Preaching Warning Passages

I was just reading a little commentary on Joel by Thomas Finley.  On page 38 he makes a comment that is worth our attention as preachers.  It’s not new, it’s not profound, but it’s easy to leave this out of the equation as we evaluate our ministry.

According to Finley, the prophets, such as Joel, “had the power as preachers to motivate people to repent on the basis of warning them of the judgment to come. Although the New Testament focuses on the Lord’s grace and mercy, the warnings of judgment are not absent there either. In light of Joel and the rest of Scripture, one might wonder whether contemporary pastors who tend to avoid “fire and brimstone” preaching in favor of a steady diet of mercy and forgiveness provide an incomplete presentation of God’s Word.”

While we must recognize that culturally our listeners have changed over recent decades, and consequently their appreciation for a dramatic and aggressive pulpit pounding has dropped, this does not mean we cannot preach warning of judgment.  The culture in which we preach, the people to whom we preach, behoove us to give careful attention to our tone, attitude, word choice and so on.  But the Bible text has not changed, and if we are to preach the whole counsel, then we will be preaching passages like Joel – heavy on warning, powerful in presentation of divine judgment.

The calling of expository preaching demands not only a sensitivity to our listeners, but an absolute commitment to hearing the Word of God, and presenting it accurately, faithfully and clearly.

One thought on “Preaching Warning Passages

  1. As a missionary I find that the contemporary church is sorely lacking in her understanding of grace. The reason? She does not understand the law. I mean, how can one fully appreciate the depth of grace without knowing the severity of punishment I deserve before a Holy God? He is Holy, I am not but grace made me what I was not into what I could not be. Justified!

    Both law and grace are the hemispheres of a complete picture painted with the brush of Jesus. Justice and mercy. Two things so different yet so one!

    May we feast on them both!

    John Whitener III
    Guadalajara, Mexico

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