There is a very interesting and informative event recorded in the eighteenth chapter of the book of First Kings.  The children of Israel had gotten involved with idolatry.  They were “limping” back and forth from Baal to Jehovah.  Elijah, God’s prophet, had all of the prophets of Baal gathered together with all the people on Mount Carmel.  He asked, “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (I Kings 18:21).  He then proposed that famous contest on Mount Carmel to show the people that there was but one true God and that God was Jehovah.  After God answered Elijah’s prayer and “consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench” (v. 38), Elijah commanded that the prophets of Baal not be permitted to escape.  He slew the prophets at the brook Kishon (v. 40).

Another great prophet was Jeremiah.  He suffered a great deal because of his speaking God’s word.  At one point he said, “I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in His name.” But Jeremiah could not keep from speaking God’s word.  He stated, “But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jer. 20:9). Read the book of Jeremiah and observe all of the strong sayings of Jeremiah against the people as he rebuked them of their sins and warned them to return to Jehovah.  Jeremiah was beaten, starved, and even cast into a pit in their attempts to stop him from teaching God’s word.  But, Jeremiah preached on.  What a wonderful man and great prophet!

In the New Testament we read about another great preacher.  We are informed, in those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:1-2).  Jesus declared of John that he was neither “a reed shaken with the wind” nor “a man clothed in soft raiment.” But he was a prophet, “and more than a prophet” (Matt. 11:7-10).  His high estimation of John is given in Matthew 11:11.  He said, “Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.” John did not compromise.  He preached what was needed on each occasion.  When given the opportunity to preach to Herod the tetrarch, who had taken his brother Philip’s wife, John said, “It is not lawful for thee to have her” (Matt. 14:1-4).  Because of his uncompromising position and because he spoke the truth, John was murdered and his head delivered to Herodias (Herod’s wife) on a charger.

Then there was Stephen.  When given the opportunity to preach, Stephen preached a mighty sermon in which he reminded the Jews of much of their history.  His sermon reached its climax when he said, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.  Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?  And they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels and have not kept it” (Acts 7:51-53).  They cast him out of the city and stoned him for telling them the truth.

Then there was Paul.  He taught that men are to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Tim. 4:2).  Paul “kept back nothing that was profitable unto you” (Acts 20:20) He never “shunned to declare all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).  Because of his strong desire to follow these rules in his preaching, he “was pure from the blood of all men” (Acts 20:26).  One such example is recorded in Galatians 2:14. “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, “If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” Paul stated that, “I withstood him (Peter) to the face, because he was to be blamed” (Gal. 2:11).

What has happened to the preaching of our day?  Where are the Elijahs and the Jeremiahs?  How long since you heard a preacher with the courage and conviction of John the Baptist, or Stephen?  How many preachers, like Paul, are willing to declare ALL the counsel of God without fear or favor?  Instead of following in the footsteps of these great men and others like them, we see men who are trained in “double-talk”, are more interested (or so it seems) in winning friends and getting paid than they are in pleasing God and declaring the saving gospel.  Shame on all preachers who refuse to preach on subjects that are needed and who seek to be popular with men instead of pleasing God.

Every elder, deacon and member of the Lord’s church should be demanding that all preachers preach like these great men.  The church will grow ONLY when the gospel is preached plainly.

– Paul Wilmoth January 18, 1944  –  April 5, 2021