The background of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the basis on which it must be preached, and the realities that must be faced are: the sinfulness and hardness of men’s hearts, the infinite love, patience, fairness, and mercy of God; and the certainty and severity of his judgment.

This is not a harsh analysis; it is a true one. There is nothing harsh in God’s offer of cleansing and salvation to “whosoever will.” There is nothing harsh about his plea, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Isa. 45:22). There is no harshness in our Lord’s loving appeal, “Come to me … and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). There is nothing but patient, loving yearning in Jesus’ words, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Rev. 3:20).

No, the problem is not that we are dealing with a harsh and unloving God, but that men have hard hearts, hardened by sin.

What I write applies to all of mankind, but it applies with added force to America because of our historical background, with the spiritual light shed abroad in our land from the very first, as well as the material blessings with which God has so richly endowed us, and the unprecedented privileges and opportunities that surround us on every hand.

Our hearts are hardened by unbelief, by disobedience, by willful sinning against the light, by hypocrisy, and, within the Church, by the substitution of man-made religions for the Christian faith.

In a very real sense we have become hardened against the one and only thing that can deliver us from the wrath to come. We have hardened our hearts against the truth “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, ...

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