An Uncertain Sound
By Brother Burke
1 Corinthians 14:8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
Oh beloved, may true Baptists be clear as to what we believe and what we preach. Let us preach with clarity, certainty, and assurance from the Lord that what we preach is according to "Thus saith the Lord". May our hearers understand what we teach and preach, and may it always be in accordance to the truth of the Word of God.
Our text above is teaching about speaking in unknown tongues, and how that an uncertain sound, or words that others can not understand, are of no use. In fact, they are deceptive and detrimental; the hearers don't know what to make of them or how to respond to them. The same principle applies to the clarity of our speech and the meaning of our words even in a known language.
May it not be said of us that people can't understand what we're saying, or that they can't understand what we mean by what we're saying. May people not be left uncertain about our beliefs, whether in our preaching and teaching, our writing, or as in this case, what we publish in our websites. If people read through the pages of this website and go away saying "I don't know where that church stands" on some doctrine; then we have failed in this instance. We have presented our readers with an uncertain sound.
We may all do this ignorantly at times, especially in our preaching. We know what we're saying and what we mean to say, and we assume that everyone else does too. But occasionally someone will ask us about something we said in our sermon, and then we realize how and why they were confused by our words. We made an uncertain sound and didn't even know it. This is a on-going concern that I have about my preaching. It is one thing to be wrong in what we preach, and it is another thing to present what is right and true in a wrong or uncertain way. It amounts to the same thing, as both are perceived by the hearer as confusion or error.
I received an email recently written by someone that I don't know. The email was condemning sovereign grace Baptists for our definition of sovereign grace, and for our believing that salvation can result from Arminian ministries. Now I'm not sure if, or to what extent, I may or may not agree with the author of the email, because his message was extremely vague. If I correctly understood the gist of what he was saying, I am adamantly opposed to his over-all view, which seemed to be the priesthood of the church teaching. In other words, he was suggesting that no one can be saved unless they hear the gospel from a true sovereign grace preacher.
The reason why I disagree with this view is because truth is truth even if it comes out of an Arminian's mouth. God is able to use the truth to save the lost, even if it slips out of an Arminian. It is not the preacher that saves, but the Holy Spirit of God through the preaching of the gospel. If what this man seemed to be advocating is true, then most professing Christians that I know, including many Baptists, are still lost in their sins. In fact, I think he is in doubt that even many or most sovereign grace Baptists are true churches. If this is true, then he may think that only people who hear him preach are truly saved. Beloved, this is where such foolishness leads men!
On the other hand, there might have been some truth in what this man was saying. But the truth that may have been laced in the muddle of lies, was diminished to nothing, and is certain to be evil spoken of because of the predominant error.
Another example. I visited the website of a church that I am familiar with. I was expecting to find a stand for the truth similar to ours, and to the many other true Baptist Church websites that I am familiar with. To my unpleasant surprise, I couldn't distinguish at all what they believe about hardly anything. What little I could make out, I wasn't to impressed with. My wife, who was viewing this site with me, was as amazed and disappointed as I was. After searching every page on their website, I was left totally in the dark as to what kind of Baptist church they were. I know what they used to believe and to stand for, but now they are making an uncertain sound.
Preachers and churches that make a deliberate uncertain sound have something to hide; its just that simple. More often than not, when you hear an uncertain sound, it is because there is heresy hiding in the muddle. I've been associated with sovereign grace, landmark Baptist churches for a good number a years, and it is not like our kind of churches to make an uncertain sound. People may not like the sound we make, but its rare that they can't make it out. We would do well to beware of those who are making uncertain sounds about their beliefs and their stand for the truth. Either they are hiding death in the pot, or they are ashamed of offending people with the truth. If either of these is true, I for one want nothing to do with them in terms of church affiliation or church fellowship.
This message may sound a bit hard, but this is a serious matter. More Baptist churches have gone by the way side in the past two decades than you can shake a stick at. I don't want the church I pastor or any other true Baptist church to be another one of them. May the Lord bless His true churches, and help us to remain strong in the precious truths of His Word. May He help us to make a certain sound; one that all will hear loudly and understand clearly! May the Lord be pleased to bless this message to your hearts.