A few weeks ago, while on vacation with my family, my husband and I were trying to explain the colloquial moniker, “hell, fire and brimstone preacher”—a common type of preacher during my childhood. (You can probably guess I’m in the 40+ age bracket) The explanation prompted a discussion with my kids about the gospel and the way in which it is shared.
You’ve probably heard it said, “the gospel offends”. That’s because it acknowledges our commonality as humankind is our brokenness, our sin. And, as unpopular as that message is, it’s central to the gospel. What we sought to explain to our children is that the message of a “hell, fire, and brimstone preacher” is not the problem. The message is often accurate: repent of your sin and place your trust in Christ, or face eternal damnation. But, if you’re anything like me, that message—though true—invokes fear, not affection. (And not the reverent kind of fear. The sweaty palms, heart-racing, palpable kind.)
So, herein lies the question: How do we share the love of Christ in a way that communicates the urgency of repentance without using fear as the sole motivation?
Romans 2 poses a similar question in vs. 4-5 “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
The love of God, the beauty of this world, the blessings of health, family, and freedom all fall under the goodness and kindness of God. Scripture describes the love of God as steadfast, unfailing, merciful, compassionate…perfect. Can you imagine what life would be like if we loved others (and were loved by others) perfectly? That’s what God, in His kindness, offers us. And in God’s design, His perfect love and kindness lead us to repentance.
But, keep reading. Verse 5 says, “but because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed”.
Friends, the wrath of God is real. But, if we are in Christ, the love of God is our reality. God’s wrath cannot be our only motivation toward the gospel, because a posture of fear and self-preservation doesn’t save. We are called to repentance, to surrender, and to believe in Christ as Lord. We are called to a transformation, not a fear-induced, rote response.
Imagine if we spent our days focused on sharing what we have experienced in Christ. His unfailing, perfect love. His mercy in our life. His goodness to us. His grace that covers our brokenness. His peace that passes understanding. His forgiveness that covers the vilest of our sins. His blessing and favor extended to us “while we were yet sinners”. It is those qualities that led us, and will lead others, to repentance.
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About the Author:
Tasha Calvert is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher. She is passionate about seeing women dig deep and study God’s Word. Currently, Tasha serves as the Global Women’s Minister at Prestonwood in the DFW metroplex. She is wife to Robert and mother to four amazing daughters and one son-in-law. Find more information about Tasha’s ministry and studies @ tashacalvert.com
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