Preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle in Los Angeles, CA, on January 8, 2002.
"THE TERROR OF THE LORD"
Second Corinthians 5.11
1. Turn in your Bible to Second Corinthians chapter 5. Thatís page 1233 in your Scofield Reference Bible. Before we read our text there are some things I would like you to consider.
2. There is a monumental struggle that we are engaged in to see you converted. We study and prepare, we pray and preach, we seek to persuade and exhort, all for the purpose of seeing you come to Christ.
3. From where you sit it may sometimes appear as though there is a tug of war between you and the preacher, whether it be me or Dr. Hymers, to see who is going to win this contest of wills, to see whose will shall prevail in this great struggle.
4. If you see all of this effort as a struggle between the preacher and you, or between the pastor and you, then you are entirely mistaken. This matter of getting you converted is not a struggle between your will and my will. Not at all.
5. In decisionist Churches the struggle is between the sinnerís will and the pastors will, or between the sinnerís will and the visiting preacherís will. But thatís because Charles Finney was not a genuine Gospel preacher, and he didnít see the issues properly. So what he did, which was wrong, others copied him in doing, giving us the present sad state of affairs in so many Churches all over America. But not in this Church.
6. What you need to realize, this evening, is that there very much is a tug of war going on. But the two who are currently pulling in opposite directions are you and the Holy Spirit. You, the sinner, pulling in one direction, and the Holy Spirit of God, Who is working to convince you to give it up, to stop resisting, to yield to Godís will for your life, to come to Jesus, is pulling the other way.
7. Now, I certainly understand how tempting it is to be a decisionist preacher. You see someone you love, lost and in rebellion toward God. You donít want to see your loved one die and go to Hell, so you try to persuade him. And if you have an incorrect understanding of conversion, if you donít clearly see that conversion is a miracle, if you have given little thought and consideration to the fact that with the heart man beleiveth unto righteousness (meaning you canít force anyone to get saved), then a preacher will try manipulating sinners to make professions of faith, will try pushing sinners to pray to receive Jesus. In short, decisionists try to make happen what they want to happen, instead of waiting on God.
8. My friend, you will not get converted until you want to get converted. But you donít want to get converted. The Bible teaches that you are Godís enemy and that you are in rebellion against Him. The Bible teaches that you are fouled by sin and you are a stench in Godís nostrils that needs to be cleansed.
9. As well, the Bible teaches that your thinking is so corrupted by your sin that you are blind to the truth. Your sensibilities are so dulled by the deadness of your soul that you are unafraid and unconcerned and really unaffected by your situation and by your danger and by your future.
10. But God has chosen to deal with sinners like you by means of the preaching of His Word, so preaching is what we give you. Some people would say that teaching is a more effective way of communicating. Thatís fine. They can say what they want to say. But God has chosen preaching. And God blesses preaching.
11. To show you that this struggle of wills is not a struggle between you and me, but rather between you and God, I want you to look at Second Corinthians 5.20: "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christís stead, be ye reconciled to God."
12. So you see, Paul is here reminding the Corinthians that when they came to Christ under his preaching, it was actually God beseeching them by Paul. This resulted in Paul saying to sinners, in essence, "we pray you in Christís stead, be ye reconciled to God."
13. So, the struggle is not correctly seen, and is not correctly presented, as a struggle between you and the pastor, or between you and the preacher. It is a struggle between God, Who is not willing that you perish, between Christ, Who gave Himself to ransom your soul, and a defiant, deluded, dead in trespasses and sins lost person . . . you.
14. These things said, let us now look to our text for tonight, Second Corinthians 5.11. When you locate that verse please stand for the reading of Godís Word: "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences."
15. Notice that Paul clearly stated that his objective as a Gospel preacher was to persuade men. Make no mistake about the fact that my goal is to see your thinking toward God changed, to see your thinking toward your own sin changed, and to see your thinking toward Jesus changed; changed enough that you will act. Our desire is that you are persuaded to actually embrace Christ, that you will simply come to Jesus and be saved.
16. But there is motivation that Paul had, and that the co-laborers who traveled with him had, that youíve likely not seen or heard about. The evidence is clear that what motivated Paul to preach as he did was something the Corinthians were unaware of and hadnít considered even after they had become Christians.
17. Notice the opening phrase of our text. Paul writes, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord." He is saying here, because we know the terror of the Lord we persuade men. Because we truly understand the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.
18. Now, you may be thinking, "I know that already. Thatís nothing new." To be sure, there is nothing new in the Bible. But consider again whether you have personally seen what this verse really says before you discount it as old news.
19. Paul is not, here, referring to the fear of God. He is not, here, making mention of the things God will do to you if you donít get saved. This is a statement about what Jesus will do. My friends, the apostle Paul and his men did everything they could to persuade sinners to come to Christ, in part, because they knew what the Lord Jesus would do to those who rejected Him.
20. And it is about that that I would like to preach this evening: The terror of the Lord Jesus Christ. What is Jesus going to do to you, my friend? Have you ever thought about that? Consider two things:
1A. First, CONSIDER THE REASONS FOR WHAT JESUS WILL DO TO YOU
2A. Now Consider WHAT JESUS WILL DO TO YOU
1. What a great tragedy it will be that the One Who suffered so greatly for you will make you suffer such torment.
2. How pitiful it will then be that the One Who was for you the Lamb of God that could have taken away your sins, the One Who bled and died a ransom for your soul, will be the One Who determines you for Hell and Who will determine the severity of your eternal horror in the lake of fire.
3. What terrible irony it will be. What great tragedy it will be. What horrible waste it will be. Jesus would have been so gracious to you, so kind, so tender, so satisfying to your soul, so friendly to your heart and mind.
4. But your refusal of Him will change all of what could have been, what might yet be, into stark terror, into unending fright, into never-ending burning.
5. It is this knowledge of the terror of the Lord, on top of the fear of Godís wrath, that motivated Paul so powerfully, that so strongly moves your pastor to do what he does to urge you to come to Christ.
6. Please come to Jesus. Please avoid this needless tragedy. Please concern yourself with the welfare of your own soul. Please come to Jesus now.