All praise be to the Lord God for his mercy towards all who repent. Thanks be to Jesus Christ the high priest of our confession. O Lord guide us by your Holy Spirit to have a right understanding of people and situations in our daily life and in doing your will on earth. Amen.
When preaching the Gospel one may at times encounter people who reject Christ or even don’t want to repent of their sins. The basic course of action nowadays to is to pray, reflect on the Bible and attempt once again to preach the Gospel to such people. At times this does work and people do actually repent and believe in the Gospel. Praise God for that!
Now there are people who are very stubborn and just do not want to accept the Gospel no matter what. They don’t care at all. They don’t want to listen and are adamant with their sinful lifestyles. Are we to forever to keep having a go at them with our preaching?
The answer is a NO. Because even Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to keep on preaching forever to the persistently unrepentant. In fact here’s what he said to them:
Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. (Luke 10:5-12)
Nowadays, if you were to act like this towards persistent rejectors of the Gospel, you’d be said to be a very ‘unloving’ and ‘unchristian’ person. However, you can refute such malicious judgments against you by quoting the above verses and saying Jesus himself spoke them. Also, if a person is condemning you because you’ve warned the people who rejected the Gospel, you must realize that such a person has no clue about how the Gospel works. The warning is not about insulting those unbelievers but to show them that they made a wrong choice.
Let me make it real to you, suppose a person is on board a passenger aircraft which is about to crash in five minutes and the air hostess tells him to wear a parachute. This is so he can join with the other passengers who already are with parachutes and waiting their turn for the jump to safety. But that guy is instead insisting on sleeping. Besides he is refusing to look out of the window which can show him that the aircraft is actually losing altitude too fast. So at like the last two minutes, the air hostess who too is wearing a parachute is at the aircraft door and yells ‘You sir are delusional. Pick it up now and jump or be toast!’ and then jumps off to safety. However, this guy is even more offended and goes on to bear the grim consequences of the plane crash into the rocky ground. Can’t blame the air hostess for her grief that the man still refused her wise words.
A word of caution
People can react negatively if you say you wipe off the dust of their town because they rejected the Gospel. So pick the words of the warning wisely. You can say something like, “You’ve been given a good chance to hear the Gospel. I don’t know if you’d get it again so that you are truly free from sin and have eternal life.” or “Though you are entitled to your opinions against the Gospel, I certainly don’t agree to them. I continue to believe I’ve chosen the path of life and peace by accepting the Gospel.”
Fact: people may reject the Gospel
With that being said, one of points of the above verses mentioned in Luke 10:5-12 is that Jesus wanted his disciples to be mentally prepared to accept the fact that there will be people who’d reject the Gospel preached to them. Jesus didn’t tell them who exactly would be the rejectors of the Gospel. God knows best why at times we are not given a list of people who’d reject the Gospel. Wouldn’t that save our time? Yes but how will the scriptures be fulfilled? Our work is to preach the Gospel regardless of whether the person may or may not accept it. This is so that the world is given the testimony of salvation and only then can the end come. Here the specific verses:
But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13: 9-11)
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:9-14)
From these verses its very clear that the Gospel must be preached to all nations as a testimony to them and then the end will come. So you cannot be indefinitely hung up on preaching to that one person who made up his or her to keep rejecting the Gospel. You could have used that time to reach out to the next person whom God leads to you to, so that person could hear the Gospel and be set free.
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13-15)
Preach but don’t be taken for a ride
There are people who are still in need of the Gospel. Spend your time preaching it to them. Some of them may reject it but others will accept it. However, you will have given more people the Gospel. In fact more than just that one person who was being used by the Devil to limit your preaching only that one. Keep this in mind the next time you encounter such a person who enjoys getting cheap and profane thrills by rejecting the Gospels and then at the end you’d know that you are not the first person who tried to preach the Gospel. Yes, such vile crooks exist. They won’t say that they have been preached over many times but they don’t bother. They will just want to see how much they can wear you out after they have mocked the Gospel.
Do not give that which is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before the pigs, lest they shall trample upon them with their feet, and having turned, tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:6)
Some real life examples
I faced some situations in which people acted smart to play ignorant first and then try to attack. Here’s how it ended for two of them:
The first one, even before I’d say anything, he told me that he doesn’t want to repent and won’t trust a ‘deity’ who asks him to be pure. Somehow in my mind I realized that he seems to be aware of the Gospel’s call for repentance. He then asked me what is my reaction to what he said. I looked straight into his eyes and told him to go and live with the consequences of his decision. That was a shocker to him and he asked me if I want to try to convince him not be a sinner. He expected me to be super polite and keep saying ‘bless you’ while trying to convince him to accept the Gospel. Then since I was not bothered to preach to him, he mentioned he is aware of the Gospel but doesn’t want to accept it and has tackled many others who try to reform him. Again, I replied that it’s his choice and the consequences are his to bear. He was still astounded by my reply and I left him. This saved me from letting him have an ego trip at my expense.
The second one, at least this guy would come to speak to me and hear about the Gospel whenever he saw me. However he would not reply much. So I asked him to pray with me and he said he doesn’t have time to pray. Then I inquired how many times does he have food everyday, like is it 3 or 4 times. My intention was to get him to pray just before eating since he was not willing to pray with me. He said he doesn’t eat! So again I knew something’s not right with him and I asked if he at least eats once a day. And he again said he only smokes which make him not need food. Obviously that was a lie. Though a chronic smoker might have a reduced appetite it doesn’t mean it won’t take his need for food forever. So I let this one be stuck to his own logic. And started reaching out to others who were receptive to the Gospel.
An interesting fact
I’ve have heard and even noticed it for myself that on various social media websites, there are impious trolls who keep asking tricky questions about Christ and things of the Bible. Their idea is not to learn from Christians who may respond to their questions. It’s just to upset or confuse believers. Now, to the fact which I wanted to mention. Most of these trolls simply go to their precious little skeptic websites which they frequent and adore a lot. Lacking originality they simply copy paste those questions and then put them on social media websites usually those which have video sharing. Then come the debate sessions in form of comments between them and Christians. I simply copied those questions and did an online search which led me to the skeptic websites and also to Christian apologetic websites which already have a fitting answer those questions. Wonder why don’t these trolls visit Christian apologetic websites and get their answers from there instead. The obvious thing is that they won’t try to tackle those well versed in debates and refutations of their questions and allegations against the Gospel. Food for thought!
Finally what else must one remember
I’d say keep Jude 1:17-25 (mentioned below) in mind and you’ll do well. Here we go:
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
My friends be warned that legalism functions like a counterfeit of discipline. It mimics the roots but the fruits of legalism show its true character. Fruits do take a season or two to show up but God knows the heart.
Jesus our Lord gave respect to the poor widows offerings but didn’t have regard for those who were hypocritically giving offerings in the temple. Also from the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican we learn that though both went into the temple to pray to God only the humble Publican was justified as he acknowledged his sins unlike the self righteous Pharisee.
Attending church and attending to God must go hand in hand. The problem comes when someone proclaims his church attendance to his neighbours but secretly in church is only interested in being noticed as a pious individual by all. So as a result he has not been attending to God. There’s no way God is going to honour this.
The only thing worse than a hypocrite is a legalistic hypocrite. Jesus tackled legalistic hypocrites during his ministry on earth. He observed how the will of God was being tampered with legalism and was critical of it. Among one of his rebukes to them is the following:
For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:10-13)
Don’t get tricked by anyone who tells you to follow rules and traditions that are not consistent with the teachings of the Bible. If someone says that you need to donate money to prove that you love God remind that person that God loved us even when we were sinners. Nothing should stop you from giving financially for the preaching of the gospel in unreached areas. But its deception to get conned into paying money to prove your love of God.
Be vary of instructions by religious teachers who say to only speak well to church members of your own race or clan. Remember that the Lord doesn’t like racism in church even if you are not harming the other person.
Never get egged on by the notion that the more you fast the more grace you can earn. The grace of God cannot be earned. If grace could be earned it would not be grace. Fast because you want to spend time in prayer with God instead. Fast because you want to focus on things of the Spirit.
Remember that pilgrimages to holy places in Israel (or elsewhere) are not mandatory for your salvation. It’s good to have a ‘boots on the ground’ feel of places where Jesus walked but then again are you obligated to do that to be saved? You can be saved even if you have lived all your life in Idaho or wherever. You need to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved. Obviously that means that you repent and believe in the Gospel.
Discipline is much different than legalism. You still drink sufficient water whether others are offended by it or not. You have a bath even if others don’t. You still uphold the Gospel even if all others are sinning. We still provide food for our families regardless of the winter or rain, we don’t need to have a thousand laws to tell us that. It’s instinct, spiritual instinct that comes from God. For instance, you may hear just one sermon against witchcraft and you effectively resist all the lies of temptation to witchcraft years after the sermon. Instinct of the spirit is something that you need to have like your natural instincts and even more.
You can develop your spiritual instinct by praying to God and reading his Word which is the Bible. Pray in the Holy Spirit. Seek the presence of Christ when you pray. Read the testimonies of how various people left their wicked ways and led a holy life for Jesus. Learn how brave the early Christian martyrs were that they chose to die by execution rather than forsake Christ. Take delight in hearing of healings by God through his people on earth even for the worst of sinners. That’s when you realize that godly discipline is pristine and is to be cherished unlike legalism which is to be avoided totally.
I pray that you walk more in discipline and remain out of legalism. In the name of Jesus, for the glory God and by the Holy Spirit. Amen.