By Tom Wheeler
When I look at Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary I find the following definition: “(1): sensitive mental or aesthetic perception, (2): a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense” (page 1201).
This sounds good for surely I do not want to go around intentionally offending others. If I do not have good relations with others, I will have very few, if any, friends and will be unable to have a good influence upon others. This thinking has been carried to the extreme. Religious papers have been started with the purpose of not offending any-one. Some preachers have the reputation of being “positive preachers.” This generally means that anyone can listen to them without having his conscious pricked. They don’t call sin, sin, at least in understandable terms. Papers that take this stand and preachers that preach this way will be-come popular. The paper will probably have more subscriptions than any other. I have been told (by those who know much more about history than I do) that history proves that such a paper will always go liberal or into apostasy.
Babies have to be taught to go from milk to more nourishing food. Many of them would stay on milk until they died of milk anemia if the parents did not insist that they add other things to their diet. Many Christians are the same way. They say, “Give me something that sounds good.” “Give me something that will not cause me to feel bad.”
“I can read that paper and feel good about myself’ is heard even by those that should be eating the meat of the Word. “I can listen to that preacher and go away feeling uplifted.” Did you ever stop to consider that you need to be instructed instead of uplifted? Did you ever quit a sin that you felt good about? I never, never, quit a sin that I felt good about! I always felt good about quitting.
Would these people who want to “feel good about them-selves” appreciate what Jesus had to say in Matthew 23? Seven times Jesus said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Jesus called them fools, blind serpents, and a generation of vipers. He told them plainly that they had killed the prophets. He told them that they wanted to be exalted before men. Jesus did express his concern for them in the latter part of the chapter, but I don’t think he said anything that would soothe the soft feeling of many among us today.
Paul’s instructions to the young preacher Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1-4 and 2 Timothy 4:1-4, as well as other places, are very pointed. He did not mince words and did not instruct Timothy to preach so folks would feel good about themselves when they heard. 1 Timothy 4:1-4: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanks-giving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (KJV). 2 Timothy 4:1-4: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in sea-son, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (KJV). Remember the charge that Paul gave to Timothy is pointed and specific. It has nothing to do with making everything palatable to the hearer.
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3, KJV). The command to “earnestly contend for the faith” is a very strong command. Many times contending for the faith will not soothe the soft feelings of the hearers.
Lest I be misunderstood, let me say that we are not to be ugly and insulting .We are to be considerate of the other person and with love and humility strive to teach them the truth. The truth may be exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 23. I believe Jesus in Matthew 23 was being as humble and kind as he could be under the circumstances. I do not believe Paul was telling Timothy to intentionally insult anyone. Surely we can see from these passages and others that we are not to be goody-two-shoes in the face of error.
Love is emphasized throughout the Scriptures. We are to love God, the truth, and our fellow man, Christian or alien. Some would have us to believe that love would never cause someone to feel badly. The kind of love that most people think of would cause us to allow our best friend to die and go to hell in sin. For we should not say anything that would take away from their good feeling.
Ezekiel 33:7-9: “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, `O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul “(NKJV). I hear the term “watchdog” used in a very unkind language. The language is directed to elders, preachers, paper editors, and Bible class teachers who have the intestinal fortitude to teach the truth about error that is going on in the Lord’s church. I believe some folks ought to be ashamed for blaspheming both God and his servants in many of these criticisms. Hands of those who teach the truth should be held up, in spite of the fact that they may not smile every time that I think they should. Tact is being taught and emphasized in the denominational ecumenical movement until it is affecting those who claim to be servants in the Lord’s church. I am all for being as kind as one can be under the circumstances. However people are being condemned for telling the truth and others are being praised for being soft and not causing anyone to feel bad about their sins or false teachings.
When did the church have its greatest growth in modern history? Well, it was before TV. It was before the latest wave of materialism. It was before the ecumenical movement. It was before preachers stopped preaching about “hell” and calling it “hell.” It was before preachers began to be more concerned about “tact” than they were about their instructions from God and the people they were sup-posed to be teaching. It was also before preachers begin to read more from the writings of denominational authors (that do not know what to do to obey the gospel) than they do from the Bible and faithful brethren.
Guardian of Truth XL: 8 p. 14-15
April 18, 1996