The 2 available means of bringing people to Christ: Threats and cherishing.
Okay, we have all come across this. A pastor walks up the stage and reads verses in the bible of God burning down the disobedient cities, how He struck king Herod, how He sent Nebuchadnezzar to live with animals, how He destroyed Nineveh, Egypt, or even Judah. And then how the eternal burning of sinners in hell is too painful to express in words. He goes ahead and narrates how unfaithful men and women have died of diarrhea due to AIDS and how the thief was shot to death last night. People, listen very carefully, "The Lord's axe is on your heads waiting to cut you into pieces if you do not accept Jesus"And eh the scared people! The mortal men who cannot fight against God when that hard time comes feel like vanishing. But since nowhere to hide from such a cruel and punishing God, they put up their hands and say they want to receive Jesus. The pastor and the congregation celebrates, the church is expanded, people are setting saved. As they close eyes in prayer, their souls are murmuring, "Oh God, we are sinners and we really cannot handle the eternal punishment you have for us. Please, accept and forgive us father. Save us from all these afflictions, we have come to you God. We won't run away again"
Here comes another preacher, he starts his lesson with the story of the prostitute, no, the woman caught in the adultery who the readers of law reported to Jesus expecting a sentence of death by stoning only to be disappointed by Jesus embracing the woman. He goes ahead and describes how God has loved us (sinners) so much that He gave His only son to die for us. The preacher goes on and tells how God has made thieves, prostitutes, drunkards and other bad people succeed in life and find forgiveness time and time. He explains the verse in Romans of how God loves us while we are still sinners and intends to make us better through love and grace. And oh how unfair of us that the holy one accepts a walk with us, the unholy ones! Caught by compassion of that lover, great God who can still live without us, but who is doing everything to bring happiness to us all, people put up hands in shame and promise to return a glimpse of love and loyalty to such a king.
They stand up, walk up to the stage and as they close their eyes in Prayer, the souls are uttering these words though in shame, "Oh Jesus, how could i be all that selfish! You have all these days been trying to get at me, but i never give you my ears and yet you still love and care for me. Oh now i see, even the little pain i suffered was not your making, it was me, my lack of trust in you, my Lord. I am now coming to you so we share even more than you were giving me".
The church and the preacher celebrate, the church is expanding.
What is my point today? Both these two approaches can successfully bring people to Jesus. Actually, the first one can even be better at making many people put their hands up. However, the latter method is likely to sustain people in salvation than the former. Secondly and most important, the method of threats and punishment does not give true salvation nor a true way to paradise and freedom. People saved through that way live in fear and lack of pleasure. They actually never find peace for they are always thinking of God killing them for their sins. This is because they are of course constantly failing to live up to the standards.
What saves us is just faith and faith alone. Actually, i used to pray that by the time of my death, God should give me a chance to pray and repent for the last minute. However, this is not necessary now i know. Even those who die in accidents having no time to repent can go to heaven as long as they had this true faith in the grace of God. People saved through threats understand God as a cruel super being always monitoring our moves and getting ready to punish us for our sins. That is not God.
But these instances of God punishing people, are they not true? Oh yeah, it is very true God punishes and heavily but that is not His aim for man or goal. Even His punishments are part of the great plan to bring man to happiness. In other words, he does not punish you so you pay for your sins, He punishes you to bring you back to the real life. Okay, His whole time goal is the redemption and happiness of Mankind. As a pastor, you can read such texts but deliver them in the proper manners to the congregation.
People saved via the cherishing and compassion method love God simply because He first loved them. This is the only saving relationship that saves. If you obey God because you fear Him, you are not saved. But if you love Him because you love Him, then you are safe. For God is love, then people should come to Him in love. That Is the perfect message. No, you can tell people of God's punishments to the disobedient ones but let them know that the whole intention is for their good( we shall look at the value of punishments when we expose why Adam was chased out of the Eden and death opened for him).
Finally, there are these preachers or some kind of churches that like condemning people almost to death, you are on the wrong side of the gospel. So many of you have hardened the lives of your flocks because they went astray on your church's orders but you are just calling out for your own punishments. I have heard people being burnt alive, being chased away from their worship, being persecuted because of their beliefs and perception of pleasure especially in Islamic countries, that is not working for God. Also, some churches and pastors here have behaved as if they are themselves gods and condemned fellow Christians day and night, they are just preaching their own doctrine.
Our God is of love, that is His nature. We can only love Him rightly if we believe He loved us. Your work as a preacher is to tell people of God's love for them not His punishments for them. Remember, i am not saying that we pretend that sinners won't be punished but eh how come you preach if you have no gift of turning every scenario into God's love and His redemption mission for people????? Bye.
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