Monday, 13 June 2011

Pharisees need the gospel too

Churches are full of Pharisees. Churches are full of people who subscribe to a certain morality, to a certain set of values and to a certain view of religion without any real knowledge of, love of or relationship with Jesus. Churches are so full of Pharisees that when people hear that I go to church people assume that I am a Pharisee. They assume that I believe that if I do certain things God will like me as long as I also avoid doing things God does not like. Pharisees preach an anti-gospel. They are about morality, appearances and judgmentalism when the gospel is about forgiveness, the heart and graciousness. Pharisees discredit Christianity, damage my witness and poison the church.

But the problem is that I dislike Pharisees so much that sometimes I forget that they need the gospel too. You see Pharisees are just like everyone else who hasn't been reconciled to God through Jesus' death - they are just people looking for something with which to make sense of, and bring some meaning to, life. As such they need to hear the good news of a relationship with God which makes sense of why we're here and brings meaning into life. They need to hear the good news of forgiveness which frees us from moral superiority and constantly trying to appear good. They need to be rescued and changed by Jesus' death. They need to repent of their Pharisaism.

As a minister I need to work hard to make sure I don't give up on the Pharisees. I don't write them off but I keep trying to preach the gospel to them and demonstrate their need of it. I have just listened to a fantastic evangelistic service which effectively preached the gospel in a powerful way to Pharisees and I was forced to ask myself am I lovingly but forcefully preaching the gospel to Pharisees or have I given up on them. Pharisees are hard - the Bible clearly shows that and warns us about it. But God can change anyone's heart so I need to think about how I do evangelism for Pharisees.


  1. I've been thinking about this since you posted it and it defnately is a problem that I just really dislike Pharisees (the ones in the Bible and people who I think are lke them now!). I always like that fact that Jesus speaks quite harshly to Pharisees, but I need to remember that he was speaking out of love, where as I am more likely to be speaking harshly because they get on my nerves!

  2. Yes I'm not debating that often Pharisees need to be confronted directly and sometimes cowardice prevents us from confronting it as we should. However, I suppose I worry that I tend to write them off (often because they've been that way for such a long time I just assume they always will be) rather than see the power of the gospel at work transforming their hearts.