Pleasing Men Or God? By Philip North

Unlike all the rest of the Apostle Paul’s epistles, the book of Galatians was not written to just one person, nor to merely one group of Christians. Galatians was written to a number of churches in Galatia, (1: 2), a territory located in north central Asia Minor. Paul wrote this letter, among other reasons, to remind the Christians in that area that they are spiritual heirs of God, and thus, are His own children, having been baptized into Christ (3:27). Paul immediately starts rebuking Galatia by declaring in verse 6 that he is quite surprised they are already being led away into false doctrine, seeing they are still babes in Christ. This false teaching declared that each Gentile Christian must be converted to Judaism, and so, follow strict observances of the Mosaical law, as Paul gradually reveals throughout the book.

In chapter 1:10, there is a serious message for all who claim to be gospel preachers; a message that should be heeded by all such men, including this writer. Paul says, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Another such passage that bolsters this verse is also said by Paul in I Thessalonians 2: 4: “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God which trieth our hearts.”

Unlike many who seek to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ with the wrong attitude, hence, seeing how many followers they can amass, this writer declares without any reservation whatsoever that preaching was never meant to be a popularity contest. If one seeks to be a true proclaimer of God’s Holy Word, he will pay close and strict attention to what Paul said when writing to the young preacher Timothy: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For 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 their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4: 1-5).

From these verses, we can clearly see that one who preaches had better “preach the word.” In other words, as the oath goes in the courts of our land, what is declared from the podium should most assuredly be, to the absolute best of the speaker’s ability, “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Many preachers, both in the denominational world, as well as those claiming to be a part of the church of our Lord, declare, as Paul said, “fables!” They might as well be reading or quoting from “Aesop’s Fables” or “Grimm’s Fairy Tales.” Fiction is voiced, instead of non-fiction. Opinions are expressed much more than facts. “I say” takes dominance over “Thus saith the Lord.” Reading things into many Bible passages that are not there are done, instead of declaring straight from that book’s holy pages. A partial gospel is declared, rather than “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). It has been my personal observance that many who embrace Neo-Calvinism dish out the same spiritual diet to their audiences in sermon after sermon. Itching ears out to hear only the positive side of the Bible are scratched, when anybody with a truly open mind and receptive heart will read, see, and accept the fact that the Bible has both negative and positive teaching in its contents. Neither one is to be neglected for the other. That’s the way Jehovah God intended preaching to be, or He would have instructed the Holy Spirit to do nothing else in the way of guiding the writers, except to “accentuate the positive.” Read all of I Corinthians 2.

To all preachers reading this: Are you out to please men, or to please God? Is it your aim to merely preach what people desire to hear, or what they actually need to hear for the sake of their precious souls? To continually work at rubbing someone’s fur in a way that causes a good sensation is not to convict the alien sinner of his sins, thus, persuading him to become a New Testament Christian (Acts 2:36-41). To scratch that itching ear is not to net much maturity in Christ. Such reminds this writer of Jeremiah 5:30-31, where it says, “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” Likewise in Micah 2:11: “If a man walking in the Spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink, he shall even be the prophet of this people.”

Such an individual may as well be saying what is cited in Isaiah 30:8-11: “Now go, write it before them in a tablet, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.”

Preachers are not to be restricted—-fenced in—-confined—-controlled like a puppet on a string. While the panoply of God’s truth must be preached “in love,” (Ephesians 4:15), by the same token, this panoply must be preached! Otherwise, such doesn’t constitute a “panoply.” When such takes place, toes will be stepped on at times, yes! However, God is the one to be pleased here, not man! It is truly sad and tragic that in many congregations of God’s people, there will be one or more persons who will try and dictate to a preacher what to preach and not preach, when to preach it and not preach it, how to preach it and not preach it, etc. This kind of tolerated conduct deprives those members who genuinely wish to be spiritually fed with the complete, rich, and necessary “Bread of Life” (John 6: 25-66). Jesus said in Matthew 5: 6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Gentle reader, enjoy a full spiritual meal, not a constant diet.

Preacher, you preach that full Word! Stay solely with that Bible! Make it your main objective, in the spirit of love, to not be harnessed by anybody, any place, at any time! Of course, live what you preach (I Corinthians 9:27). Only then will you please God, and so, not only have a place reserved in Heaven for you, but for those truly honest of heart who are receptive to what the whole Bible says. “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine: continue in them, for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (I Timothy 4:16).

Come what may, preach the word, preacher!

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