A God of Love or a God of Wrath? Which should we preach? This very question has caused so much division inside of the church, outside of the church, and all over the world. In my very own life, I’ve witnessed the enemy use this question as a tactic to turn brethren against brethren and even turn people away from the church… inevitably causing those same people to reject Jesus’ perfect gift of Salvation.
The problem is, as humans, we have the natural tendency and inclination the classify things. We are so limited in our thinking so we feel the need to organize our world into classes, categories, stereotypes, races, denominations, subcultures, and the like. We create these mental shortcuts so that we can operate through life without having to always learn and figure everything out. Unfortunately, we do the same thing to God. We place God in a box and we say, “this is who God is” or we try to paint a picture of what we think God looks like. When we have a relationship with God, we think we’ve “arrived.” We take what we know of God from our own experiences and encounters with Him and we stamp it as absolute and universal truth of who God is. God forbid someone express to know different parts of God that we may not have encountered yet. Because of our own insecurities, we will be compelled to label them as “wrong” or deluded for taking God out of the box that we placed Him in.
The truth is, we will never have God “all figured out”. Even in heaven, even with God, there will always be more and more to learn about Him and through Him. God is omnipotent, eternal, and infinite in all wisdom. Isaiah 55:8-9 says: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” That is why God’s ways won’t always make “sense” to us. He made us all unique. The way we respond to things will sometimes be different and our experiences are never the same. The way God draws you to Himself and the way He chooses to interact with you is not a worldwide formula but it is catered specifically to YOU. That’s the entire point of having a relationship with God.
So why are we still arguing about how to preach the Gospel? The purpose of preaching the gospel is not so that we may argue over how it is to be preached. The point of preaching the gospel is so that people would come to know the Truth and be saved. That they would know of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
I could care less about how the Gospel is being preached as long as it’s being preached truthfully. What we should pay more attention to is whether or not results are being made. Are people being saved? Are they repenting? Turning from their ways? Taking up their cross? Learning to love? Being discipled? Passing some tests? Walking in victory? Bearing the fruit of the spirit? If we are able to answer yes to these questions than that’s what matters.
God does not expect every preacher to be the same. That’s the beauty of the Body of Christ… we operate in our individual roles while working towards the same goal. God uses us all to create balance as we grow in unity. Picture a balanced scale, there is one object on each opposite end. If they hold the same weight, balance is accomplished. Some of us are on one side of the scale, often preaching repentance and God’s wrath. Some of us are on the other side, often preaching God’s love and grace. The balance comes when we are able to put some weight behind what we’re preaching. What do we have to show for it? Are we carrying our cross? Are we living this thing out? If we are, then altogether we are working towards God’s perfect plan.
Romans 7:15-16 says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?” According to this verse, you can’t call someone a false prophet just because they like to preach about God’s love or grace; neither can you call them a false prophet just because they preach heavily on God’s wrath. It’s a religious spirit that’s causing you to be mad at them. That’s how the Pharisees were. Someone is classified as a false prophet when they don’t have any fruit to show or weight to back up what they’re saying. If they are constantly preaching about God’s love and grace and they are actually showing it in it’s purest form(not perverted), than good for them! On the other hand if some is constantly preaching about holiness and repentance, than their life should be a walking testimony of that as well. They must be set apart! That’s why this scripture says “you shall know them by their fruits”. Some of us are going around calling people false prophets based on how we think they should be preaching, instead of really examining their lives. Someone on the other hand might preach the way you think they should… their doctrine may even be sound… but behind closed doors they are gossiping, stealing, causing division, etc.
A preacher who is constantly preaching about hell and eternity could be doing so because of his own experience and conviction. His great passion and zeal may be mistaken for “anger” or “hatred” but who are we to judge his style of preaching? You don’t know what God brought him through. When he was in the world serving Satan, he was very extreme in doing so. Now that he is saved, he is even more extreme in his fear for God and serving God because he knows how unworthy he is and what God saved him from! He is passionate about saving you from where he was once headed and this urgency is revealed through his preaching. Because you don’t share in his experiences or his relationship with God, you may or may not be able to relate to this style of preaching. Some will be saved through this man’s life and testimony, others will not be. That’s ok, God is still in control!
In the same way, a preacher who is constantly preaching about God’s love and grace could be doing so because of his own experience and conviction. His great joy and optimism may be mistaken for “lukewarmness” and “deception” but who are we to judge his intentions? Whether good or bad intentions, God will examine the motives of his heart on judgement day. We should beware of false prophets but it’s not our job to sit around and criticize someone else because of the way they preach. What if he found himself in a dark place in life but hope was the only thing that got him through? What if he had an abusive childhood, was rejected by his father, but hearing the Gospel was his first encounter with Love. Love is the very thing that changed his life so you see it echoed through his style of preaching. Because you don’t share in his experiences or his relationship with God, you may or may not be able to relate. Some will be saved through this man’s life and testimony, others will not be. That’s ok, God is still in control!
When Jesus was on the earth, He always used parables to teach the crowds of people that came to hear him. Those parables had many agricultural and farming elements that those people were able to understand and relate to. If Jesus had come in our day, I believe that he would speak in parables using different modern day references like cars, the corporate workplace, social media, and so on. Jesus lived on the earth in a time where his preaching was reflective of his experiences. Those who could relate to those day-to-day experiences(tending to sheep, farming, servanthood, etc.) could find the truth in what he was saying. It didn’t matter that Jesus spoke in parables. He knew that some would have ears to hear what He was really saying, and some wouldn’t. For those who did hear, what mattered was that their lives were changed after hearing the truth.
Therefore, stop judging someone else’s style of preaching. They won’t be able to reach everyone and neither will you… but for those that God has called you to reach… you must go forth in obedience. Focus on completing your task at hand, and let God worry about the bigger picture. Remember, He is in control. Share your own testimony and don’t be ashamed of your conviction. You conviction is what led you to Christ and it could lead many others to him as well.
The bible says in Luke 10:2, “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.”
We must pray for those laborers to go forth! I know so many people who are afraid to share the gospel because they are mad about how some pastor preached it to them. The want to avoid the “stigma” that they think is tied to christianity so they shrink back in silence and keep the good news to themselves. They’ve felt judged when sitting under a certain preacher and now they won’t share the gospel because they don’t want others to feel how they felt. The enemy wants to use this experience as a way to shut them up! What they don’t realize is, they can turn around and reach people who would not have otherwise been reached by that same type of preacher. God will send laborers who will be able to relate to those people and show them a side of God that they never new existed.
You see… there is more than just “two sides to God” as some may say. They bible lists over 900 names and titles of God alone. I can attempt to list them but I’ll only be scratching the surface.
- Abba, Father
- Consuming Fire (Deut. 4:24)
- Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8)
- Author of Life (Acts 3:15)
- Author of Peace (1 Cor. 14:33)
- Sun and Sheild (Psalm 84:11)
- Bread of Life (John 6:35)
- Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13)
- Cheif Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20)
- Strong Tower (Provers 18:20)
and the list goes on and on…
That is why it is so important that as Christians, after we get saved, we not only get plugged into a church, but into God’s word. If our only understanding of the Gospel comes from the person who led us to get saved, then we will be very limited in our understanding. Whether we got saved after hearing a message of love or if we got saved after hearing a message of discipline, it is up to us to open up God’s word and learn the balance because both love and discipline are inclusive of one another. Hebrews 12:6 even says: “…the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” It is up to us to build a relationship with God and the Holy Spirit to grow in the area of discernment and sound doctrine. In order to grow, you will have to learn how to work out your OWN salvation, navigate through God’s word, and build your own personal relationship with Him. If not, you will only go as far as serving someone else’s God.
A lot of people get saved and they rely on the person who led them to the truth, to spoon-feed them scripture for the entirety of their Christian walk. I know people who limit themselves to only listening to one preacher, and in that they miss out on so much more of God. That preacher preaches from his or her very own experience, passion, and perspective. They make the mistake of letting that preacher become their “god” and they miss out on the fullness of having a relationship with God for themselves. There are so many other preachers out there who God can use to teach you, build you up, and help give you deeper revelation in areas that the preacher you usually listen to may rarely touch upon.
I’m not saying to hop from church to church. I believe in serving where you are and being planted so you can grow… but that’s the beauty in technology. With discernment, I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me in listening to different preachers every now and then. I may listen to a podcast one day, watch a sermon later on in the week, or go to a Wednesday night bible study at another church if my church does not have something going on. Are we not supposed to be one big church anyway? We were not called to be divided. So if your pastor is extra controlling and possessive of his congregation, be very cautious.
The first and most important thing is to spend time in God’s word so you’ll be able to detect truth from false doctrine. If you don’t have a strong foundation in God’s word, you can easily be deceived by a false prophet and fall into error. I wouldn’t recommend that a new believer listen to many different sources because in this day and age, the enemy is crafty and it could be hard to discern God’s truth without the leading of the Holy Spirit. Yet there comes a time, after you’ve learned the basics, developed a relationship with the Lord, and you’ve been disciplined in your study, to grow.
How do you discern when that time comes? Well ask yourself some questions… what is holding you back from growing in your spiritual walk? Are you constantly feeling condemned? Unworthy? Worthless? Maybe you’ve been listening to sermon after sermon about sin, repentance, and hell, but never God’s grace or love. You have the wrong perspective of God. To you God is a tyrant and He will strike you dead the next time you cross Him. You think He is out to get you… He has a punishment awaiting your next failure and He’s up in heaven on His throne laughing at you as you struggle through tests and step out in faith. You must dig into scripture to bring some balance back into your spiritual walk. Please, listen to worship songs about God’s grace! Pour into yourself! Do what you can.
- “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
- “11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:11-12
- “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1-2
- “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
Or maybe you aren’t able to grow in your walk with God because you don’t fear Him like you should. You don’t take sin seriously. You don’t take your Christian walk seriously. Instead of pursuing righteousness, you pursue happiness and you think life is all about you. For temporary moments you feel great… when you have that relationship, that money, those connections, etc. But you still feel empty. You’re still not satisfied and you keep asking for “more, more, and more” but you’re never able to get “more” of God because all the idols you placed before Him. You don’t have a healthy perspective of God either. You think God just wants you to be rich. You think God just wants you to be successful and life is all about you and what God can do for you. You accepted the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for you, great! But what are you willing to sacrifice? How can you worship the Lord? You may need to sit under some convicting messages. Pour back into yourself! You need some balance!
- “Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” – Psalm 24:3
- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21
- “But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.” – Luke 12:5
- “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15
- “But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” – John 4:14
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:16-23, “For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel. Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
Let us follow Paul’s example. Paul preached the gospel boldly… he didn’t preach just to preach and neither did he preach for money. He preached with purpose and eternity in mind. He preached because his heart’s desire was to truly win souls for God’s Kindgom. According to the scripture, he became what he needed to become, in God, so that many would be saved through his ministry. Are you willing to die to yourself over and over again for the sake of someone else’s soul? Are you willing to be forgiveness and grace for someone who needs it? Or is your preaching just all about you? Are you willing to be conviction and truth when someone is going astray? Or are you so focused on how people view you, so much so that you let them walk straight into hell? Therefore the question is no longer, “A God of Love or a God of Wrath? Which should we preach?” but it is, “How can I live out the gospel, so that I might win souls for God’s Kindgom!”
My Conference: www.DeliveranceConference.com
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/karolyneroberts
900 Names of God: http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/namesofgod.html