ART 16 - CONFESSING CHRIST BEFORE MEN
"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." -- Matthew 10:32-33
The Gospel is not to be preached in a way that hides or deceives men and women concerning the offense of the cross. The offense of the cross is only seen when the Gospel preached clearly reveals Christ and His righteousness as the only ground of the salvation of sinners, and when it is aimed at true repentance – showing how all who are either ignorant of or not submitted to the righteousness of Christ are lost and their deeds are fruit unto death. If men try to preach the Gospel so as to hide this offense, they fail to preach the Gospel and confess Christ before men. Without this specific area of truth, unbelievers are left to draw their own sinful conclusions, and the conclusion that all men by nature will draw is a false refuge and false profession of religion. The preacher, then, who hides the offense of the cross is speaking peace where there is no peace and, whether he intends to or not, promoting the eternal destruction of sinners.
The excuses for such deceptive preaching are numerous: "I don't want to be mean and too narrow." "I can't save them. I am not the Holy Spirit." "I'm not the judge and jury, God is." I have even heard a few say, "God is sovereign. If He intends to save them, He will do so in spite of me." Such preachers only want to cover up their own lack of conviction and their desire to seek the applause and praise of men rather than the praise of God (cf. John 12:42-43). To such preachers, the words of Christ in Matthew 10:32-33 ring clear.
We who believe the Gospel must consider these things in light of God's testimony. We do not want to make people angry. We do not even want them to dislike us, but if we judge things by God's testimony alone, we will have to say that all who do not believe the Gospel are lost and their deeds are evil (John 3:18-20). Just remember that our desire in telling anyone such things is that they believe the Gospel, trust in Christ, and flee from the wrath to come.