2 Ditches Preachers Can Fall Into

There are two ditches preachers can fall into.  

Ditch #1 is to only focus on encouragement to the neglect of addressing sin.  Prosperity gospel preachers are the extreme end of this ditch, though you do not have to be a prosperity gospel preacher to fall into it.

In reaction to Ditch #1, Ditch #2 has been created.  Ditch #2 is to only ever focus on our sin and need.  Preachers in this ditch will certainly preach the gospel, but the end result of preaching that runs in this ditch is people left with the feeling of, "I suck, but thank goodness for Jesus."

The True Gospel Preacher

The true gospel preacher will focus on both—weaving together a mosaic of addressing sin and offering encouragement to the saints while also convicting of sin and pointing to and reminding of the hope of the gospel.  The true gospel preacher will do so in a way that is contextual to the specific local church he is pastoring, addressing the needs and creating the right "mixture" of conviction and grace with respect to the sheep under his care.

When done appropriately, this both edifies the saints and challenges (or calls upon) those who have not been saved through presenting a message of conviction and yet hope.

I have seen a trend towards "beat-you-over-the-head-and-point-you-to-Jesus" preaching that simply misses the mark of encouraging the saints.  In fact, I believe I have been guilty of this myself at times.

Great Preaching Offers Hope

Recently, I came across this quote from Bryan Chapell in his commentary on Ephesians that captures well the balance I'm speaking of:

"Great preaching always offers hope.  We are in God's family and that means that we are in the "family business."  That business is hope.  There is hope for our fallen condition, our sin-sick world, and our sin-bound souls because of the power of Christ that is for us.  We are dispensers of hope—offering the hope that God's riches and power can make tomorrow brighter than today."

 

Preachers, preach the whole gospel.  Convict of sin, point to Jesus, but don't stop there.  Remind and point to the future and present hope.  Offer hope.  Offer encouragement.