God Is Not A Benevolent Candy Man

Tom Wallace

Preaching Only God’s Love Makes Him A Benevolent Candy Man

Today there is a tendency to only preach positive messages and fill them with the love of God. It is true that the love of God is a biblical principle.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

There are many other passages that teach God’s love. The love of God is seen throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. The sad thing is, there are many preachers who will preach nothing but the love of God. There is a lot more to the Bible than God’s love. The Bible says God is love twice, and they are both in the same chapter. It speaks of the “love of God” 13 times. It says God is holy more than 95 times. I have not counted how many times the Bible speaks of God’s righteousness, justice, and wrath, but I can assure you that it is more than it speaks of His love. If God puts the emphasis on His holiness, righteousness, and justice, don’t you think we should do the same?

There is little preaching in our churches on the judgment of God today. If you read your Bible you will see that the judgment of God is spoken of more than the love of God. God or Lord and judgment are found in the same verse at least 237 times. Preachers fear that if we preach the judgment of God we will drive people away. The truth is, if we don’t tell people they will face God’s judgment one day we are doing them a great disservice. How else will they understand the danger they are in?

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27)

In our modern society, love only does that which is pleasant to its object. If we love someone, it is thought, we will never do anything that is unpleasant to them. This is why preaching only the love of God presents God as some kind of a benevolent cosmic candy man. It implies that we can do whatever we want because God loves us and will forgive us.

Our Christian colleges are teaching our young preachers that we are not to be offensive in our preaching. It is true, we should not preach to be deliberately offensive, but we must understand that if we preach the truth, it will offend those who are in error. Those who don’t want to be told what is right or wrong will be offended by preaching that God’s way is always the right way. Passages like the following offend sinners:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Professors in our Bible colleges are teaching things like “do you want to work hard, or do you want to work smart?” No one says sign me up for the hard road, I don’t want any shortcuts. Impressionable young preacher boys want to work smart so they listen to what they are taught. People like Rick Warren, Bill Hybles, and so on, are lifted up as those who have found the secret to success in the ministry.

I know good preachers, who in their personal lives would never compromise the principles of God, yet apologize every time they think something might be offensive to some of their listeners. When the precepts of the Scriptures offend the listeners, let them offend. It is only when they offend that they will achieve their purpose.

Young preachers are being taught that we must take the offense out of the Gospel. The truth is, preaching of the Gospel is the preaching of offense.

As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Romans 9:33)

You can’t preach the Gospel without offending sinners because the cornerstone of the Gospel is Jesus Christ and He is a rock of offense.

Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. (1 Peter 2:7-8)

Jesus is precious to those who are saved, but to those who are disobedient He is a stumblingstone. Look at the attitudes of many in our nation today and you will see that they only like a Jesus who will not condemn their sin. They like to hear that He is love because the modern idea of love teaches we can do what we want and there will be no consequences.

This next passage gives us a look at true love.

Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (Hebrews 12:4-8)

God corrects those He loves by chastening and scourging them. These are strong words. Chastise means “to correct by punishing, to punish, to inflict pain by stripes, or in other manner, for the purpose of punishing an offender and recalling him to his duty.” (Websters 1828 Dictionary). Scourge means “To whip severely; to lash” (Websters 1828 Dictionary). Those who are not corrected of God are not His children.

Let me remind you what the Bible says about the fear of the Lord. The Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). It is also the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10 and Psalm 111:10). The fear of the Lord will cause those who have it to seek to know God. It will cause them to use what they know correctly (wisdom) to please Him and avoid punishment.

We are being taught that if we can sell Jesus like soap we will build big churches. Let that sink in a little. The truth is, the crowds will come when you make Jesus fun and present a gospel of success. If you do this, you will have “Christians” who will only follow the Lord when it is fun to do so. When the persecution comes, and it will come, they will fall by the wayside.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

Those who use fear and judgment in evangelism are ostracized by the majority of so-called “Christians” today. They try to tell us that using fear in evangelism doesn’t work. They say it will only work as long as the fear lasts. A godly fear of God will last because it views God as He really is, a God of holiness, righteousness, and judgment.

I must tell you that I got saved because I was afraid I was going to go to Hell for my sins. Fear evangelism worked for me. When someone showed me from the Bible that I was a wretched sinner and I deserved Hell, I was glad to hear the message of Jesus and the cross. I was glad to hear how He took my penalty and the judgment I deserved on the cross so I wouldn’t have to. It was fear evangelism that got me saved, and I dare say that if you are truly saved, you got saved because of your fear of going to Hell.

What is the alternative to fear evangelism? If you don’t use fear, what are you going to give people? Fun evangelism? I can assure you that fun evangelism will only last as long as the fun lasts.

You won’t see many billboards saying repent, judgment is coming. They don’t say that you are wretched and will perish. Listen to what the psalmist said:

God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. (Psalms 7:11-12)

Don’t you think that loving someone includes warning him of the danger he faces? Is it love to keep God’s judgment and wrath from those who are in danger of perishing?

Most billboards say “God is love” or “Jesus loves you.” Keeping the message positive creates confusion. The lost man who sees these messages knows that he is in wretched sin, and his conscience bears witness to him, yet he can justify himself because God loves him.

People don’t understand they must humble themselves before God, confess their sinful condition, and repent before God can save them. His holiness demands His judgment.

The message today is, don’t be negative, don’t be divisive, don’t ruffle people’s feathers, preach love, preach joy, preach peace, preach the path to happiness and success, and you will build a big church. Just look at the kind of churches this kind of preaching is building.

It has reached a point where if you do preach the life changing message of judgment and the fear of God you are considered unchristian. You will be called a hate monger and a fear monger.

The love of God is seen in the fact that He sent His only begotten Son to die a horrible death and pay our sin debt so we could be forgiven and redeemed back to God. The love of God is that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. The message of the love of God tells us that we must change, we can’t continue as we are. The gate that leads to life is a narrow gate. You can’t come through it with your baggage of sin and self-righteousness. You must humble yourself and turn to God (repent) for mercy.

The love of God corrects His children when they error.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:6)

God disciplines those he loves just like a good earthy father does his children. Unrighteousness is harmful, and God spanks His children so they will live healthy, righteous lives. When a child reaches for a sharp knife a good parent will smack the back of his hand and say don’t touch that, it is dangerous.

Love sometimes has restrictions. When a teenager wants to come in any time of night, and to live however he wants, a loving parent will discipline and correct him. He does this so the teenager does not ruin his life and throw it away.

A prophet shows his love by speaking the hard things. It won’t make him popular, but he does it out of love. The reason I say the hard things is because I love America and I don’t want to see it destroyed. I love mankind and I don’t want to see anyone go to Hell so I speak the hard things and warn them of judgment.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)

We need to speak up when we see someone in error. This is something a spiritual person does.

John the Baptist preached repentance. In Matthew 11 Jesus asked:

And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. (Matthew 11:7-10)

John was not blown about with every wind of Doctrine. He did not wear soft clothing. He was a prophet and spoke the hard things to prepare the way for Christ.

God has said that the wicked will surly die, and if we don’t give them warning and tell them to turn from their wickedness, God says their blood will be required at our hands. I fear God too much too make that mistake.

When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. (Ezekiel 33:8-9)

When we teach and preach only the love of God, when we preach only a positive message, we are teaching that God is some kind of a heavenly candy man who would not exercise judgment on anyone because He is a God of love. The Bible says that God will not clear those who are guilty.

Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. (Exodus 34:7)

The penalty for sin must be paid. It was paid on the cross by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, but it only becomes effective to those who come to God with a repentant heart, seeking His mercy.

God is not some benevolent candy man who will not judge! He is a righteous, just, and holy God who must judge! We must preach the whole counsel of God, including the hard parts. There is no other way to bring people to Christ where they will receive life-changing salvation.

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