By Donald Townsley
Paul C. Keller passed from this life on Friday, October 13, 1995 at St. Bernard’s Regional Medical Center in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He was seventy-three years old, and had preached the gospel of Jesus Christ for fifty-four years. He had done local work in Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and West Virginia, and had held gospel meetings in many states. He had done local work with the Second and Walnut Street church of Christ in Paragould, Arkansas for twenty-five years. He is survived by his beloved wife, Elisabeth Ann (Cox) Keller; one daughter, Cherilyn McFarland, and one son, Paul C. Keller, Jr. He had four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His funeral service was conducted by two long-time friends (Eugene Britnell and Donald Townsley) in the building of the Second and Walnut Street church of Christ on Tuesday, October 17 at two o’clock in the afternoon. The building was filled and a great host of gospel preachers were present. His body was then taken to Jonesboro, Arkansas and laid to rest in Keller’s Chapel Cemetery.
When I think of the death of Paul Keller I am reminded of the words of David when Abner was killed. He said: “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?” (2 Sam. 3:38). Paul Keller was a great man in many ways.
Paul Keller Was a Great Man
Paul never thought of himself as “great”; he was a very humble man who would never have promoted himself in any way. Jesus said that service to others is what makes men great: “But whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister” (Matt. 20:26). That is what Paul Keller did all of his life; he served others for “Jesus’ sake” (1 Cor. 4:5). He was a man who had distinguished ability combined with unselfish devotion to God, to the good of God’s people, and to lost sinners. He led and inspired thou-sands (in his fifty-four years of preaching) to live better, to correct their lives, and to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ.
He Was a Great Preacher
Paul considered the work of an evangelist the most serious work on this earth (2 Tim. 4:5), and when he went into the pulpit he preached nothing but the word of God (1 Pet. 4:11; 2 Tim. 4:2). His preaching was clear, sound and intelligible; he reasoned with men and women out of the Scriptures (Acts 17:2). His preaching was also bold and aggressive (1 Thess. 2:2; Eph. 6:19). He was not a coward; he had no fear of man and stood up to those who would promote error. He did not “soft-pedal” the truth because some might not like it preached plainly. His preaching had great reverence and respect for the authority of God’s word, and he proved what he preached by the word of God (Matt. 28:18; 1 Cor. 4:15). His preaching was motivated by love (Eph. 5:15) his love for God, Christ, the truth, the church, and the lost souls of men; this love caused him to keep back nothing that men needed to hear to save their souls (Acts 20:20).
He Was a Great Writer and Editor
Brother Keller edited two gospel papers which have had an impact for good on the thinking of thousands of people, He edited Pause-Ponder-Profit for many years and Timely Admonition (in the 1960s when he was with the Caprock church in Lubbock, Texas). In these papers he did not hesitate to oppose any religious practice or doctrine for which authority could not be found in the word of God. His writing was always clear and to the point; he knew the power of the printed word and used it effectively. Only eternity can measure the good he has done in this part of his work.
He Was a Great Example
Paul was “an example of the believers, in word, in con-duct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” just as the Apostle Paul had said a preacher is to be as he wrote to Timothy (1 Tim. 4:12, NKJV). He has been a great example for good to all who knew him. When he moved from Second and Walnut in June of 1963 (after six years of work there), the elders said of him: “He has been clean in life, and his work has been both profitable and pleasant. We feel that much good has come from his labor here. We earnestly commend him in the work of preaching the gospel.”
He Was a Great Example in Family Life
Paul was a loving, devoted husband to Elisabeth Ann. Just before he moved to Texas in 1963, this is what he wrote of his wife: “But of the people who have encouraged and helped me through the years, the one who has helped the most will go with me and will continue to help and encourage. By that one I am known as I am known by no other human being. It is one for whose confidence and respect I am humbly grateful whose confidence I dare not betray, and whose respect I dare not lose. In that one I have the fullest confidence, and for that one I have the deepest respect. I humbly thank my God for such love and helpfulness and pray that his kind providence may grant that one ever to be by my side.”
He and Elisabeth Ann brought up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). He was a fine example in every way for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The writer of Proverbs said: “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children” (Prov. 13:22). Indeed, Paul Keller did this.
Great Men Should Be Honored and
Remembered After Death
That is the reason for this article, that we might honor and remember this good and wonderful man who preached the gospel of peace for fifty-four years; a man who influenced us to be better men and women that we might go to heaven when we die. His labor was not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58). He, like Abel of old, “Being dead, still speaks” (Heb. 11:4, NKJV); his work will continue to live in our lives and in our memories. This world will be more empty and lonely without Paul Keller we miss him! In-deed, “a prince and a great man has fallen” but we are all made better because he lived!
Guardian of Truth XL: 5 p. 14-15
March 7, 1996