The Church Meeting in Jesus’ Name
602 Oak Knoll Dr., San Antonio, TX 78228
July 14 – 21 World Evangelism Conference
Sundays at 10 am, every night at 7 pm, and daily open meetings at 10:30 am, ending Sunday 21st with the morning meeting. Dinner on the grounds both Sundays.
October 18,19 Men’s meeting
Friday 7 pm, Saturday all day from 8 to 6, at the Oak Knoll grounds, with an open theme, pastors from the churches will be scheduled speakers, and open meetings also.
December 1 Thanksgiving meeting
Open meeting both morning hours, and dinner on the grounds.
January 19 Guest Speaker David Spurgeon
Brother David will be with us for a Sunday morning as he travels in Texas.
February 14 – 23 Revival Meeting with Joe N. West
A ten day meeting with evangelist Joey West from Poland.
10 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. Galatians 1
Many people believe in God but do not want to serve him, which is unfortunate, since serving God is what life is about. Usefulness to God is the ultimate life experience. Paul wanted to serve God even before he knew Christ, but here he admits he had an attitude before that disqualified him as a servant. It might be hard to imagine, but Paul at one time cared about the opinion of men, and yet now he zealously and conscientiously refuses to care what men think of him. He had become a servant of Christ. He claims that if he were to backslide and begin to cater to men again, to seek their commendation, or praise, he would disqualify himself once again, and even jeopardize his very call. Apparently, wanting or seeking the approval of men is entirely incompatible with service to God.
Now pleasing men is a positive attitude in other contexts, contrasted with the self-serving tendency of human nature to please ourselves no matter how it affects others.
Romans 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
Pleasing others is a simple step of maturity. We teach our young children to consider others, to try to make others happy, to let others go first, and so on. Smart children figure out that such an attitude of pleasing others works much better than selfishness. Mature adults overcome their selfishness to some extent if for no better reason than to make friends, and thereby further their own welfare. Being liked works better than being disliked.
When Pleasing Men is Damnation
But there is a danger in wanting to be liked. The Bible over and over again warns us of the danger to our eternal souls of pleasing men.
John 5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
John 12:43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts:
Caring about the opinion of men has been a huge obstacle for untold thousands when confronted with the gospel. Many will spend eternity in hell for the fear of men, not the fear of persecution, but fear of criticism or scorn. In many cultures believing the Gospel is an immediate break with society, so that the choice is simple: be loved and be damned, or be hated and be saved. In mostly Christian cultures it isn’t quite as pronounced, but the principle is the same. Caring what men think, or wanting their approval, is an obstacle to salvation in every case. Caring more about God’s opinion than men’s opinion is necessary for salvation. But Paul goes a step further in Galatians, making the definition of a servant of Christ include the active attitude of not seeking to please men at all. It is a recurring warning. To truly serve Christ we must overcome the desire to please men.
Ephesians 6:6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Unfortunately this is not the attitude of most preachers. Most of us desire to please men. We want men to like us, we want their approval, we want to be popular. Some of us justify this unholy attitude by our desire to “win souls.”
1 Corinthians 10:33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
The desire is sincere, but the motivation is deceptive. Suffering for others, working tirelessly in visitation or door-knocking, being instant in season and out, are examples of pleasing others rather than oneself for their souls’ sake. But in the message preached, or the warnings given, or the consequences following, no thought toward pleasing men must be allowed.
1 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.
Many preachers fluff the gospel, soften the demands of repentance, or avoid controversy under the pretense of “winning souls.” But the true servant of God has this imperative, that in those things that relate to his service to God, he have no interest whatsoever in pleasing men. Of course a servant of God must still try to get along with others in his or her daily life in things not directly related to the ministry. It is important to please the boss, and the neighbors who have to look at your front yard. But the life lived for God, and the service done for the Gospel cannot defer to popular opinion ever. Preachers fail in this often. Consider the messages preached in churches week after week.
1 Kings 22:13 And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good.
Preachers are routinely “encouraged” to keep to certain subjects. But the servant of God is commanded not to preach what his hearers want to hear. He must not seek to please them, so he must not consider what they like. Inasmuch as he considers their wants, he ceases to serve God! This means a preacher should not avoid a subject because it is controversial, nor should he choose a subject because it “goes over well.” The subject preached should be considered entirely according to what God cares about and not at all according to what the audience thinks or wants. Many preachers are already disqualified.
1Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
Public speaking was the entertainment medium before the modern era, and gifted speakers put on a show for their audience. They “cunningly devised fables” and used “great swelling words of vanity,” to hear Peter tell it. The desire for amusement in our generation has filled pulpits with comedians, clowns and con-artists the world over. A “good preacher” is a good joke teller in the minds of many Christians.
But the servants of Christ are commanded to preach the word, and steer hard against the drift toward entertainment prophesied before the coming of the Lord (2 Tim. 4). Paul’s stated objective would argue that a good preacher is not only one who pleases God incidentally, but intentionally, whose entire focus is on pleasing him. If the “good preacher” from this perspective has no interest in pleasing men, this may actually result in some level of satisfaction in displeasing them. Of course preachers should not seek to displease men as one of their goals, but the attitude of pleasing men is so gooey and sticky that practically the only preachers who successfully disdain their approval are the ones who may somewhat relish the opportunity to rattle a complacent audience. It turns out a preacher a little too rough around the edges may be irritating to people but not necessarily to God.
This is one valuable side effect of street preaching. When preachers exclusively preach to their own crowd and invited guests, they may tend to get too fond of the praise of men. When preaching to hostile audiences, and at the mercy of crowd mentality where the bulk of listeners is unbelieving, the preachers who keep doing it year after year have learned to appreciate the value of pleasing God in the message alone, whatever the public reaction.
Isaiah 30:10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
Paul claimed to be “rude in speech” and his intentional preaching style was “great plainness of speech.” Plain speech is not terribly popular. Plain speech hurts feelings. But the attempt to avoid hurt feelings results in two unfortunate circumstances. The more preachers care for people’s feelings the more sensitive people become and the more useless preachers become. This is not to say that preachers shouldn’t try to be well organized and well spoken. But good preachers in God’s eyes don’t euphemize, don’t weasel, and don’t beat around the bush. They don’t calculate the negative effects of bluntness, not because they can’t, but because they want to serve God.
Unfortunately most churches integrate the menpleasing tendency into their very system. Before the puritan reformation ministers were appointed by a central authority, which tended toward corruption in the minister, who answered only to his colleagues from out of town. The puritans changed that system to a local election, which solved the corruption problem somewhat, but resulted in ministers depending upon their popularity for continuance. Neither of these systems is Biblical. And the result is that many evangelical ministers have had to wrestle with the choice between preaching what needs to be preached and keeping their job. Many do an admirable job of balancing the two. But it is hard to reconcile that balancing act with what Paul demands in our text. If the system itself obliges the preacher to please men the system is off. Nevertheless preachers are warned that to serve God they must not seek to please men, even if the system they serve under makes that objective very difficult.
Serving God by pointedly not pleasing people is a difficult objective for anyone, even a preacher, and as it turns out it is easier to achieve for obnoxious types than for nice people. It may rub some people the wrong way that the insufferable “church splitter” may be a better servant of God than the easy going “peace-maker.” That will be God’s place to determine, of course, and I’m sure this fact can be abused to justify objectionable behavior. But the fact remains. The servant of God must intentionally resist the desire to please men, to seek their approval, or to be well liked. In the final tally, success in a servant of God may not be what it appeared.