It was early in the 19th century; a young Baptist preacher and his friend were on a preaching tour, that is, they were going from community to community to preach what they believed to be the Gospel of Christ. Both young men were preachers; one said to the other, “Brother Sewell, I am sorry to see you carry the Book with you to church. Young Sewell asked: ‘Why?’ His companion replied: ‘I am afraid the people will think we learned our sermons out of it.’ This was exactly what young Sewell had done” (Biographical Sketches of Gospel Preachers, H. Leo Boles, p. 181).
What was “the Book”? It was the Bible.
From that time, Jesse Sewell set his mind in a more diligent fashion to see what “the Book” truly said; he was determined that from it only would he preach. This did not go without a response from the church of his heritage. They responded when they gathered: “The vote was put, about half a dozen of the forty members present voted to exclude him from the Baptist Church; the others did not vote. The announcement was made that he was excluded, and the assembly arose and left the house in confusion” (p. 183). One man wanted it to be said about Jesse Sewell that he was excluded from their fellowship because “it was for teaching heresy.”
Imagine that! Teaching heresy when one uses only the Bible from which to preach and teach!
I remember when I was much younger my mother saying something to me that was similar. It was her thinking, at the time, that I should not have learned to preach from the Bible, but that I should have been preaching what the Lord’s Spirit gave me, apart from the Bible. Evidently, she learned from others this way of thinking (she later rejected that way of thinking). Since that time, I have not come across too many people who think this way, though I have read of preachers who believed they were guided by the Holy Spirit to say what things they were saying, apart from what the Scriptures actually said.
When a person preaches from the Bible, there is going to be a response. A good many people will like it and like it very much. There will be many more, however, who stand opposed to one’s firm resolution to preach what the Scriptures teach. One does not have to look far, as in our socially conflicting society, to see that. Paul said of himself, For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith (Rom. 1:16-17). What did it get him? It got him much in the way of trouble! He was stoned, flogged, ostracized and incarcerated. Still, he would not change what he did, For I will not dare to speak of any things save those which Christ wrought through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed (15:18).
There are many who say what Paul did, but as one looks around, all saying the same thing Paul did, there is still much confusion. Who and what are we to believe? It was John who wrote to the saints, Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). How can this be done? In Berea, the Scripture teaches us: Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so (Acts 17:11). The Bible is The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring the soul: The testimony of Jehovah is sure, making wise the simple (Psa. 19:11). RT