Voices from the Past
Truth Magazine, Vol. XV, No. 46, September 30, 1971
From a prison cell into which he had been cast because of his preaching, the apostle Paul requested the prayers of the brethren that he might "speak boldly, as I ought to speak" (Eph. 6:20). The apostles, Peter and John, after being threatened, yet "spake the word of God with boldness" (Acts 4:13, 29, 31). Because of his hope of heaven Paul said he was constrained thereby to "use great boldness of speech" (2 Cor. 3: 12). Further he told the Corinthians, "Great is my boldness of speech toward you" (2 Cor. 7:4). Though he suffered and was shamefully treated for so doing, Paul said he "waxed bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God in much conflict" (2 Thess. 2:2).
These statements indicate that New Testament preachers were bold preachers. A careful study of the content of their sermons will also indicate they were bold preachers. Peter, on Pentecost boldly declared to the murderers of Christ, "ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay" (Acts 2:23). Those depraved enough to kill God's Son were not above trying to kill one who would charge them with their crime. In Acts 5:33 we read of some who were so cut by a gospel sermon that they "were minded to slay them." But Peter boldly made his charge in spite of danger. The evangelist Stephen so preached that the multitude rushed on him, gnashed on him with their teeth, and then beat him to death with stones (Acts 7:57). Paul so preached against idolatry in Ephesus, a center of idolatry and idol making, that the people protested against his preaching loudly for two hours. His preaching caused an uproar in the city.
The kind of preaching about which one can read in the New Testament resulted in preachers being beaten and killed, but it converted people. Much of the preaching heard today would not get anybody hurt or killed, nor would it convert anybody. Many sermons preached by those who profess to be the servants of Christ could be preached in any sectarian pulpit in their city, and might be preached by the most orthodox denominational pastor in town. But when Peter or Paul or John came to a city to preach, the people knew they were there! They had a unique and world-shaking work to do.
The preachers of Bible Days were not merely trying to create a tumult. They were not mere rabble-rousers. Instead, Paul said he "shrank not from declaring unto you anything that was profitable" (Acts 20:20). He found out what they needed to hear, and then he boldly told them what was profitable for them to hear. He was no time-server. He was there to serve God and God's people, and that took straight-forward gospel preaching. Paul declared his message was "sound doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:3), and sound doctrine is healthful doctrine. But not all healthy things are pleasant. It frequently is very unpleasant for people to be told what they most need to hear.
A "good minister" is one who will "put the brethren in mind" of the "good doctrine" (1 Tim. 4:6). He will boldly declare the "whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). His preaching will be without fear or favor. He will not let his preaching or his life conform to the world. With great courage, and yet with humility, he will announce the unsearchable riches of Christ, reproving and rebuking when necessary. Not only will he have the courage to say what needs to be said, but he will so "fear God" and reverence His will that he would be afraid to hold back anything the brethren or the world need to hear. The same reverential respect will prevent him from going beyond the revealed word, or from countenancing any practice that is a departure from this gospel.
To so preach is to "speak boldly", but to speak boldly is to speak as one ought to speak. As Paul requested the prayers of his brethren, so does every faithful preacher today. This preacher, as every other servant of God, requests that you pray that I might "speak boldly, as I ought to speak" (Eph. 6:20).
Yes, the servants of God need to be bold, because the cowardly are going to hell (Rev. 21:8). Think about that!
If we are unwilling to take a stand for truth, we need not kid ourselves about being a true servant of Jesus Christ. We will love Him and His word above all other things (Jn. 14:15; Mk. 8:38). We need to tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear (2 Tim. 4:1-5). "But," someone will object, "they need to hear about the love and grace of God." We agree, men and women do need to know about the love and grace of God. However, what the person is actually saying is, "They need to hear about the love and grace of God, but not be condemned for their sins." Well, the Holy Spirit had this to say about God's grace, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:11-12). The love of God demands keeping of His commandments--which is not a burdensome thing (1 Jn. 5:1-3). God commands men to repent of their sins (Lk. 13:3; Acts 3:19; 17:30). So, the love and grace of God includes rebuking men for their transgressions against the law of God and telling them the remedy for it--complete submission to the Lord Jesus (1 Jn. 3:4; Matt. 11:28-30).
Still, worldly-minded brethren will protest, "The lost need to hear about Jesus and His sacrifice." This is true. However, how many folks do you know that do not believe in Jesus as the Christ? How many members of the denominations deny the deity of our Lord? We doubt you would need more that one hand upon which to count them. Why spend a tremendous amount of time teaching them what they already believe? This is not the way to convert a soul to truth. Rather, the New Testament reveals that the issues upon which men were disagreed were the ones addressed. Peter spoke to the unbelieving Jews about Christ (Acts 2, 3). Paul preached to the pagans at Athens about the one true God, leading them then to Christ (Acts 17). When Paul wrote his first letter to Corinth, he mainly addressed the problems and questions at hand. We do not deny the wisdom and prudence of building up men in what they believe and starting on common ground, but to simply teach them what they already have convictions on will not convert them to a life of truth and righteousness.
Finally, let us be ones as the above Bible-based article declares--bold in our speech! Let us teach the truth to the lost and the saved, without partiality. "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Gal. 1:10). If this biblical approach does not "win friends and influence people," then so be it! "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26).
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