2 Corinthians 13:8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
Christians saved by grace and living under grace are to be loyal to the Truth as it is revealed in the word of His grace (Acts 20:32). Our highest loyalty, allegiance, and defense must be to Truth of God’s Word because Jesus is the Truth (2 Corinthians 13:8; Ephesians 4:21; John 14:6). Sometimes truth comforts us and brings relief but at other times it corrects us and brings reproof; either way, we need to be lovers of and loyal to the Truth. Loyalty to Truth means:
- A willingness to accept the Truth of God’s Word even when it may not fit comfortably with our preconceived ideas and opinions.
- Allowing our minds, thoughts, and attitudes to be shaped by it even when it may not be convenient or comfortable.
- Refusing to compromise and adapt down God’s standard in His Word to soothe the hearers.
There is a movement today that says that God is raising up a new generation of modern day preachers which are positive. I would have to say the goodness of God, plan of God, and Gospel message is overwhelmingly and ultimately a positive message. That is not the same as saying the Bible is only filled with positive sounding truth and we should avoid subjects like sin, repentance, holiness, judgment, and hell. The Apostle Paul exhorted his son in the faith Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2-4 to, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Notice that sound doctrine includes truth that reproves, rebukes, and exhorts. I would suspect that not all of that would be positive sounding but still be the Truth we should be loyal to.
If we advocate preaching positive sounding messages ONLY and nothing about sin, or repentance, etc., we’re advocating departing from one-half of the New Testament because at least one-half of it warns against the seriousness of sin and its consequences. That’s actually the first truth the devil twisted. He changed a negative sounding truth of judgment into a positive one. God said, “… in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” Genesis 2:17. “And the serpent said ye shall not surely die,” Genesis 3:4. Who sounded negative and who sounded positive?
Remember in Matthew 16:21 and 23, Jesus said how He’d suffer at the hands of the elders, scribes, and chief priests at Jerusalem and be raised on the third day. That’s negative sounding isn’t it but it was also the truth. Peter took Him and rebuked Him and said, “Stop talking negatively, Jesus; think positively.” Jesus then, being concerned, improved Peter’s self-image and self-esteem “Get thee behind me, Satan.”In that passage, the negative sounding idea was God’s the positive sounding one was the devil. That’s not always the case, but what I’m saying is, you cannot make the positive/negative test the criteria for judging the source of a teaching or truth.
Again remember the story in Acts 16 of the woman possessed with a spirit of divination that met the Apostle Paul’s team as they brought the Gospel to Europe. What was said by the woman was positive, “These be servants of the most high God,” but it covered a lie that her masters got their power from the same source these men of God did. On another occasion Paul included a negative sounding (judgment to come) doctrine in his preaching and witness to the Roman Governor Felix in Acts 24:25. Last time I checked Acts is in the New Testament age of grace.
If you don’t like negative sounding sermons, you’ll not like to hear God’s Word, but you will be fulfilling the prophecy of Scripture in 2 Timothy 4:2-4. Of course we don’t need more negative talking of unbelief, fear, doubt. We don’t need to preach condemnation upon those justified by faith whose judgment fell upon Jesus. We do need the negative sounding truths that have a positive effect. We need to read, hear, submit, and stick to our entire Bible not just favorite portions. The love of God poured forth in our hearts actually rejoices in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). Be loyal to the Truth of God’s Word whether it is positive sounding or not.