A few years ago, after putting up with a leaking kitchen faucet for several months, I decided it was time to do some repair work. I found a new set of faucets at the local hardware store. The package promised “Easy installation—no tools needed to install.” While that statement was true, they failed to mention you need a basin wrench, vise grips and an air hammer to remove the old faucets. It took three hours to remove the old set, and only ten minutes to install the new one.
The manufacturer who promised “easy installation” assumed you had a kitchen sink, but lacked faucets. The instructions did not even mention that you had to remove the old set first (I figured that out all by myself).
The whole mess under the kitchen sink reminded me of some of the “positive preachers” among us. Their message is just fine if the audience is composed of people who were raised on a desert island.
Every audience I ever addressed had some folks who were brought up in denominationalism. While I would rather preach about heaven, I always felt compelled to “put all the cards on the table” first. It would be much easier to put on a Dale Carnegie “smiley face” and pretend everything is okay. Such would be a neglect of duty.
When Peter preached the first gospel sermon he undoubtedly offended many religious individuals. He accused them of killing the Son of God (Acts 2:23). He could have tried to gain their confidence by “fair words” and later preached what they needed to hear. But, what would have happened if some of these people had died before Peter got around to proclaiming the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27)?
When I know people in the audience have never heard the gospel plan of salvation, I make sure they hear it before I’m done. I have never apologized for this. Those who want the truth will not be offended by plain preaching. In Acts seven, Stephen preached nearly the same sermon Peter did in Acts two. The men in Stephen’s audience were “cut to the heart” (Acts 7:54). But, because their hearts were hardened by sin, they decided to kill this faithful preacher of the word of God.
If I were to preach to a group of Catholics, they might enjoy a good lesson about the errors of Islam. But, a sermon on the one true church would be more in order. If someone could give me a guarantee that death would not come to any of us for several years, I might “build up” to a lesson on the church. In leu of such guarantees, I will continue to preach what I believe the audience needs.
Several years ago I put a small sign on the pulpit to remind me of the apostle Paul. I do not recall where I borrowed the quote, but it simply said, “The apostle Paul—He preached as though he’d never preach again, a dying man to dying men.”
Paul reminded the church at Corinth that his speech and preaching was not with “persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4, 5).
Timothy was warned the time would come when men would not endure sound doctrine, but would “turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:4). Such men are alive today. Despite the desires of some, we need preachers who will “be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, (and) do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5).
The Church Of Christ In Zion, Illinois