It Takes The Negative And The Positive

By Johnie Edwards

Contrary to the thinking of many today, it takes both negative and positive preaching and teaching to get the job done! A careful reading of the Bible will indicate that God requires both negative and positive teaching.

Thou Shalt And Thou Shalt Not

From God’s first instruction to man to the end of New Testament teaching, God has put his instructions in the form of “Thou Shalt” and “Thou Shalt Not.” The first man had positive things to do: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Then came the negative instructions: “But the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). A reading of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 will show us that God divided these commandments into two parts. Some positive things to be done, like, “Honor thy father and thy mother. . .” (Exod. 20:12); and then some things were of a negative nature. “Thou shalt not steal” (Exod. 20:15). A lot of preachers need to re-study this concept today.

God’s Instruction to Jeremiah

When God gave instructions to his prophet Jeremiah, he uttered, “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and to plant” (Jer. 1:10). As God called upon Jeremiah to deliver a fiery message, he divided the message into the negative and the positive. God used six terms in his message to Jeremiah. Four of these terms were of a negative nature: “root out, pluck up, destroy and throw down.” Then God used two terms to suggest the positive aspect of the message: “Build and to plant.” This is the same process we need to use in teaching the truth and dealing with error. We have far too many preachers who want to “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative,” to borrow some words of an old song. Four to two, may not be such a bad idea in gospel preaching!

To A Young Gospel Preacher

More evidence for the need of balanced preaching can be seen in Paul’s advice to the young gospel preacher, Timothy. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; re- prove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). Two elements of Timothy’s preaching were of a negative sort and one was of a positive view. Two to one! So both the negative and the positive type of preaching is necessary to carry out the Lord’s orders. Preachers who are too timid to preach both negative and positive sermons ought not be preaching.