Plain Preaching

Johnny Ramsey
Odessa, Texas

Preaching has helped to shape the destiny of the world. In God's divine economy, He has so willed that preaching the gospel would have a prominent place in the saving of souls. A preacher of righteousness has a tremendous responsibility. Just as surely as the Lord has some preachers of Truth, Satan has some preachers of error (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Thus, an evangelist of God's will must not only plant the pure seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:11), ho must also root up error. As the inspired Paul wrote to his friend Timothy in regard to the weighty task of proclaiming the "good news":

"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Tim. 4:2-4).

It is my firm conviction that the Lord's church has sadly drifted in regard to this matter of plain preaching. If the day ever comes that gospel preachers fail to clearly expose doctrinal error and immoral living in a very vivid way, we might as well put out the shingle for another full-fledged denomination. That very thing happened to the Christian Church. Today, instead of opposing Satan's inroads, the Christian Church has embraced denominationalism in its fullest sense. Just last week, on "Good Friday" (shades of Rome) the Parker Heights Christian Church here in Odessa was the host congregation for several other denominations in a religious service respecting, a Roman Catholic holiday! This all came about w h e n "Disciples" preachers quit speaking against error. I realize that they speak of "exalting the love of God" and "not being so legalistic" in upholding doctrine-but, brethren, the end of such liberal attitudes is the sectarian body called the Christian Church-riddled with modernism and open membership!

Shall the church of the Lord follow this pathway of least resistance? In our desire to become big, respected and powerful shall we forget that the head of the church, Jesus Christ, demands doctrinal soundness (Titus 2:1; Ephesians 4:15; Galatians 4:16; Galatians 1:6-11) and moral purity (Matt. 5:1316; Titus 2:11-14; Phil. 2:15)?

Briefly, let me mention several things that have caused an ever increasing demand to halt plain preaching.

(1) An un-converted membership: The church has grown phenomenally in a numerical way the past decade. Many of these folks have come out of sectarianism. It is naturally difficult for them to leave all of their former teachings behind. They have listened to preachers who seldom, if ever, spoke out openly against doctrinal error. It is hard for them to accept gospel preaching with its emphasis for all the Truth and against all error. The New Testament church had trouble with Judaizing teachers due to the very same reason. Those converted from Judaism still tried to hold on to the feast days and ceremonies of the past. There was, however, no compromise on the part of God-fearing preachers of the first century. There mnst not be any truce with error now!

(2) The prominent place of the church, today: Twenty years ago, meeting places of the Lord's people were usually "on the other side of the tracks." For some reason, in most respects, the preaching was much clearer and more to the point than will be found in the nice, adequate buildings of today. Now I'm not advocating a return to inadequate, poorly located buildings. Neither am I making a blanket indictment of preachers today -but it is true that we seldom hear the hell-fire and brimstone preaching of ten or twenty years ago! For some reason, many brethren seem shocked when they hear a gospel preacher "call names" and otherwise boldly dethrone religious error. As long as an evangelist is telling the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), I'd be ashamed and afraid to say anything except AMEN!

(3) Preachers who are willing to obey the voice of the people:

In 1 Samuel 15 we read the tragic account of Saul who hearkened to the people instead of God. In Galatians 1:10 we find that we cease to be God's servant when we bow to the dictates of men. Thus, with Peter we must always say: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Certainly we all like to be popular. An inherent desire within each person is the wish to be well thought of. Preachers are not immune to this inclination. It takes a strong-hearted individual to preach to please the Lord instead of one's own brethren or friends in the world. When a pay check becomes more important than sound doctrine, a man has ceased to be a servant of Jehovah and has become a hireling to be used by "wishy-washy" brethren.

Dearly beloved, these matters have been written in a spirit of love. Love for the body of Christ, for my brethren and for plain preaching. With a prayer in my heart and on my lips I plead for a return to the soul-stirring gospel lessons that are able to save our souls!

Truth Magazine I:9; pp. 16-17
June 1957