“AN OFFENSIVE PREACHER”
AN OFFENSIVE PREACHER
Every true Gospel preacher is an offensive preacher. There are many who "preach" that are not, but they cannot truly be classified as Gospel preachers. According to Webster's Dictionary, the word "offensive" has four meanings. Two of these definitely apply to a preacher and I want to consider both meanings and apply them. Webster defines "offensive" as: 1) attacking, 4) causing resentment, anger; insulting....
A Gospel preacher (really every Christian) is commanded and expected to "put on the whole armor of God" and take the "sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:10-17). It is true that one of the purposes of that armor and that sword is for our defense against Satan's attacks. But too many brethren have taken the defensive position only, waiting for Satan to attack. The Gospel preacher not only must defend himself and others against the attacks of Satan, he must launch an unrelenting offensive attack against him as well. He will soon discover that the best "defence" against Satan is an aggressive offense. The grand old song entitled "Faith Is The Victory" expresses the thought very well. It says, "Encamped along the hills of light, Ye Christian soldiers rise, And PRESS THE BATTLE ere the night, Shall veil the glowing skies. Against the foe in vales below, let ALL OUR STRENGTH BE HURLED."
Wherever and whenever sin arises, the faithful soldier of Christ must attack it, no matter who may be involved. That's what Paul had in mind in his charge to Timothy, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:2).
Any man who does not have this "attack mentality" should not be preaching the Gospel of Christ and no eldership should hire a preacher who does not possess the "attack mentality."
However, if one is an attacker, he is going to anger and offend some people, and cause resentment. Perhaps this is why so many of our preachers are not attacking sin and evil. They had rather be "liked by everybody" than to be resented by a few.
CAUSING RESENTMENT AND ANGER
Sometimes the straightforward attack on sin in men's lives will bring anger and resentment from two different classes of people. One is the one whose sin is attacked. The other may be a friend or a relative of the one whose sin is attacked, or, it may be a member of the church who does not like such straightforward preaching because it offends people and makes them angry.
While I realize we should "speak the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15), and while I agree that no one should ever be unnecessarily harsh and abusive in attacking sin and error, it must not prevent any preacher from boldly and plainly exposing sin and hypocrisy which will destroy one's own soul and the souls of others. If people are offended by such rebuke and exposure of error, they will remain lost, but we will have delivered our soul (Ezek. 3:17-21).
FOUR BIBLE EXAMPLES OF OFFENSIVE PREACHERS
The preachers mentioned in the New Testament were "offensive" preachers. I want to look at four examples to illustrate the previous points.
JOHN THE BAPTISTwas an offensive preacher. He saw the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, knew they weren't there to repent and be baptized, and cried out to them, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth fruits meet for repentance" (Matt. 3:7-8). Careful there John, you may offend those fellows. And, when he stood before Herod, John saw a man condemned in sin. He straight-forwardly told him, "It is not lawful for thee to have her" (his brother's wife, Mark 6:18). It didn't make him very popular with Herod nor with Herodias. They were greatly offended.
STEPHENwas an offensive preacher also. Because he took the offensive to preach the Gospel, he was arrested and brought to court. Given an opportunity to speak, he took the offensive even more and boldly denounced his audience, including their forefathers. "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 the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers" (Acts 7:51-54). IT REALLY OFFENDED those folks. They gnashed on him with their teeth and stoned him to death.
PAULwas an offensive preacher. He took the offensive to preach and defend the Gospel. When certain men began to preach a perverted Gospel at Antioch, he immediately challenged them. He and Barnabas "had no small dissension and disputation with them" (Acts 15:1-2). These false teachers became constant enemies of the apostle. When Paul was trying to convert Sergius Paulus, a sorcerer named Elymas tried to turn the deputy from the faith. Paul took the offensive against him in the strongest of language and even struck him blind (Acts 13:7-12).
JESUS CHRISTwas an offensive preacher. Notice the incident recorded in Matthew 15:1-14. The Pharisees criticized the disciples for not washing their hands before they ate. Jesus took the offensive and reminded them they transgressed the command of God by their traditions. He called them hypocrites and told them their worship was vain as they honored God with their lips but their heart was far from him. The disciples asked Jesus, "Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?" (v.12). He didn't seem too concerned. He said, "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (vs.13-14). It is interesting that Jesus' disciples were concerned because the Pharisees had been offended by Jesus' teaching, but Jesus was not. How many brethren since the first century have tried to apologize for a preacher's bold proclamation of the truth that "offended" someone?
I surely want to be one of those "offensive" preachers who is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16).