"Don't Preach on It"

P. J. Casebolt
Akron, Ohio

The gospel preacher has already been told what to preach. He has also been told what not to preach. He has been charged in the presence of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angel" (I Tim. 5: 21; 2 Tim. 4:1, 2). Knowledge of this should fill a preacher's heart with fear, respect, and humility. It should also cause others to understand the responsibility incurred by one who undertakes to "do the work of an evangelist."

In spite of these facts, some brethren will still try to tell a preacher what and what not to preach. During the time that I have been, preaching, I have been requested not to preach about the Masonic Lodge, the Methodist Church, the Catholic Church, divorce and re-marriage, and "youth camps." In other instances, pressure has been applied to elders and congregations to tell me not to preach on these and other things, but no such request was made. I'm certain that other preachers have experienced the same thing.

No preacher would object to any faithful member making suggestions with regard to his sermon subject or method of presentation. I have profited from such suggestions. In fact, I have sought the advice of elders and other respected members not a few times. There have been times when I wished that someone would have informed me of certain conditions so that I could have made plans accordingly. I think that elders or a congregation would be perfectly in order if they presented a preacher with certain facts and asked him to use as much discretion as possible in dealing with them.

However, I resent being told by anyone "You can't preach on that subject here." I may not preach on "divorce and re-marriage" in every meeting, but I want to be free to do so in case I deem it necessary. It is not possible to preach on every subject in one sermon or ten. Sometimes the truth can be preached on a given subject without "calling names"; sometimes it is necessary to identify a thing by name. If brethren would leave the preacher alone, he may never mention the offensive subject, but once he has been forbidden to preach it, his conscience will not allow him to enter into such an alliance. Brethren should not invite a preacher in whom they have no confidence. But, if I'm going to be judged on the basis of what I preach, and must give an account unto God and his Son for what I have preached, then I want to be the one to decide what to preach, when to preach it, and where to preach it. If any man can convince me that he can take my place in judgement, then I will let him tell me what to preach. Until then, I will look unto Jesus for guidance in the unsurpassed privilege and fearful responsibility of preaching the gospel. Let no man trouble the gospel preacher henceforth, for he bears in his heart the desire to help man and to please God. If any preach not the gospel, but bring some other doctrine, "receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed..." (2 John. 10.)

Truth Magazine VII: 8, pp. 1
May 1963