He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others.
-2 Peter 2:5-
Where are the Noahs today!? The preachers of righteousness! Ones that are currently alive, and that I know about, would be Paul Washer, Ray Comfort, Andrew Strom, and a few others. C’mon! We need more! WHERE ARE YOU PREACHERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!? WHERE! There are too many man-pleasers, too many carnal pastors, too many not willing to PREACH AGAINST SIN! Where are the holy men of God? Where are the godly pastors who will preach holiness from their pulpits, and will not fear the sinful deacons in their churches? Where is the self-denial? The risk-taking? The taking up of one’s cross? Why are so many pastors giving into the temptations presented to them by their church boards not to preach against sin?
Why this COUNTERFEIT “LOVE” doctrine? This “non-judgmental” twisting of the Scriptures to their own destruction? Why this “love” approach to preaching–all grace, all love, all mercy, all EMOTION! But no MEAT! No ETHICS! No MORALS! No RIGHTEOUSNESS! No HOLINESS! Its all unbalanced, carnal, morally lax, and dare I say CRIMINAL! All they care about is church growth, to fill the pews, to encourage giving, because they want more CHURCH MONEY for their buildings!
WHEN WILL THE PASTORS BECOME PROPHETS IN THEIR PULPITS!? WHEN WILL WE SEE THE PURITANS AND METHODISTS AGAIN?! The HELL FIRE and BRIMSTONE PREACHERS WHO WARN THE LOST and the lukewarm dead deacons in their churches! When will this REAL LOVE of God manifest in their life and ministry? When will they stop watching carnal, sinful movies, and then quote them in their SERMONS as illustrations!? Probably when FIERCE PERSECUTION TESTS their form of godliness, and they will be forced to not deny the power thereof any longer.
I am at a loss for where to turn. I cannot find any godly pastors who will take up the simple task of living by faith and preaching against sin. WHERE ARE YOU! I gave up my life of sin…and turned to Christ…FOR THIS??!?!?! C’mon! Carnal pastors are the plague of the body of Christ, and of the world. The best I can do, is point you to great preachers of righteousness from the past, and hope that their writings will inspire you to preach the Gospel, and holy living…
Richard Hooker (d. 1600). Dubbed the “prophet of Anglicanism,” he is most well known for his eight volume work called The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, which was his defense of Episcopal church government, against the attacks of the Puritans, who had insisted on the priesthood of all believers. But in addition to this institutional ecclesiology, Hooker was evidently a man of great piety and insight, as he lays out the Anglican via media between Catholic and Reformed soteriology, in its approach to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in his book: A Learned Discourse of Justification (1585).
John Goodwin (d. 1665). He stood out as one of the foremost Arminian preachers of holiness during the Puritan movement in England. In his books, especially in A Treatise on Justification (1642), he argued that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a message of “easy-believism,” but that it is necessary for the moral law of God to be kept zealously and heartily in the Christian life. He was maligned as prideful, and persecuted for righteousness by Reformed preachers, as others were who followed in his footsteps (Wesley and the Methodists).
John Bunyan (d. 1688). One of the most famous of the Puritan preachers and writers. He is most known for his allegorical style of writing, especially in his story about the Christian life, as a journey to Heaven, called The Pilgrim’s Progress (1684). He was definitely a Hell-fire preacher as demonstrated by his sermons on Luke 16 in Sighs From Hell (1658). Although he was a Calvinist, he was thoroughly Puritan, and wrote prolifically about the role of good works and righteousness in the Christian life.
Richard Baxter (d. 1691). A Puritan giant! Prolific writer, and preacher of righteousness. He was “Calminian” sort of like George Whitefield, but he preached a free will message, and the necessity of holiness in the Christian life. It was under Baxter that we see the first well-known appearance of Puritan revival: at his church in Kidderminster, England. The titles of some of his books are self-explanatory: as some of the best material in evangelistic literature; perfect reading for evangelists, revivalists, and open air Gospel preachers: A Call to the Unconverted, A Treatise of Conversion, Directions and Persuasions to a Sound Conversion, What We Must Do to Be Saved, etc.
Jonathan Edwards (d. 1758). Born the exact same year as John Wesley, in 1703. Only Wesley the Arminian-Anglican (Methodist) preached in England; and Edwards the Calvinist-Puritan preached in colonial America. Together with George Whitefield, these three men: Edwards, Wesley, and Whitefield were responsible for the Great Awakening; and were mightily used by God as prophets of the Gospel. During the 18th century, Arminianism was gaining popularity, but Edwards maintained his Reformed convictions, and spoke against it as a damnable heresy of Hell, that leads to rationalism and even atheism! Nevertheless, Edwards as well as Wesley preached their own views of justification and sanctification, and revival manifestations occurred in both of their crowds. The sermons of Jonathan Edwards are very fearful and grave, and encourage righteousness in the Christian life. Among all things soteriological, however, Edwards is perhaps the greatest Hell fire and brimstone preacher to ever rise in the history of Protestantism. The titles of some of his sermons are self-explanatory: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” “The Wicked Hereafter Will Be Cast Into a Furnace of Fire,” “That the Bodies of Wicked Men as Well as Their Souls Will Be Punished Forever in Hell,” “In Hell Is Inflicted the Fierceness of the Wrath of a Being That Is Almighty,” etc. Eighteen of Edwards’ Hell-fire sermons are available in The Torments of Hell: Jonathan Edwards on Eternal Damnation edited by William Nichols. Also, for an introduction to the soteriology of Edwards, see John Gerstner’s Jonathan Edwards: A Mini-Theology (1987), which deals with his views on sin, the atonement, regeneration, justification, sanctification, Hell, and Heaven.
George Whitefield (d. 1770). He was a “Calminian” open air preacher, even called a Calvinistic Methodist. At first, he got saved under the influence of John Wesley, and they began open air preaching in England. But when Wesley started to solidify his Arminian views, and came to reject the Calvinistic-Puritan view of predestination, Whitefield decided to break fellowship with Wesley, and attach himself to Jonathan Edwards over in colonial America. After he moved over there, Whitefield became the “torch” of the Great Awakening in America, as he revived Calvinistic-Puritanism wherever he preached. He too was a Hell-fire preacher, as one of his sermons was entitled “The Eternity of Hell-Torments.” He has many other sermons on salvation and holy living. A good introduction is The Banner of Truth Trust’s Select Sermons of George Whitefield (1958).
John Wesley (d. 1791). This founder of the Methodist Church was a revivalist, evangelist, and open air Gospel preacher his whole life. He and other Methodist preachers with missionary zeal, rode as “circuit riders” all across England and colonial America preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Arminian style, to “spread Scriptural holiness throughout the land.” The Works of John Wesley have been savored by holiness preachers and revivalists ever since: especially his Standard Sermons. Let it not be forgotten that it was also through Wesley and the Methodists that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were revived among Protestants! An excellent introduction to Wesley’s soteriology is Kenneth Collins’ The Scripture Way of Salvation: The Heart of John Wesley’s Theology (1997).
Charles Finney (d. 1875). The torch of the Second Great Awakening, the firebrand of the Burned-Over District in upstate New York. He wrote prolifically on salvation and holiness in the Christian life, and is most well known for his Lectures on Revivals of Religion (1835), an Arminian manual on revivalism. Although it would be right to classify Finney as an Arminian, at times he leaned to Calminian views, and at others: even Pelagianism, in his assertion of the natural ability of man to obey God’s law. Although some of his views on theology were a little off base, nobody can deny the good fruit that resulted from his preaching and writing ministries. Miracles attended his revival meetings too! He, in addition to Wesley, is counted a forerunner to the Azusa Street Revival and Holiness-Pentecostalism.
Leonard Ravenhill (d. 1994). Raised in a radical Methodist-holiness church in Leeds, England, he turned out to be one of the last great revivalists in recent history. He was Wesleyan to the core, a street preacher, and an intercessor (he drew great inspiration from The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by Jonathan Edwards). He was an avid reader of Puritans, Methodists, and revival literature, and preached against sin with great fervor. He is most well-known for his book Why Revival Tarries (1959), which emphasizes obedience to God in the Christian life. He had a strong influence on A. W. Tozer, David Wilkerson, Steve Hill, and Paul Washer. Between 1978-1982 (4 years), Ravenhill led a revival school at the Last Days Ministries ranch in Garden Valley, Texas, owned by Christian musician Keith Green. People traveled hundreds of miles, from all over the United States, to come and learn revival principles from Ravenhill, as he transmitted the “old-time holiness” ways (the old paths) to hungry revivalists impacted by the Jesus movement. Many of Ravenhill’s sermons are available on video and mp3 for free download on sermonindex.net.
David Wilkerson (d. 2011). Most known for his book The Cross and the Switchblade (1962), which describes God’s call on his life to New York City to preach the Gospel to the gangs. The dramatic conversion of gang leader Nicky Cruz led to the conversions of many gang members. The book was later dramatized into a movie. Wilkerson’s ministry among the gangs led to a faith-based drug rehab organization called Teen Challenge. Today there are many centers all over America. For this work among the drug-addicted youth, Wilkerson attained much recognition by the body of Christ as a man of God, especially among Pentecostals. His book even led to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal: a tongues speaking movement in the Catholic Church! Wilkerson is also known for his book The Vision (1973), which describes his interpretations of visions of calamities that he saw concerning the near future: worldwide recession, strange natural disasters, filth in America, rebellion in families, and a persecution of true Christians. Along with Ravenhill, the sermons of Wilkerson are free for download on the internet, and have served to be a personal inspiration to me.
Paul Washer (age 51). Founder of HeartCry Missionary Society, which has a strong base in Peru. During the Last Days Ministries revival with Leonard Ravenhill, Washer was attending a Southern Baptist seminary about 2 hours away. Evidently, there were many times that he heard Ravenhill preach, as his life was lastingly stamped by his influence. To this day, Washer seems to outshine all other contemporary preachers of righteousness, not only in his eloquence, but in his unction to preach against sin. It is no far cry to say that he carries Ravenhill’s anointing or mantle, so to speak. Washer is a Reformed Calvinistic neo-Puritan (Southern Baptist), and is influenced by the writings of Thomas Watson, John Flavel, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley, A. W. Tozer, and other similar writers. His main drive in preaching is to restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it was preached by the reformers and revivalists of the past, as he believes modern conservative Evangelical churches have forgotten many of the basic doctrines of salvation. Recently, Washer just released a book on salvation called The Gospel’s Power and Message, with endorsements from Ray Comfort and John MacArthur.
An Afterthought: Preach 100% Law and 100% Grace
It is tempting to become prideful, puffed up, condescending towards others, and sound like a know-it-all when preaching on righteousness. We must be on guard against this; and remember that Jesus said “all the Law and the prophets” hang on the two commandments to love God and love man (Matt. 22:37-40). But this doesn’t mean to water things down like so many pastors today choose to. This doesn’t mean preach only love, and no commandments, no law, and no prophets: on the contrary, we are charged to PREACH ALL OF IT! We are to TELL IT LIKE IT IS! We are to PREACH IT, brother! PREACH IT! It is said that Wesley preached “90% law and 10% grace”; but Wesleyan scholar Dr. Kenneth Collins corrected me on this. He said Wesley preached 100% LAW AND 100% GRACE. He left nothing out; and neither should we, if we are to be faithful to “declare unto them all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). We must wield the Scriptures like a sword, and rifle, to attack and maim the devil, and resist temptations: which are the immortal enemies of our souls. It is high time that pastors stop being so namby-pamby, and soft, and afraid of their church members: “PREACH THE WORD; be instant in season, out of season; REPROVE, REBUKE, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine,” for “ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, REBUKING, CORRECTING and training in RIGHTEOUSNESS” (2 Tim. 4:2, KJV; 2 Tim. 3:16).
But don’t be mean-spirited and arrogant when preaching against sin; angry yes, but not hateful or mean: “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ps. 4:4, NKJV). Many have forgotten the law of God, not only rebelled against it (Hosea 4:6). Be FAIR, EVEN-HANDED, and HONEST. Don’t be too heavy-handed in your preaching. Many of those who go to church don’t even know the Bible anymore, let alone the Ten Commandments. Be careful, gracious, and loving; try to be understanding. Many of them are totally Biblically ignorant, without the revelation of God’s Word. Many of them have been raised in secular families or nominal Christian families, where the parents did not teach the Bible to their children. Be careful, to preach both law and Gospel, judgment and reconciliation, mercy and righteousness–be balanced: speak the Truth in Love (Eph. 4:15). And then you will experience this: “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed” (Ps. 85:10, NKJV).