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On preaching judgment

One of the things that stood out from Vladimir's sermon on 4/3/22 is that the people facing judgment in Revelation 6 already knew about God's judgment. Vladimir asked, which greatly convicted me, whether the people around us know of God's judgment.

Our current church culture in America does not like to preach judgment. Or the churches who do preach judgment are ostracized by the others, because we ought not be "fire and brimstone", they say. We should talk about God's love and mercy, not about His wrath, they say.

Certainly, it's a problem if a church only preaches about God's wrath, but it's also a problem if a church does not preach about God's wrath. For it is a proper understanding of God's wrath that makes way for a proper understanding of God's mercy.

When Jonah preached in Nineveh, he didn't call them to repentance. He only preached about God's coming judgment. The preaching of God's judgment drove Nineveh to repentance (for the time being), and God showed them mercy.

In order for our preaching of the good news of Jesus Christ to make sense, we need to preach God's judgment. When people understand God's judgment, they will wonder, "How can I escape it?" The answer, then, is already on your lips: Jesus Christ, who received God's judgment on behalf of sinners.

Still, it's difficult to preach judgment. We do so at our own peril. And yet we're comforted with what God told Jeremiah when He was commanding him to preach judgment to Judah and Israel:

Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 1:8)

In Jeremiah's case, he protected Jeremiah in order to get out all of the contents of the book of Jeremiah. In our case, we aren't guaranteed physical safety. Consider how Stephen in Acts died for preaching the gospel. Every Apostle except one was also killed for preaching the gospel. So, what God says to Jeremiah is not a direct application to us.

But this we know: God will not allow us to die before our individual ministries are done. Whatever preaching God has left for each of us to do, we will accomplish it all before He allows anyone to take us out.

Take Paul, for example. For preaching in Lystra, the people took him outside the city and tried to kill him. They were good at stoning people to death. They didn't accidentally fail to kill Paul; they thought he was actually dead. But it wasn't Paul's time. He had more work to do. So, God brought him back to his feet, and Paul continued onward.

The same is true for you. You will not die a second too early. You cannot preach judgment and lose one of the days God has numbered for you. He will deliver you if you have more work to do. So, preach judgment boldly. Preach it so that you can then preach grace boldly. God is with you.

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