Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 29, 1959

What Shall A Preacher Preach?

Lloyd Moyer, El Cerrito, California

Usually when the above question is raised, our minds automatically turn to the following passages of scripture: 2 Tim. 4:2 ("Preach the word ...") Mark 16:15 (..."Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.") 1 Cor. 2:2 ("For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."), 1 Cor. 9:16 ("For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.") and Gal. 1:39 (But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.") These and many other passages emphasize the absolute necessity of a preacher preaching the word of God — the Gospel of Christ; however, this does not completely answer the question of our subject.

It is possible for a preacher to preach the word of God and nothing but the word of God and still fail in his responsibility and be displeasing unto God. You ask how could this be? The answer — a gospel preacher could go into almost any denominational group and hold a two-weeks meeting, preach the word of God and nothing but the word of God, and be wholly pleasing to that particular group. He could select subjects that these people endorse and teach. He could avoid preaching that part of God's word which would condemn the erroneous practices of that particular denomination. Yes, he would be preaching the truth and nothing but the truth but he would not be preaching ALL the truth or ALL of God's word. Who would say that such a preacher had fulfilled his responsibility.

To be pleasing unto God, a preacher of righteousness must preach ALL of God's word and condemn error wherever he may find it. It was Christ's condemnation of present day religious practices that caused the Jews to reject him and demand His life. In the seventh chapter of Acts, we read of Stephen, a gospel preacher, condemning the religious errors of his day even though it cost him his life. In Gal. 4:16 Paul raised the question "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" These men were true and faithful preachers. They preached the truth at all times regardless of circumstances or consequences. They did not allow personal feelings, friendship, or position to cause them to compromise the truth.

There are many today who diligently select subjects upon which there is no controversy and which will not incur the wrath and displeasure of any in the audience. With good words and fair speech they give pretty platitudes and sweet sermonettes. They studiously avoid preaching on any truth that might cause any disturbance in their congregations. Yes, they preach the truth but not All Truth. They do not preach the particular truth that that particular congregation needs most. This is nothing short of compromising God's truth. Why will preachers sink to such a level? We might find the answer by going back to the Old Testament for an example. Isa. 30:9-10 "That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seen, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:" God's people of that day did not want the prophets to preach anything that would condemn their evil deeds but rather demanded that the prophets speak unto them "smooth" things. In other words, they wanted sermons that would not disturb them in their ungodly lives. It seems that many teachers of Israel heeded the demands of the people. Isa. 56:10 "His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber." God's people had gone away from God's law. This could have been avoided had those watchmen whom God had set to warn the people been faithful to their duty, but they were not faithful. They are described as a watchdog that is dumb, that cannot bark to warn of intruders. I can think of no better description for some preachers of the present day. Old Satan and his emissaries are intruding upon things divine and many preachers will not warn the people. Some even pride themselves upon not taking a stand for the truth. I recently heard of a preacher and his wife who live in this area (Northern California) having an hilarious time over the fact that brethren could not determine where that preacher stood in reference to the present day digression! Seven or eight years ago, brethren did not have to wonder where this same preacher stood on any issue. Truly, time changes things. Any preacher who refuses to preach any part of God's word, over which there is controversy, for fear of losing his job, or of not having places to hold meetings, or for any other earthly reason, should bow his head in shame. Paul very aptly describes such preachers in 2 Tim. 4:2-5 "Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." It would be impossible to give a more accurate description of the present day situation. There are many brethren who will not endure sound doctrine. Therefore, they call the preachers who will tickle their itching ears by avoiding all controversial subjects. Like the prophets of old, many preachers who know the truth on present day issues will not preach this truth for fear of troubling the congregation and impairing their influence. If these preachers would show just a little backbone and loyalty to God's truth many congregations could be saved that will otherwise be lost. May God grant all of us the courage to preach the truth regardless of consequences.