


Why is it that we cannot conceive of God as issuing a threat or annunciating a severe consequence, in perfect harmony with truth, a hatred of sin and a love of righteousness?


 


Back to the necessity of preaching repentance.


We MUST lose the ‘hyper-love’ gospel if we want to be obedient to God - don't anger God by talking/preaching this over-emphasis which is false teaching.


We must start talking/preaching like Jesus did, like Peter's message on the day of Pentecost, and 3,000 were saved. We today are just as culpable of having Jesus crucified as the crowds that Peter preached that day some 2000 years ago.


 


Jesus preached repentance. John the Baptist preached repentance. The apostles preached repentance but we preach a 'good life' and 'benefits'.


 


Abundant life = enjoying life to the max?


 


Below is a page from a teen devotional from the 1990's that came into our home. Consider the ‘hip’ message that leads the teen reader away from pure dedication to God and on to a fun life:


 


'Abundant life = enjoying life to the max as God intended.'


 



 


A strong focus on an abundant life - 'enjoying life to the max as God intended' with little explanation of what that means, obviously plays to the selfish sinful nature of man.


 



 


We were told to 'repent of our sin' - our rebellious hard hearts – deny yourself - and give up all for God.


 


Jesus also said that we would be persecuted, beaten and even killed, as part of His 'abundant life.'


The abundant life that Jesus speaks of, is primarily spiritual peace - knowing that God has provided the full sacrifice for sin - we have been saved from hell. And that we can now walk on a new spiritual level - in Christ, victorious over sin, and peace of mind that, though we may be beaten or killed, we shall go to heaven.  


 


We have unwittingly dumbed down what true Christianity is by our well intentioned desire to get more people in.


This does not work, it cannot work for God’s glory.


Unless you teach what Jesus taught and focus on what He focused on - repentance, dying to self, suffering for the Kingdom, holiness, defeating sin, sacrificial living, self-sacrificing loving of God and others - then we do not attract disciples. We attract people who want a good life. There was no point in getting those people in, they are not saved anyway – they did not ‘deny themselves’ they repeated a formula prayer to get a better life.


 


Paul Washer hit the nail on the head when he said:



Hundreds of thousands have come into the church by repenting to the 'loving god' but not to the Holy God.


They worship the 'loving god' but would not tolerate the Holy God demanding that they truly change and become holy.


They are not true believers. He is Lord of all, or not Lord at all. How dare we dumb down God’s requirements.


 


Consider the wise words of Francis Schaeffer:


So often people think that Christianity is only something soft, only a kind of gooey love that loves evil equally with good. This is not the biblical position. The holiness of God is to be exhibited simultaneously with love. We must be careful, therefore, not to say that what is wrong is right, whether it is in the area of doctrine or of life, in our own group or another. What is wrong is wrong anywhere, and we have a responsibility in that situation to say that what is wrong, is wrong.[9] 


 


If we think that we should be talking/preaching the 'wonderful love of God to save the world' we do not understand the Gospel, or God, or even mankind. And we certainly do not understand the sin nature of man.


 


Below are some gospel tract partial covers I just found online.


I do not personally know the creators and I am not condemning their tracts as evil, I simply show them as  examples of the common focus on God's love in today's evangelism:







We want revival, we pray for revival, but preaching ‘God’s love’ will not bring revival.


The Holy Spirit brings revival by ‘convicting men of sin’. That is why we were told to preach repentance.


 


There are evangelistic tracts that do have a better focus, but they are not that common.


 


Paul Washer incisively exposes the real problem:



The writer of this one below, understands the principle, but it seems to be too harsh for general use.  I believe that most pastors and believers are not deliberately lying, but rather they are unaware, unstudied, lacking in passion and devotion, resulting in a hardness of heart. They need a sharp challenge. However, they are not scheming sharks that need condemning.  However, Jesus may deem this appropriate for some of our church leaders – ‘our teachers of the Law and the priests’:


This one I quite like by a friend of mine, John:


 



You can view the PowerPoint presentation of The 2 Kingdoms: HERE[10]


 


A really good evangelistic tract would be one that follows the basic principles of Jesus' talk with the rich young ruler. Things like:


 


·       Points him to the law, and his own sin


·       Corrects his wrong thinking – “why do you call me good?”


·       Shows him the level of commitment to God required – “sell all and give to poor”


 


BOOKMARK


Needs to bring the person to the point of brokenness over their vile sin


 


 


Martyn Lloyd-Jones says:


“It is not surprising that the cross has been discounted by modern theologians; it is because they have started with the love of God without His holiness.”[11]          


 


R.C. Sproul says:


“The failure of modern evangelicalism is the failure to understand the holiness of God.”[12]


 


When you think about it, from our post modern standards, Jesus really was quite cold and uncaring about this seeker, the rich young ruler.


 


But I have so-called mature Christians and pastors, tell me that this approach would drive people away. Do they really think Jesus was so clueless? Or is it that they cannot even understand the basics of what they read of what Jesus said and did, because of our Sola Affectus?


 


If you choose to call preaching the unpleasant truth in the Bible ‘driving people away’ from the church, then by your definition, Jesus ‘drove people away’ from the church.


In the tradition of Jesus, by our reckoning, we need to be ‘driving more people away’ from the church.


 


Why do we resist telling the plain truth so much? Largely because we just cannot let go of the 'business type model' of running the Church - getting people in, is success. And because they are afraid of preaching anything different from what the crowd demands and wants.


 


No! Jesus preached the eternal truth of God, and if one rejected the message, they rejected God, that one 'judged himself as unworthy of the gospel'. Jesus and the apostles did not run after them, they moved on.


Others were convicted and responded with total repentance and were truly saved.


How many today would say “Oh that’s not loving?”


Oh come on, you think that you are somehow more compassionate and realistic than Jesus?



A person needs to be clearly shown how their sin deeply offends a holy God. How evil their sin really is before God.


Think about how we try to show a child the seriousness of their offense, or a criminal the seriousness of their crime, so they will feel sorry and change.


 


Consider the words of C.S. Lewis:


 


 “Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.”                      Mere Christianity


 


We need to show people the seriousness of sin, otherwise, why do they feel the need to repent?


 



If you tell them how evil their sin is to a Holy God, the Holy Spirit has something to work with and can convict them of this great evil. Then they can truly and deeply repent and be saved, rather than just 'choosing a better lifestyle' that includes a 'nice' Jesus and going to church.


 



 


This is really very basic, but we confuse it all by importing the foolish traditions of the world and made them our own traditions of men. ‘God loves us soooo much and has a wonderful plan for your life’, has seriously annulled the Scriptures in so many ways.


 


If we are going to effectively preach repentance, how can it work if we do not show them the seriousness of their evil sin?


 


Consider what Jesus said of the world:


 


John 7:7 The satan’s world definitely cannot hate you, but Me it hates, because I give Witness about it that man works of it is continuously evil.  TPW


 


So the world hates Christ and the Truth, because it is continuously seeking evil, yet we believe that we ought to preach love, rather than repentance.


 


If you try to speak love to a self-willed child, you will get yourself another slap in the face. No, you discipline the child.


Rebellion requires exposing and a call to repentance.


 


I am reminded of something Paul Washer said:



This sounds profoundly applicable for this age.


 


As Rev Alex White, a dear brother in the Lord, and a long retired Baptist pastor, who ran a series in our church on teaching the teachers, said:


 


Preaching the gospel is likened to sowing good seed.


Preaching law is the preparation of the soil.


 


Alex preached with the greatest sense of clarity I have ever heard in Australia. I may not agree with his strong Reform theology[13], but he was way ahead in his understanding of God than all the others. In his later years, which is when I have known him, his ideas were largely, just tolerated, because people believed him to be stuck in the past. What a tragedy. God sends someone along with the truth for that hour, but our hard hearts do not receive him.


 


Here are some other profound points he made:


 



[1] https://cra.org.au/products-page/pointers/pointers-vol-23-1-for-downloading/


[2] The Just Shall Live By Faith - Commentary on Romans, R.C. Sproul. Page 48.


[3]https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2010/11/19/augustine-volf-and-bad-arguments-getting-worse/


[4] Many free Bible study resources can be found at


http://biblehub.com/ or download eSword to your computer.


[5] Philippians 2:12


[6] When we study a book of the Bible, one of the basic things we look for are the key words - which words are used most as they help us to identify what it is that God is wanting to tell us.


That's just basic.


 


So when I ask what percentage of the NT specifically states that God loves us, I am attempting to identify how important this was to God, and how much we should focus or emphasize this in our teaching and evangelism.


[7] https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/parallel/paral19.cfm


[8] http://www.accordingtothescriptures.org/prophecy/353prophecies.html


https://www.bibleprobe.com/365messianicprophecies.htm


https://bible.org/article/messianic-prophecies


[9] The Mark of a Christian. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1996.


[10] http://acts-alive-mission-australia.com.au/do-invisible-kingdoms-exist/


[11] https://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/11/12/hating-sin-loving-holiness/


[12] ibid


[13] Reformed theology – You will find that so many of the quotes I add, are by Calvinists. While I cannot accept predestination and other TULIP points, Calvinists seem to have a far better understanding of the sovereignty of God than those who hold free will theology. We Arminians could learn a lot from them. True, some Calvinists are really very proud, but, most Arminians are ignorant of the importance of the theology of God’s wrath.   Just a thought.



[i] Neil Baulch: a 60 year old nobody, and a lowly servant of the King.


I do not claim to be an academic in any way. Put simply, as I read and studied the Bible through the years, I came across things that did not seem to add up with what was being preached. I used my library of resource books to find answers, and I found that they were answers that the Church did not like to talk about. (Rather than putting money into a great hifi system {I love music} I bought study books instead. I highly recommend this kind of priority.)


I have not read much that has been written by popular writers or even old time preachers, but about 5 years ago, I opened up a Facebook account to add friends & family and I began to see many wonderful quotes which I had never heard before. I was amazed to see that there were other people saying similar things as I. People like Paul Washer, David Pawson, RC Sproul, John MacArthur, Francis Chan, David Plait, and Leonard Ravenhill, Tozer, Pink.


 


I grew up country Victoria, in the south east corner of Australia.


My parents were Christians and I made a deep commitment to Christ at an early age. After some rebellious teens years, I recommitted my life to Christ and settled into a local church, where I worked in various areas of ministry – Sunday school, youth, as a deacon, home church leader and preaching. I have 5 children. I have not studied a fulltime Bible college course.


I do not feel in any way qualified to write this book, I only present some things that God has laid on my heart over many years.


 


Disclosure: I confess that in 2011, tragically my wife of 35 years deserted our marriage for her own reasons. It was devastating. And it was more devastating to have something that I preached against, happen to me. There had been problems in our marriage over the years that I could not fathom, but I would never leave the marriage.  It was about eight years before she left me that, one day while praying about it, I prayed yet again "Lord, what is it that is going on in our marriage..." and in desperation I pleaded with the Lord "...Lord PLEASE change ME, or change my wife....." and then I heard myself wailing "....OR TAKE MY LIFE!!!!" And I sobbed inwardly. I was somewhat taken aback by the words I had heard coming from my mouth.  When she did finally leave, I grieved and wept before the Lord. However, I have not and will not ever celebrate her leaving me.


I also assumed that I could no longer preach or speak out for God, and I said “I have now failed at everything in life, I am finished Lord, now please let me serve you very quietly in a small obscure corner of your Kingdom."


Immediately I heard the words in my mind, forcefully put "YOU WILL NOT!"


Having been so humiliated and falling from grace by the lies that were told about me, I could not imagine how I could possibly have any credibility to ever speak again.


But as I had done through very hard times over the years, I resigned myself to just place one foot in front of the other and keep going in obedience to God's will. If He wanted me to do anything, I would obey, but He would have to work it out, I was ultimately not responsible.


 


The issue of divorce and remarriage.


There are many who will have a problem with remarriage, and I humbly accept your choice if you wish to reject this book.


I had to work through the questions of remarriage in a way I had never had to do before and God gracious taught from His Word.


I have since remarried and I am so very thankful to God for His leading and a wonderful lady, Connie.


And I would also like to report that Connie approves of this book J


 



 


[ii] King James Version Study Bible Notes:


'John 4:8. John has also recorded that "God is light" (1:5) and irit" (John 4:24 ). Love is one of many attributes of God and is to be understood in relation to the others, such as holiness and justice.'


 


Thru The Bible Commentary - 1 John 4:


'John gives us now another definition of God: "God is love." We have three great definitions of God in this wonderful little book: (1) "God is light" (1 John 1:5), and that was the theme from chapters 1:1 to 2:2; (2) "God is love" (1 John 4:8-16), the very heart of this 1 epistle is the theme from chapters 2:3 to 4:21; and (3) "God is life" is the theme of chapter 5. !These are the three great definitions of God which John gives to us, and they constitute the [major divisions of this very marvelous epistle.'                  


 


Holman Bible Dictionary - God as Mystery Revealed in Christ:


'Revelation of Christ in the form of Bible narrative allows us to describe God but not to define Him. Perhaps the closest we can come to a definition is that God is the holy Being who is love in servant form. This rises out of Bible statements. "the Lord our God is holy" (Ps. 99:9)"God is love" (1 John 4:8, 16). These contain partial descriptions, not definitions. The norm for a definition comes in Jesus, who said, "but I am among you as one who serves" (Luke 22:27 NRSV)'


 


Holman Bible Dictionary - The Origin of Atonement:


Yet, divine love is not sentimental or merely emotional. It is a righteous love which blazes out against all that opposes God's wilt. The New Testament affirms that "God is love.' (1 Iohn 4:8); it also affirms that our God is a consuming fire" (lib. 17:29). Thus, the cross is simultaneously a manifestation of God's will to save and of His wrath against sin.


 


Willmington's Guide - Attributes of God:


God is Love, This is at once the most universally known and universally misunderstood attribute of all. Millions have simply equated love with God, thus weakening or totally denying his other perfections. A man and woman may have an affair hidden from their spouses and justify their adulterous relationship by their great "love" for each other. But God's love cannot be separated or isolated from his holiness and hatred for sin. Having said all this, however, it must be admitted that of all his attributes, God's love is probably more quickly seized upon by seeking sinners than any other perfection.          (emphasis added)


 


Vincent Word Studies:


Is love (a??a´p? e?st?´?)


See on God is light (1Jn_1:5), and the truth (1Jn_1:6); also God is spirit (Joh_4:24). Spirit and light are expressions of God's essential nature. Love is the expression of His personality corresponding to His nature. See on love of God (1Jn_2:5). Truth and love stand related to each other. Loving is the condition of knowing.


 


Word Picture in the New Testament, Robertson:


God is love (ho theos agape¯ estin). Anarthrous predicate, not he¯ agape¯. John does not say that love is God, but only that God is love. The two terms are not interchangeable. God is also light (1Jn_1:5) and spirit (Joh_4:24).


 


Philip Schaff's Popular Commentary on the NT:


All love in man, all love everywhere, is from God; but, more than that, God is love: a word that had never before been spoken since revelation began. It closes and consummates the Biblical testimony concerning God as knowable to man: it must be remembered that it is connected with he that loveth not knoweth not—literally, ‘never has come to the knowledge of’—God. Observe that it is not said ‘love is God,’ any more than it was said ‘light is God.’ God is light in His revealing and diffusive holiness; God is love in His diffusive self-impartation: both, however, in His relation to His creatures. His eternal essence is unfathomable and behind both. Love is the bond of His perfections as revealed to the created universe.


 


David Guzik's Enduring Word Commentary:


i. When we say God is love, we are not saying everything about God. Love is an essential aspect of His character, and colors every aspect of His nature. But it does not eliminate His holiness, His righteousness, or His perfect justice. Instead, we know the holiness of God is loving, and the righteousness of God is loving, and the justice of God is loving. Everything God does, in one way or another, expresses His love.


 


The Expository Notes of Dr. Constable


1 John 4:8 Absence of love shows that a person does not have intimate fellowship with God. It does not necessarily show that he was never born of God. Because God is light those who abide in Him walk in His light (1Jn_1:5; 1Jn_1:7). Because God is righteous those who abide in Him practice righteousness (1Jn_2:29). Just so, God is love and those who abide in Him manifest His loving character. God is also light (1Jn_1:5), spirit (Joh_4:24), and fire (Heb_12:29). These are all metaphors that emphasize certain characteristics of God.




Matt 13:3-9; 18-23 Parable of the sower.


 


Preaching the gospel is likened to sowing good seed.


Preaching law is the preparation of the soil.


 


Jer. 4:3 “Break your unplowed ground and do not sow among the thorns.”


 


The problem with all three soil types in the parable of the sower, was inadequate soil preparation.


 


Jer. 23:28-29  “My Word - like a hammer - breaks rock into pieces.”


 


Luther :-


‘The law serves the purpose of a hammer, the hammer of death, the thundering of hell and the lightning of God’s wrath that beateth to powder the obstinate and senseless hypocrites. For as long as the opinion of righteousness abideth in man, so long there abideth in him also pride, presumption, security, hatred of God, contempt of His grace and mercy, ignorance of the promises and of Christ. The preaching of free remission of sins through Christ cannot enter into the heart of such a one!’


 


A sledge hammer is not necessary in every case.


 


Sufficient law is required to produce a broken and contrite heart, true repentance and total repudiation of one’s own righteousness.


 


MacArthur also:



 


But because we do not understand these principles, having been robbed by the 'Gospel of Grace, and only grace,' we accuse anyone who preaches this way as 'preaching a worm theology' or 'stuck in the past'.


 



 


A decision to follow Christ, is a decision to die. But we preach a package of personal benefits - love, healing, self-esteem, blessing,…..as though this is somehow the gospel of Jesus Christ.


 


Observe the focus of these Facebook posts by Jack (not his real name). A dear brother in the Lord, Jack is a passionate evangelist and I love his heart:


So I posted this underneath it:



A week or two later he posted this:



So I posted this underneath it:



And then I wrote to Jack:


Jack dear brother, why do we Christians most always post things about how much God loves us , cares for us, protects us........always the feel good gospel.....



But rarely post things about His demands that we be holy, defeat sin in our lives, suffer without complaint. Not just talk, but actually keep each other accountable in these things. And what about God's great vengeance, anger, his demands on us to die to self daily, to be broken, to give up all.....


 


Are we still little, frightened children?



What is wrong with us?


Why is it soooo hard to let go of feeling privileged, special, always needing to be patted on the back, never offending anyone as Jesus offended people with the truth for the Kingdom. Always demanding encouragement, care and niceness from God and others.


 


When will we get over ourselves and serve only God and focus only on Him rather than me, me, me?



"Oh Lord break us free from this self-focused Christianity, always wanting and getting attention for our pitiful little hurts, frustrations and wants. Help us to grow up and 'set our face toward' the things that Jesus did and taught, not being concerned what the masses of politically correct Christians around us, say about us. Please break us free from these traditions of men that we might please You. Break me Lord that I and all who read this, might know who You really are and want from me. Make us truly selflessly missional in our work and not just a self-focused club, make us speak the Truth that even we hate, make us stop preaching 'your love' and preach repentance as Jesus did, make us useful for your Kingdom work. Amen"


 


Jack was not offended (but thanked me for the focus correction.)


 


Again, something profound from Alex White:


He tells of how many years ago his godly wife Ellen, said to him one day "You are preaching ABOUT the gospel, instead of preaching the gospel."   


Meaning that he was preaching to the mind, not the heart.


 


He was deeply shocked. He knew that such a challenge from his godly-minded wife, was not to be ignored. The cut was deep and drove him to seek God in brokenness. He told us that he refocused his ministry and never lost that focus again.


 


But, this is the very focus that has been lost by the Church at large in the Western world:


"You are preaching ABOUT the gospel, instead of preaching the gospel."                             Ellen White


 


This is something that will only come by revelation. And that will only come when we are on our knees, broken before God.


 


Alex rightly decried the 'morals essays' we preach saying:


 'Secondary truths in isolation are nothing but moral essays.'


 


What are we preaching? Morality, sociology, psychology, politics, and feel-good religion.


 


But, a Christianity where we do not focus on God's love and care, is quite alien to us. It is extremely difficult for us to conceive of a Christianity without this over-emphasis - I mean 'how would it even work?'


And that is why many, or maybe even most people will immediately react with something like "Well I know that my God loves me even if yours does not."


 


***Sigh***


 


This is an obvious over reaction to the threat of our Christian ‘spiritual gravy train’ being exposed.


I said no such thing! They take God for a fool, thinking they can use that kind of silly logic.


 


Yes God loves us, but our focus needs to be properly balanced.


We serve God. God does not serve me.


In serving God we want to serve as an effective soldier.


We work for(serve) God. 'Work' is not a dirty word and to use it does not mean that you are automatically trying to earn salvation through works. James even tells us that there is no salvation without works, because works are the evidence of genuine salvation.


We work at defeating sin in our lives, making disciples, worshiping God, etc…


There are discouraging times when we need some kind-hearted encouragement to help get us back to 'the cause'. And there are odd occasions when we are devastated and need healing of sorts, to get us back up and running:


 


2 Corinthians 4:8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;


9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.


10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.


11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.       NIV


 


So yes, there it is. God does want to encourage and heal us. WHEN IT IS MAJOR! Not for every little hurt and disappointment.


Again, do we live as 'frightened little children?' Or do we want to grow up and become useful to the God who not only created us, but then, by some unbelievable miracle, came and died for us too?


Are we 'emotional invalids' who need constant reassurance just to remain as a survivor?


By some magical Houdini act, we have transformed the Western Church into an 'escapist cult' that protects everyone's feelings from God and His Word. Our new Church could rightly be called 'Christian Escapism.'


We now have a 'hedge of protection' against the full import of God's commands, much like the Pharisees and  teachers of the Law had constructed. The Pharisees, you know, the ones that Jesus condemned so strongly - "You hypocrites. . . blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel."


 


Like a bunch of modern snowflakes, we have turned the Western Church into a huge 'safe place'. A great protective cocoon where 'God loves me so much' and the true, liberating Word of God is not allowed to get in, it may upset someone.


Something like Berkeley, the University of California, they recently put on counselors for any of the liberal and progressives students who might be traumatized by having a conservative speaker at the university.


 


Do we really want to keep the modern church as a 'therapy club' or do we want to return to a truly missional Church. And when I say 'missional' I am not exclusively speaking of soul winning, but rather the mentality of a people who understand that they are here to serve God with all of our lives, not to be served by God. People with missional thinking, understand that they are but 'passing through' this world and right now, they must ‘be about their Father’s business.’


 


Think about how poorly we lead the church. Jesus and the apostles, preached in a challenging way that stir people up to move on in maturity and ministry.


We however, are constantly preaching to the people at the lowest point in the congregation - those hurt, or discouraged.


We are so concerned about ‘the hurting' and ‘the discouraged' that we constantly have them in mind. It causes us to preach about how God cares, or how God wants to encourage you, or do not be fearful for God is with you.


And even when we preach about faith, or perseverance, we keep it ‘not too challenging’ for fear of upsetting the discouraged and hurt.


Why? That's just foolishness. It is merely catering to the lowest common denominator. It prevents us from truly challenging the stronger to do better as the Bible commands us too. We MUST strongly challenge the congregation to move them on, as Jesus and the apostles did and we can take care of any upset individuals later. Or before. And if they do get upset and leave, we know they did that to Jesus too. No problem.



Consider MacArthur’s words:


Do not rob the church, do not dumb down Biblical teaching for a few. Every week. 'You will always have the poor with you' so do not keep feeding everyone with hurt people's food. Set them free to grow.


The lowest-common-denominator preaching WILL NOT grow the church.


True believers want to be challenged, they want someone to help them battle against their own sinful nature. But you refuse to help them by catering to the needy, most of whom do not want to grow up.


 


No! It is time to return to what Jesus taught with the emphasis Jesus had.


Preaching and teaching that which befits a soldier in an army engaged in warfare - preaching that properly befits a great cause - the greatest Cause of all time.


Do you have a great cause, or are you, your own great cause?


 


Those who wish to complain over every little scratch, must move out of the way and let the true soldiers get on with their great ‘God Cause.’


And if that sounds harsh, it is only because you have forgotten that we were called to die to self and live for God. That was what Jesus commanded.



Yes, Dr Brown how true.


We are a people of little true conviction of the glorious Leader, Father God and Judge we serve.


 


As Martin Luther King declared something along the lines of "If you have nothing worth dying for, you have nothing worth living for."


And western Christians live like there is nothing to die for.


 


We gave up the great convictions of dying for the great Cause and now want to be pampered. And then we preach that kind of pampering to the world hoping to get them in.


And we wonder why young people are leaving the Church in droves. They want something that has real substance, something to really believe in, something worth dying for. And if they do not find it in the Church, they will attach themselves to a false cause that appears to have real meaning, like the Greenie movement, eradicating poverty, protection of horses, Black Lives Matter, socialist ideals or even to Daesh (ISIS).



For decades we have tried it our way - preaching God's love and it just ain't working. Let's get back to God's original plan. Let us be the today’s radicals, speaking truth to the world like Jesus. Speaking repentance to the world like Jesus.


We like to pretend that we are counter-culture in the way we follow Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in loving in a whole new way. We say we are going to ‘shake the world for Jesus.’ WHAT? We cannot even shake our own church – we are too frightened of what might happen, what people might say.  



These ones yearn for meaning and we give them watered-down sentimental dribble. We are far, far more concerned about quantity than quality. God is concerned with quality. A holy people. A people who have died to themselves, and fully focus on Him.


 


Yes, certainly we are a people of little true conviction of the glorious Judge and Father God we serve.



Oh yes, we have been working on this 'guiltless' Christianity for decades and now have it firmly in place.


Feeling guilty (conviction) was for the old-timers, those stuck in the past. We today on the other hand, have evolved beyond such unpleasant feelings, into a ‘relationship’ with God.


How can we feel guilty when we feel so special to God?


We don't sin any more, we have something much less offensive, we have 'a problem'. We preach a 'positive' gospel to fix it.


 


Woe betide anyone who sounds the alarm. If one does bring a warning, he IS 'judged' and  condemned as a sinner of the worst kind, and everyone knows it. Everyone is legitimized to judge him, for he must be silenced and made to feel like he is no Christian at all, and most certainly not like Jesus.



Matt. 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach this message: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."                        NET


 


Rev. 2:5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.                         NIV


 


CONCLUSION:


x Jesus' first words = nothing about God's great love for us.


Chapter 9. Jesus' Inaugural Sermon On The Mount

You would think that when Jesus presents His first major teaching, His great inaugural speech, He will set forth the most important aspects. Surely He would not leave out anything that was so foundationally important.


 


Yet, most all of the sermon on the mount, is Jesus telling us we need to :-


·       put God first


·       obey God’s commands


·       obedience brings a blessing


·       love & serve one another


 


And He begins this momentous inaugural address, by telling us how lowly we must be - 'poor in spirit' - literally, crouched up against the door in recognition of our utter helplessness and dependence on God.


 


Matthew 5-7 Sermon on the Mount:


5:3-12    - The Beatitudes - obedience brings a blessing.

5:13-16 - Salt and Light - being useful or useless to God.

5:17-20 - Jesus fulfilled the Law.

5:21-26 - Anger and Murder, the dangers of.

5:27-30 - Lust and Adultery, is sin.

5:31-32 - Divorce and Remarriage

5:33-37 - Oaths

5:38-42 - Eye for an Eye

5:43-48 - Love your enemies

6:1-4       - Give to the Needy

6:5-15    - How to Pray

6:16-18 - How to Fast

6:19-24 - Treasures in Heaven

6:25-34 - Do not worry

7:1-6       - Do not judge hypocritically

7:7-12    - Ask, Seek, Knock

7:13-14 - The Narrow Gate

7:15-23 - False Prophets

7:24-27 - The Wise Builder


 


Lots of commands and wisdom but nothing of 'God loves you'.


 


CONCLUSION:


x Jesus' inaugural speech: Sermon on the Mount = no emphasis on God's love for us whatsoever.


Chapter 10. Jesus' Teaching

What did Jesus emphasize in His teaching?


 


I did an internet search on this to save myself having to go through all the words of Jesus again and I was pleased to find a paper by James E. White PhD. on this very question called What did Jesus Teach[1].


He attended a pastor’s conference where a speaker had asserted, without documentation, that Jesus taught mostly about marriage, parenting and finances. James was troubled by this, went home to read through all the teachings of Jesus and documented his findings.


I highly recommend you read this short insightful article.


 


He identified these top ten subjects addressed in the teaching of Jesus in the four Gospel accounts :-


1.    Kingdom of God -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  - 10.51%


2.    Jesus’ identity and mission -  -  -  -  -  - 8.53%


3.    Fate of Jerusalem & rejecters of Jesus -7.87%


4.    Second coming -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  5.22%


5.    Hypocrisy -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  - 4.82%


6.    Predictions -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -   4.43%


7.    Judgment and hell -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -    4.03%


8.    Persecution -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  - 3.57%


9.    Prayer -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  - 3.17%


10.     Eternal life and salvation -  -  -  -  -  - 3.04%


 


How could 'God's love for us' be an emphasis for Jesus if it is not even in the top ten? More than that, it comes way, way after other harsh things listed - the very things we despise and do not want to teach, let alone have a greater emphasis. Like, repentance, judgment, hell and persecution - you know, those things that we refuse to preach because they do not sound 'loving' and because 'it might scare away the seekers.'  


At number one in White’s list is the ‘Kingdom of God’ or where Jesus was teaching about the things of God from the point of view of the ‘rulership’ of God. Not God’s love. The rulership of God, where He is Lord and King and we obey Him.


 


For a moment, I want to divert to look at typically why,  pastors preach like this so often:


'...a speaker had asserted, without documentation, that Jesus taught mostly about marriage, parenting and finances...’


 


We have our ways of looking at things(traditions of men) and we do not want to be contrarian, so we decide what to preach about, from what we ‘sort of, kind of,’ remember the Bible says, and then go looking for Scripture to back up our thesis.


 


Like the proverbial Bible student that says to his professor, "I know what I want to say but I cannot find a verse for it."


Think about that for a moment.


 


We are not to preach our ideas with a few Scriptures added to back it up - legitimizing your message, your belief.


We are called to be studying God's Word so very intentionally, that from the multitude of Scriptures, we find that the character of God jumps out so profoundly that we cannot ignore it. The deeper realities of Christ become overwhelming, and we preach Christ, and Him crucified.  


We need to preach what Scripture demands as we study it in humility and awe, rather than our ideas with a few verses.


 


Back to the subject of this chapter.


 


If we carefully take note of the written words of the NT rather than what we ‘sort of’ remember, we will find that Jesus did not teach  'mostly about marriage, parenting and finances.'


Not even about God's love for us.


Yet I hear this type of statement so often – “But Jesus taught about God’s love for us.” We somehow do not feel the need to verify our assertions, because of our popular traditions of belief, we are legitimized to declare them. It is something that we really want to believe.


 


In fact, there is NO record that Jesus publicly taught that God loves us. John 3:16 was not a public teaching. We shall look into that verse in a separate chapter later.


 


Let’s go a step further. If we look at all the words of Jesus in the NT, including the book of Revelation, we find that Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone else, and more than other subject in the whole of the New Testament. I have not verified this myself, but some prominent teachers have:


    


Leon Morris:


“He [Jesus] spoke more often about hell than he did about heaven. We cannot get around this fact.”[2]


Chuck Missler:


'Jesus spoke more about hell than any other subject..'


'It is significant that Jesus spoke much more about "Hell" than He did about Heaven.' 


The ratio of references is about 5 to 1.[3]


Kevin J Conner:


It should be remembered that it was the Lord Jesus Himself who spoke more of this final hell than all other Bible writers. We consider why Jesus used this terrible place with its two major features to symbolize the final state of the wicked in the final hell which God prepared for the Devil and his angels.......


.......Thus the Lord Jesus, the One of infinite love and compassion, spoke more of Hell because He is the one who came to save mankind from this terrible place.....[4]


Mark Driscoll:


“Jesus said more about hell than about any other topic. Amazingly, 13 percent of his sayings are about hell and judgment …”[5]


Robert Jeffress:


“Of the 1,850 verses in the New Testament that record Jesus’ words, 13 percent of them deal with the subject of eternal judgment and hell. In fact, Jesus spoke more frequently about hell than He did about heaven.”[6]


D.A. Carson:


“… he [Jesus] himself speaks twice as often of hell as of heaven.”[7]


John MacArthur:


“Jesus talked more about hell than He did about heaven in order to warn men of its reality.”[8]


Rick Warren:


“Obviously I do believe in hell. Jesus spoke more about hell than heaven.”[9]


Jerry Falwell:


“Jesus said more about Hell than Heaven.”[10]


 


Q)         And why did Jesus preach more about hell that much?


 


A)          Because He loved people!


 


Not with the soppy, weak ‘love’ we talk about and even demand, but the true love where hell requires us to actually warn people. It’s not judging, it loving.


When we do not preach repentance and hell, we do NOT love people as Jesus did.


Jesus loved people enough to warn them about hell. Contrary from all the silly people who claim that it is not nice, or it's 'hating on them', Jesus proves the very opposite.


Jesus IS love; and He spoke much of hell and judgment.


 


We hate to talk about hell to unbelievers, because not only does it sound harsh, it makes me sound like a weirdo too.


We are owned and commissioned by God, how dare we, the ambassadors of the King - the servant spokesmen of the Almighty God - modify the message to suit our likes.



It get worse; when one does declare the reality of hell to the world, it sounds weird to the world, we a little embarrassed to hear it, and we assume that it was a bad witness. It makes God and Christianity look bad.


What? Speaking to the world as Jesus did, is a bad witness?


“Oh Lord how can we be so compromised?”


We really think that we can win the world by talking like them rather than like Paul?


Jesus has words for people like that; “Blind fools!”


 


If you truly love people, tell them to repent for God is holy and that hell is a place of terror. If you do not love people that much - or love yourself more than they - you will focus on telling them that God loves them so much. 


 


CONCLUSION:


x Jesus' Teaching = No, Jesus had no emphasis on telling of God's love for us in His teaching.


Chapter 11. Was Jesus Mostly Tender & Kind?

In discussions, debates, comments and preaching, I see and hear the shallow declaration 'Well, Jesus loved people and was kind to them' as a rebuttal to any talk of hell, judgment or even serious holy living.


Again and again I hear Christians state or infer that Jesus was 'kindly' to people. This is just ignorance of what Scripture tells us, and nothing like Jesus of the Bible.


 


Q. How many harsh things can you remember Jesus saying?


 


Jesus saying 'you brood of vipers' 'hypocrites'.... a few - right?


 


Q. Now, how many warm, kindly things can you remember that Jesus said?


 


Hardly even one - right?


 


It is a false belief - a mere tradition of men.


Jesus not only taught hard things, he practiced them too:


Luke 17:9 "He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'"                   NASB


 


Here, Jesus practices this concept with Peter:


John 21:22  Jesus replied, "If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours? You follow me!"       Net Bible


 


In other words "Mind your own business Peter!"


 


Pulpit Commentary:


'......it was very natural that Peter should put to the Lord the question here recorded. Yet Jesus not merely declined to comply with this request, he even rebuked the questioner for his curiosity.....'


Word Pictures in the New Testament - Robertson:


What is that to thee? (ti pros se). A sharp rebuke to Peter’s keen curiosity.


Follow thou me (su moi akolouthei). “Do thou me keep on following.” That lesson Peter needed.


Explanatory Notes on Bible RT Ice:


'If I want him to live until I come? Jesus is saying: “It’s none of your business what the future holds for others. You follow me, and let the others take care of themselves!”'


 


You see how I can say that 'God/Jesus is not very nice by our standards.' Because our standard is so skewed, we do not have the Kingdom of Heaven in mind.


 



 


Jesus was intense by our standards, but that is only because sin is so serious and hell so terrible. To truly love with God’s infinite love, was to be clear and blunt often. But by overly focusing on God's great love for us, we feel so 'protected' and lose sight of just how evil sin is and how terrible hell will be.


 


Jesus was NOT politically correct.


When Church leaders and Christians push the politically correct ideas about Jesus being so kindly, over correction or truth, they are making out that Jesus acted in a different way than described in the Bible. They are either ignorant of the Jesus described in the Bible, or they are lying for their own reasons.


Just one of those reasons is to 'get more people into their Church.' 


 


John, a long time Christian friend actually wrote the following to me - (as he wrote it):


'His love is for their spiritual sanitary[sic](I think he meant sanctity) not in the physical admonishment, Jesus is always love first discipline second. God is full of love and mercy kindness - We don't serve the God of the old testament, Jesus laid down His life so we don't have to. The angry disciplinary side of God see's us through the "eyes" of Jesus, we are loved and accepted and saved warts and all through Jesus. The people who don't bow their knee to Jesus aren't so lucky, it is they who have to face the God of the old testament, no shedding of blood for them. It's Jesus - Jesus is the key, or the sunglasses!'               (Emphasis added)


                                                                                                      


Do you see the deception in that, of a divided God?


The false belief, that is usually not spoken, because we know it's wrong, but what we do believe and live by, that 1) God has actually changed 2) that Jesus is 'only nice' and will not be hard on us at any time, not really.


This is a foolish and very dangerous Sola Affectus gospel, yet this is what the thinking of the Church has evolved into.


Tell me, why wouldn't God be angry with the Church, when our traditions of men, annul Scripture?


 


We too, have oral traditions that rival the very Word of God, just as Israel did. They highly elevated the oral traditions, even over Scripture.


 


2 Chron 12:7 “…The people of Judah are truly sorry for their sins, and so I won’t let Shishak completely destroy them. But because I am still angry, 8 he will conquer and rule them…    CEV


 


Israel did not have the Holy Spirit as we do, but we re-write the Bible and preach a Jesus who is only nice – Sola Affectus. You really think God is never angry with us?


 


Hmm, it's like extra-biblical writings - Talmud for the Jews; the Book of Mormon for the LDS; the Watch Tower Publication for the JW's.  These 'other' writings and traditions become authoritative, and they draw people away from the Word of God.


 


The enemy wants to divert our attention from the real Word of God, and all these comforting pet doctrines work very nicely for him.


 


'We do not serve the God of the Old Testament'?


And yet in a different conversation we glibly spout 'Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.' Heb. 13:8 KJV


 


We have been so conditioned by the 'God loves you soooo much' that we do not even see what we read in the New Testament.


 


The God of the Old Testament IS the God of the New Testament. It sounds too obvious, but it needs to be verbalized and proved again:


 


In the New Covenant period, when God executed Ananias and Sapphira, that is the 'God of the Old Testament.’ (Acts 5)


 


 And when Paul, lead by the Holy Spirit, commands the erring Corinthian church; 'So when you meet together and the power of the Lord Jesus is with you, I will be there too. You must then hand that man over to Satan. His body will be destroyed, but his spirit will be saved when the Lord Jesus returns.' 1Cor. 5:4-5 CEV


 


That's the 'God of the Old Testament' too.


 


And when Jesus told his disciples that; '. . . you will be arrested and punished. You will be tried in your meeting places and put in jail. Because of me you will be placed on trial before kings and governors. 13  But this will be your chance to tell about your faith.. 16  You will be betrayed by your own parents, brothers, family, and friends. Some of you will even be killed. 17  Because of me, you will be hated by everyone.' Luke 21:12   CEV


 


That is the 'God of the Old Testament' too.


 


After Paul commands them to deliver this person over to Satan; he reiterates what we all know, but refuse to do:


1Cor. 5:6  Stop being proud! Don't you know how a little yeast can spread through the whole batch of dough? 


7  Get rid of the old yeast! Then you will be like fresh bread made without yeast, and that is what you are. Our Passover lamb is Christ, who has already been sacrificed.                        CEV


 


Remove false teachings  and sin from among us? No, no, no! We remove those who expose the false teaching and sin in the midst. And why? Our pride. We are too arrogant to just run God's Church His way. We force our 'new improved, human version' onto His Church.


 


We see the parallel in the Western countries now – i.e. in England the Muslim child-sex trafficking gangs have been virtually ignored, even protected by the police department, politicians and media, but one who reports on this inconvenient facts, is jailed – Tommy Robinson.


 


That’s political correctness gone mad. But we modern Christians have added to that, we have ‘Christian Correctness’ which is even more insidious. We falsely back it up with Scripture, deceiving the believers and insulting the Great Creator God.


 



 


Yes, we are ‘hearing unscriptural teaching’ and we have been poisoned. Continuing on with the God of the OT in the NT:


 


Jesus is the God of the Old Testament and He said:


Matt. 13:50  Then those evil people will be thrown into a flaming furnace, where they will cry and grit their teeth in pain.                         CEV


 


This too is the God of the Old Testament:


2John 1:9  Don't keep changing what you were taught about Christ, or else God will no longer be with you. But if you hold firmly to what you were taught, both the Father and the Son will be with you.                                                               CEV


 


We read these verses but do not hear them - 'seeing without seeing and hearing without hearing.'


 


When we do get to know the God of the Bible, that is the True God of the Bible, we realize that the God of the Old Testament is everywhere through the New Testament. We just did not see it before.


 


Oh the Biblical illiteracy and spiritual blindness of Christians today, and I am speaking of pastors too.


 


How can we keep a clear view of who God really is in this age, when the politically correct assault is so strong? We would have to been keenly searching Scripture, to keep revising our understanding in order to ‘not be conformed to this world’. But we don’t – we think we already know all about it, even while it is being taken from us and we rely on what we ‘sort of’ ‘kind of’ remember the Bible says.


 


Jerome, one of the Church Father’s, was right:


Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.


Jerome, A.D. 340-420


 


Another observation from the 16th century:


All troubles of the Church, all the evils in the world, flow from this source: that men do not by clear and sound knowledge and serious consideration penetrate into the truths of Sacred Scripture.


Attributed to St. Theresa of Avila, A.D. 1515-1582


 


We have often been exhorted to consider ‘What Would Jesus Do?’  WWJD, in the difficult situations we face in life. That is good. The problem being; if you DO NOT properly know what Jesus would do because you do not perceive Him correctly from Scripture, how can you ‘do what Jesus would do?’


You cannot.


If Jesus is most always ‘only nice’ in your mind, it is impossible to do what Jesus did so often – expose sin where and when you see it, while declaring Kingdom truths that offend and make you sound weird.


Jesus only survived about three years of speaking God’s truth. Currently, Christians could survive a 1000 years quite safely.


Christians are now so conditioned by all the 'God loves us soooo much' dribble, that they really do believe that Jesus was only ever kindly with people.


What? Are we saying that Jesus values your feelings over truth - the truth that comes from the very being of God and is eternal?


And pastors, those who have any awareness of this, are too afraid to burst the bubble, for fear of losing members and friends, or being seen to ‘too hard.’


 


Let's go back to the simple, clear Scripture about “God never changing”:


 



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