By Connie W. Adams
“Hold fast the form of sound words . . .” (2 Tim. 1:13). That which is “sound” is wholesome, healthful, calculated to contribute to the spiritual well-being of the hearers. “Form” means pattern. Sound teaching is not ritualistic. It does not consist of vain repetitions. But there is a definite ring to it. Words are sound because they are truth. “Thy word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). They are sound because they were revealed by the Holy Spirit to inspired men (1 Cor. 2:13).
Sound preachers are those who preach what the Bible says. We teach our little children to sing “Oh the B-I-B-L-E, Yes, that’s the book for me.” Some preachers thank they have outgrown that. They can tell you what great men have said, but precious little about what the word of God says. There is a hunger in the souls of men and women for the pure word of God. Their souls are thirsty for it.
In our traveling about to and from gospel meetings in various parts of the country, we plan travel time so as to be able to worship with brethren on the Lord’s day. At times we have complained because of the lack of Bible teaching heard at some places. I believe those complaints are legitimate. But there are also times when we hear faithful servants of the Lord ably present “sound words.” Such was our experience last Sunday on our way home from a gospel meeting in Palmetto, Florida. We heard Robert Harkrider at South Bumby Avenue in Orlando on Sunday morning. He was concluding a series on the book of Philippians. It was rich and meaty, yet simply delivered. It was faith building. We came away strengthened and encouraged. Readers of this magazine will rejoice to know that brother Harkrider is presently working on a commentary on the book of Revelation which will be a part of the series of commentaries on the New Testament being published by Guardian of Truth Foundation. He is also slated to write the commentary on Hebrews in that series.
We drove to Valdosta, Georgia for evening services expecting to hear Bryce Embry who is in his first full-time work. Instead, they began a meeting that day with Bill Hall. His sermon was on “Commitment to Christ.” He addressed popular errors on the subject with great plainness of speech. But he began by immediately calling us to the word to Acts 11:19-26, emphasizing verse 23 “that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.” His sermon was full of scripture and delivered in a manner which showed careful preparation, deep reverence for the Lord and his word and an earnest concern for the souls of his hearers. We came away even more determined to “cleave unto the Lord.”
I often conclude letters to fellow gospel preachers with “Preach the word.” I would also urge brethren everywhere to insist that we do just that.
Time Tested Advice
It was forty years ago that my wife and I left the work at Palmetto, Florida and moved to the Atlanta area to work with what was then the Glenwood Hills church in Decatur, Georgia. Though I had resigned the work at Palmetto, there was some misunderstanding between the elders and me. At the time, I did not think I was fairly treated. Some brethren in the congregation came to me and asked if I would help them start another congregation in town. James P. Miller proved to be a great friend during those trying days and he strongly advised against that. He said, “You are young and you will learn from all this and go on with your work elsewhere. But those folks have to stay there. If you do this, there will be friction for the next 40-50 years.” I listened and am glad that was the case. We have just finished my third gospel meeting with the church at Palmetto since that time forty years ago. After our departure years ago, problems were adjusted, I went on with my work elsewhere and learned a great deal from the experience. Now, forty years later, the wisdom of the advice given by brother Miller can be seen. There is a strong, thriving congregation of 150 in Palmetto. They have three elders, seven deacons and have an able preacher in Frank Himmel who has been there eleven years. They are at peace and growing. In many ways it is one of the most stable churches in that entire area.
We still need elder and more experienced men to set good examples and offer wise counsel to younger men.
And we need for the young men to note the difference between good advice and bad and to listen to the good and follow the worthy examples of those who have learned from the experiences of life. What a thrill it was to preach in Palmetto again. The brethren asked me to preach first principles this time and they would work to get those out of Christ there to hear. They did just that and we had a wonderful week of work together.
Judgment to Come
On Mars Hills in Athens, Paul said, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent; Because he that appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). Please notice things that are connected in this passage: (1) God will not excuse our ignorance; (2) He commands all men everywhere to repent; (3) there will be a day of judgment; (4) the standards of that judgment will be righteousness as taught by Jesus Christ; (5) this judgment is assured by the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
These considerations should be motivation enough for all of us to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world, and to prompt us to work diligently to see to it that the gospel is preached in all the world in our generation, for it could be the last one before the appointed day. Let’s get on with it.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 9, p. 3-4
May 5, 1994