Monday, July 18, 2005

The Preacher, the Pewster, and Sound Doctrine

Preachers have never been a popular people, at least not if they are the kind who preach what is needed instead of what is wanted by the pewsters. As churches grow larger and larger, and gradually become more interested in numbers than in truth, pressure is applied to preach what the people want to hear.

The problem is not a new one. Some 650 years before Christ, Jeremiah moaned: "The prophets prophesy falsely and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so..." (Jeremiah 5:31). Earlier it was a rebelious people who would not hear the law of the Lord that begged the prophets: "Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits." (Isaiah 30:10). Can you imagine such a request? "We do not want to hear the truth -- prophesy falsely."

Amos was told by Amaziah. "Go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there..." (Amos 7:12). Why must Amos leave Israel? The land was not able to bear his words (7:10), or, put another way, to face the truth! Since Amos did not preach what the people wanted to hear, he was told to get out!

John the Baptizer spoke to Herod about his adulterous relationship with Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; and for all of his concern, he was rewarded by being thrown into prison (Matthew 14:3-4).

Preachers must resist the temptation to conform and give the people what they want by preaching smooth things, even though the people would love to have it so, and even though it may mean the preacher will have to go elsewhere if he is to preach the truth! Paul said that men-pleasers cannot be Christ pleasers (Galatians 1:10). He charged Timothy to "Preach the word" and then warned that 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." (2 Timothy 4:1-4). Needless to mention the obvious, but that "time" has long since arrived!

Written by Wayne Price