Monday, May 31, 2010

Preachers, What Are You Against?


Every man of God who is to stand behind a pulpit and declare the oracles of God must be for something because any herald is the advocate of the King's message. He must faithfully and forcefully deliver the burden of the Lord to the people. He must be for the triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and all divine doctrine, otherwise he is a worthless preacher who is, at the least, just wasting everyone's time and, at the worst, dragging his hearers toward hell.
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:2-4 ESV)
However, that is not the end of his sermon's content. The preacher must preach against things, too. He must take a stand—a direct, hard, no nonsense and politically incorrect stand—against anything that would cause the saints to slip back into perdition if indulged in:
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ESV)

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called "knowledge," for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you. (1 Timothy 6:20-21 ESV)

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. (2 Peter 2:20-21 ESV)
If preachers don't warn their hearers of what will spiritually destroy them then they aren't doing their job. Allow me to give a hilarious and hyperbolic quotation from a book, Seeing Him Who Is Invisible, by the late Jack Hyles, a King-James-Only independent Baptist preacher and "Fightin' Fundamentalist":
Show me anybody in the Bible worth his weight in salt who wasn't hated by the crowd. There wasn't one socially popular character in all the Bible! Abel was killed by his brother. Noah was hated by his people and could get but seven converts in preaching 120 years. Joseph was sold into slavery. Moses was hated by his family and his race. Elijah was chased until he thought he was the only one. Elisha was hated and called "bald head." The more hair I lose, the more I appreciate Elisha. He was the first bald-headed Baptist preacher boy! Isaiah preached to deaf ears. Jeremiah was a weeping prophet. Daniel was put in the lions' den. The Hebrew children were put in the fiery furnace. David was chased by Saul. John the Baptist lost his head. Peter was crucified upside down. Stephen was stoned ;outside the gates. Paul was left for dead outside Lystra. John was exiled on Patmos. James was martyred. Jesus Christ was put to Calvary!

How in the name of common sense do you think you can walk the streets of this world, in your city, in your town and have folks think you are a nice fellow? You can't be a master mason, president of the Lions Club, pray at every dog show that comes into town and be the kind of preacher you ought to be. We need some John the Baptists again who will rise up in our town and call folks to repent. When you walk down the streets in your city, folks ought to spit at you, make fun of you, laugh at you. I don't mean because you want them to spit at you, but because you hold forth the banner of Calvary, the blood, the Book, the blessed hope, and fight sin, exalt Jesus Christ, and fight the things you ought to fight. I don't care where you live--they will hate you. The Bible says, "The servant is not greater than his Lord" (John 13:16). They hated Jesus and nailed Him to Calvary; they spat upon Him and plucked out His beard. Are you better than He is?

I tell my people that I want it to be so in my town that when folks drive by my church they get rebuked by looking at the building. One lady told me, "We have to drive by your church to go to work every morning, but we drive around the block to miss it." I asked, "Why?" Her reply, "We don't even want to be reminded of you."

When I walk down the street in my town and people look at me, I want them to think about the sin they are committing or have committed. I want their sin rebuked by my very presence. I often say, "When you come to Garland and mention Jack Hyles, you duck or pucker--one or the other!" You'll get hit in the mouth or kissed, I'll guarantee you for sure.

We've got the idea nowadays that a preacher is like a lawyer. The most respected folks in town--the doctor, the lawyer, and the preacher. That's the Devil's lie. There was a day when preachers ran for their lives, yet we say we're premillennialists and we say the world is getting worse. If the world is getting worse, why aren't we running for our lives? It seems to me that our churches ought to fight sin and stand against modernism and sin and unrighteousness until folks will think we are screwballs, fanatics, cranks, and fools for Christ. Yet those of us who are fundamentalists nowadays have gotten so soft. Talk about "Yesterday's fundamentalists" and "second generation fundamentalists." The last generation of fundamentalists started churches in garages and tents and brush arbors and fought the city council and fought the school board. They fought for all they got. They were hated and misunderstood and laughed at. Now we have doctors' degrees and we are Rev. Hyles and Dr. Rice, Dr. Malone.

We've got Doctor of Divinity and Doctor This and Rev. This and Brother This! Our preachers have gotten so respectable we can walk down the streets in our city and folks look at us and say, "There goes a good man." The bootleggers in my town ought not to like me. The modernists ought not to like me! Some of you preachers say, "I appreciate Dr. Rice. He's gotten his name ruined in many places because of his stand." Pray tell me, why don't you go to your own little town of 500 or 1,000 and take the same stand--have the same reputation locally he has nationally? The Bible says, "Woe be unto you when all men speak well of you" (Luke 6:26), and "If I pleased men I should not be the servant of God" (Gal. 1:10). We're afraid somebody will think we're different or won't like us and we won't be respected in our town.

You say, "Brother Hyles, I don't believe in sticking your tongue out at everybody." I don't either--just at some. I'll tell you one thing: we dead sure need more fighting going on in our churches. A man yesterday said, "How do you get folks to come to your church?" I said, "I just stay in a scrap all the time. Anybody will come to watch a good fight."

A man said not long ago, "Jack, how do you get a crowd to come to hear you?" I said, "Just get against a bunch of stuff and preach against it. That's the way to do it." Like I said last year, if you can't be against anything else, preach against Hershey bars! I mean just get a series of sermons on Hershey bars and get up there and act like you mean it. Don't get up there and say, "The trouble with our country is too many Hershey bars." Boy, get up there and say, "BROTHER, THE THING THAT IS WRONG WITH OUR COUNTRY IS THAT OUR TEETH ARE ROTTING OUT BECAUSE OF THE SUGAR IN HERSHEY BARS, AND WE NEED MORE FOLKS WHO WILL FIGHT HERSHEY BARS!"

I'll guarantee you one thing--your house will be filled!
Do I believe preachers should harangue against chocolate bars? Of course not! I shared this over-the-top quotation simply to make the point that some preachers, for fear of not being popular, won't stand for the hard truths of the Bible or stand against the popular but wrong misconceptions of their day. This is tragic and an adulteration of their God-ordered mandate to declare all of the oracles of God. To be faithful witness of the Truth we must constantly declare to others what we believe...and sometimes bluntly tell others what we don't believe (and neither should they).