By Austin Mobley
Nearly everyone, With the possible exception of atheists, agnostics and a few skeptics, agree that preaching is necessary and that, because of it, the world is made a better place in which to live. Nonetheless, a one time or another someone tries to put a bridle on every gospel preacher by requesting that he not speak on certain subjects.
Several years ago the elders of a church in Keller, Texas submitted a “program” under which they demanded that their preacher should do his work. Here are. their rules (Gospel Guardian, Vol. 1, No. 8, June 23, 194, page 8):
1. No first principles need to be preached here. People know what we believe and teach. They resent constant mention of baptism. First principles may be mentioned at the close of a sermon; that is sufficient.
2. All sermons should be directed to the church, the kind that make us feel good-inspirational sermons.
3. Under no conditions may a religious name of other people be mentioned in a sermon.
4. All negative preaching is unnecessary. All error that needs to be exposed can be corrected by preaching the opposite truth.
5. All words such as “denominationalism” and “sectarianism”, etc. are unnecessary to good preaching and should be eliminated.
This is the old denominational concept of “Preach the gospel, but leave others alone.” Unfortunately this attitude also prevails among some professed followers of Christ as illustrated above.
Preachers like to please people. It makes them happy as well as those who hear them. However, should we wish to comply with the request to “Preach the gospel but leave others alone,” what could we preach?
“There is one God” (1 Cor. 8:6)? This would offend both the atheist (no God) and the polytheist (many gods). For example, atheist Madelyn O’Hair objected to Col. Borman’s Thanksgiving prayer and his reading from the book of Genesis in outer space.
“The Deity of Christ” (Matt. 17:5; Acts 2:14-36)? “Christ’.’ means “anointed of God.” Paul preached “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). The Deity of Christ was demonstrated in many ways; His works, His sinless life, and His resurrection from the dead (Ram. 1:4). Nevertheless, when Christ is preached,, unbelieving Jews are offended. A case in point is Stephen who was stoned to death by Jews when he preached Christ (Acts 7:51-60).
“The Bible” (2 Tim. 3:16-17,’ Gal. 1:8-9; Rev. 22:1819)? The Bible is either what it claims to be or it is a complete fraud. Its indestructibility, unity and influence all confirm its claims. But if we preach that the Bible is the perfect and complete will of God, we offend those who believe in latter day revelations. Nearly every denomination has its creed book in addition to the Bible. These contradict one another and are updated from time to time. Denominationalists are so wedded to their respective creeds and so-called revelations that they would prefer one’s criticism of the Bible to that of their man-made tenets.
“One church” (Matt. 16:18; Col. 1:18; Eph. 4:4; Acts 2:47)? When we preach that there is one church and that every other church was founded by men and will thus be “rooted up” (Matt. 15:13), the denominations are offended. They would have us believe that we may “join the church of our choice,” and that members of all churches are “headed for the same place.”
“One baptism” (Acts 2:38; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21)? Preaching that baptism is essential to salvation and that it is a burial in water is offensive to all those who believe otherwise. Many believe that baptism is nonessential. Many also believe that baptism can be administered either by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. Still others believe they are to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and that water baptism is merely an outward demonstration of their having already been freed from sin.
“Faithfulness to Christ” (Rom. 12:1-2; Titus 2:11-12; 2 Pet. 1:5-11J? When preachers teach Christians to put off the works of the flesh, to worship regularly, to grow, to teach others, etc., the worldly minded are offended.
Obviously, it is impossible to “preach the gospel and leave others alone.” True, preachers must use wisdom in the way Truth is presented, and they must “speak the truth in love,” but we must “not shun to declare all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16).
Truth Magazine XIX: 48, pp. 761-762
October 16, 1975