By Jimmy Tuten
Throughout the brotherhood there is an excessive, persistent enthusiasm for the positive. We are witnessing the philosophy of a popular song of a few years ago: “Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.” While this is an utter impossibility even in the area of religion, it has resulted in the kind of preaching that can be best labeled warmed over pablum. Some preachers have become time-servers and crowd pleasers who act more like public relations men and pep-rally enthusiasts than the preachers they ought to be. Bible preaching has been replaced by hirelings who are afraid and refuse to fight the error that they know exists in the congregations where they preach. The blind lead the blind and together they go tripping into hell. The church is in a crisis and she needs men who will make God’s will and way clear in an age of foggy, unclear thoughts and ideals. God’s Word is indeed clear, plain, aggressive and logical. It is not myopic or mysterious. We must speak in love, but we must speak all the truth, and only the truth in love. Failure to do this has contributed to the present rise in the pseudo unity movements, such as the Joplin, Missouri meeting of recent months. If brethren were preaching Ephesians 4:3-6 like it ought to be preached instead of the insipid indefiniteness so often heard, the unity-in-diversity business would not be gaining ground. Mergers involving the Church of Christ and. Christian Church where the instrument is used the first fifteen minutes and excluded during the rest of the service would not take place (The Flint Journal, Flint, Mich. [9/3/831).
Can one stand for what is right and at the same time not stand against what is wrong? Some think so and are taking no outward stand against error while they harbor an inward loyalty to truth. We have a generation of preachers who cannot stand the spotlight of disdain, so they take a nothing negative, nothing controversial, stance in the pulpit. This “for nothing” and “against nothing” mania is not a for-the-Lord position (Matt. 12:30). We sing, “Who is on the Lord’s side, Master, here am I,” not realizing that a “here am V is involved and requires a commitment. If Elijah were to stand in our midst today he would cry aloud: “how long halt ye between two opinions.”
Preaching of the Word of Gd requires that the heart be touched, the conscience pricked, that men be built up and that there be a “root up and destroy” evil, error and untruth thrust. Simply said, it is time we did some stepping on toes regardless of the cries of horror. If we are true to the Book, we will do it! Can one preach the whole counsel and do less? I think not (2 Tim. 4:1-6; Acts 20:27)!
When will we learn that one cannot stand for what is right and be passive for what is wrong? King David stood for what is right even in his personal imperfections. He acknowledged his sins, sought forgiveness and cried, “I hate every false way” (Psa. 119:104). He could not be for what was right while not being against what was wrong. If we are what we claim to be, we today will cease trying to stand for truth and be passive regarding error at the same time. We must deal with the negative and the controversial, whatever be the cost. The principle of warning the wicked of the error of his way is as true today as it ever has been (Ezek. 3:18-19). How can a gospel preacher hold his peace and find rest while attempting to middle-the-road it? Shades of “curse Ye Meroz” (Judg. 5:23).
According to Judges, the people Israel had forsaken God and were chastened by Him. Jabin, king of Canaan had sent forth his army under Sisera to do battle against Israel. In penitence Israel cried out unto God and He gave them victory under Barak. But the people of Meroz; took no part in the conflict. They could have helped Israel with telling effect. In assigning a reason for the curse of the inhabitants of Meroz the Bible says: “because they came not to the help of Jehovah, to the help of Jehovah against the mighty.” They had refused to help God’s people and this amounted to refusing to help God. Some of God’s people today are fighting for their spiritual lives and there are hordes of brethren who come not to their aid. James says, “To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17). Whenever we preachers are able to minister to the weakest of congregations and do it not, we fail to minister to God and His Son (Matt. 25:40). Again, I ask, how can ye do nothing? How can we be indifferent and inactive? The inhabitants of Meroz were cursed for doing nothing!
That God wants us to be watchful and to guard against all error and wrong doing is obvious to all who know and accept the Scriptures. The need for watchfulness is greater than ever (Rev. 3:2; 1 Tim. 6:20). Away with the babblings about “keepers of orthodoxy,” “guardians” and “negativism.” We are to be guardians and keepers of truth (Phil. 1:17). There are those who will criticize you for so doing, but they are oblivious to their self-contradiction as they criticize critics, judge those who pronounce righteous judgment, and guard against those who would guard truth and right.
Are you against the wrong and for the right? Or do you go along with the crowd? Most of us stand for something, but what do we oppose? Will we continue to do nothing about the ills in the church?
The story is told of a godless man who was for years the scandal of his town. People had come to think of him as an atheist and a servant of the devil. This embittered him all the more. When he died and his will was read, there was a provision in it that his fifty-five acre farm was to “go to the devil.” His lawyer did not know how to carry out that wish, and so he did nothing. Years went by before the lawyer decided that he would drive out to the farm and took it over. When he arrived, he was startled by a scene of bleak desolation. Fences were down, the house had fallen in, the equipment had rusted away and the fields were covered with weeds. He decided that his obligation to the old man had been fulfilled. By doing nothing, he had let the farm go to the devil.
There is a lesson in this for us!
Guardian of Truth XXX: 8, pp. 238-239
April 17, 1986