I’m sure you’ve heard a few sermons on why someone should give their life to Jesus.
One reason that’s often given is so that a person can go to heaven after they die. Another reason is so a person can have wonderful life filled with joy, peace, and happiness.
While both of these points are true, if these are the only truths that are preached, then that message will fall short of painting the full picture of the gospel, and could cause more harm than good to the unconverted sinner.
I was guilty of preaching a gospel message once in which the compelling reasons of why my audience should give their life to Jesus was so they could go to heaven and have a happy life.
The problem is that many non-believers believe that there is a heaven but that there isn’t a hell.
I mean com’on, who wants to think about an eternal place of torment for your sinful words, thoughts, and deeds?
Many people would rather believe that they will see be reunited with their loved ones in heaven rather than believe that they are going to perish in hell if they don’t repent of their sins and put their trust in Jesus.
The Problem With Preaching a Heaven and Happiness Gospel
Jeff was sitting in a pew last Sunday morning. His co-worker, Fred, had pleaded with him to come to church for months and Jeff finally caved in.
Jeff was skeptical about the Christian faith but he had to admit, the notion of a God who loved him was quite appealing. But he just wasn’t sure it was true.
As Jeff was sitting in church that morning, he began to think that if it turns out that heaven is real, then that would be an amazing thing.
You see, Jeff had recently lost his mom to cancer and the thought of seeing her again was extremely comforting.
That’s why Jeff decided to go to church with Fred that Sunday morning, to make up his mind if he should give Christianity a try.
As Jeff and Fred were sitting in the pew that morning, the Pastor began to give an altar call and this is what he said:
“If you give your life to Jesus, you’re never going to be sorry. If you will accept Jesus into your heart, then He will come into your life. He will change your life forever, your name will be written in the lamb’s book of life, and you will go to heaven.”
“Sounds like it might be a good idea,” Jeff thinks to himself skeptically. When an altar call is given, Jeff raises his hand because he wants to give Christianity a try.
What does he have to lose? Nothing.
If this Christianity thing is true, then at least he gets to go to heaven and see his mom again. If it isn’t true, then he’s lost nothing and at least he can become a better person in the process.
Creating False Converts
Is Jeff converted by this message? Absolutely not.
Jeff has not met the minimum requirements for salvation.
Jeff has not repented of his sins and neither has he put His trust in the Savior for his salvation.
You remember the parable of the sower and how a sower went out to plant seeds. Some seeds fell by the wayside, some fell on stony ground, some fell among the thorns, and some seeds fell on good soil.
Here was Jesus’s explanation of the parable:[sws_blockquote align=”left” alignment=”” cite=”-Mathew 13:18-23″ quotestyles=”style01″] When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.
But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. [/sws_blockquote]
The Bottom Line
Preaching a gospel message that centers around heaven and happiness produces seed sown in either the stony ground or on thorny ground.
Jeff will receive the gospel message with joy but when tribulation comes, he will remember the promises that the pastor made about happiness and conclude that it was a false message.
“How come Jesus isn’t fixing my problems? How come I’m experiencing pain and it isn’t going away?” Jeff will think to himself.
“Christianity is false…It makes all of these promises and it doesn’t deliver.” Jeff will say as he walks away from God.
So what should we be preaching instead?
We should be preaching the same message that Jesus preached.
Mathew 4:17 says, “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”
The Bottom Line: We need to tell people to repent and to put their trust in Jesus because this will maximize the number of true converts and minimize the number of false ones.
Do you agree?