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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2013 08:24:39 +1200
by J. Lee Grady

The apostle Paul not only confronted sin but named specific sins
when he preached. Why can´t we?

People often complain about angry preachers. I don´t like them
either, and I agree that if a person mixes a sermon with hateful
language (or if he believes God has called him to picket other
churches), he´s in the wrong profession. Yet today we´ve jumped
to the opposite extreme. Now we are afraid to confront sin.

We can´t preach about materialism because we might offend rich
people in the audience-as well as the poor people who buy Lotto
tickets every week. We can´t preach about fornication because
there are people in the church who are living together. We can´t
preach about domestic violence because there are deacons who
sometimes hit their wives. We can´t preach about homosexuality
because our culture says it´s hateful to call that a sin.

And the list goes on. In fact, some preachers are avoiding the
word sin altogether because it´s too negative. And we all know
that the latest polls show people want a positive message.

This temptation to dilute the gospel has produced a new recipe
for a trendy sermon. We start with some great motivational
speaking ("Your past does not define your future!"), add a few
quarts of cheap grace ("Don´t focus on your sin!"), pour in some
prosperity gospel ("Run to this altar and grab your financial
breakthrough!"), flavor it with some trendy pop psychology ("It´s all
about you!") and voila!-you end up with a goopy mess of pabulum
that not even a baby Christian could survive on.

I´ve often wondered how the apostle Paul would view our "positive"
American gospel. Just before he was martyred, Paul gave his
spiritual son Timothy clear instructions on how to keep his
message on track. He said, "Preach the word; be ready in season
and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience
and instruction" (2 Tim. 4:2, NASB).

We´ve rewritten Paul´s words today. Our rule is, "Preach what the
people want to hear! Avoid controversy! Stroke, soothe and pacify
the people so they will come back next week!" Is it any wonder
that this low-protein spiritual diet has produced an anemic church?

Paul´s preaching in the first century was unquestionably confront-
ational. He didn´t hold back from addressing sin, nor was he afraid
to call sin what it is. Paul knew that a spineless Christianity would
produce spineless Christians. He told Timothy that biblical
preaching would require three brave verbs:

Reprove. The Greek word here, elegcho, means "to convict,
admonish or expose" or "to show one his fault." The word can
also mean "to scold" or "to reprimand." Anyone who has ever been
on the receiving end of a mother´s discipline knows that reproof
can be the purest form of love.

Rebuke. The word epitimao means "to admonish strongly" or "to
charge strictly." The English definition means "to express sharp,
stern disapproval." And the origin of the word means "to beat or
strike." I´m not talking here about a preacher who beats people
with the Bible. Screaming at people is not biblical rebuke. But
when was the last time you felt the Holy Spirit strike you in your
conscience during a sermon?

Exhort. This is the gentlest of the three words. Parakaleo can be
used to mean "to comfort" or "to call alongside." It´s the same root
word used to describe the Holy Spirit, who is our Comforter. True
biblical preaching not only exposes sin and warns us of its
consequences, but it calls us to reach out to God for help to
overcome our weakness. When we challenge sin we must provide
a means of grace for deliverance and healing.

Paul was also not afraid to name sins. I recently did a survey of
all of Paul´s epistles to see how he addressed sexual immorality.
I discovered that he confronted sexual sin head-on in 10 of his 13
epistles. He boldly called out adultery, fornication, sensuality and
homosexuality in a culture that was saturated in hedonism.

After exhorting the Thessalonians to practice abstinence, he
rebuked them sternly by saying that anyone who opposes God´s
laws about sex "is not rejecting man but the God who gives His
Holy Spirit to you" (1 Thess. 4:8). Those are strong words. They
need to be repeated in our pulpits today.

Paul wasn´t trying to win any popularity contests, and his
comments about sex would get him blacklisted today if he tried
to buy airtime. Yet when he penned those tough words, he was
speaking from God´s heart-with love-under the inspiration of
the Holy Spirit to all of us.

It´s time for us to grow a backbone. Let´s get rid of weak Christianity,
spineless preachers and jellyfish morals. Let´s preach the message
of the Bible instead of a neutered version. Let´s not only point out
sin but also point people to the only hope they have of overcoming
it-our strong Savior, whose death on the cross was the ultimate
confrontation of sin.

-Original source-