Since telling people what they must do is regarded as “manipulative,” how can we preach “we must be saved?”
Part of the responsibility we have when preaching the Gospel is to communicate to audiences a Biblical concept of God -His holiness, mercy, grace, love and power. Germane to this is the truth of His authority – His absolute right as Creator to judge any disobedience to His laws. He not only “commends His love” (Romans 5:8) but “commands repentance” (Acts 17:30, 31). All He says is true and it is proper for us not only to “beseech” and “persuade” but to “warn.” Expressions like, “I believe” or “We have always believed,” when used in this connection, are pointless self-references that carry little weight. “Thus saith the Lord” and “It is written” are the language of the evangelist, conveying to an audience that the authority behind these statements is God and His Word.
Why do some object to telling sinners that “Jesus died for you?”
This objection points out a weakness in understanding the gospel. No precept or principle guides us to tell the sinner, “the Lord Jesus died for you.” The gospel declares a divine provision for ALL (John 3:16,17; 1 Timothy 2-5) and this great provision is extended to “whosoever believeth in Him.” The context of the truth of substitution always involves those who have already appreciated the death of Christ for them personally (Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 1 Corinthians 15:3). Keeping to scriptural terms is important in our gospel witness and will never cripple us. To distinguish between the death of Christ on BEHALF of all and the death of Christ in the STEAD of “the many” (Mark 10-45) is important: one is satisfaction and provision; the other is substitution (Romans 3:22; 1 John 2:2).
How does a proper balance of the Bible’s teaching regarding God’s sovereignty and man’s free will in salvation affect our view of the gospel?
Election is the sovereign choice of God (Eph 1:4) and should never be weakened to say that God foreknew who would believe, and on the basis of His foreknowledge, chose them. The election of God is never for condemnation, no soul is chosen to be damned. All are perishing and from them God snatched many to be saved.
Election and predestination are different. Election involves persons (Titus 1:1), predestination is purpose, that is, what God predetermined for those who are saved (Rom 8:29).
Does this mean that God determines who will be saved and man has no choice in it? No, the Lord Jesus said, -He that rejecteth Me and receiveth not my words… the word… shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).” “We have turned every one to his own way” (Isa 53:6) means that every man is a moral creature with a choice.
Is this a contradiction? The difficulty is in our minds. The truth has in both extremes, not in any logic that attempts to reconcile them. Can we not admit that God understands truth that transcends our minds? Even in physics, light is made up of waves, yet it is particles. This is a contradiction, but a scientist uses both definitions because both are true.
Those who are eternally lost, “received not the love of the truth that they might be saved” (2 Thess 2:10). “God will have all men to be saved” (1 Tim 2:4). Preaching that weakens the “whosoever” of John 3:16 or the “whosoever will” of Revelation 22:17 reveals a wrong view of election.
Some have suggested that gospel teaching should not convey at sin makes men guilty, but that sin is shameful. Is this right?
Sin is shameful, but it is far more. It is rebellion against divine sovereignty. It offends the very character of God. It ultimately violates God’s righteous law, which was given “that every mouth may be stopped and ALL THE WORLD may become GUILTY BEFORE GOD” (Romans 3:19). Guilt is very real and stems from breaking God’s law.
Some object because this puts people on a “guilt trip.” To soft pedal the reality of guilt is no kindness to the lost. Guilt is NEVER relived by denial. Evading guilt is a serious mistake; guilt is the central issue between man and his Creator. In salvation God removes guilt. None can know guilt removed without facing and acknowledging it. Let the preacher clearly declare the problem of guilt and then the remedy, “Being justified (CLEARED of all guilt!) freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
Should we refer to the Lord Jesus Christ as “Jesus” in our gospel preaching?
As seen in the Gospels and Acts, the Spirit carefully associates “Jesus” with the Savior’s humanity, rejection, and sacrifice. Tender references to “Jesus,” the lowly Sufferer, are appropriate. Primarily, though, we preach “the Lord Jesus” (Acts 11:20; 19:10). The object of sinners’ faith is “the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31; 20:21). The Spirit is evidence (John 16:7-11) that “God hath made that same Jesus… both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:38); therefore, Spirit-empowered preaching will honor the Lord. The informality of our times calls for greater emphasis on His authority as Lord.