THIRTY-FIFTH EVENING LECTURE
September 18, 1885
Jesus says regarding Himself in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Peter confirms this statement in Acts 4:12 when he declares before the Jewish Sanhedrin, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Paul adds his testimony by telling his Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Truly, then, it is a great and awful sin not to draw any soul that has been entrusted to us for instruction to Jesus and not to tell that soul again and again what a treasure it has in the Lord Jesus, its Savior. To keep someone from believing in Christ is such an awful sin that words cannot express it. A preacher who restrains a soul from confidently laying hold of Christ, whether he does it consciously or unconsciously, purposely or from blindness, through malice or as the result of a perverted zeal for the salvation of souls, deprives that soul, as far as he is concerned, of everlasting life. Instead of being a shepherd to that soul, he becomes a ravening wolf to it. Instead of being its physician, he becomes its murderer. Instead of being an angel of God, he becomes a devil to that person. Alas, so many preachers have not realized until their dying day how many souls they have kept away from Christ by their unevangelical preaching and by their own fault have caused the souls entrusted to them to die of spiritual starvation. The result was that these unhappy preachers shortly before their death have had a severe soul battle to fight with self-accusations and despair, and not a few of them have departed this life without consolation, in anguish, misery, and despair.
The worst offenders in this respect are the so-called Rationalistic preachers, who with devilish audacity mount Christian pulpits and instead of preaching Christ, the Savior, to all sinners, recite their miserable moral precepts for a virtuous life and fill the ears of the people with their empty blather. To these Rationalistic mercenaries, “Whose God is their belly” as it says in Philippians 3:19, the terrible woe is addressed, even in our day, which the Lord denounced in Matthew 23:13 saying, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” What terror shall seize these preachers who used to call themselves friends and adorers of Jesus Christ when they must appear before His judgement seat and hear Him address them in words of flaming anger, “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 7:23
– C. F. W. Walther
In two paragraphs Walther explains why I left my church. If a pastor isn’t preaching the Gospel, but instead replaces it with life tips for living well, how to have a better sex life, how to make every day a Friday, etc., he is leading people to hell rather than leading them to Christ who is offering far better than any of these things. Not only is this pastor a distraction, but he is a hindrance, opposing people who would look to Christ.