>June 24, 2009
“Soft preaching makes hard people. You preach a soft message and you’ll have hard, selfish people. You preach the hard truth and it will break the hard hearts and you’ll have a soft people.”
MacArthur makes an incredibly true and bold statement here. The message of Christians is a difficult one. The gospel is a challenging message to understand. Paul even says in 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing…” Our message is literally a foolish message to the world. Also, think about John chapter 6 where Jesus teaches that only those who eat His flesh and drink His blood will live forever. It says in verse 60 that many of his disciples said “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” Then in verse 66 it says that many of his disciples no longer walked with Him.
Not only is it difficult to understand, but it is also a demanding message. Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23 record the same words of Jesus when He teaches that “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” The gift of salvation through Christ is a free gift that also requires the whole life of the recipient. We all know Romans 6:23 which says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The evidence of soft preaching is crusty, immoral, and spiritually-dead Christians. By soft preaching, I really mean not teaching the whole counsel of Scripture. This includes focusing only on God’s forgiveness without His justice, His love without His hatred of evil, and His mercy without the coming Day of Judgment. God has and will exhibit all of these things. When Christians aren’t exposed to all of it then they become indistinguishable from the world around them. And yet Christ has called His people to be a “light on a hill”, “holy and blameless”, and “pure.” He taught in Matthew 5:19 that whoever “relaxes” any of the commandments from the Law and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. What Christian could then go on justifying any type of immoral behavior? Yet it is all too common.
On the other hand, when the hard message is received the heart is ready to experience the overwhelming tenderness and compassion of God. Only when a sinner has come to that place of realizing how dreadfully they have sinned before God can they be forgiven. It is then that God abundantly pours out the riches of His grace in Jesus Christ on the repentant sinner. The need for forgiveness must be seen first, before a person will ever ask for it. And only when a person asks God for it, will they be forgiven. And only the Spirit of God can accomplish this work in people’s hearts, so let us pray to Him that He would work mightily.
Brothers and sisters, I pray that God would break our hard hearts down with His powerful Word! I pray that we would be humble before Him and submitted to Him. I pray that we would love Him with all that we are, and then that we would love our neighbor as ourselves. Let us be the people, the church that Christ has ordained us to be. Let us not settle for mediocrity, but be good stewards of the powerful message the Lord has entrusted us with. May we all magnify the glorious gospel with our lives!