Sweet and Severe
Larry Ray Hafley
The blessed gospel of Christ contains sweet, swelling words of hope and happiness. One might search Shakespeare and scale and scan the writing of any who have ever penned a line, and he would not find fonder dreams than those which bloom forth in the gospel of grace. Every one who loves the Lord and His truth loves to emphasize and italicize the words of comfort and consolation. It is as the Psalmist said, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth" (Psa. 119:103)!
However, we must not neglect, ignore, nor forget the words of sore admonition. The same Holy Spirit who by the hand of Paul wrote the great chapter of love, I Cor. 13, also wrote that, "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (2 Thess. 1: 7-9).
Preachers who constantly and continually preach soft, sweet sermons do not preach as did Paul. Before a Roman governor, Felix, Paul preached "concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled" (Acts 24:25). Paul said, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor. 5:11). The Hebrew writ4er said, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31).
Should people be frightened into obeying God? No, but people must be told, not only of salvation, but also of damnation. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:16). The righteous shall indeed go "into life eternal" (Matt. 25:46), but let us not forget that God shall render "tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil" (Rom. 2:6-11).
God's kindness and goodness which leads to repentance must be stressed, but his severity must also be brought to bear upon the hearts of men, "For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29).
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 7, p. 2