Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 10, 1958

Paul The Crowd Pleaser

Jere E. Frost, Newbern, Tennessee

There are hundreds of denominations now existent and professing faithfulness to Christ, many of which express satisfaction with one another as though oblivious to their antagonistic and irreconcilable doctrines. The soothing overtone responsible for their sham happiness amid splintered division is that only the spirit, not the actual teaching, of Christ's law is important. The spirit of Christ, so they say, is to teach anything and believe either everything or nothing, but do not openly disagree with anybody or engage in any sort of controversy. And, we are further told, Paul was a preacher with the spirit of Christ who would be acceptable to all the fragments of America's fractured religious society.

This would mean, among other things, that Paul would teach as each particular group desired, and that the distasteful course of controversy and debate would be beneath the dignity of anyone as nice as he. This conclusion is established when those who sincerely defend what they believe (as Paul instructs, Phil. 1:17.) or correct some error, are charged with not having the spirit of Christ.

It would also make Paul a peculiar creature with more colors than a chameleon and divers doctrines more numerous than the sands of the seashore. When in the company of Methodists, he would have to preach sprinkling for infants in the fashion of the descendants of Calvin. In the sanctuary of the Baptists, immersion because of the remission of sins! When standing in the cathedrals of the order of Rome, he would needs elaborate on the office and authority of the Pope. After all, he has the spirit of Christ!

Anyone who would do the above not only fails to have the spirit of Christ, but of necessity would be dishonest and cowardly. Dishonest in preaching immersion only as baptism one time, but sprinkling the next. Hail the Pope here; encourage the "protestants" there. Aware that error exists, but too afraid of the consequences to speak up. It reduces the spirit of Christ to a compromising sentimentality that stands for nothing — and it won't even openly do that.

God be thanked that Paul was not a crowd pleaser. Nor were any of the apostles. He expressly professed that he was seeking to please God and not man. The stirring story of his life and the trials of his faith bear out his testimony. Elymas wasn't pleased when blinded by Paul. When the Jews contradicted Paul at Antioch, he waxed bold, charging that they had judged themselves as unworthy of everlasting life. They weren't too pleased. They expelled him from their coasts. He reasoned with the Jews from Thessalonica and disputed with the pagans in Athens. Neither time did he please them all; the Jews assaulted Jason's house in their indignant opposition and followed Paul to Berea and stirred up trouble; many Gentiles mocked.

Stedfast throughout, proclaiming in its entirety the counsel of God, Paul depicted himself to the Philippians as one set for the defense of the gospel. Writing to Timothy, the apostle stood in the gallant figure of a soldier urging a new recruit to battle. And even angels could not (and cannot) alter or change the gospel that he preached. (Gal. 1:8.) This is the faith for which we are to contend. (Jude 3.) And those who fear to preach it or shun to proclaim amid the fires of controversy this grand and heavenly message — these have not the spirit of Christ!