Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 28, 1957
NUMBER 46, PAGE 1,10b-13

Preaching: A Critical Study (V)

Roy E. Cogdill, Lufkin, Texas

Proposition V — An analysis of some Scripture texts.

Romans 10:11-15. "For the scripture saith, whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they he sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things."

Several prophecies are referred to and applied by Paul in this passage. The first one (in verse 11) is a quotation from Isaiah 28:16. This was a prophecy of the Jewish rejection of Christ. It pointed to the gospel and its being made available to all men, and hence Paul puts the emphasis upon "whosoever"; whether Jew or Gentile, "whosoever" believeth on him shall not be rejected or refused, but would be accepted of God. In verse 12, Paul directly affirms this fact by the fundamental premise of the Roman letter being restated, "There is no difference between the Jew and Greek" for the same Lord is Lord of all. Then in verse 13 he further affirms the bringing of the Gentiles which is what he is discussing in chapters 9, 10 and 11, by quoting from Joel 2:32, "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Again the emphasis is upon "whosoever" both in the prophecy and in Paul's application of it that is, whether Gentile or Jew. Upon this premise by which he establishes that God intended salvation through Christ to be extended to the Gentile as well as the Jew and upon the same terms; a proposition which he is arguing in this section of the Roman letter, he bases his contention that in order for this purpose and promise of God to be fulfilled the Gospel of Christ must be preached among the Gentiles. He was seeking to allay Jewish prejudice against the Gentiles being brought into God's gracious provisions and at the same time justifying both himself and others who had devoted themselves to preaching Christ to the Gentiles by showing that it was but a fulfillment of God's plan. Hence it can be seen that Paul's argument in the passage is simply this:

1. God intended that the Gentiles should have salvation in Christ.

2. They, like the Jews, can only be saved by calling upon the name of the Lord, that is by being brought into such a state of obedient submission to him as to enable them to expect and receive his blessings of salvation and the fulfillment of his promises.

3. In order to thus "call upon His name" they must believe.

4. In order to believe they must hear, for faith comes by hearing and hearing is made possible by the word of God.

5. In order to hear the Gospel it must be preached. (keerusso).

6. And in order for the Gospel to be preached unto the Gentiles there must be a "sending" — God must have ordained or planned for the Gospel to he preached unto them and in fulfillment of that plan it must be carried out by preaching the Gospel to them.

7. The Gentiles would be receptive to it as the Gospel of peace (Eph. 2:13-18) and the propecy of Isaiah 42:6 which pointed forward to the apostle Paul and his commission as an apostle to the Gentiles would be fulfilled (Acts 26:16-18) and that the gospel of peace carried unto the Gentiles would be received by them as joyously as the news of the liberation of the Jews from Babylon was received by those in Jerusalem when it was brought across the mountains by messengers' to them. So glad were they to hear it, that even the "feet" of the messengers appeared beautiful.

Our brother by his remarks concerning this passage in his paper evidences that he has never grasped its meaning at all. In fact he is guilty of sneering at its meaning and would give the church no place in it as an agency to carry out God's plan by sending out men to preach the gospel to the Gentiles as Jerusalem sent Barnabas. Before he sets himself up as a scholar to announce and propagate some new doctrine and accuses all the rest of his brethren of false and ulterior motives, he should study his Bible more closely than he evidently has done.

While Paul was a specially "called and chosen" emissary to the Gentiles, yet many other ordinary messengers (not apostles) had a part in bringing to the Gentiles the glad tidings of their being made nigh unto God through the death of Christ and of the middle wall of partition being broken down. An instance of this is seen in Acts 11; where some of the disciples scattered from Jerusalem by the persecution of the Church preached to the Gentiles in Antioch before Paul and Barnabas arrived on that scene. None of those who preached to the Gentiles aside from Paul and Barnabas, if we include him because he was designated by the Spirit to leave Antioch with Paul to preach in other fields, had any direct personal call that "sent" them out to the Gentiles.

The "sending" of this passage refers only to the fact that God's plan called for it. Men today who go to preach to the nations also go because God "sends" them, not by a "direct personal calling and sending" but because they have learned that it is God's will and nothing more is necessary.

Our friend both in his paper and in personal discussion with this writer has fallen into the old sectarian error of teaching that men who preached in the New Testament day were personally and directly called and sent. Such is not the case. The Word of God teaches no such thing. It would be just as correct to teach the direct operation of the Holy Spirit in conversions, and expect divine direct intervention in conversions today such as the light in the case of Saul of Tarsus, the angel and spirit in the case of Cornelius, and angel and spirit in the case of the eunuch, and the earthquake in the case of the jailer.

In personal discussion an effort was made to justify the idea of "called and sent" preachers by the use of Hebrews 5:4, "No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God." This passage was used just as sectarian preachers and Mormon missionaries use it, viz., as applicable to preaching the gospel today. It has no application to preachers whatever. The priesthood of the Old Testament was not a type of the preachers in the Lord's church today. Rather they were typical of Christians in the point that they had to be called in order to become priests. Christians are all priests now (Rev. 1:5-6) and must be called to such. That calling is not a direct, personal designation but is done through the Gospel. (II Thess. 2:13-14.) Hence here again in searching with a prejudiced mind for justification for his false theory our friend misses the mark and wrests the scriptures. Those who preach and teach the gospel unto the saving of the souls of men and women should do so now because it is the will of God and hence they are "sent" by His will.

2. Ephesians 4:7-14. "But unto everyone of us is given grace according to the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same that also ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith. and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine."

Here is a significant passage on the point in issue. Let us carefully notice some points in it.

1. There is a divine plan set forth, viz., apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

2. There is a divine mission or purpose in this arrangement, viz., the perfecting of the saints, work of ministry, and building up the body of Christ.

3. In that divine plan each provision had its purpose and place:

(1) Apostles and prophets were ordained for the purpose of the divine revelation of the mystery of the gospel. Ephesians 3:5 — "Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit."

(2) Evangelists were to carry or bear "glad tidings of good things" for this is what the very word means. (Rom. 10:15.) They were to "preach the word, reprove, rebuke and exhort" in season and out. (II Tim. 4:2.)

(3) Pastors (poimaino) are the shepherds of the flock, elders of the congregation, bishops or overseers of the local church. (Acts 20:17, 28.)

(4) Evidently teachers here also are local in their sphere of activity and workers therefore under the elders in the local church.

It can readily be seen that in this divine arrangement God provided for the authoritative revelation of His divine will, the propagation of it, and the care of the churches established by the gospel. Today we have in the scriptures the complete benefit of the work of the apostles and prophets preserved for us by God's providence and nothing could be added to it even if they were still alive or had living successors in the church today. (Gal. 1:6-8.) But the work of propagating and spreading the truth must go on today. Revelation has ceased for it has been completed but spreading abroad the truth and sowing the seed of the kingdom in the hearts and lives of men and women by teaching it to them must continue if the will of God be done. Evangelists are as much needed for the propagation of the truth now as they were then. Exclude them from the divine plan of Ephesians 4 now and God has made no provision for the propagation of truth whatever.

Then too, the same rule that would exclude evangelists from this divine arrangement and from the activity of the church today would also exclude pastors, (elders) and teachers. The writer being reviewed cannot make an argument excluding evangelists that does not also exclude elders and teachers. I challenge him to put it into writing and I obligate myself to show when he does that if the argument is so and does exclude evangelists from the church today, it also excludes pastors and teachers. Let him try it and see.

If he contends that evangelists were miraculously endowed men, so were elders and teachers. Paul said that Jesus gave "gifts" to them also. If evangelists are to be excluded because the work of revelation is completed and a propagation of the word is not needed because it has been written, then the same is true within the church as well as on the outside of it. Can we not read, study, understand it and obey it for ourselves in the church without having it taught or being supervised in doing so. Surely if such is true outside of the church it is even more true within the church.

If it be further contended that evangelists were to last only as long as the gifts lasted, then note that all — apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers were all ordained for the same time — "till" and in the consummation for the same purposes. The fact is that "till" in this passage marks not the duration of this plan or the purpose of it but the time of the extra-ordinary endowments given in the infancy of the church and until the completion of divine revelation. The plan is still in operation. The work of the apostles and prophets lives on in the church today by the preserved word of God. Evangelism is still being carried out and the word propagated by "faithful men" and elders and teachers still carry on the work of the local church and thus God's plan continues in operation until the end of the age.

3. Ephesians 3:9-11. "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world bath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

There are a number of things here declared significant and pertinent to the discussion. The church is a part of God's eternal purpose. Planned by divine wisdom from all eternity it exists now with the intent or purpose of making known the manifold wisdom of God. Paul expressly declares that by or through the church it was the purpose of God to make known His wisdom. Our friend thinks this is to be done to angels in heaven and insists in personal discussion that such is the significance of the statement, "unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places." It is rather peculiar that God's wisdom to heavenly angels must be demonstrated or made known by the church here on earth. It would be interesting for him to tell us why angels in heaven need to have the wisdom of God evidenced to them and how the church can do it here on this earth.

But what does the expression "principalities and powers in heavenly places" mean? The word of God is its own best interpreter. A parallel passage and use of the same expression in another passage would throw some light surely. Look at Ephesians 6:12: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." The word hero is exactly the same as in Ephesians 3:10 above and even the same form of the word. Is Paul saying in Ephesians 6:12 that our contest as Christians in this life is against angels in heaven? A Bible student cannot accept that and by the same token cannot put such an interpretation upon 3:10. Whatever the expression means in one passage it means in the other for it is exactly the same form of the word. Then what is Paul saying? Just that unto the spiritual forces of this world in high places the wisdom of God is made known through the Church. Paul was even ordained to carry the gospel to the "kings" of this world as well as unto the Gentiles and he did so. Certainly this work of manifesting the wisdom of God or making it known is included in "contending for the faith" in Jude 3 and also in the church being the "pillar and ground" of the truth in I Timothy 3:15. To support, uphold, defend the truth in its simplicity and power before even those in high places as we have opportunity is the struggle in which all Christians are engaged through the church of the Lord. To have the message without the support would be as futile and incomplete as the support without the message. Both constitute the purpose, plan and wisdom of God.

4. Acts 18:24-27. "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord: and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogues: whom when Priscilla and Aquila had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come helped them much who had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ."

Here is the record of the work of one of the outstanding preachers of the New Testament period. I suppose everyone would agree that he was a preacher. He did exactly the work that preachers do today as they are able. He was instructed in the way of the Lord. He had to learn what truth he knew and it is said that he "spake and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus." He spoke publicly in the synagogue with boldness. His knowledge when he was at Ephesus was not quite sufficient. He knew only the baptism of John the baptist. He had not even learned up to this point that men were to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and "expounded the way of God unto him more perfectly." Thus we are told how he came to the knowledge of the truth. It was not by inspiration but through instruction that Apollos knew the truth. If he had any direct impartation of knowledge there isn't any indication of it but he followed the apostle Paul in Achaia (Corinth) and "showed by the scriptures publicly that Jesus was Christ."

Even Paul acknowledged his great work. (I Cor. 3:5-6.) It was through Apollos that many at Corinth had believed. Paul indicates very definitely that "only" he and Barnabas had not partaken of their rights to be supported by them while teaching them. (I Cor. 9:6.) Therefore the conclusion is certainly warranted that Apollos had been a partaker of this support. Brother, is there any reason why a man cannot do now what Apollos did then? Can we be instructed in the way of the Lord, in the way of God more perfectly, now? Can a man speak and teach accurately the things concerning Jesus Christ now? Is it possible for men to "show by the scriptures" publicly that Jesus is the Christ and does this need to be done? If he can do this kind of work is it wrong for him to be "disposed" to do it as Apollos was? Where is the indication that he was "directly and divinely and specifically called and sent"? Where is there any indication that he possessed any extra-ordinary gift that made him able to do this work? Would it be wrong to partake of the right to be supported in such work now as Apollos did then? If so, why?

5. I Cor. 9:1-15. "Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? Who goeth to warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? Ti others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void."

Since a part of our brother's theory is that it would be wrong to support a teacher or one who devotes full time to teaching the word of God unless he is also an elder in the church, it will be profitable for us to study in this connection the passage above. Even though Paul was an apostle he had been charged by false brethren with preaching for money. His defense at Corinth was entirely irrefutable. He had foregone the right to be supported by them and providentially so in order to avoid such a criticism. He affirms in the letter that he had worked with his own hands to preach the gospel without charge to them. He further affirms that he had "robbed other churches, taking wages of them" that he might make the gospel without charge to the Corinthians.

In this passage under study he affirms that both he and Barnabas had the right to (1) a living, verse 4: (2) support for their families also if they had such, verse 5: (3) forbear working to support themselves or their families, verse 6. He argues that others had partaken of this right from the Corinthians who had certainly no more claim to it than he and Barnabas had. Having thus declared that maintenance was a right such brethren had, he goes on to give evidence of this right in general in six distinct arguments or principles:

1. Remuneration for service rendered is the rule in all such relationships. He gives three examples of this in the soldier, the vine-dresser, and the shepherd. V. 7.

2. The law of Moses allowed such remuneration as a principle of God's righteousness. V. 8-10. It was provided even with reference to beasts of burden like the ox, not because God was particular about the ox but as a principle to guide His people. The principle is that a man works with the right to expect to partake of the fruits of his labors.

3. The law of fair and rightful exchange demands value received for service rendered. V. 11.

4. Others had partaken of this right at Corinth and Paul's claim was even greater — not because he was an apostle but because of the service he had rendered to them. V. 12.

5. God ordained that priests who give themselves to the work of ministering to holy things should be sustained in their work by sharing in the sacrifices offered upon the altar. V. 13-14. This is no less true of those who give themselves wholly to spiritual things today.

6. Christ laid down the principle that those who minister in sacred things should be supported by those whom they serve. V. 14 Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7.

There is no rule of interpretation or logic and certainly no scriptural principle that limits the application of these scriptural principles to elders in the Lord's church today as our friend tries to do. His limitation is an arbitrary one that is of his own invention. Paul teaches exactly the same principle in Galatians 6:6. "Let him that is taught in the word communicate to him that teacheth in all good things." What is there in this context that would limit such a principle to elders in the church? There is absolutely no justification for doing so. That elders are to be supported in the local church when they give their time to the work of the Lord and the teaching of His word is beyond question for I Timothy 5:17-18 teaches it. But the same principle is used to establish the right of preachers and teachers who give their time to the service of the Lord in being supported also. To dispute it is to deny the plainest of evidence.

Call it what you will, preaching or teaching, the principle laid down by divine authority in both the Old and New Testament is that when a man gives his time to serving the Lord and ministering to others in their spiritual needs he had the right to expect to be sustained in such work by a living being supplied for him and his family.

(To be continued next week)