Surely, it is important to preach the Gospel, otherwise known as the Good News. Most Christians would agree with that statement, though, I think it’s safe to say that, most Christians do not preach the Gospel. That being said, I would like to take a step backward. I believe it is often (if not most often) helpful to “preach” the bad news in order to provide a proper context for the good news. “Preaching” the bad news involves providing accurate information about the issue of sin. Though it is not a popular or pleasant topic, it is a major part of the Biblical narrative. In an age when humanistic, evolutionary, secular psychology has denied the existence the of sin, it is even more important to provide a clear declaration of its presence and its impact in the world.
When asking professing Christians what they are being saved from, it is often the case that they will answer, “Hell.” However, Christ died to save us from sin. One cannot be saved from hell if they are not saved from sin. A pastor (inspirational speaker) of one of the largest churches in the United States declared that in his church, they do not talk about sin; that’s a negative message. As Dr. J. Edwin Orr once pointed out, you cannot even start a car with just a positive.
Imagine receiving a call from your doctor, hearing him declare, “I have great news for you!” A little surprised by the unexpected call you ask, “What news is that Doc?” He proceeds to inform you that he scheduled you for surgery to remove your left lung. It is likely that you would respond, “You call that great news?” Such news would only be good news within the context of bad news – your lung cancer is isolated in your left lung and if we remove it, you will live. A good doctor would make sure he gave you the bad news about your cancer, even though it is unpleasant, uncomfortable, disturbing information to share. When a doctor or a patient refuses to acknowledge and deal with the reality of the cancer, the fact does not cease to exist.
Quoting from George Otis, Jr. we read, “In order to effectively deal with an enemy, it is of utmost importance to be thoroughly and accurately briefed on the qualities and characteristics of the foe. That sin is the deadliest of all foes need hardly be debated. With the defeat and elimination of sin, the cessation of war, crime and cruelty would necessarily follow.
“As long as sin remains an elusive, undefined phantom it is no surprise that its victories over humanity continue to escalate.”
If we truly love our neighbor, we will want to see “the defeat and elimination of sin, the cessation of war, crime and cruelty.” Pretending sin doesn’t exist or refusing speak of it is not an expression of true love.
As C. S. Lewis has stated, “Christianity now has to preach the diagnosis, in itself very bad news, before it can win a hearing for the cure…a recovery of the old sense of sin is essential.”
Even among those who have made a doctrinal statement regarding sin, the dominance of deterministic thinking has removed the convicting power of their description. In upcoming posts we will do a study designed to describe the essence of sin.