In 2 Timothy 4:2-5, the apostle Paul charged Timothy to:
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (NKJV).
Paul did not say that God’s Word must be accommodated to every new concept that comes along. What he said was “Preach the word.” Consequently, There is something very suspicious about a group of Christians who turn their sail to every wind that blows. Such will be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, [who] in cunning craftiness…lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14). Enamored with “Positive Thinking” a la Napoleon Hill, W. Clement Stone, Og Mandino, Norman Vincent Peale et al., some have accommodated certain scriptures to the idea of positive thinking. Space does not permit me to list these, but we ought to carefully consider their proof-texts. In doing so, we’ll discover they are nothing more than pretexts for unscriptural teaching. The false concept that “anything the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve,” although it is well accepted in modern parlance, is in fact silliness gone to seed. An even more descriptive term for this doctrine may be found in Paul’s use of the word “rubbish” (NKJV) or “dung” (KJV) to describe the things he considered to be worthless in Philippians 3:8, and no matter how you translate it, skubala is a very strong word.
As Christians, we have been provided with “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). Consequently, the Christian is called upon to out-live, out-think, and out-die the pagans and secularists around about him. The Christian’s mind, a mind that is renewed, pure, prepared, spiritually sensitive, and self-controlled, is the complete antithesis of a worldly mind (cf. Rom. 12:1-2). What is the key to all this? Simply this: The Christian’s mind does not trust in its own powers, but in the power of God (cf. Pro. 3:5-6). As more and more Christians clamor for “Positive Christianity,” it becomes increasingly more difficult for preachers attempting to preach the whole counsel of God to maintain their integrity. It is much easier to go with the flow of opinions, values and fads of the masses. But thank God for hardheaded preachers who, like the prophets of old, will not bow or bend to the totems of this world. In Ezekial 3:8-9, the prophet, who has been sent by God to address a rebellious people, was told by God:
Behold I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house (NKJV).
Thank God for hardheaded preachers who do not have to test the winds of public sentiment be- fore they decide what they are going to preach. Thank God for hardheaded preachers who will “Preach the word!” Thank God for hardheaded preachers who will “be ready in season and out of season.” Thank God for hardheaded preachers who will “convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” Thank God for hardheaded preachers who, with God’s help, will save not only themselves, but those that hear them (cf. 1 Tim. 4:16).
Josiah Holland, who lived in the 19th century, prayed:
God give us men. A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands; men whom the lust of office cannot buy; men who will not lie; men who will stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous flatteries without winking; tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog in public duty and private thinking.
Real men are, of course, hard to find today. But this has always been the case. It has been reported that in order to emphasize the difficulty of finding a man of integrity in ancient Athens, the Greek philosopher Diogenes lighted a lamp in the daylight and went about the streets of Athens in search of an honest man. But years before this alleged event, Jerusalem could have been saved if one man of integrity could have been found within its walls (cf. Jer. 5:1). Even the apostle Paul recognized the difficulty of finding a real man when he said, “For all seek their own, and not the things which are Jesus Christ’s (Php. 2:21).
It is my prayer that God will continue to bless us with hardheaded preachers who won’t shy away from using “great plainness of speech” in their preaching and teaching (2 Cor 3:12). However, it must be remembered that this is a two-way street, for if we ever becomes like those who delight in slaying all God’s plain speakers, even when we can only do it one preacher at a time, then we can be sure that God will eventually send his hardheaded preachers elsewhere. May God bless us all, collectively and individually, as we do His will His way.