Occasionally, when an article is posted, responses comes forth both of a positive and negative perspective. One response that I have found interesting has been when someone responds that the article they read did nothing more than list what has been preached for years in the church with, from their perspective, little or no reaction to the message.  Then it is suggested that since the path written about has “failed”, we must take another approach. It appears that in the mind of some things like the need to preach the word, the need to encourage the membership to step up and be obedient, the need to explicitly follow the pattern set forth in the New Testament for service and worship, etc., have come up short. Therefore, so it seems, we must find another direction to go, perhaps even to follow the teachings of the denominations around us so as to better fit into our communities.

Now, let’s suppose for a moment that the responder is correct and there is a problem. The question that has to be asked is exactly what is the problem? Is it that the preaching of the gospel is powerless in the 21st century?  Of course not! It is still the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16) whether we recognize it or not! I can deny that a stick of dynamite is powerless until it is lit and explodes.  Could it be that Paul’s words to Timothy concerning the need to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2) were only insightful in the early church and the events of the first century? Well, again, of course not!  Just as Paul was “pure from the blood of all men” (Acts 20:26) by declaring “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) when we do the same we “reap what we sow”.

So, what’s the problem? The same as it has for some time, an unwillingness by man to humble himself “under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:6) and comply with what he has been commanded to do! Starting at the “beginning”, what was the problem with Adam and Eve? Was it that God’s command to Adam concerning his not eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17) somehow powerless, resulting in Adam’s sin? Should God have taken another approach?  Surely not!  All that was needed was for Eve to tell the serpent to “hit the road” or for Adam to refuse to listen to Eve and do what he had been told by God!

What about Cain and his offering unto God (Genesis 4:3-7)? Granted, we do not know a lot about what transpired up to the time of this offering, but knowing the justness of God we can be assured of one thing, Cain knew better, but chose to follow the path he took. Here, again, should we suggest that perhaps if God had chosen a different path things might have had a better outcome? Well, why should He? Keep in mind, God has never had the obligation to compromise His will just so man can be happy!

Several hundred years pass, and we arrive at the time of Noah and the unrighteousness of the world. Scripture states that “GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). What if it is suggested that if God had chosen a different path, things might have been better? But He did not choose a different one, and had no obligation to do so.

We turn to Leviticus 10:1, 2 and see the disobedience of Nadab and Abihu in offering “strange fire” unto the Lord. Would it be appropriate to suggest that if God had chosen other fire things would have been better for Nadab and Abihu? No, things would have been better for them had they complied with God’s commands!

Many more examples like these could be cited to show that the problem has never been with God or His Word, but with those that have been unwilling to do what they were commanded by Him, as was the case with Israel many years later (Isaiah 59:1, 2).

Moving to the New Testament we note that the parable commonly referred to as the parable of the sower clearly sets forth what the problem really is. This parable is found in Matthew 13:3-23; Mark 4:3-20 and Luke 8:5-15 and provides us with a Divine description of the differing “heart conditions” found within man. When one considers this parable one thing that is clearly evident is that the problem does not originate with the “sower” or the “seed”. Rather, when Jesus was asked to explain the parable, He pointed out that the problem was with the hearts of those who did not hear “the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”  “Watering down” the gospel will save no one! It is the “truth”, and only the “truth” of God’s Word that makes man free from condemnation (John 8:32; John 17:17; Romans 8:1). Only when one hears (Romans 10:17) and does what God has commanded (James 1:22) can there be the expectation of the blessings that come from God (Ephesians 1:3).

We can further note that the problem has been and continues to be with those that are unwilling to be “doers of the word” (James 1:22). Perverting the gospel of Christ, regardless in what area, results not in conversions, growth or stability within the church (Galatians 1:6-9)! Just the opposite is seen when one deceives himself by refusing to do what the Scriptures command! As Jesus and Paul never apologized for taking a stand with the truth, we must do likewise (John 6:53-66; Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 11:1). When we do so, will there be those that will not like the truth and treat us as enemies for proclaiming it? Of course there will, just as it was the case in the first century with Stephen and those to whom he preached (Acts 7:54-60) and the Apostle Paul and the Galatian brethren (Galatians 4:16).

So, then, what is the answer? First, it is not turning our backs on gospel preaching. Paul was quite clear concerning the fact that those who “call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13) and to do so would require a preacher who would preach the word so faith can come by the “hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:14-17). Secondly, the answer is not to be found in practicing the ways of denominationalism.  Just as it was during the time of the public ministry of Jesus that the “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” resulted in worship being vain (Matthew 15:9) so it is the case today.

So what do we do? We speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and busy ourselves being “doers of the word” (James 1:22) while refusing to be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16). We endeavor to be “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). We cannot improve upon God’s plan, so let’s get busy doing it rather than looking for excuses for failing to do so.