In Season, Out of Season

By J. Wiley Adams

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”

The preaching of the Word of God is a heavy responsibility. Everyone who preaches and has been doing so very long will agree that this is so. There are times when one kind of teaching is needed more than another. Selecting sermon topics is always a chore for me. Once the choice has been made and providing the subject chosen is a Bible one there is always ample material in the Scriptures. Preachers are to take into consideration at all times what the particular need of the hour might be. As the years have passed, this writer remembers many times that the subject chosen was not the one needed and has changed subjects at a moment’s notice. I certainly know that review of any Bible subject does not hurt anyone but it might be challenging to those already well taught on that topic. I have also heard of preachers who work a given subject to death. A year and a half on the Holy Spirit or six months on premillennialism is not necessary. I like beans and greens but deliver me from a constant menu of either one. One preacher took two years to teach the book of Revelation.

Sometimes preachers can be political. They get heady on popularity and prestige. So some at times have shunned needed subjects in gospel meetings so as to be asked to return again for another meeting. Well, maybe I do not have good sense but , if I am going somewhere to preach and know and have been told ahead of time by those who know that certain problems exist, then skillfully dodge around and refuse to preach on the need ,I do not feel I have done my duty. There have been times that I preached on what was needed both in local work and meeting work to my own detriment not knowing if I would be allowed to finish out or not. Preaching the truth in season or out of season demands that of everyone who calls himself a gospel preacher.

Surely one should not poke into matters that are purely congregational but if it is a matter of truth this transcends all congregational lines. I know there is such a thing as meddling but it is wrong to accuse one of that when he has just put the medicine where needed. If you have a sore leg, it would be ridiculous to put the salve on your ear. Put it on the sore leg. This is elementary.

Politics in preaching sometimes manifests itself in one gospel preacher not being willing to acknowledge the presence of others in the services. When I preach it always means a lot to me to have other preachers present who have taken time out from very busy schedules to come and hear me preach. Common courtesy requires some appropriate comment of appreciation to be made. You can carry this to extreme but one can do it within the bounds of propriety. But I am always glad when anyone comes to hear me preach whether preachers or not. Some in Paul’s day were ashamed of his “chain” but others readily associated with him in spite of possible reprisal by lesser brethren. I have always stood and plan to continue to stand with brethren by association or otherwise who have preached and have become unpopular with some because of their stand for truth. But to be totally disregarded and passed over by some political preacher while he skins the Baptists and Methodists when there is not one in the house nor during the entire meeting and to shun faithful brethren for fear of becoming unpopular is nothing but cowardice. There is no other word for it. The gospel in the hands of such makes those of us who try to do it right without fear or favor like the apostle Paul, I say, it makes us very uneasy. Are these custodians of truth or are they time-servers and self-serving diplomats?

Preaching the gospel has never been calculated to make one popular. Sometimes preachers do become prominent due to their sound preaching and life. This is another thing altogether. Remember, my beloved brethren, we serve the Lord and not men. Preach the word in season or out. To do less is to fail to please our Father in Heaven.

Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 18, p. 14
September 15, 1994