Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 7, 1961
NUMBER 18, PAGE 2,14b

"Teacher's After Their Own Lusts"

Hoyt H. Houchen, Abilene, Texas

"For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables." (2 Tim. 4:3, 4)

For two years, the author of this article had been scheduled to do the preaching in a gospel meeting at Alachua, Florida, June 19-25, 1961. The meeting had been arranged through the influence of one of the sound brethren at Alachua who had heard me preach one Lord's day at Melrose, Florida, two years ago. Reports of the situation at Alachua by reliable brethren were not good, that the church there had been fed a soft diet for several years by a preacher who did not preach distinctively but popular enough to be elected mayor of the city. Brethren who knew the condition there were elated that my meeting was scheduled with that church but they as well as I could hardly realize why it had materialized. During my meeting at Melrose, Florida, this past June and just prior to the scheduled meeting at Alachua, brethren told me that they would be surprised if I were allowed to continue the meeting due to the softness that prevails there.

One of the Alachua elders, who has a house on lake Santa Fe in Melrose, attended a few nights of the Melrose meeting. The Melrose preacher, brother Earl Dowdy, a sound, faithful gospel preacher and a congenial coworker, and I were invited over to this elder's house to discuss the brotherhood issues with him. His invitation was extended upon the pretence that he wanted to learn the truth upon these matters. In the discussion in which we answered some questions that he asked, he stated that he did not believe that these problems should be preached upon during a gospel meeting. Circumstances should determine whether it is best judgment to preach upon the issues during a meeting where the church has been taught the truth, and is faithful and sound in the truth. Preaching upon the issues in such cases would be a matter of judgment, simply a question of whether sermons on the issues would be needed at that particular time. But in the case of Alachua, I realized that the church there had not had sound teaching upon the organization and function of the church, so I did not take the brother's hint but informed him that I believed that those outside the church are entitled to know the truth as to the organization and work of the church. He expressed his conviction and I expressed mine. The discussion was cordial.

Following the Melrose meeting, the Alachua meeting began on Monday night, June 19. Sermons were preached upon the scheme of redemption, the thief on the cross (a contrast of the covenants), the unity of the Spirit (emphasis being placed upon the truth that we are divided upon those things outside the realm of divine authority), and then on Thursday night I presented a lesson on "Why We Do Not Use Mechanical Instruments of Music in Worship" in which I stressed how Bible authority is established in the matter of vocal music only, in worship. So far the lessons were accepted; however, tension was obvious in the services, very little assistance was given to me in setting up a blackboard, etc., and D. Ellis Walker, liberal preacher from Gainesville, had been present for two nights of the meeting. Obviously, there was apprehension on the part of the Alachua elders that a sermon on the issues would be preached. Then on Friday evening my sermon was on "The Bulwarks of Zion" in which I made four points: no creed but the Bible, no organization but the church, no worship but that of the New Testament, and no gospel but the gospel of Christ. I tried to present the material in as kind yet forceful manner as possible. Actually, it was a simple lesson on the identity of the church. However, the applications did not take with a few as will be seen. The young preacher, recently hired at Alachua, arose to his feet at the close of the service, stated that some things were presented to think upon BUT when he will preach upon the Herald of Truth and "Orphan Homes" it will be different from what had just been presented. After the service was dismissed, a number of the Alachua brethren, as well as other brethren present, complimented the sermon and some remarked that it was the truth and one that was long needed to be preached in Alachua. Word had come to me before the Alachua meeting that there was a divided sentiment on the issues in that church and some were disgusted with the situation. May I add that encouraging support was given to me by a group of faithful brethren who recently began a new congregation in Gainesville. These brethren attended faithfully, both at Melrose and Alachua. Brother Horace Hartsell is the faithful and loyal preacher working with this new congregation.

The Friday night incident at Alachua is hereby reported by brother Hartsell who was present at that service:

"Your Services Are No Longer Needed"

The above was stated by an elder at Alachua, Florida, Friday night, June 23, after brother Hoyt Houchen preached a gospel sermon on the identity of the Lord's church.

The elder came shaking with anger to brother Houchen after the lesson and said: "Your services are no longer needed, and I'm sorry you disobeyed me and preached that sermon." Brother Houchen replied that he had never agreed not to preach on the issues facing the church. He had several witnesses who attest that he made no promise of any kind as to what he was to preach during the meeting, either to this elder or anyone else at Alachua.

There are faithful brethren in Alachua who greatly admire and appreciate brother Houchen for shunning not to declare the whole counsel of God in his preaching. But brother Houchen is already being misrepresented by liberal brethren in regard to this event; so I have submitted this as an eyewitness to what occurred there.

— Horace Hartsell

I have no apology or any regret for having preached the truth in Alachua. When Paul went to Antioch of Pisidia on his first preaching tour, he preached on the resurrection of Christ because that was what was needed to be preached there. When he went to Athens on his second tour, he preached on the one true and living God and denounced idolatry because the Athenians were idolaters. Paul never side stepped an issue and faithful gospel preachers will not do so. When men reject the truth, they do not reject the preacher. (1 Thess. 4:8)

Following the Friday night incident, D. Ellis Walker was then employed to preach the following night, Saturday night, in an effort to refute what was preached by me the night before. Brethren who attended and took notes, which I have, said that he presented no scripture in defense of what he practices but rather spent a good deal of time referring to me.

It has always been true that there have been those who will refuse to listen to the truth of God's word. It is an attitude of rebellion on their part. They do not respect the authority of God's word and they are unwilling to be taught. Such was the condition in Isaiah's day. Jehovah described His people in these words: "For it is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of Jehovah; that say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits...." (Isa. 30:9, 10)

When people are determined to have their own way, follow their own sentiments and emotions, and refuse to be taught God's will, they will rally around a preacher who will preach what they want to hear.

The Alachua incident is reported that brethren everywhere may know the truth and that false reports will be refuted.