“Then came his disciples, and said, Master, knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?” (Matt. 15:12). Now stop and analyze the conditions. The Jews of Christ’s day were divided into three denominations: Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes. Of the three, the Pharisees were far more prominent. They were the elite, the bon tons, the upper tens of their day, and for Christ to speak against them was to them abuse and ridiculous as well as preposterous. After they had spoken these things, the disciples came and said, “Lord, you gave offense to the Pharisees. You have offended the leading sect of the day. And they are up in arms against you.” Now, notice Christ’s answer: “Every plant which my Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13). That’s the answer Christ gave when the disciples told Him the Pharisees were offended at the doctrine He had thus spoken.
Brethren, I have often wondered what on earth I might say that would not be offensive to someone. If I preach there is a God, the atheist is offended. If I preach Christ as the Son of God, the Unitarian is offended. If I preach He was born of a virgin, all modernists are offended. If I preach against apostasy, our Baptist friends are offended. If I preach that immersion is God-ordained, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Congregationalists are offended. If I preach against the popular sins of the day, the socialites and the clubs are offended. If I preach about giving, all the old, stingy tightwads in the church are offended. Brethren, what on God’s earth can I preach without offending? You just name it, and I will oblige myself that somebody will be offended at the thing thus said.
Characteristics of a Soft Preacher
A man who preaches soft preaches the truth, but has it mixed with error to such an extent it is impossible to tell where he stands. He preaches the truth in an apologetic manner. He is ever fearful of offending some dear friend and thus he carries no conviction. Like chief rulers, he loves the praise of men more than the praise of God. He has never learned what Paul said, “If I seek to please men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). He preaches the truth in a general way so that he gets exactly nowhere. He is a preacher with a multiplicity of words; he is not intentionally unsound, but never gets to the point. He can “pace all day in the shade of a tree.”
Characteristics of a Hard Preacher
The man who is considered hard preaches truth unmixed with error, in a firm and positive manner. He cares not for the person of any man. Having convictions, he contends earnestly for the right and exposes error regardless of friendly ties. He gets to the point and the audience knows what he said and where he stands. A preacher is known not only for what he stands by, but also by what he stands against. I have often said that I would be ashamed of myself if I could not make clear my attitude toward any matter affecting the peace and happiness of the church on a postcard. I pray that our attitude toward all affairs may ever be such as will cause his smiles to be upon us.