By Jim Miller
Donald Townsley once wrote…… There is the trend toward neutrality in preaching today. The preacher knows the truth, but he also knows if he takes a stand and preaches it "right down the line" he will lose his popularity, his friends, his meetings, and he may have to move: so, many preachers fail to deal with issues and popular sins of the day. They stay away from such subjects as marriage, divorce and remarriage (only for the cause of fornication -Matt. 19:9); social drinking; dancing; gambling; lascivious dress; worldliness; the "social gospel"; materialism; church discipline; attendance, giving, etc. They fail to deal with issues such as the "Kenotic theory" (which teaches that Christ emptied himself of his divine attributes when he became flesh, and denies his deity – the very foundation of our faith, Matt. 16:16-18); the doctrine of "individualism" (which denies that there is a local church); the "grace-fellowship" theory and the "continuous cleansing" theory (which minimizes sin and doctrinal error and advocates fellowship with those in error), and the "positive thinking" philosophy in preaching.
Many congregations are open for all kinds of error because these things are not being dealt with from the pulpit. Jesus said a man cannot be neutral in service to him: "He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad" (Matt. 12:30). The neutral preacher is on the side of error whether he realizes it or not. The church faces problems that can only be met by men who love the truth and who have the attitude toward preaching that the apostle Paul had (see Acts 20:20,26-27; Gal. 2:5 and Phil. 1:17). We need men who will preach the truth and urge the principles of truth regardless of the consequences – men like Paul and Stephen. We need men whose preaching of the gospel will mold sentiment and arouse convictions in the hearts of men. "Men of God" down through the ages have never been men of neutrality – men like Noah (2 Pet. 2:5); Jeremiah (Jer. 1-9-10); John the Baptist (Lk. 1:17; Matt. 3:1-3; 14:3-4), and the apostle Paul (Gal. 2:5; Phil. 1:17).
I for one agree with the above statement. Preachers today and even the individual sitting in the pew must make a stand for the truth. For far to long we have let the Gospel and whole counsel of God wain among us. We have allowed those who would be ear ticklers and false teachers to have the run of things. We have allowed things to go on in the church that should never be there in the first place. Too many seek to be pleasing to all and do not want to look unloving when in fact true love is overlooked.
You can't claim to love someone and be willing to over look sin and error. By doing so you condemn the very one you claim to love to hell because they are not urged to change and truly come to Christ and be saved. The path to hell is being paved with the souls of those that we claim to love but will not repent of their sins nor will they teach others to repent. We allow ourselves and others to be lulled into a false sense of security by those who claim to love us yet have not the will to correct or discipline us and we turn around and do the same to others all in the name of love. This should not be.
Christ said Joh_14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. Joh_15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. I ask you where in Gods word does it say that if you truly love someone you will let them continue in sin?
We can not be afraid to preach and teach the hard things just because others will scorn us and despise us for they did the same to Christ Himself. They will call you unloving and heartless and all manner of things in the name of their kind of love.
We need to remember the Proverb: Pro 3:11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: Pro 3:12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Pro 3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. Pro 3:14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
The apostle Paul, returning from his third preaching journey, stopped at Miletus and sent for the elders of the church at Ephesus. He gave a review of his work among them, saying they knew his manner of life from the first day he came into Asia – his humility, his tears and his trials (v. 19). As far as his preaching was concerned, he said he "kept back nothing that was profitable" to them (v. 20), thus he was "pure from the blood of all men" (v. 26) because he had "not shunned to declare . . . the whole counsel of God" (v. 27, NKJV). He faced the afflictions which awaited him in Jerusalem with unflinching courage (vv. 22-24), and was moved by nothing because of his unselfish devotion to the "gospel of the grace of God" (v. 24). He admonished the Ephesian elders to watch their personal conduct and to shepherd the church that was purchased with the precious blood of Jesus Christ (v. 28). He reminded them of the dangers they faced from false teachers – from without and within (vv. 29-30), and to keep the church free from error they would have to watch night and day (v. 31).
Many people want to feed upon "softism." They want to hear a positive, indistinctive, ambiguous message: one that does not deal with sin as it is in reality, but glossed over so that it doesn't sound so bad. The preaching the majority of these folks want does not emphasize and underscore the distinctive characteristics that separate the church from denominationalism and the world: they want no preaching on immodest dress; marriage, divorce and remarriage for unscriptural reasons; the social gospel, church discipline; or denominationalism. These folks want preachers and teachers who fail to preach on any biblical subject that is needed and thus are compromising the truth of God. The person/preacher/teacher who preaches the whole counsel of God will rebuke the sins that many "wink at" and overlook – sins such as holding malice in the heart and evil-speaking (1 Pet. 2:1); "evil thinking" – looking and lusting (Matt. 5:28); the sin of hating one's brother (1 Jn. 3:15; Matt. 5:43-44); gambling (Eph. 5:5); carnality, envy, strife and division (1 Cor. 3:3); lascivious behavior. The person who preaches/teaches the whole counsel of God will not hesitate to deal with these sins that many people overlook and count unimportant.
Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees: "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:9). Paul said to the brethren at Colosse: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Col. 2:8).
Not until we once again see the pulpits of churches of Christ filled with men who are courageous enough to preach the whole counsel of God, without fear or favor, will we see many of our doctrinal problems solved and sinners will be converted to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Not until we see the members of the Lords church go out and teach the truth of Gods word regardless of criticism, false accusations, persecution or anything else the world will throw at you will the whole counsel of God once again be spread.