But today many hold back part of the truth through ignorance or state the truth abstractly and narrowly, or fail to give the gospel the cutting edge of specific application. This means that sinners are being robbed of the opportunity to repent by a message which is dulled by pride and self-dependence.
What is needed therefore is a humbling among the bearers of the gospel. At present complacency is the biggest single stumbling block to the ministry of the Spirit. The need of the hour is for bold, loving preaching by those who will not rest until the Lord establishes Jerusalem as a praise in the earth (Isa. 62:6-7).
Effective counseling is principally a carrying forward in private of specific applications of the preaching ministry in the church. The gospel message is announced boldly in a public context and given added effectiveness by a one-to-one follow-up in dealing with particular idols which Christ wants removed from each of our lives. Such confrontation in preaching and counseling involves a sensitivity to the heart cries of men. It combines tears and truth, as we bow together before the discipline of God's Word.
The warfare here is spiritual and calls for great courage on the part of God's ambassadors.
Courage to ask if you are lulling men to sleep by a message that fosters self-congratulation rather than repentance to life.
Courage first to teach your own heart and then to teach others that there are only two ways to stand before God: either as a contrite publican or as a self-righteous Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14).
It will not be easy to tell those outside of Christ that their lives are built on presumption and pretense. And it will not be easy to tell confessing Christians that they, too, have taken for granted God's blessings upon their lives. ...
Pastor, how many officers in your church live only on the resources of a past Christian experience whose fires have long ago gone out?
How many separated saints have allowed the joints of the gospel armor to rust together through secret pride?
And what about the churches which have become gossip centers without anyone honestly facing up to the fact?
But, preacher, you have the answer.
Man is oppressed by the law of sin and death.
Man is oppressed by a guilty conscience and the prospect of divine judgment.
However, you have the gospel message which can change all of this. From it men learn of a bleeding sacrifice which does what the law of sin and death could never do. It brings expiation for sins and the washing of the conscience through a new dominion established by Jesus' resurrection.
In this message Christ, the risen Lord, is set forth in all His glory (2 Cor. 3:18). He can do what no mere human counseling can do. By turning to the Lord, i.e., by repenting, man can come into possession of this divine splendor revealed in Christ (2 Cor. 3:16-18).
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