Every once in a while, traveling preachers make their way to
I’m not inherently against street preaching; in fact, I’ve
seen it have effects in places. Society seems to be paying less and less
attention to it, but it is still a relevant thing.
I’ve seen men like Ray Comfort and Tom Short win people to
Christ through their witness in public places, including college campuses.
The traveling preachers I speak of are not these men.
These are men that like to stir up controversy for the sake
of stirring up controversy. These are men that claim Christianity but show no
fruit. These are men that seem to many of us incapable of compassion or love.
It places born-again Christians on campus in a precarious
position. We can’t deny that there is some truth in what these men say, though
shrouded in vitriol. It is true that there is sin in the world, and that people
are guilty of some terrible sin. They tend to focus on sexual sin, be it
homosexuality, pre-marital sex, or pornography. They call these things wrong,
and they are correct. They are also correct in stating that God will punish
These men, though, run afoul in three areas, and in this way
preach something other than the true gospel.
First, they largely deny their own sin. As I said before,
God hates sin, and the Bible paints a pretty bleak picture of the natural state
“As it is written, There is none
righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that
seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become
unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an
open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is
under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are
swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of
peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we
know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the
law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty
before God.” –Romans 3:10-19
So yeah, we are in a pretty bad spot. But pay attention to
one of the principles in this passage. Read it again with this emphasis:
“As it is written, There is none
righteous, no, not one
: There is none
that understandeth, there is none
that seeketh after God. They are all
gone out of the way, they are together
become unprofitable; there is none
that doeth good, no, not
. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used
deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing
and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are
in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of
God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it
saith to them who are under the law: that every
mouth may be stopped, and all the world
may become guilty before God.” –Romans 3:10-19
That means every person is guilty of sin and naturally under
God’s judgment. Everyone.
Second, God hates no one. He hates sin. But He loves people,
more than we could love people or love ourselves:
“But if the wicked will turn from
all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that
which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his
transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in
his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all
that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God
and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” –Ezekiel 18:21-23
“The Lord is not slack concerning
his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not
willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” –II Peter
“For God so loved the world, that
he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn
the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” –John 3:16-17
Finally, these men completely miss the redemptive part of
the gospel. And if you miss that, you’ve missed the gospel entirely. More on
You may think I only came here to lambast these traveling
preachers. No, it is equally disappointing to watch the reaction to them. The
intellectual dishonesty on college campuses, mine included, is absurd. We all
know these men are not representative of Christians. They aren’t fooling
And yet there are people who will come not to listen, but
only combat these preachers, giving them the exact fuel they need. I hear few
good arguments against the words of these men. It usually consists of the go-to
liberal tactic of producing as much shock as possible. Yelling something that
includes the word “vagina” or making out with someone of the same sex is not an
Close-minded street preachers attract close-minded students.
They know these men aren’t like most Christians. They get
their free coffee from Vine & Branches and free pancakes from the BCM. They
have the door held for them by Christians. They receive smiles from Christians.
They work on projects with Christians. They play intramurals with Christians. Why then do they make the mistake of lumping us all together?
These students desperately want to believe that Christians
are hateful bigots who disapprove of their lifestyles. They could talk to 200
Christians who show them love. But you get two men who say they are Christians
but speak as though they aren’t, and, “See! I knew Christians were hateful
bigots!” Somehow the ramblings of deranged preachers justify a sinful
lifestyle. Anything they can latch onto to prove what they’ve already decided
I would be remissed if I did not also point out the
intellectual dishonesty of fellow students in light of the actual bigots.
And Christians will flock to apologize for the behavior of
these men, as if we somehow are to blame. I’m not in the habit of apologizing for
things with which I have nothing to do. “Sorry that America killed your father
in a drone strike. I promise we’re not all like that.” These men aren’t fooling
anyone into believing they are Christian; they just offer an excuse to affirm
I have nothing against stating that they are not Christians,
but I have no control over their behavior.
Here’s the practical part. We as Christians can explain to
people that Christians are not hateful, and that these men are not
representative of us. But the only true way to prove our love is not through
words, but action. Leave people in no doubt that we are God’s people. Let them
see the love of God manifest in us through the way we interact with them.
Explanations only go so far. How we act is what will bring those explanations
I said earlier that these traveling preachers completely
miss the doctrine of redemption. It is true: man is sinful, and sin leads to
spiritual death. And death means eternity in Hell:
“He that believeth on him is not
condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not
believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” –John 3:18
“For the wages of sin is death…” –Romans
Think of it this way: God is a judge. He has created laws.
Breaking laws earns punishment. We are falling short daily of the perfect
standard God has set. We missed the mark, and that earns condemnation.
The awesome part, and the part these street preachers are
suppressing, is that there is an alternate route. What if I told you there was
a way for God’s justice to be satisfied AND a way for us to avoid God’s
Jesus died a propitiatory death:
“And he is the propitiation for our
sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” –I John
That means that when Jesus died on the cross, He took the
sin of the entire world upon Him and bore God’s wrath for sin. That’s why, if
you read accounts of the crucifixion, the Earth goes dark in the middle of the
day, and after three hours Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken
me?” This punishment propitiated, or satisfied, God’s wrath.
So now we have a way to have a personal relationship with
God through Jesus’ sacrifice. No longer must we live under condemnation. Jesus
was condemned and rose again to cover our sin.
And that is totally missed by these traveling preachers.
Yes, God condemns sin. But no, He does not hate individuals and He has not
simply left us hopeless with no way to escape our sin:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous
shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor
idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with
mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor
extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but
ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the
Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” –I Corinthians 6:9-11
God is in the business of changing lives.
So weigh the teachings of the Bible carefully against the
teachings of bigoted preachers. I think you’ll find they don’t match up. Then
consider that humbling reality that God became human to die for you so that you
would have a way out of condemnation and into eternal life.