I am one upset pastor. The other day I read about the largest church in America. The auditorium is a refurbished basketball arena with over seventeen thousand weekly attendees. Apparently the building has no cross or any other religious symbols but does boast of two waterfalls and an arcade for video games amongst other amenities. I believe it takes in forty-eight million a year.
When the interviewer asked the relatively youthful pastor as to the phenomenal success, he responded, 'I preach a positive message! People come to my church hurting and I send them away with a message of hope and motivation. I believe God wants people to be happy and successful and I help people achieve the things they are seeking for in life.'
When the interviewer claimed that there were critics who said that his was 'Christianity lite' he again replied, not so, but rather he preached a message that was positive and uplifting and that sent the weary home with renewed hope and strengthened resolve to overcome and meet their goals in life.
When I saw this I wanted to ask this man if he ever mentioned sin from the pulpit, or human depravity, or of being lost, or of needing a Saviour? Or did he realize that in being positive he was being negative about pastors who speak on these things and no matter how hard one tries to be positive, if you are positive in one direction you automatically become negative about that which is the opposite? If you preach Jesus as the only way, you are negative towards those who don't; and if you preach there are many ways to God, you are negative towards those who claim that there is only one way to God. In a word this whole positive/negative thing is nonsense because if there is an AC there must be a DC.
Further, I wanted to say, 'Excuse me sir but I am a positive preacher! I preach the "good news" and the only good news this world has and ought to know. I, by God's mercy, preach the God of the Bible, who doesn't only want, but makes people holy in order that they might be happy. I preach the good news of Hosea the prophet, "You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Saviour except me" (Hosea 13:4b). I preach a Saviour who died on a cruel cross to save and redeem sinners like myself, and all to whom the Lord shows mercy. I preach a gospel that gives hope to those who are hell bound and point the way for them as to how they can gain heaven and glory. I am a positive preacher. True, I give bad news about man's utter inability to save himself, or herself, in order that I might give the good news of what God has done for us sinners, who cannot in any way save ourselves.'
I say that all pastors who preach faithfully the words of Scripture and lift up Christ and him crucified, are the most positive men in this whole wide world. They preach of a positive righteousness, a positive holiness, a positive salvation, a positive hope and a positive glory, and it is only Satan and his sycophants that are the negation of all that is holy and true.
Yes, I have a wonderful message and can say with Isaiah the prophet, 'Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost (Isaiah 55:1). I defy any preacher to get more positive than that.
According to John MacArthur in his book Hard to Believe, 'Mankind wants glory. We want health. We want wealth. We want happiness. We want all our felt needs met, all our human itches scratched. We want a painless life. We want the crown without the cross. We want the gain without the pain. We want the words of Christian salvation to be easy' (p. 12). Unfortunately it is not that simple. Recently I attended a funeral of a man who died three hours after he left the doctor's office having been treated for a pulled muscle in his left arm when he was having a heart attack. What would you rather have; a Dr. Positive (so called) who treats symptoms and gives aspirins or a Dr. Negative (so called) who treats the heart? No, I am not going to take it lying down because anyone who preaches the good news is a positive preacher even when he gives the bad news so that the good news might be received and embraced.
Editor Sovereign Grace Journal