Don’t Be “Anti”???
Five decades ago there was an unholy plea made “not to preach against anything; just preach for Christ and righteousness.” It was very attractive to too many Christians. Out of it grew such platitudes as, “Accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative; don’t mess with Mr. ‘in-between’.” The sentiment evolved into the opprobrium associated with the epithet “anti.” Norman Vincent Peale’s book, “The Power of Positive Thinking” infected the major segment of all religion, including the Lord’s church. People became convinced that “you can catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar.”
Our generation is not immune from this viral falsehood. Probably there will always be those who want more positive Christianity and less fighting. Spiritual pacifists want no battle with anyone or anything, except an occasional foray against “antis” or “negative” preachers. Their opposition to “negativism” is proof enough that one cannot preach for Christ and righteousness without being against something. A forgotten writer for Better Homes and Gardens wrote, “You can tell how much one loves roses by how much he hates weeds.” Judge how much one loves the truth by the strength of his opposition to error.
Fighting is a vital part of Christian conduct. Paul was a fighting apostle. To win the great prize of life Paul said, “I fight” (1 Cor. 9:26). His fighting was against real opposition, not mere shadow boxing. He instructed a protegé to “fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Tim. 6:12). As he neared the end of his earthly life, the veteran warrior for Jesus said, “I have fought a good fight” (2 Tim. 4:7). Our Master warned an entire congregation to “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 2:16). If you are a Christian fighter, you are in good company.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor 10:4-6). Weapons are given to soldiers. Soldiers use weapons to fight. Soldiers fight against enemies. Defensive wars always receive more approval than offensive wars. An offensive war takes the initiative; defensive wars fight against invaders and plunderers. The spiritual warfare of Christians is both offensive and defensive (Jude 3).
The enemy is real. The great apostle said that at Ephesus he contended with “beasts” (1 Cor. 15:32). It was neither a bull fight, nor facing lions in the arena. The beasts were false teachers, purveyors of error, whose work was destructive and dangerous to the church. Gamaliel knew full well that opposition to the apostles was fighting against God (Acts 5:34). Some one must summon up the courage to draw the sword of the Spirit and face those who “fight against God.”
Paul said he intended “to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:2). Everyone who imitates Paul must also intend to be anti something, somewhere, some time. An “anti” is negative in any conflict. It is impossible to be a good soldier in the Lord’s army without being an “anti.” There is no place for a spiritual pacifist in the church.
Modern churches don’t want a fighting preacher; God wants no other kind. Had John let Diotrephes, alone, the church would have suffered irreparable harm (3 John 9). Had Paul not delivered the blasphemous pair, Hymenaeus and Alexander, to Satan, truth would have suffered much harm (1 Tim. 1:20). Congregations where nothing relevant is opposed have raised the white flag of surrender. James condemned worldliness (James 4:4). Is it possible to be positive about the influence of the world that James dubbed the enemy? When preachers never apply biblical truth to worldly practices like social drinking, gambling (playing the lottery), mixed bathing, dancing, they will please the worldly crowd and be well rewarded financially. When denominationalism is never contested, the church will cease to be distinctive and right. From the perspective of the above considerations, preachers who are spiritual pacifists are our spiritual Benedict Arnolds who sell out God’s people for a morsel of food.
Local churches must have preachers who are “anti” if they are please the Lord and survive. They must get rid of the ear scratching promoters with the virus of positive preaching or the church will be fatally infected and die. Heed this warning and the church will be strong. DRS
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