When I was speaking at the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse, I invited a local associate pastor and youth leader to campus. Initially, he was very enthusiastic about my ministry. However, as the crowd (including many professing Christians) vehemently turned against me, he sided with them. He led the throng in denouncing me and he jumped up on my makeshift platform and renounced me as a false prophet. Since he had gained the crowd's attention, the expedient thing was for me to step down and let him have his say. He summed up his brief message on "love" with an invitation: "You come to First Church Sunday morning. We won't PREACH to you!"
I was infuriated when this so-called full gospel pastor told them they would not hear PREACHING at his church. I leaped on a bench, rebuked the pastor and began to PREACH harder than ever. Eventually I regained the crowd's attention but the pastor continued fighting against the work of God through the next day.
Like most ministers, this man allowed the world to determine his approach to evangelism. At first he had thought my preaching was great but when he saw the students respond with mockery and ridicule he became discouraged and decided "there must be a better way."
The church has heard the world say, "This preaching turns us off, don't preach to us!" So Christians on campus try "rap" sessions, debates on evolution versus creation, book tables, distribution of tracts, Christian movies, contemporary Christian singing groups or picnics--anything but preaching. Can you imagine the apostles going to Corinth or Athens and setting up a book table?
Jesus said, "Go into all the world and PREACH the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15,16).
What ye hear in the ear, PREACH ye upon the housetop" (Mark 10:27).
"How shall they hear without a PREACHER?" (Romans 10:14).
"God manifested his word through PREACHING" (Titus 1:3).
George Whitefield who was a leading figure in the Great Awakening in Colonial America said, "I believe I never was more acceptable to my Master than when I was standing to teach those hearers in the open fields...I now preach to ten times more people than I should, if I had been confined to the churches."
Eighteenth century England did not succumb to the ravages of the French Revolution partly because John Wesley reached the discontented masses through field preaching. His message was so strong that even though he was ordained in the Church of England he was not welcome in most of the established church pulpits of his day. On June 6, 1742 after being refused permission to preach in his dead father's former pulpit, Wesley stood
on his tombstone and declared the text, "The Kingdom of Heaven is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Later he said, "I am well assured that I did far more good to my Lincolnshire parishioners by preaching three days on my father's tomb than I did by preaching three years in his pulpit."
Wesley reluctantly entered the arena of open-air preaching, "I would have thought the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in a church...What marvel the devil does not love field preaching. Neither do I: I love a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. But where is my zeal if I do not trample all these underfoot in order to save one more soul?"
Charles Spurgeon, often called the "Prince of Preachers," remarked in the nineteenth century, "It would be very easy to prove that revivals of religion have usually been accompanied, if not caused, by a considerable amount of preaching out of doors, or in unusual places."
Paul charged Timothy to "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:2). The Amplified Version powerfully brings out this text: "Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency (stand by, be at hand and ready, whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it be welcome or unwelcome, you as a preacher of the Word are to show people the way their lives are wrong) and convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching."
Our generation has seen very few preachers of this kind in our churches or anywhere else. Many who name the name of Christ are are ashamed of preaching and fiercely oppose any public proclamation of the message of repentance "toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus."
"For the PREACHING of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us that are saved it is the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:18).
True Christians should not be discouraged when they see the world regard preaching as foolishness. This is precisely the response the Holy Spirit warned that we would receive. The apostles were regularly mocked, ridiculed, spat upon, mobbed, beaten, imprisoned, stoned and martyred. To a degree all of these things have happened to us on campus. Jesus said to his unbelieving kindred, "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, the works thereof are evil" (John 7:7).
Paul said, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (Ephesians 5:11). Only when Christians begin to cry out against everything that is wicked and evil in this generation will there be revival. The church wants to be loved and accepted by the world.
Jesus said: "If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:18,19).
Let us love people enough to warn, reprove and rebuke them for their sins, risking their rejection.
But some insist, "You will turn them off." I say, they are already off. Indeed, we do drive most of them even further away. But so did Jesus, who remarked, "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: But now they have no cloak for their sin."
You're preaching the wrong way and no one will get saved after this," cried a "Christian" girl as I spoke to a crowd of 200 at the University of Hawaii in l986.
Suddenly, an oriental man, named Paul, sprang from the crowd and testified, "I was born again ar a result of hearing Brother Jed preach several years ago. I heckled him in his last visit to campus, but he challenged me to seek God with my whole heart. I accepted his invitation, found the Lord and am now a leader in Maranatha Fellowship on campus."
Later another man told me privately, "Brother Jed, I decided to get serious with God after hearing you preach here five years ago.
Today I am on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ.
A third person I had rebuked as "cigarette sucking sinner," but he related that he was now an elder in his church.
A girl named Lisa told Sister Cindy, "The first day that I heard you I laughed. The second day I got angry, but the third day I listened.
Jesus said, Judge not according to appearances, but judge righteous judgement" (John 7:24). Many make the mistake of judging what's going on in the student's heart by their outward reaction. I have found over the years the ones that seem the most bothered are often the very ones the Holy Spirit is convicting. The Hawaiian girl who criticized my methods was judging by outward appearance, therefore blinded to the fact that, "It pleased God by the foolishness of PREACHING to save them that believe"(I Corinthians 1:21).
Charles G. Finney, one of America's greatest evangelists, taught that preachers were to expose all the sinner's hiding places and take sides with God against sin. Finney wrote in Revivals of Religion, "Ministers should never rest satisfied, until they have ANNIHILATED every excuse of sinners. The plea of 'inability' is the worst of excuses. It slanders God so, charging Him with infinite tyranny, in commanding men to do that which they have no power to do. Make the sinner see and feel that this is the very nature of his excuse. Make the sinner see that all pleas, in excuse for not submitting to God, are acts of rebellion against Him. Tear away the last LIE which he grasps in his hand, and make him feel that he is absolutely condemned before God."
Many "Christians," like the pastor I met in LaCrosse, side with the sinner against God. These hypocrites are hiding their own sins with a cloak of sympathy. My purpose is to rip off every transgressor's cloak and bare them stark naked before God and man. When they discover their nakedness, most, like Adam, will vainly attempt to hide from God. But a few, like the woman at the well, will seek for the garments of salvation and the robes of righteousness.
Most people were worse off after hearing Jesus because they rejected what he had to say. Those who hear the Word will either open their hearts to it or harden their hearts. The Bible makes clear that most will harden their hearts. "For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13,14).
Regardless of how much evidence men are confronted with most will refuse to believe the claims of Christianity because believing requires men to forsake their sins. Jesus said: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved" (John 3:19,20).
The last thing the sinner wants to do is give up his sins for he loves sin and hates righteousness. If we are going to be successful in bringing a revival to America, we must do just the opposite. We must love righteousness and hate sin.
According to the Father, the key to Jesus' powerful anointing was that he "loved righteousness, and hated iniquity" (Hebrews 1:9). But, alas, men who profess to follow Christ have come to tolerate and excuse sin in their own lives, in the church and in the world and only do mouth service to righteousness. Paul wrote "Awake unto righteousness and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God; I speak this to your shame" (I Corinthians 15:34). If we are going to have the Lord's anointing it will take much more than the laying on of hands. We must meet the condition of loving righteousness and hating iniquity.
David, a man after God's heart, considered a rebuke from a righteous man to be an expression of kindness, "Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head" (Psalm 141:5).
The Key to Paul's Success
Paul said, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (II Corinthians 5:11). If we are going to successfully bring men to repentance and faith we must know the terror and wrath of an angry God against this rebellious generation. Paul saw multitudes and multitudes in the valley of decision about to fall into the pit of hell. He knew the terror of the Lord!
There needs to be a revival of the knowledge of the "wrath of God which is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18)." The day is coming when God will arise in furious rage against every sinner because of his willful rebellion against what he knows to be true through natural revelation, the Bible, tradition, and his reason and conscience.
No one has matured into a state in which he should not fear God.
Even Jesus feared his Father (Hebrews 5:7). If the only begotten Son feared God, how much more should we, his adopted sons, fear him?
Remember that: "By faith, Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith" (Hebrews 11:7).
Jesus, Paul and Noah were not only motivated by love, but the fear of God also propelled them. This generation knows not the fear of the Lord. Hence there is little concern for the souls of men. What evangelistic efforts exist are feeble in the light of Biblical evangelism. Since the church world is so ignorant of the fear of God, it lacks wisdom and understanding. It lacks the burning zeal that motivated Jesus, the apostles and the prophets of old.
W.E. Vine's dictionary of New Testament words defines it as more than a "fear of his power and righteous retribution, but a wholesome dread of displeasing him."
"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil" (Proverbs 8:31). Those that fear God "love righteousness and hate iniquity." Our love for God is equal to our hatred for sin. Where there is a furious hatred of iniquity, there is a blazing love for God. Where there is tolerance and indifference to evil, there is actual hatred for God.
The wrath of the Lamb was demonstrated when he drove the moneychangers out of the temple. "And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up" (John 2:17). If only men of our day would express a consuming fervor and intensity for righteousness and against sin, a mighty revival would sweep the land.
The leading minister in the Colonial Awakening was Jonathan Edwards. Large numbers of New Englanders were enormously stirred by his best known sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"--a sermon on the painfully suggestive text "Their foot shall slide in due time." The message usually resulted in great distress and weeping, as sinners were deeply impressed and bowed down with an awful conviction of sin and its dangers.
When Felix listened to Paul concerning faith in Christ, he trembled as Paul reasoned of "righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come" (Acts:24:25).
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 9:10). The end of wisdom is love. Contemporary evangelism trys to start people at the finish line instead of the starting line which is the fear of God. The sinner's character is selfish. Therefore, to appeal initially with love will not usually get his attention because he is not interested in love but covetousness. Yet all men have considered the possibilities of eternity. To appeal to their fears of a day of retribution and eternal torment will more likely capture their attention because of their innate concern for self-preservation. When there is evidence that the sinner is afraid of God, then it is time for the evangelist to shift his emphasis to God's love in order to bring the sinner across the finish line into the Kingdom of God.
Jesus forewarned, "And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him" (Luke 12:4-5).
It is amazing that man has more fear of man than God. Fears of what others will think has kept many out of the Kingdom. The conflict between the fear of man and the fear of God, with the fear of God ultimately triumphing, is illustrated in the following testimony of Kevin. He heard me preach at the University of Iowa and after graduation went on to become a policeman and eventually a lawyer:
"I had listened to an older gentleman preach for about four hours to a group of 500 screaming and heckling university students. I was ashamed to have been from the same college as they, as they jeered and mocked at both the preacher and the Bible from which he spoke. His view of God as a loving yet holy governor of the Universe contrasted sharply with the do-what-you-please-everything-is tolerable image of God most of the students had adopted.
"As the day wore on I felt that God was moving on my heart. Each Scripture the preacher quoted rang out as truth, even though I had never really read the Bible myself. Each time he mentioned various sins my heart would jump and something deep down was crying out, 'He's right! He's right!' I had never felt such an awareness of sin before. I had never had such an awareness of the fact that one day I would stand before God and try to explain my life's actions to Him.
"All of a sudden my 'good deeds' didn't seem to amount to much. Recalling all those Sundays in church services, while hypocritical actions followed the rest of the week, only magnified the conviction and guilt that I felt was rightfully upon me.
"And then it happened. The gentleman stopped preaching and confronted his audience. The words that came from his mouth seemed to cause a war in my mind. Fear rushed throughout my body. He said, "I have preached long enough. Who will commit himself to serve the Lord Jesus Christ? Let him come down here in the midst of this crowd and bravely take his stand for the One who eagerly died to save his soul.'
"The screaming crowd became silent. Heads began to turn to and fro to see if anyone would be converted to Christ. My heart pounded within me. I began to sweat. It really seemed to me that the entire world stood still.
"I wish that I could say that I got up that day and walked to where the preacher stood. I wish that I could tell you that the anticipation of the laughter of the crowd could not dissuade me from doing what was right. I wish that I could tell you that my desire to serve God Almighty outweighed my fear of what those around me thought. I wish that I could here write these things.
"...Yes, I praise God for having compassion on me and forgiving me from my sins! Indeed, the man I am today and the wimp I was the day I feared to stand up for the One who stood up for me are two different people. God's mercy was upon me, and shortly after the preaching episode above, by God's miraculous grace, I was transformed from a prideful coward into a son of the Living God."
Oh, that men like Kevin would once again tremble upon hearing the WORD.
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Evangelicals emphasize Mark's account of the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to his disciples to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel." But most of them stop at preaching. They exclude Jesus' final promise, included in Mark's account, that certain signs would follow believers.
As we travel the campuses we pray for God to confirm his Word with signs. One day while I was preaching at Princeton University a women's "libber" who had been contending with me all afternoon was suddenly grabbed by a wild-eyed male student who began cursing her, shouting "Get thee to hell! Get thee to hell!"
The following day the student newspaper gave a vivid account of what had happened next:
Several onlookers attempted to restrain the attacker while Smock began to speak in Latin. The assailant continued to struggle and shout until Smock commanded him to stop "in the name of Jesus Christ." On hearing that, the assaulter dropped his hands to his sides and said, "Okay."
My command gave the whole campus tangible evidence to the authority of the name of Jesus over devils.
The assailant quickly left the scene and the distraught female was comforted by her friends. Several minutes later security officers arrived, concluded that I was the source of the problem and ordered me to leave campus. Since it was late in the day, I did not question their authority.
The next day I met with the dean of students to get permission to return to campus. He had a letter prepared for me stating that I was "persona non grata" at Princeton University and threatened me with arrest should I return. When I attempted to reason with the dean, I discovered that he had no fear of God and was ignorant of spiritual things. He informed me that the attacker did not remember a thing about the incident. The dean thought that I had a hypnotic control over the young man. He did not understand that I had power over the demons to cast them out of the student.
I left the campus to preach at Rutgers University that afternoon. For days after I pondered what Jonathan Edwards, who was one of Princeton's early presidents, would have thought if he were aware of the spiritual darkness that exists at the university today.
Like Jonathan Edwards I am known as a hell fire and brimstone preacher. Many professing Christians object that I am preaching too much on God's wrath and judgment.
One day a girl said to me, "You need to tell those students how much God loves them--that is what they need to hear."
I addressed the crowd of about 200 and asked, "How many agree with her?" Almost everyone raised their hands. Whereupon I responded, "If you are convinced God loves you, how come you are not serving him?"
The crowd quieted down. Another question. "How many believe anyone who is not a Christian is going to hell?" Very few hands went up. One more question, "How many believe that Jesus hates sin?" Even fewer hands went up. I turned to the girl and said, "This is what they need to hear. They have heard your message of love and refused it, so I must warn them that they are going to get God's wrath and judgment."
Certainly, the Bible teaches that "God is love" but the scriptures also describe our God as a "consuming fire." Few people realize that the wrath and judgment of God against sin is a manifestation of his love. It is more important to be motivated by LOVE than to preach about LOVE. God's Word says: "My little children let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth (I John 3:18).
Jesus was motivated by love but he only speaks of God's love for humanity in six verses of the four Gospels. In 163 verses he speaks of wrath, hell, condemnation and judgment. Nowhere in the Book of Acts is the love of God even mentioned but the fear of God is referred to six times.
The real issue facing the world and the church is not the fact that God loves humanity. Very few people deny this. The real question is does humanity love God? A popular poster in hippie pads of the sixties proclaimed, "God is love." The love of God generally proclaimed to this generation is not the love of God at all but a humanistic love presented in the name of God.
The test of real love is given by our Lord Jesus Christ "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). "This is the love of God that we keep his commandments" (I John 5:3).
Those who love God will obey God. Those who obey him not, love him not. They may have emotional feelings for God but if their love does not produce obedience then they are lost in their trespasses and sins and headed for HELL.
A popular tract used on campus is called "The Four Spiritual Laws." It cannot be denied that this tract has been used to win souls, however it has serious weaknesses that have produced counterfeit conversions. A study of Jesus' methods of evangelism shows the fallacies of this witnessing tool. The chief problem with the tract is that it professes to be presenting laws to bring people to the Lord but it ignores the moral law of God which the Bible says "is our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ" (Galatians 3:24).
Considering the first "law" the tract shares will illustrate my point. It says, "God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life." The statement, God loves you, is a spiritual truth but it is not the moral law of God which the scriptures say shows a man his need for the Savior.
Jesus summed up the moral law by preaching what could be called the two spiritual laws.
One day a lawyer asked Jesus, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?"
Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40).
Love God supremely and your neighbor equally. This is what the Bible is all about and it was the emphasis in Jesus' teaching. Contemporary evangelism has separated God's love from his law. This is one of the oldest heresies in Christendom: antinomianism. The result has been humanism in the name of Christ. This has intensified the lawlessness and rebellion of this generation and comforted the sinner in his sins.
Charles Finney taught the Christians are to testify by precept and example, "to the love of Christ... by the regard you show for His precepts, His honor, His kingdom. You should act as if you believed that He died for the sin of the whole world, and as if you blamed sinners for rejecting His great salvation. This is the only legitimate way in which you can impress sinners with the love of Christ. Christians, instead of this, often live so as to make the impression on sinners that Christ is so compassionate that they have very little to fear from Him. I have been amazed to see how a certain class of professors want ministers to be always preaching about the love of Christ. If a minister urges Christians to be holy, and to labor for Christ, they call it 'legal' preaching. They say they want to hear the gospel. Well, suppose you present the love of Christ. How will they bear testimony in their lives? How will they show that they believe it? Why, by conformity to the world they will testify, point-blank, that they
do not believe a word of it, and that they care nothing at all for the love of Christ, only to have it for a cloak, that they can talk about it, and so cover up their sins."
Evangelists should emphasize man's duty to God and his neighbor. It is the moral (spiritual) law of God that must be taught the sinner.
Martin Luther in his Preface to Romans, writes, "The first duty of the Gospel preacher is to declare God's law and show the nature of sin." He was convinced that a man would never see his Savior until he saw his sin!
But some disagree and say: "You don't have to tell unbelievers they are sinners; they already know that."
I say, if they know, then they have not learned much at school because the humanistic philosophy has brainwashed students, teaching that men are naturally good. The Bible instructs that men are basically evil because they are in rebellion against God. Sin is not in the vocabulary of this perverse generation. Even students, who will acknowledge wrongdoing, still believe that they are basically moral people whose good deeds outweigh their bad deeds. The evangelist must impress on them that they are wicked to the core. There is not anything good about them. All their righteousness is as filthy rags in the sight of a holy GOD.
The law brings the sinner to a knowledge of sin. Paul said: "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped and the world may become guilty before God . . . for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:19,20).
Paul described the work of the law in his own pre-conversion experience, "But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire . . ." (Romans 7:8). He added, "I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet" (Romans 7:7).
As I preach Gods's commandments on campus it brings out the worst in my audience because the law reaches deep into the sinner's heart and pulls out his true motives.
Three graduate students, puzzled by the antagonism of the students, invited me out to dinner when I was speaking at the University of Southern Illinois.
One of them said to me, "Brother Jed, we have been listening to you preach since we were freshman. We have always wanted to ask you why the students behave as they do when you preach to them. Normally, they aren't that bad. We recognize that they are sinners but usually they aren't as gross, lewd and disrespectful as they are when you preach. We can't figure out their behavior. We room with them, eat and study with them. Usually they aren't like that. Could you explain their behavior?"
"Yes, I can. Your sinner is like a garbage can," I replied. "Basically, there are two types of sinners. One represented by a garbage can which is painted nicely, without a dent, which always has its lid on. This is your sinner who has actually come to college to get an education and does not spend his substance in revelling and riotous living. The second sinner is represented by a can in which the paint is chipped with dents on the side with a lid that is often ajar. This represents most students who have come to college because it's a good place to party while someone else foots the bill. He spends his time in drunkenness and debauchery. Both sinners try to keep the lids on their cans because they want to leave the impression that they are basically good people. They try to cover their sins. The first sinner is much more conscientious about covering his sins than the second. But both cans are filled with garbage. Their sin is always present with them.
I continued, "You might call me God's garbage man. I come in the power of the Holy Spirit and with the law of God pull the lids off their cans. All the stench and stink of sin comes fuming out. As God's garbage man I make a lot of noise and commotion. Finally, I take the water of the Gospel and hose them out. Gentlemen, you are seeing the students for what they truly are but most of the time they cover up their rotteness."
Admittedly, my ministry brings out the worst in people. But some, at the end of the day, will return to the privacy of their rooms and reflect on their behavior with shame. For the first time they will see themselves for what they really are--decadent, depraved and degenerate.
The sinner to be saved must admit to more than wrongdoing. He must see how utterly malignant, cunning, repulsive, deadly and damnable his sin is. Until he realizes the exceeding sinfulness of sin, he will never see the great love of his Saviour. The sinner must be convinced that he has stood against God. Realizing this, some may try to reform but eventually they will recognize their failure to be righteous.
My duty is to thrust in the sword until the sinner cries "O wretched man that I am! What must I do to be saved? How shall I escape from the bondage of sin?"
Only at this point can the sinner appreciate the precious atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. Desperate for deliverance he will throw himself upon Christ for salvation from the slavery of sin.
Then my purpose is accomplished: these cans of garbage are transformed into "vessels unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (II Timothy 2:12).
Sister Cindy has often reflected, "The kindest thing anyone ever said to me was when Jed Smock said, 'Repent of your sins, you wicked woman.' This was the first time anyone ever told me the truth about myself."
There is an old adage, "The truth hurts." But actually it is the lie that hurts, destroys and kills. The truth heals, the truth sets free, the truth brings life. Granted, the truth stings.
A common criticism of our ministry is our name calling. Labeling individuals as whores, whoremongers, perverts, queers, drunkards, dope fiends, wimps, etc. We have been accused of saying that all students fall into one or more of these categories or that all fraternity boys are drunkards and all sorority girls are whores.
"You are generalizing," our critics cry.
"Sure we are generalizing," I reply, "but a generalization by definition implies exceptions." Of course there are morally upright college students but the fact is that most are engaging in gross sin.
The last taboo is for an individual to tell people what they are doing is wicked and sinful and condemning. Regrettably, most Christians have come to honor this taboo. They will sometimes say, "I can show you a better way of living," but rarely would they say to the crowd, "You are wicked, sinful and condemned." They know not the Proverb, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Proverbs 27:6).
Jesus called individuals names and condemned people. He called the King a fox. He called two of his disciples devils. He referred to a Gentile woman as a dog. He exposed the unbelieving Jews as children of the devil. He called the religious leaders "vipers, hypocrites, blind guides, fools, and white-washed tombs." Not only does Jesus rebuke and condemn individuals and groups but he declares his generation to be "faithless and perverse and adulterous." He curses whole cities "Woe unto you Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum" (Matthew 11:21-24). Finally, he curses the world: "Woe unto the world because of offenses (Matthew 18:7).
I have been accused countless times of calling individual girls whores. Often I have been even accused of calling Christian girls whores. Usually the story goes like this, that a very spiritual Christian girl was passing by where I was preaching and I called her a whore for wearing jeans. She then goes crying to her roommate, Christian brother, or youth pastor that I called her a whore.
Many times when I have ministered in churches I have had to defend myself against this charge. The truth is we never haphazardly pick people out and personally rebuke them. Unless a person has first publicly confronted us, as a rule we do not personally rebuke an individual. I don't believe a girl is a whore just because she wears tight designer jeans, even though she might look like a girl of the streets.
So how is it these "Christian" girls are so convinced that I called them whores? I am persuaded that it is usually the conviction of the Holy Ghost. They have heard me make a general statement addressed to the crowd against lewd behavior or maybe even dress, and the Holy Ghost personalizes it to their consciences. They don't want to admit to a reproof from the Spirit so they blame me, so that they may continue in their sin and receive comfort from their hypocritical or perhaps simply naive Christian friends.
Some know that I did not personally call them a whore, but claim that I did, in the hopes of discrediting my ministry in church society. Of course unbelieving girls that I have allegedly reproved for whoredoms don't know the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Understandably, they might conclude that it was I who called them a bad name.
Since I speak with such passion, people assume that I am governed by my emotions and consequently say things I might not have intended to say. Nothing could be further from the facts. Virtually everything I say is calculated. I know precisely the response my sayings will elicit from the crowd. Situations I encounter are typical and most of them I have faced thousands of times in my two decades on campus. I have a reason for every word, every gesture, and every tone of voice I employ.
Of course few students attempt to cover their sins. They are typically very brazen in openingly declaring and defending their sins. These we publicly and personally rebuke, sparing not. It never ceases to amaze me to hear these college girls confess with pride before hundreds of their classmates in detail to committing the most vile of acts with their boyfriends or girlfriends. Then they have the audacity to object when I call them what they are, whores.
At the University of Florida there was an attractive coed named Judy who was also very lewd and vulgar. Judy was a gross sinner and wanted everyone to know it. Therefore, each year I would rebuke her personally and use her as an example of what a woman should not be. Her junior year, however, I ignored her. One day, desperate for attention, dressed in her typical attire of short, short-shorts, she added a T-shirt with an obscene word on the front. Again I ignored her. At the end of the day she asked Cindy, "What is wrong with Brother Jed, doesn't he like me anymore? He hasn't rebuked me once this year."
Proverbs 27:5 says, "Open rebuke is better than secret love."
Jesus had enough love for the rich young ruler that he put his finger on his sin of covetousness. When are Christians going to show enough love for the lost to follow Christ's example of ministry?
Paul warned, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret" (Ephesians 5:11-12). In reproving the shamelessly wicked it is a shame that we have to be as explicit as we are in exposing their vileness in order to capture and maintain their attention.
Often we are criticized as being too vulgar. Of course there is no doubt that we are vulgar at times and with the passing of the years have become more coarse. We say things out on campus that I would never say from a church pulpit or in polite society (where it still exists).
Vulgarity coming from one not expected to be vulgar can have a shock value which might startle the carelessly lewd into an awareness of his own depravity.
There is a Biblical principle behind this stratagem: "With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward" (Psalms 18:25-26).
To be froward is to be perverse or contrary or stubborn. The point in these verses is that God often responds in kind. For instance, with vulgar people he will reveal himself in a vulgar manner.
God related a shocking object lesson to Judah by directing Isaiah to walk naked and barefoot for three years for a sign that Judah should not trust in Egypt or Ethiopia for deliverance from the Assyrians because these two nations would be captured and stripped by Assyria (Isaiah 20).
God told Ezekiel to bake his bread with dung that comes out of a man as a sign to Israel that God would send judgment resulting in them eating defiled bread among the Gentiles. Only after Ezekiel protested did God allow him to use cow's dung (Ezekiel 4).
Ezekiel used lewd language to expose in a parable the insatiable lewdness of two sisters representing Samaria and Jerusalam both grown old in their adultries: " And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them. So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister. Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt. For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses. Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth" (Ezekiel 23:17-21).
When shown the scriptures our critics will admit that Jesus could be harsh and did call people names, then they argue, "But you're not Jesus."
"The Bible shows you utterly ignorant," I reply. "He that saith he abideth in Christ ought himself also to walk, even as He walked!" (I John 2:6).
"Now you're judging us," they puff.
"Judge not, judge not," they scream. "The Bible says not to judge."
"Quote on, sinners! You know part of one Bible verse; now quote the following verses and put it in its context."
Usually, Matthew 7:1 is quoted to me several times a day. I have never met a sinner who cannot quote at least part of it. Nor have I ever met a sinner who is able to accept my challenge to put the verse in its context.
Let us examine the entire passage:
"Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged' and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdst thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considereth not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how will thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye" (Matthew 7:1-5).
Notice that "judge not" is NOT a universal admonition; it is directed to the hypocrite--one who condemns others for what he himself does (Romans 2:3). The Lord is rebuking hypocrites for their unfair judgments. The beam symbolizes sin. The believer by faith in Christ has cast the beam out of his eye (life). Now he can see clearly to cast the sin out of the lives of others because his judgment is no longer blurred by his own sin. In the same chapter Jesus warns us, "Beware of false prophets" (verse 15). How can we recognize a false messenger if we do not judge?
Many who piously quote, "Judge not," do not see their own inconsistency in condemning those who judge righteously.
The Lord Jesus commanded, "judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24). He told a man, "Thou hast rightly judged" (Luke 7:43). To others our Lord asked, "Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?" (Luke 12:57).
The Apostle Paul wrote, "He that is spiritual judgeth all things" (I Corinthians 2:15). Paul reminded us, "Do ye not know that the saints (Christians) shall judge the world? Know ye not we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life" (I Corinthians 6:23).
In fact, it is our duty and responsibility to judge according to the truth of God's Word. We must "Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good" (Romans 12:9).
Indeed, God has given us the Bible so that we might judge right from wrong, good from evil and truth from error.
But students cry the more, "You are condemning us, you are condemning us, Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery."
In John 8 we have one of the best known and most misunderstood stories in the Bible. In this narrative our basic message is simply illustrated. "Make Jesus your Lord, and stop sinning."
Admittedly Jesus did not condemn this woman but throughout the gospels we do find Him condemning the scribes and Pharisees. He warned them, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matthew 23:33). Why did Jesus not condemn the woman but so often condemn the scribes and Pharisees? did he love them less? No. The Pharisees refused to repent and believe in the Lord, whereas the woman repented.
When Jesus asked her, "Hath no man condemned thee?" She said, "No man, Lord."
This is repentance--calling on the Lord Jesus out of a sincere heart. Paul wrote: "If you shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:9,10,13).
This woman did not try to defend or excuse her sinful behavior as so many students do when we confront them. She knew she had done wrong and was willing to change or Jesus would never have forgiven her. Jesus did not condemn her because,through her faith in the Lord, she believed with her heart unto righteousness.
The scribes and Pharisees, in contrast, walked away, each convicted by their own consciences which told them that they were wrong; but still they refused to repent and believe. They refused to follow Jesus. So it is with most students. The Word of God convicts their consciences, showing them their sins. But instead of repenting most, sooner or later, walk away. Some stay around and ask questions to test us. Others will mock or heckle.
They will do anything but repent.
When some see that mocking and heckling does not discourage us they resort to violence, like Cain who slew his brother. The Bible says "And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil and his brother's were righteous" (I John 3:12).
To learn more about confrontational evangelism read Bro. Jed's autobiography Who Will Rise Up? at the link below:
To look at the topic of judging from a Biblical point of view read the following article written by our daughter Evangeline: Judge Not