Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 30, 1955

Think On These Things

Alton James, Steele, Missouri

Preacher Qualifications

It has long been the practice of many congregations to introduce qualifications for preachers that do not necessarily follow from that given in the New Testament, as to what every gospel preacher ought to be. There was a time — they tell me — if a man was a devout Christian and had the ability, he was encouraged to preach. Just here let me explain the above statement: "a devout Christian" covers one's good manner of life; and "the ability" takes care of his being able to tell the story of Jesus to others. But this has for some time been considered archaic as to the qualifications of preachers. Do not misunderstand me, I believe that a congregation should KNOW what kind of a man they are getting to work with them. It is the extremes that I am so concerned about. Such as: "How much education does he have?"; "How large was the congregation where he preached before "; "Is his wife a good mixer?" and "How many children does he have?" If you will note some of the present day meeting (?) advertisements you will see the reason for some of the above mentioned qualifications. In too many cases, it has come to be PREACHER advertising. And of course congregations must have a certain kind of preacher before there can be a certain kind of advertisement. JUST WHAT IS A GOSPEL PREACHER? A Christian man who CAN and WILL preach the truth. One has only to read I and II Timothy and Titus to find what a gospel preacher's qualifications are.

Another Qualification

The church is now faced with several issues: The orphans — how they are to be cared for; The Christian schools — how they are to be financed and HOW congregations may cooperate. Growing out of these issues is another qualification. It is, "What side is he on?" and NOT, "Does he preach the truth on the matter?" In the past few months there have been three meetings canceled because the preacher didn't agree with the elders on one or more of the above mentioned issues. Which "side" are these preachers on? Definitely not on the elders' side. Let's see if we can determine where or on what side they stand. They are teaching that the church, in carrying out its responsibility, cannot practice anything without a command, example or necessary inference. This MUST be accepted as truth. Therefore, they are on the Lord's side. Then, you ask, why were they refused the right to preach in these meetings? Because they were not on the elders' side of the issue.

Just recently, Brother was doing the preaching in a meeting in______, Missouri, and after having preached four sermons — announcing each the night before — was sent home for preaching on "The Organization of the New Testament Church." Naturally we are asking the question, Why was he stopped, this subject is as old as the church. Because he, like the other preachers mentioned, preached that in carrying out the responsibility placed upon the church, we cannot practice anything for which we do not have a command, example or necessary inference. Which side was he on? The Lord's! He WASN'T on the elders' side. In pointing out HOW churches may cooperate, he gave the example of Acts 11:27-30; I Cor. 16:1-4 and II Cor. 8 and 9. He was doing what God requires of every gospel preacher — preaching the truth.

The Results

The results of a thing of this kind can be very bad indeed. "Side taking" is a thing that is entered into, many times, because of personalities without considering the truth. It also tends to cause some to take the "middle of the road" attitude. And it is a proven fact that one who takes the middle of the road, so to speak, has a much better reception in some congregations than one who STANDS FIRMLY for that which is unquestionably safe. May God help us to diligently consider these things.

What Must We Do?

There is not ONE problem facing the church that does not have an answer. I firmly believe Paul when he said: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (II Timothy 3:16, 17.) However, on some of these issues, it may take a great amount of study and meditation to see the truth. But IT CAN BE SEEN. IF we will OPEN our hearts to the truth, "speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent; call Bible things by Bible names, and do Bible things in Bible ways" (I Peter 4:8-11), we can be EXACTLY what Paul suggested in I Corinthians 1:10 — PERFECTLY UNITED. We, members of the Lord's church, make the plea to the denominational world that we can be perfectly united upon the terms of God's word. Brethren, LET'S PRACTICE WHAT WE PREACH!