Salvation - Sin & Repentance

Sometimes People Get Angry When I Preach

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
If anyone is going to be angry at what I preach, I pray it will be for the right reason.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase


If anyone is going to be angry at what I preach, I pray it will be for the right reason.

Sometimes people get angry when I preach. Here are a few examples: A radio listener wrote to condemn me as a false teacher because I preached the doctrine of eternal security - that the individual who is truly saved by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is secure in Christ forever. The "worship pastor" of a large Purpose-Driven church wrote to berate me for preaching that God commands worship on His terms, not the world's. Another person wrote to condemn me for preaching against the Old Testament legalism that predominates in Messianic Judaism. I encountered clergymen who ridicule my preaching that justification by faith alone is at the heart of the Gospel. A Roman Catholic wrote to protest our stand against the placement of church tradition in authority over Holy Scripture.

May I repent of my sin if someone ever gets angry because I preached something that is contrary to Scripture. But the individuals above are all "kicking against the goads" of clear, Biblical truth. They have a problem not with my words, but with God's Word.

The Word Through Paul Incited Riots

This poor preacher is in good company. The Apostle Paul had the same experience many times. On several recorded instances - and we know not how many others - his preaching actually started riots. On one occasion all Paul did was to speak of "the hope of the resurrection of the dead" and it incited a riot between the Pharisees and Sadducees that became so violent that Romans soldiers had to rescue Paul from being killed by the mob. "[T]he commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks." (Acts 23:10)

On another occasion the makers of shrines to the pagan goddess Diana rioted at Ephesus because Paul preached the Gospel of the one true and living God, jeopardizing their livelihoods. They incited the entire city into an uproar, and Paul was again in danger for his life until the authorities intervened (Acts 19:21-41).

On yet another occasion, when Paul preached against the idolatry of the people of Lystra, he was stoned, dragged outside the city, and left for dead (Acts 14:8-20). But after several days recovering in Derbe, Paul returned to Lystra undaunted, and "strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God' " (Acts 14:22).

A Different Kind of Indignation

However, on other occasions Paul's preaching produced a different kind of indignation. In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul upbraided them in no uncertain terms for tolerating sin among their own number, a sin of immorality such "as is not even named among the [pagan] Gentiles - that a man has his father's wife" (1 Corinthians 5:1). We understand, from his second letter to them, that the Corinthians became indignant - but in a far different way.

Paul observed that "I made you sorry with my letter" (2 Corinthians 7:8). The Greek word translated "sorry" [elupesa] speaks of being offended because what has been said makes one extremely uncomfortable. Paul went on to say that "I do not regret it, though I did regret it." The sense is that he did not at all regret telling them the truth of God's Word, but he regretted that their departure from Biblical truth into a dangerous mixture of Christianity and worldly philosophy had made it necessary. But then he tells them,

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. (2 Corinthians 7:9-11)

The church repented of its sin of tolerance of unspeakable evil. The one engaged in the evil repented. Paul exhorted them to restore him to the fellowship of the church (2 Corinthians 2:3ff).

Preaching the Word Without Reservation

Do I regret preaching the Word of God in its fullness, without reservation? No indeed. May God ever give me the wisdom and boldness to do so. May I be able to say, as Paul said to the Ephesians elders, "I have not shunned [Greek hupesteilamon, been unwilling through timidity] to declare to you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). The people above who condemned me were not condemning my counsel, but the counsel of God. My grave responsibility is to be a faithful preacher of it. As the Holy Spirit through Paul wrote to young Timothy, and to every preacher of the Word:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5)

If anyone is going to be angry at what I preach, I pray it will be for the right reason - because I have spoken Biblical truth unmixed with error, and God the Holy Spirit has used that truth to prick the conscience of a Christian who needs to repent of un-Biblical thinking or living, or of an unbeliever who needs to cry out, like the Philippian jailer, "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30). And if that is the cry of your heart today, please contact us. It will be our privilege to show you the answer from God's Word.


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