Preach in a manner that none of your people can stand before the Lord on the judgment day and complain to the Lord that you did not confront them with their personal need to receive Christ and to consider their standing before the Almighty.
And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man.
I recently listened to a sermon on the free offer of the gospel on SermonAudio. As the minutes rolled on, I could not help to note that the sermon was rather detached and lecture-like. When the sermon was more than 3/4 of the way through it struck me that it was unlikely this minister was going to press his congregation to see if they had freely received Christ for themselves. He did not preach as if Christ had been crucified among them (Galatians 3:1). The assumption seemed to be that the congregation only needed to understand the Bible’s theology better.
This happens all too often in Reformed pulpits but what made it more jarring was this was done during a sermon on the gospel itself. A sermon with no exhortations to close with Christ (John 1:12). Sadly, I hear the same kind of thing from many students that preach in Presbytery trials, they simply do not do what Bible preaching demands—to search out the hearers. After preaching that salvation is of the Lord, few today will take the next step and ask their hearers the simple question: “have you yourself, seen that you are a sinner, and have you cast yourself entirely upon Jesus for salvation?“
And so, it is the case, sad to say, in addition to a famine of practical preaching, there is a great famine of discriminatory preaching in Reformed Churches. Discriminatory preaching does not discriminate as we use the word today to show bigotry between ethnicities or sexes or something of that sort. Instead, it is a discrimination between sheep and goats—the true Christian and the non-Christian or the “almost Christian” (the same as the non-Christian).
Because such discrimination is not sought in preaching—the outcome is that hypocrites are never confronted with their sinfulness and will hear on that last day, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23). Sadly, many covenant children apostatize because their minister has never preached in a way that exposes their sinfulness and their own need for a Savior.
Confront the Hypocrite
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
—2 Corinthians 13:5.
This need for searching in preaching is seen in 2 Corinthians 13. The apostle Paul confronts the Corinthians to see if they are in the faith or are reprobates.