Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 12, 1970
NUMBER 40, PAGE 1-2a

The Appeal Of The Word Of The Message

Robert H. Farish

The character of the gospel, its utter lack of appeal to material self-interest, or to the "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life" makes it highly improbable that it would have been accepted as the word of God if the evidence of its divine origin had been questionable. What would be left to modern advertising if these areas of appeal were denied to it? Try to imagine modern advertising stripped of sex appeal, status appeal, pride appeal, luxury appeal. Yet the gospel without such effective propaganda — with no appeal to weakness, lust, ambition, selfishness, greed, pride, was accepted by those at Thessalonica as the word of God.

The exhortation which those at Thessalonica received from Paul was not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile; but even as we have been approved of God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men but God who proveth our hearts:" (1 Thess. 2:3, 4)

Not Of Error

The message which Paul preached was truth; it was not "error" or deceit; it was not "wandering" or "straying about." It was firm, fixed eternal. To the honest and good heart, this has a powerful appeal but to the populace at large, error, "wandering," "straying about" is far more popular. To the gross heart, error is much more appealing than truth. Myths, fables, lies and error are far more palatable to the majority then truth. Love of the truth is cultivated only by the small minority of people. Truth does not compliment the sophisticated; it does not flatter the proud, nor encourage the selfish and greedy, nor comfort the sinner in his sin. If one's goal is simply a large following, his exhortation will be error or deceit. The gospel which was Paul's exhortation was not of error.

Nor Of Uncleanness

The purpose of false teachers, those whose exhortation was of error, was to introduce lascivious mysteries. Their appeal was to the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Those were the things upon which error must depend to gain its followers. The fact that the exhortation of Paul did not in any sense or degree depend for its acceptance upon the appeal of uncleanness is evidence in proof of the divine origin of the gospel which he preached. The signs performed in connection with the preaching had to be sufficiently convincing to overcome the appeal of uncleanness. Rather than relying on uncleanness to attract, the gospel by which they were called was not of uncleanness, they were called in sanctification. "God called us not for uncleanness but in sanctification" (1 Thess. 4:7).

Nor In Guile

The false teachers depended upon guile to gain acceptance for their error. Guile is from a Greek word meaning "bait," hence a lure or a snare. Elymas the Sorcerer was charged by Paul as "full of all guile" (Acts 13:10). He quoted the charge of his detractors at Corinth, "I caught you with guile" and proceeded to prove the falseness of the charge. Jesus "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (1 Pet. 2:22). The Christian is to "lay aside all malice and all guile" (1 Pet. 2:1) and "He that would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips that they speak no guile" ( I Pet. 3:10, 11).

Truth does not depend upon guile for its acceptance or advancement. The absence of guile in the apostles exhortation was a mark of its divine origin. We should understand that when guile is employed, in the so-called interest of advancing truth, the gospel is cheapened in the eyes of the world. When this weapon of error is employed in the interest of truth, truth suffers and error rejoices. The absence of guile in the apostle's exhortation is cited here as characteristic of the word of the message which the Thessalonian church members had received as the word of God.

The message both in content and proclamation was worthy of heaven. The gospel was preached "not as pleasing men, but God." The preacher did not employ flattery to gain a friendly hearing nor was he motivated by covetousness. His conduct demonstrated the purity of his motives.

These characteristics of the word of the message and the manner of its proclamation do not adorn error; they do not commend themselves to the advocates of a message which is questionable. But these qualities were possessed by the word which the Thessalonians received as the word of God.

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