Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 25, 1962
NUMBER 37, PAGE 1,12a

-Needed: Preachers Like John The Baptist

Bill Echols, East Orange, New Jersey

Recently a brother wrote asking of the needs of the church in the Northeast. I replied that we need more preachers. There are many cities of great size where no work is being done. We do not need social gospel preachers. We need men who can teach babes in Christ to grow to maturity. We need men who will go day and night to convert the millions who are lost. We need men who will be willing to give many years, perhaps a lifetime, to establish churches in central places from which the gospel can spread to every corner of the Northeast.

After answering the brother's letter, I began to think about the needs of the church all over the world. I decided that the church today needs more preachers like John the Baptist.

The Jewish nation was stagnant and making no progress when John the Baptist came preaching his message of repentance. His preaching hit the people like a tornado. His purpose was to prepare the way for the Messiah (Isa. 40:3; Matt. 3:3); and ours is to get people to accept that Messiah.

Much can be learned from a study of the men God uses. The character of John was one of sternness. He had to be stern and uncompromising to deal with the sins of the times in which he lived. "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, "0 generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matt. 3:7) This characteristic is much needed today. True, there is need for love and compassion, but we need also to be stern with sin.

John was a man who was unworldly. His fare was locusts and wild honey, and he did his preaching in the wilderness. Too many preachers today can't preach except in modern, air-conditioned buildings. Many Christians, including preachers, are so bogged down in materialism they have little time for the Master. I am afraid too many preachers do not ask, "Can I do a good work for Christ?" Instead, when they hear of a place that needs a preacher, they are concerned about what kind of car they'll be able to drive, what sort of home they'll have to live in, what opportunities are available to expand their education, etc. 1 Tim. 6:6-8 still reads: "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content."

(While thinking of preachers moving to other places, especially into needy areas, let me say that many preachers are willing, but the wives are weak. There are a lot of men who would like to go into the "highways and by-ways", but when they check their petticoats, they can't go. "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." Luke 14:20)

John's message of repentance is still needed. He preached repentance as a duty. (Matt. 3:2) He made it a child of fear. (Matt. 3:11, 12) He spoke of the wrath to come which to many people is just a figment. We need some good "hell-fire" preaching in the sin capitals of the world. John even demanded some evidence of repentance in the lives of the people. (Matt. 3:8)

We can readily see that John's message and manner was not one to make him popular with the masses. He uttered powerful messages regardless of the consequences. He had not read Dale Carnegie, and he also called peoples' names. (Matt. 3:7) He preached on one of the most prevalent sins of our day when he told Herod, "It is not lawful for thee to have her." (Matt. 14:4) For this John lost his life. Mark it down that John wasn't the first nor the last preacher who was persecuted because of the fairer sex.

Even though it cost him his life, John preached a message that brought to his hearers a humiliating consciousness of their sins. (Matt. 3:6) It takes great honesty to confess our sins. We can reason and rationalize, we can exaggerate our goodness, we can, like the Jews, let our pride stand in our way, but we are still commanded to confess our sins. (1 John 1:8-10)

Surely the Lord needs more preachers today like John the Baptist. I believe there are some, but not nearly enough. Let each man who stands before others to teach the way of the Lord ask himself, "Thou therefore which teacheth another, teachest thou not thyself?" (Rom. 2:21)

"Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest." (Matt. 9:38)