Blood On Our Hands

Reuel Lemmons
Austin, Texas

(Editor's Note: This fine article appeared as an editorial in the Firm Foundation, Nov. 5, 1957.)

God said to Israel through Ezekiel more than twenty-five hundred years ago, "I appoint you as a watchman to the house of Israel; and whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall warn them from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you say nothing to warn the wicked man from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thy hand."

Gospel preachers have a heavy responsibility. And few, if any, of God's preachers have ever been popular. They have the task of telling people what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear - and that doesn't make people popular.

The tendency to apostasy is omnipresent. It appeared even during the lives of the apostles. Paul warned that the time would come when men would not endure sound doctrine, but having. itching ears, would heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts and be turned away from the truth and turned to fables.

Evangelists and elders are constantly at grips with this tendency. They must warn people whether they want to be warned or not. Preachers are commanded to preach the word in season and out. Elders are commanded to watch for the souls of the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers. A preacher or an elder cannot shut his mouth when error or worldliness arises in the church without having the blood of those people who should have been warned upon his own hands.

God's word is a plumbline - a never yielding, never-bending plumbline. We must true, our lives to fit the plumbline, we cannot bend the plumbline to fit our lives. And it is the responsibility of every teacher of the Word of Almighty God to fearlessly preach it without favor, and without compromise. The faithfulness of the church depends upon the willingness of preachers, elders and teachers to apply the Word of God to the lives of men.

The church of our Lord can easily lose its New Testament earmarks without surrendering cardinal doctrines. A failure to maintain the purity of life which God requires can destroy it. God foreordained from the foundation of the world that we be conformed to the linage of his Son. Unless the wicked is warned of the error of his way this purpose cannot be fulfilled in man. And his blood God will require at our hands.

We are afraid that the pressure against plain, positive preaching is increasing. We have personally witnessed instances where members of the church who could not stand plain preaching, and who had no intention of straightening their lives, put the pressure on elders of the church to "change preachers." The greatest single protest we hear from faithful gospel preachers is that worldly members of the church keep up a diabolical campaign - never missing all opportunity - to "remove the preacher" who preaches against sin and worldliness in the church. Seemingly the thought of sincere repentance is furthest from their minds. But preachers who yield to such pressure, and shut their mouths about sin - in the church or out of it - will have the blood of those very people upon their own hands.

And elders who yield to such pressure call be assured of having plenty of the same blood on their own hands. They can fire the preacher and stop his preaching against sin, but they are taking an adder into their bosoms when they do. You can smash the barometer but you can't stop the storm!

Any man who occupies the place of a watchman in the house of Israel and who does not warn the wicked night and day of the error of his way is unfaithful to his trust and can expect no other alternative than that God will mete out to him such punishment as is justly due to men with blood on their hands.

Truth Magazine III:2, p. 21
November 1958