“Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

I do not agree with all of the Puritan writers’ doctrine, but I love their emphasis on holiness. These godly preachers called their sermons “deep ploughing.” They believed they could not sow true seeds of faith until the soil of their listeners’ hearts had been deeply plowed.

The Puritans made sure their preaching went deep, cracking all the fallow ground of their listeners’ souls. Their sermons produced genuine repentance in their congregations and, in turn, over the years this produced strong, mature, faithful Christians.

Today, however, most preaching is all sowing with no plowing. I hear very few sermons nowadays that dig deeper than the topsoil. Deep plowing does not just address the disease of sin; it digs down to the very cause of the disease. Much of the preaching we hear today focuses on the remedy while ignoring the disease. It offers a prescription without providing surgery!

Sadly, we cause people to think they have been healed of sin when they never knew they were sick. We put robes of righteousness on them when they never knew they were naked. We urge them to trust in Christ when they don’t even realize their need to trust. Such people end up thinking, “It can’t hurt to add Jesus to my life.”

C. H. Spurgeon, the powerful English preacher, said the following about the need for repentance:

“I trust that sorrowful penitence does still exist, though I have not heard much about it lately. People seem to jump into faith very quickly nowadays. . . . I hope my old friend repentance is not dead. I am desperately in love with repentance; it seems to be the twin sister of faith.

“I do not myself understand much about dry-eyed faith; I know that I came to Christ by the way of weeping-cross. . . . When I came to Calvary by faith, it was with great weeping and supplication, confessing my transgressions, and desiring to find salvation in Jesus, and in Jesus only.”