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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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The Church of the Itching Ears!

A preacher began a sermon by saying, "I will speak only fifteen minutes because of my throat.  If I preach longer, some of you might try to strangle it." The love of short sermons is not as new as some might believe. Over a hundred years ago, Charles Spurgeon observed, " Everywhere there is apathy. Nobody cares whether  that which is preached is true or false. A sermon is a sermon whatever the subject; only the shorter the better" (quoted  by John F.  McArthur in Ashamed of the Gospel, Preface, p. XI).    Apathy about the truth is almost as old as the truth itself.  Two thousand  years ago the apostle Paul warned Timothy some would come to believe a sermon is a sermon is a sermon, no matter how bad or unbiblical  the doctrine might be, "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."  The apostle Paul warns Timothy to stay out of the ear-scratching-business. People in the Church of the Itching Ears will not accept plain biblical teaching. They will give chase to theories and speculations of men who teach what the people want to hear instead of what God has clearly revealed.

Since  becoming a Christian twenty-nine years ago, some things have come to trouble me greatly. Why are believers in Christ so divided among themselves? Repeatedly I've heard people say that it is not realistic to expect us all to see the Bible alike.  That seems to make sense from the purely human perspective. But  didn't Jesus pray for believers in John 17:20-21, "...that they may all be one?" People are often heard thanking and praising God for the many different ways and faiths-by which people are going to Heaven.  This idea may scratch a lot of people's theological itch, but the Bible still saysone one body, one Lord, one faith,  one baptism" ( 4:5).  Jesus lost popularity with the crowds by insisting in Matthew 7:13-14 that  there are but two ways in life--one which is broad and crowded but leading to destruction, and the other narrow and difficult and uncrowded, leading to eternal life. Jesus could never preach for the Church of the Itching Ears. Sooner or later every preacher and Christian has to decide - are we itching to please God or be popular with men?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ