Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 18, 1962
NUMBER 36, PAGE 2,10

An Abilene Radio Sermon

Hoyt H. Houchen, Abilene, Texas

(The following is a radio sermon, presented by this writer on radio station KRBC, Abilene, Texas, Sunday morning, November 12, 1961.)

Last Sunday morning on this broadcast, I made mention of some things that are being practiced among churches of Christ in this city. These matters under consideration are by no means personal. I love my brethren and I am interested in their souls. But error must be exposed whether it is in the church or out of the church. As a gospel preacher, the Lord would not be pleased with me if I did not warn my brethren of any and all departures from the truth. The prophets of the Old Testament cried out against the sins of the people of God. Of Israel, Jehovah said through the prophet Isaiah, "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) This same condition exists among my own brethren today. Many of them do not want to hear their sins exposed. They do not want to hear any opposition to the things that they are practicing. They want preachers to tickle their ears and speak smooth things, things that will not offend the hearer. They resent having anything that they do called in question. However, faithful, God-fearing gospel preachers will not shun to declare the whole counsel of God. This is what Paul did at Ephesus. He reminded the elders of that church in Acts 20:20, "I shrank not from declaring unto you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house." Paul declared those things that were profitable. May I say here that the things that are profitable are not always the things that are the most pleasant. But the things that are profitable are the things that are for our good. That is why I am dealing with these matters on these broadcasts. I am preaching on matters that my brethren need to hear as well as those who are not members of the church of Christ. It is my duty to do this. Jehovah charged Isaiah the prophet in Isa. 58:1, "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and declare unto my people their trangression, and to the house of Jacob their sins." The idea that we are to keep quiet about the sins of our brethren is not found in the word of God. Paul charged Timothy in 2 Tim. 4:2-4, "preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 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." That time has come. Many brethren do not want the truth. They want to hear some soft-peddler tickle their ears. They hire preachers that will not make them uncomfortable. Such preachers who are afraid to preach the truth upon all matters are nothing but hirelings. They are disgusting in the sight of God. They are not worthy of the name, gospel preacher. Faithful gospel preachers will preach the truth in season and out of season; they will preach it when it is popular with the brethren and when it is not popular with the brethren. I believe by now, those of you in this radio audience should realize why I am dealing with the problems that I am. It is necessary to reprove and rebuke. But I believe that some of you who are hearing me are honest. You no doubt have been misled into believing that the centralizing and controlling of funds of many congregations by one eldership, such as is practiced by the Herald of Truth organization, is scriptural. You no doubt have been misguided into supposing that it is scriptural for churches out of their treasuries to support and maintain human institutions, but believing that you are honest and that you want the truth, you are the ones to whom we are mainly directing these broadcasts. Remember that truth has nothing to hide. It has nothing to fear. It will bear investigation.

God placed the church in the world for a definite purpose and it cannot be fulfilled by anything else. The main purpose of the church is to preach the gospel to a lost and dying world. Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Tim. 3:15 that the church is "the pillar and ground of the truth." The church is a spiritual institution. Jesus said in Jno. 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world." Since the church is a spiritual institution, it has a spiritual mission here on earth. That mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church is not an entertaining institution. But according to what is going on here in the city of Abilene and in other places, that is the impression that is given. This is seen in the erection of church kitchens for church socials, the provision by congregations of recreational facilities. Instead of the gospel of Christ being the drawing power, appeals are made upon the basis of something spectacular or entertaining. No longer is an appeal made to people to come out and hear plain gospel preaching. Instead it is come to hear the president of some college in a big campaign. Attention is called to the speaker's achievements and his standing in the world, but little or nothing is said about his being a gospel preacher. One can read the advertisements by some of the congregations of the city and by reading them through, one could never get the idea that a gospel meeting is in progress. The attempt is to impress the world with the headlines of some college president or a world traveler. This is the same kind of promotion that the denominations have used for years. But my friends, and listen to me carefully, this is not the plan of God for drawing men and women to Christ. Paul wrote in Rom. 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." If there was any man who had any right to glory in human wisdom, it was the apostle Paul. But Paul did not choose to do so. He knew that God's drawing power is the gospel. He wrote in Gal. 6:14, "But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Again, the same apostle Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 2:2, "For 1 determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." Do you not see? Cannot you now see how brethren have departed from the truth? A departure from the truth is gradual. It is not always sudden. When one thing is practiced, it opens the gate for something else. It is indeed a sad day for the church when the appeal is made to the world by advertizing a movie star or a track star. Twenty-five years ago, few of us could have believed that brethren would be advertising the church through such propaganda. In place of the simple story of the cross, it is come to hear a movie star or some other famous person. In place of coming to hear the gospel preached, some man is advertized for his worldly achievements. My friends, this is completely out of harmony with God's will. This kind of fantastic and spectacular promotion has no place in the preaching of the gospel of Christ, and I am confident that many of you who are listening to me this morning are saddened to see these things that have developed within the church of Christ in the past few years. It is disgusting that less and less is being said with regard to the church, and more and more is being said about some human institution such as a college, a youth camp, or some benevolent home. Institutionalism has swept the church like the tide of the mighty ocean. Were it not for the few faithful brethren who continue to contend for the church and its all-sufficiency to do the work that God has given it to do, the world would be made to wonder if Christ even has a church upon the earth.

The gospel of Christ is being substituted by a social gospel. The church is being substituted by human institutions. The church in many places is being turned into nothing less than a playhouse. The Herald of Truth, an organization under the direction of the elders of the Highland church of Christ in Abilene, is supported by a number of congregations. These congregations send their funds and turn them over to be used by the Highland elders. Television time is bought by huge sums of money through an advertising agency. The high salaries of the men in charge of the Herald of Truth is not made public. To my knowledge, no detailed financial report is furnished the members of the Highland church or the contributing churches. It would be interesting to the Highland members and the contributing churches to know just how the money is being spent by this spectacular promotional campaign. We challenge these heads to produce a broken-down, detailed financial report. You brethren, those of you who are members at Highland, have every right to know about this big operation. We deny that the Herald of Truth is exclusively the work of Highland, but it is claimed to be by its promoters. If it is the work of the Highland church, then surely the members of the Highland church should know how much salaries are being paid to the men in charge. Yes, more is involved than a mere radio or television program. The gospel can certainly be preached on television or radio, from the pulpit, or by the printed page. There is no objection to the methods of preaching. I certainly would not be on this broadcast this morning if I and my brethren at North Park opposed radio preaching. That is not the issue. The Herald of Truth is the pooling of resources in one eldership that oversees the work of several congregations. This set-up is not authorized by the New Testament and we challenge the Herald of Truth promoters to find the scripture. It cannot be found. In the New Testament each church was independent and did its own work under the direction of its own elders. If the Lord wanted this improved he would have made provision for diocesan elders---elders over a district or over more than one church. But he did not. He provided that elders be selected in each congregation to direct the affairs of the congregation in which they were made elders. (See Acts 14:23; 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2) Too, we are in mighty bad shape when brethren have to turn to acting in television dramas. That is not gospel preaching. It is entertainment. Brethren, our appeal is back to the Bible---back to the old paths. There is not and there cannot be any substitute for plain, sound, gospel preaching to convert people from sin. I beg of you who are sincere to heed the warning before it is too late for your souls. Turn back to God, back to the Bible, take your stand with the people who are contending for the church as God's institution to do the work of preaching, benevolence, and edification that God has given it to do. Take your stand with a congregation of people who are striving to maintain the purity of the church in its organization, work, and worship. That is what we are trying to do at North Park. Come out and see for yourselves. Instead of listening to hearsay, come, visit us. We are trying to build the church at North Park spiritually. This can only be done by plain gospel preaching and the application of it in the lives of those who hear it.