August 2 – LD 31, Day 4: The Discriminating Power of the Preaching of the Gospel
Monday the 2nd of August
in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations
Read: II Thessalonians 1:1 - 9
The preaching of the Word of Christ must sound a note of warning to those who refuse to turn from their wicked ways. According to the words of the Heidelberg Catechism, the sounding of the word of warning is the exercise of the keys of the kingdom. The catechism has this to say; “and on the contrary, when it is declared and testified to all unbelievers, and to such as do not sincerely repent, that they stand exposed to the wrath of God and eternal condemnation, so long as they are unconverted: according to which testimony of the gospel God will judge them, both in this life and in the life to come.”
It is especially this aspect of the power of the keys of the kingdom that many churches neglect. They teach that God loves all men. They teach that God has a wonderful plan for everyone. Many minimize the seriousness of sin. Recently, there has been a lot of public media attention in the United States on a famous preacher who declares that there is no hell. All men in the end are going to be saved. This, he deduces from his false understanding of the love of God for all men. A God who loves all men certainly will not cast the majority of the human race into everlasting hell. According to this preacher, all talk about the future of man is mere speculation. This preacher has a large following, and no wonder. Foolish and sinful men want to expel from their thinking any fear of the judgment of God upon their worldliness, ungodliness and gross wickedness.
God is indeed a God of mercy and love, according to which He saves His people in spite of their unworthiness and sin. But God is also a God of severe justice. Holiness and righteousness are absolute perfections of God. Because of the holiness of God, He pours out His wrath on the wicked ungodly. He will in the last day judge them by His own standard of perfect righteousness and give them the judgment which they justly deserve.
In fact, the Bible warns in Luke that servants who knew the word of their lord and did not listen and obey it, shall be beaten with double punishment. The meaning is that those who have heard the preaching of the gospel and the call to repentance, and have hardened their hearts to it, will have an even more severe judgment than the millions who die without ever hearing the preaching of the gospel. See Luke 12:47 - 48.
It is the solemn duty of the church to be very serious about sin. God hates not only those sins of word and deed, but all evil thoughts and desires of men’s hearts when they are not repented of. Our modern times are one of great apostasy. One of the main characteristics of this apostasy is the minimization of sin. Churches that do not warn men about God’s judgment on sin are not the ministers of salvation for men, but they are in fact deceivers of men. The blood of the men that they have failed to warn will be on them.
The faithful preacher of the gospel of Christ, in obedience to His word, must sound a clear warning about the seriousness of sin. He must clearly set forth exactly what sin is. He must show how sin is absolutely contrary to the Word of God. He must warn of the severe judgment of God that will come on the impenitent. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. And we who also hear this Word of God, must repent and turn to Christ in whom alone is deliverance from judgment and salvation.