Should We Always Witness Softly?
More than One Type of Sinner
One of the greatest delusions of this modern age is that “love” means that sin is to be ignored, lies are to tolerated, and sinners are to be unconditionally accepted in all situations, at all times. This is the “love” that is preached by Hollywood. First of all, notice what the Bible says concerning “love”: Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your LOVE may abound yet more and more in KNOWLEDGE and in all JUDGMENT; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ…
People often object to street preaching by calling attention to the fact that Jesus was gentle and nice toward sinners. Yet, they fail to notice that these sinners were already BROKEN. Their hearts were open to God. They knew that they were sinners and they needed to hear the good news of mercy and truth. They had not rejected the strong preparatory preaching of John the Baptist: Matthew 21:32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the PUBLICANS AND THE HARLOTS BELIEVED HIM…
Certainly, Jesus would not upbraid these tender hearts that were already open to Him: Isaiah 42:3 A bruised reed shall he not break… However, when Jesus went street preaching to whole cities that had rejected light, His manner was entirely different: Matthew 11:20
Then began he to UPBRAID the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: 21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
And notice how Jesus dealt with the proud Pharisees:
Matthew 12:34: O generation of VIPERS, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Matthew 23:33 Ye SERPENTS, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Jesus did not break a bruised reed. Yet, it is also clear that Jesus did not quench a rebellious, smoking flax by pampering it with smooth words. He upbraided whole cities. He obeyed the following Proverb: Proverbs 28:4 They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them. Sinners must know that they have sinned. And they need to know the penalties for sin. Many people, especially in America, are hardened to the Gospel. They do not need soothing words. They need to agree with God concerning the nature of sin and its penalty. And many Christians have become hardened to their own warnings in the same manner that unbelievers have become hardened to their own.
We therefore need more street preachers to contend with the wicked. It is true that Christians must be guided by reason and the Holy Spirit when discerning what method of preaching to apply to individual sinners (saved or unsaved). But this is exactly the way the Bible commands us to witness! We are not called to witness only ONE way. This is the what the fluffy, emotional spirit (that has neutralized much of Christendom) obviously believes. No, we are called to discern WHO we are dealing with, and apply the APPROPRIATE degree of severity:
Titus 1:13–his witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them SHARPLY, that they may be sound in the faith… Jude 1:22–And OF SOME have compassion, making a difference: 23 And OTHERS save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. The spirit of the world (that has largely entered the churches) does not understand Jude 1:22. It pretends that it reads “of ALL have compassion.” This is because the Devil has taught Christians that it is “legalistic and mean” to NAME sins and preach that God HATES them.
Thus we see that Christianity is largely neutralized in its power. It is through the foolishness of PREACHING that God chooses to work (1 Corinthians 1:21, 2 Timothy 4:2). And the majority of preaching (whether in the pulpit or on the street) is overly soft and anemic today. May the Lord help us to repent of this and be bold to preach His truth. And may we equally be sure to use compassion and gentleness where it is proper to do so.