Once I heard a street minister witnessing. He asked a man who was walking by, “Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen? Have you committed adultery? Before you answer, keep in mind that Jesus said if you even look at a woman lustfully, you are guilty of adultery.” The man was forced to answer in the affirmative to each question. The minister continued, “So what does that make you? By your own admission, you are a lying, adulterous, thief.”
This script produced condemnation, but it did not lead to salvation. Salvation does not come by the Law, it comes through mercy and truth. “In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil” (Proverbs 16:6).
You do not have to bash people over the head with the fact that they are on their way to hell. Intuitively, people already know they are sinners. When Adam sinned, he ran to hide from God without God ever saying anything about the forbidden fruit. The threat of God’s judgment can make people feel guilty, and may even frighten people into good behavior, but it does not change the heart or free from sin.
When Jesus is preached, salvation results—preaching about Jesus makes people want to know God. Romans 2:4 proclaims, “the goodness of God leads you to repentance.” God uses grace to lead people to repentance. Preaching grace is preaching the power of God unto salvation.
So, if it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance, why do so many preachers preach condemnation, Law, and judgment? The Ten Commandments “written and engraved on stone” are called a “ministry of death” and a “ministry of condemnation” (2 Corinthians 3:7-9). When ministers preach the Law, they are doing the worst kind of ministry possible: death and condemnation ministry.