By J. Wiley Adams
In Acts 17:61-21 a record of Paul’s preaching in the city of Athens is given. Focus is given especially to his address on Mars Hill. Paul was really stirred up when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. He did not fail to take issue with those elite, pseudo-intellectuals who regarded themselves as the “somewhat” citizenry in that godless society. And do you know, Paul was alone? It takes a lot of courage to stand up for the truth under such conditions. We could use more than a few good men like Paul today.
Paul attracted the attention of the curiosity people namely, the Stoics who prided themselves on self-discipline (just for the sake of it), and also the Epicureans who had no scruples of any kind. Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses of our time they believe when you die you die all over like the dog Rover. So with this false idea why not just let your hair down and indulge oneself?
In contemporary circles the Epicureans were the “wine, women, and song” bunch. It seems unique that in today’s society we have far more of this crowd than Stoics for we have a generation on our hands who sneer at the idea of any kind of discipline in whatever form.
What Paul was saying to them sounded strange. They expressed a desire to hear more from this “babbler” for whatever reason. The “new doctrine” Paul preached at least got their attention and, once he had that, he really began to set them straight about the one God. He did not spend a half hour “leading up” to the subject. He got to the point at once. He told them what they needed to know. His point of emphasis was the one true God who had created the world and all things through Jesus Christ, his unique Son. Some that we could name today who call themselves gospel preachers are too timid and cowardly to manifest the courage of Paul, the fearless preacher. They wanted to hear some new thing. They had nothing to do except sit around and “tell or hear some new thing.” Paul took advantage of their curiosity.
We have among us today a flock of neophyte preachers coming on that make me extremely uneasy. They remind me of the philosophers on Mars Hill. They cannot content themselves with the pure and simple gospel of Christ. Maybe they do not know what preaching is all about. Sensationalism with them is the order of the day. Seeking their place in the sun by seemingly any means they show a flair for the unusual. The substantial things of the past like the King James Version from which most older preachers memorized their passages is now by some regarded as “inferior” as well as those who still use it as a basic text. Some who have a lot of trouble with “thee” or “thou” have no problem with the works of William Shakespeare. Is anyone for updating the literary classic about Romeo and Juliet? After all we could use current slang and say “Hey, man, where didja run off to?” I raise the question as to what is wrong with some dignity? We now have so many versions and perversions and paraphrases that it boggles the mind.
With this kind of thinking, it is no wonder we are once again plagued on every hand with false doctrine from within. Brethren, I declare! Do we not have enough to do in seeking and saving the lost without having to stop and take up our time dealing with some damnable doctrine from our own brethren? Lately it has been the deity of Christ issue, the marriage, divorce and remarriage heresy, and now this new thing called the continuous covenant view.
I tell you, these things are devices of Satan to detour good men from reaching the lost with the pure gospel of Christ. Those who advocate such would count themselves to be good students of the Bible. How can it be so?
What do these fellows really want? What makes them tick? Can it be a lack of love for the unadulterated word of God? Or, could it be they want to be in the spotlight? Whatever their problem is, it would be better for them to go on out of the church so we will at least know what to expect, than to hang around in the church to create even more havoc among the brethren. Some new thing! If it is new, it is not true and if it is true, it is not new. We used to say that. We need to say it again and again. May God help us all!
Bible Banner, July 1938
The Spirit of Christ
Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
Other stock expressions of apologists for the soft-pedal cadences of sweet preaching are that we should manifest the spirit of Christ, and do things in the Christian way. The word “manifest” means to make clear and plain, apparent. Then to manifest the spirit of Christ means to make clear and plain what Christ thinks of the errors and shams of religion. This can be done by showing what he said and did regarding the teachers and institutions of error in his day. He said they were human plants and would be rooted up, and he called them all by name. A follower of Christ should always manifest the spirit of Christ; and a Christian should always do everything in the Christian way. There is no man whose soul senses a deeper desire for these Christ like traits than my own, unless he has a deeper soul. But how may we know the spirit of Christ save as he exemplifies it? Follow him from Nazareth to Calvary and hear him release his spirit in reiterated excoriation of religious blind guides and their blind alleys. To the divinity doctors and phylacteried Pharisees He had a bad spirit the spirit of Beelzebub! If the very spirit of Christ in his own preaching was stigmatized as the spirit of the devil by pharisaical prater and pretenders who had their piety on parade, those who preach today as Christ and the apostles did, need not think to escape the same stigmatic criticisms. The Lord’s way of preaching is on record. He said those religious leaders did things “for a pretense” and should receive “the greater damnation”; he said their proselytes (converts) were “two-fold more the child of hell” than themselves; He said, “Ye fools and blind . . . ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel” (the Lord even had a sense of humor and resorted to the ludicrous in exposing their shams); He said, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell,” and “upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the al-tar.” Such was the preaching of Jesus. Do those who talk so much about “the spirit of Christ” preach that way on anything ever? Rather do they seem to think that “the spirit of Christ” and “speaking the truth in love” means to be so gentle and love everybody so dearly as to let them die and go to hell before we would nettle their feelings by telling them the truth!
There are religious Pharisees with us yet whose sins and shams demand castigation “in the spirit of Christ.” Preachers today can choose between two courses: the course of the least resistance in preaching only that portion of the truth in a mild and affirmative manner which meets no opposition, or like Jesus and Paul, preach the will of God in all of its condemning as well as saving power, without thought of man’s fear or favor. But the praise and popularity that accrue from compromise and neutrality are empty, indeed. “He makes no friends who never made a foe.”
Guardian of Truth XLI: 16 p. 15
August 21, 1997