Last night in our church Bible study we were discussing divine judgment. It’s hard to avoid when you’re studying Amos. There is certainly less preaching of judgment today than many of us remembered in the post war years up to the 1970s. And yet, it is a clear biblical doctrine. The problem we wrestled with at length was how we ought to talk about judgment in the contemporary world. I’m not sure we were convinced that the loud and vivid declarations of the post-war years were the way to do it today. Perhaps the decline in preaching judgment is because we no longer really believe in the wrath of God.
Today when I was reading a sermon by Phil Ryken, I came across a helpful comment he made on the necessity of preaching judgment.
In his book The Cruelty of Heresy, C. F. Allison argues that heresy is the ultimate cruelty.1 This is becuase it does not love people enough to warn them about the judgment to come or to insist that Jesus is the only way to salvation. In the end, every false theology is murderous to the soul. Teaching heterodoxy is perhaps the most unloving thing a person can do. Is any sin greater than the murder of a soul?2
That doesn’t answer the question of how to preach judgment, but it certainly puts the necessity of preaching it in sharp perspective.
1. C. FitzSimons Allison, The Cruelty of Heresy: An Affirmation of Christian Orthodoxy (London: SPCK, 1994).
2. Philip Graham Ryken, 1 Timothy [Reformed Expository Commentary] (Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing, 2007), p.16.