by Mike Ratliff
For being ignorant of the righteousness of God and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:3 a direct translation from the NA27 Greek text)
The institutional church or visible church in our time is a mess. It has lost its focus. This has come about over many decades of bad theology overtaking mediocre theology so that the focus of so much of what we see in any given church is not God and His glory, but on people with the man behind the pulpit in the spotlight as if he is either some sort of CEO or a Rock Star. In the seeker-sensitive church model, all things are geared to be inoffensive to everyone so sermons are short and pragmatic with so-called worship being all about entertainment. In those churches subscribed to that model there are no expository sermons preached about the Holiness and Righteousness of God in light of the sinfulness of man and thus his need of a Saviour. No, that would be considered “hard preaching” and offensive. Instead, the order of the day is “soft words.”
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post which I translated from the Greek text of Romans 10:3. The Apostle Paul wrote this about his Jewish brethren. He was describing why their hearts were so hard to the truth of Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Their religious leaders had led them to create a system of beliefs based around the Law of God, but they were ignorant of the true righteousness of God. However, through works righteousness, they sought to establish their own righteousness. When John the Baptist and our Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles confronted them with the truth of the Gospel in light of their false religious system, they refused to submit to the righteousness of God and, in fact, became very hostile to the Gospel and those who preached, believed, and obeyed it.
They were doing exactly what most of those in “evangelicalism” are doing in our time. They are viewing God’s righteousness as being less than it really is and theirs as being more than adequate. The soft words preached to them in their churches only harden their hearts to believe these lies and become more and more hostile to the real Gospel, which, when they do hear it, seems so harsh and mean. The contacts I receive sometimes are quite accusatory that we are misrepresenting God. They cannot reconcile the God of the Bible with this God who is “all love” that Rob Bell and those like him are selling. Again, soft words produce hard hearts. What breaks those hard hearts?
The only implement that God gave us to wield against the hearts of people is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ preached in full accompanied by the Law to reveal the Holiness and Righteousness of God and how the sinfulness of man is a complete offense to Him. That is the Gospel that God has promised to bless in His Word that when we preach it, He will bless with the breaking of hearts and changing of lives forever with His truth. Hard preaching may hurt the feelings or offend those who refuse to hear, but it is what shatters those hard hearts and through that, God makes into soft hearts intent on His glory.
Soli Deo Gloria!
This will be my last post this week so it will also be my last post this month. I am in a great deal of pain and I need some rest. I will be visiting family in Oklahoma over the next several days and hope to be back by Monday. – Mike Ratliff