Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 20, 1959

"What Has Happened To Gospel Preachers?"

Bob Franks, Beaumont, Texas

The caption of this article serves as a query to all gospel preachers everywhere. I started preaching about ten years ago and even at that time, most gospel preachers could be understood as to what they believed on any Bible subject and they preached what they believed. Ask them and you would immediately get an answer. They had convictions then but alas, the seeds of digression were sown and popularity seems more important today than spirituality to many, and they preach little and stand for nothing. It has been my experience in the last several years to see brethren who seemed to be sound in the faith begin to worship and serve the creature more than the Creator. It seems to me that their conception of the great men of God in the past and even Christ himself, was that they walked about with a pious look chanting the hypnotic word ... "peace." "Don't preach on the issues; you might cause division." How often have we heard this statement? PEACE AT ALL COSTS! Let the church build youth camps, (with the accent on the gym instead of Him), maintain their church kitchens, sponsor youth rallies, do their work through human institutions, "but oh brother, don't preach against them — we want peace — ah, sweet peace."

In 1 Col. 11:18-19, the apostle Paul makes this statement. "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that divisions exist among you, and I partly believe it. For there must be also factions among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you." Paul had already condemned the division at Corinth in the first chapter but now he is telling them that there must be factions among them that the righteous might be made known. Is he contradicting himself? Certainly not, but in order for us to really understand, let us examine Paul's preaching in various places. In Acts 17, when Paul came to Athens he found that the entire city was given over to idolatry. "His spirit was provoked within him as he beheld the city full of idols." What did he do; start preaching peace? "So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons and in the market place every day with them that met him." (Acts 17:17.) Notice he preached the truth on the subject of idolatry every day. Yes, according to some brethren Paul was a hobbyist, however he preached the truth until he caused division. So much so that they mocked him and on various occasions tried to kill him. Yet he made some free by preaching the truth.

Someone is ready to say that this was not in the church. No, but the Bible is full of warnings against false teachers in the church that would pervert the truth and draw away disciples after them. What should we do when this happens; preach peace? Let us examine Paul's life again and see. In Galatians the second chapter, Paul condemns Peter to his face for withdrawing from the Gentiles and showing favor to the Jews. Paul knew and Peter knew that God had broken down the middle wall of partition between the Jew and Gentile and now "all were one in Christ Jesus." But Peter refused to preach and practice this in this particular case and Paul rebuked him. Paul wasn't interested in peace then, but simply to see that truth prevailed. In all probability when he rebuked Peter, he became the enemy of some of the Jewish brethren and they wanted to fire him, but nevertheless, truth must come first.

Christ our Lord, is also one that caused division. He was known as the Prince of Peace but also was the "Lion" of Judah. All of us are familiar with the story of Christ and the money changers in the temple. He cast them out and said: "My house shall be called a house of prayer: but ye make it a den of robbers." He caused division, but he preached the truth. I would to God that Christ was among us today in person. I feel confident that he would enter into some of the "temples" and "cathedrals" of some so-called churches of Christ and you could hear metal clanging for miles as he began to throw some of the electric ranges and frolic equipment out the back door. But you know we mustn't warn people against such things ... it may cause division. Remember Peace!

I have wondered if some brethren would let an instrument be introduced into the church without raising their voice against it. Or would they insist on peace?" I ask one brother this recently, and he said: "This is different.' I want someone to inform me from God's book where it is different. There is just as much authority in the New Testament for instrumental music as there is for church sponsored youth camps, institutional orphan homes, sponsoring churches and such like! All we need is for one brother to produce just one passage of scripture to support either and then peace will prevail, but until such time brethren need to preach against these things with every atom of their being.

There are some good gospel preachers who can't produce the scriptures mentioned above and actually believe these innovations are wrong and still will not preach against them. The truth of the matter is — they need some backbone. Quit worrying about your financial position (that is, if you get fired and you probably will); the Lord will provide.

Finally, let us all remember that divisions and factions must come in the church that the righteous might be made known. Paul knew it and we must follow him as "he followed Christ" in all things. "Preach the truth, be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure 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." (Eph. 4:3-4.)

Brethren, we can preach the truth all our lives and not preach all the truth. Let us all heed the words of Paul: "Wherefore I testify unto you this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God." (Acts 20.27.)