- Published on the website with persmission
- Begin forwarded message:
- From: "Peter Hammond"
Subject: Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that
is how their fathers treated the false prophets
Date: May 21, 2020 at 2:50:44 PM EDT
To: "'James Sundquist'" <firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dear James
Greetings in the precious Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus
You raise a wide variety of issues that need a thorough response:
First see this video of mine on the issue: Woe to you when all
men speak well of you:
It is interesting how, in spite of all the warnings in Scripture
against gossip, slander, and tale bearing, just how much stock
we tend to place in people's opinions. It is said that where
there is smoke there is fire. However, the smoke may be no more
than dust and hot air.
As Mark Twain observed: "A lie can travel halfway across
the world while truth is still getting its boots on!"
The great Baptist preacher, C.H. Spurgeon, warned: "Believe
not half you hear; repeat not half you believe. When you hear
an evil report, halve it, then quarter it, and say nothing about
the rest of it."
John Calvin, declared: "No greater injury can be inflicted
upon men than to ruin their reputation."
Thomas Brooks taught: "Of all the members in the body, there
is none so serviceable to Satan as the tongue."
C. H. Spurgeon wrote: "The more prominent you are in Christ's
service, the more certain are you to be the butt of calumny.
I have long ago said farewell to my character. I lost it in the
early days of my ministry by being a little more zealous than
suited a slumbering age. And I have never been able to regain
it except in the sight of Him who judges all the earth, and in
the hearts of those who love me for my work's sake."
John Calvin wrote: "There is nothing more slippery or loose
than the tongue."
The Scriptures command us "to slander no-one, to be peaceable
and considerate and to show true humility toward all men."
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and
slander, along with every form of malice." Ephesians 4:31
Yet gossip remains prevalent within the church, and the arrogance,
bitterness, jealousy and malice that so often accompany it generally
King David wrote: "Whoever slanders his neighbour in secret,
him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud
heart, him will I not endure." Psalm 101:5
Today, however, it is more common to publish the slanders than
to silence or rebuke them.
Few seem to consider that whoever gossips to you will gossip
The teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ are very clear. "In
everything do to others what you would have them do to you. For
this sums up the Law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12
When we pray we are to say: "Forgive us our debts as we
have also forgiven our debtors
. For if you forgive men
when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive
you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will
not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:12-15
"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and
falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice
and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the
same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
"Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you
and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son
of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is
your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated
Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets."
Why then do we continue to place such value upon people's opinions?
After all, mass murdering tyrants like Joseph Stalin and Mao
Tse Tung have been "Man of the Year" of Time Magazine.
"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?
Or am I trying to please men? If I was still trying to please
men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10
Our Lord Jesus Christ warned us: "Many will turn away from
the Faith and will betray and hate each other." Matthew
Even one of Jesus' hand-picked disciples, Judas, who was trusted
as the treasurer of "The Twelve" took money from the
high priests to betray our Lord Jesus Christ into their hands
(Luke 22:8; John 13:21).
When Moses sent out twelve scouts to explore the land, ten returned
with a negative and defeatist report and "made the whole
community grumble" to the point of even wanting to stone
Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:36). Only Joshua and Caleb, of the
twelve, came back with a good report. The Lord severely judged
the ten complainers and mightily blessed the faithful Joshua
and Caleb (Numbers 16:38).
The great French Reformer, John Calvin, transformed Geneva through
his preaching, teaching, writings and Academy. Under John Calvin's
ministry, Geneva became the intellectual centre and hub of the
Reformation, a place of religious freedom and refuge for Protestants
fleeing persecution. Geneva also became a sending base for evangelists,
pastors and missionaries who established literally thousands
of Protestant churches throughout Europe and further afield.
Yet historians have noted that: "No good man has ever had
a worse press; no Christian theologian is so often scorned; so
Throughout his life Calvin faced major opposition, often from
fellow Protestants and other theologians: "whose objections
to Calvin were incessant and, usually, unpleasant." Even
today, there are those who maintain that John Calvin was a vicious
tyrant who oppressed the people under an unbearable dictatorship.
And that he had people executed for disagreeing with him.
Yet, the facts are: Calvin never ruled Geneva. The city was not
a totalitarian society, but a republic with elections and dissent.
Calvin held no civil office, he could neither arrest nor punish
any citizen, nor could he appoint or dismiss any official. (To
argue that his eloquence and logic constituted tyranny, is to
invent a new standard.)
History records that refugees from all over Europe flooded to
Geneva to find the freedom there that they were not able to enjoy
in their home countries. Under Calvin, Geneva developed into
Europe's greatest concentration of printers and publishing firms.
It became the epicentre of the movement for freedom worldwide.
Yet Calvin continues to be slandered by ignorant and prejudiced
people. See The Life of John Calvin: https://vimeo.com/channels/1317539/227893854
Malice and a Contentious Spirit
There is a disturbing tendency throughout the church, seen regularly
in homes where they have "roast pastor for Sunday lunch",
to set ourselves up continually as judges of those who are better
than us. Many have the gift of criticism and a ministry of discouragement.
Few recognise how seriously their casual criticism, of what are
often trivial matters, erodes and undermines the ministries of
those called of God to service.
"Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit,
hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind." 1 Peter 2:1
As the Scripture so plainly shows us, slander of every kind is
inseparable from malice, deceit, hypocrisy and envy. (The middle
letter of pride is "I", the middle letter of lie is
"I", the middle letter of sin is "I", so
too the middle letter of Lucifer is "I".) Self centred
pride is often at the root of our desire to slander great men
and women of the past, and to drag down others whom God has raised
Jonathan Edwards, one of America's greatest theologians, and
a man most closely associated with the Great Evangelical Awakening,
was actually dismissed by his own church for applying Biblical
discipline. The elders of his church would not accept his position
that unbelievers should not be allowed to participate in The
Lord's Supper. In his farewell message, Edwards declared: "
contention. A contentious people will be a miserable people
of spirit, evil speaking and things of the like
contrary to the spirit of Christianity
watch against a contentious
The father of modern missions, William Carey, and his co-worker,
John Marshman, had to endure vicious and unjust criticisms from
young new missionaries who came "to help" at the mission
base in Serampore, India. Many of these new volunteers actually
split from the Serampore mission and spent an inordinate amount
of time slandering William Carey and his co-workers (the controversy
lasted thirteen years). So much so that the Baptist Missionary
Society in England actually turned against William Carey for
Writing of this, Carey said: "the evil they have done is,
I fear, irreparable; and certainly the whole might have been
prevented by a little frank conversation with either of us; and
a hundredth part of that self- denial which I found necessary
to exercise for the first few years of the mission would have
prevented this awful rupture
but now we are traduced and
the church rent by the very men who came to be our helpers
for yourselves whether it is comely that a man who has laboriously
and disinterestedly served the mission so many years should be
arraigned and condemned without a hearing by a few men who have
just arrived, one of whom had not been a month in the country
before he joined the senseless outcry."
Slandering Samuel Marsden
On a recent speaking tour to Australia, a couple of people commented
on my including Samuel Marsden in The Greatest Century of Missions.
They frankly admitted that they had never before heard anything
good about Samuel Marsden, but only that he was a vicious "hanging
judge" and "religious hypocrite".
In fact, Samuel Marsden was a pioneer missionary and founding
father of Australia and New Zealand. He was a man who upheld
justice impartially, and who diligently preached the Gospel.
Throughout his life he remained a humble and generous Christian
who laid the foundations for the Christian Church in Australia
and New Zealand. Although he came to Australia as a chaplain
to the convict colony of New South Wales, the Governor compelled
him to also be the magistrate. Combining both demanding vocations
in one person involved Marsden in one controversy after another.
Samuel tried his utmost to provide for the prisoners, to establish
a school for orphans, and to right the wrongs suffered by Aborigines.
His attempts to uphold principles of justice placed his life
in danger and he endured many threats to his life. On one occasion,
he travelled to England to call the attention of the government
to the unacceptable conditions and to secure intervention. He
presented these grievances to King George III himself.
Samuel Marsden had a great missionary vision which also extended
to bringing the Gospel of Christ to the cannibals of New Zealand.
Despite vicious disputes between some of the missionaries answerable
to him, and relentless criticism, Samuel Marsden conducted the
first public worship service in New Zealand, interceded between
two warring tribes, and introduced education, standards of justice,
and law and order to the country.
It was his sad experience to continually be a victim of malicious
and unfounded charges throughout his time in Australia. His fearless
denunciation of sin made him numerous enemies, but the Lord vindicated
Samuel Marsden. Within 31 years of his first service in New Zealand,
98% of the Maoris had embraced Christianity.
Harassing Hudson Taylor
In 1865, Hudson Taylor prayed for 24 "willing, skilful labourers"
for his new China Inland Mission. Willing and skilful they may
have been, but four of these new recruits also brought dissension
and controversy. Soon these dissidents had poisoned the fellowship
with their increasing bitterness and resentment. After two years
of backbiting and disruption, Hudson Taylor had to dismiss the
ringleader, Louis Nicole, from the mission. Other troublemakers
left with him.
More unrelenting slander and lies undermined the work of the
China Inland Mission. One of the accusations against Hudson Taylor
was that he was "too familiar with the young ladies."
Hudson and Maria Taylor kissed some of the girls on the forehead
before they went off to bed. The ladies themselves denied any
inappropriate behaviour, but still the complaint reached London,
and for a time led to a fall in support for the mission.
As Hudson Taylor wrote: "If the Spirit of God works mightily,
we may be sure that the spirit of evil will also be active."
The China Inland Mission was engulfed in opposition, dissension,
controversy, fire and death from the beginning. Their mission
house in Yangchow was attacked and set on fire. Furious persecution
engulfed them. Storms of criticism and controversy erupted. However,
in spite of constant controversies, the number of CIM missionaries
grew, in time becoming the largest mission organisation in the
world. By the end of Hudson's long life, the very mission organisations
that had belittled and ridiculed his methods had begun adopting
many of them.
On his Zambezi expedition, pioneer missionary explorer David
Livingstone was afflicted by interpersonal conflicts amongst
his team leading to everyone abandoning him in the field, even
his own brother Charles. By the time he returned to England seven
years later, Livingstone found that his disgruntled ex-co-workers
had so spread an ill report against him, that no-one even came
out to welcome him back. He was ostracised. Presumed guilty without
even a chance to defend himself.
From Outcasts to Textbooks
The greatest Baptist preacher of all time, Charles Spurgeon,
was actually the target of vicious and slanderous attacks by
the Baptist Union of his day. Now his books are textbooks of
Baptist colleges and his statue stands outside the Baptist Union
George Whitefield, one of the greatest evangelists of all time
and a key figure in the Great Evangelical Awakening, was actually
excluded from the Church of England that he had served so faithfully.
Today the Church of England in South Africa has named its college
after George Whitefield.
A Price of Success
Dr James Kennedy in his book, Delighting God, writes "if
you rise just a little bit above the common herd, if you achieve
just a modicum more success than your neighbours, most surely
those barbs of criticism are going to be shot your way.
"To avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."
"There is no defence against reproach - except obscurity."
Delighting God quotes one wise old man "if I tried to read,
much less answer all the criticisms made of me, and all the attacks
levelled against me, this office would have to be closed to all
other business. I do the best I know how, the very best I can,
and I mean to keep on doing this, down to the very end. If the
end brings me out all wrong, ten angels swearing I had been right
would make no difference. If the end brings me out alright, then
what is said against me now will not amount to anything."
An Opportunity to Glorify God
There is no doubt that adversity builds character. A faith that
can't be tested, can't be trusted. Smooth seas do not make skilful
But unjustified criticism is still better than flattery - and
less dangerous! We can always benefit - even from the most unbalanced
criticism. What man means for evil, God can use for good. (Genesis
"And we know that all things work together for good to those
who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
Such trials should drive us to prayer, humble us and deepen our
devotional life as we search the Scriptures and ask: "What
is God saying to me through this?"
It can also enable us to empathise with and comfort others who
suffer such injustices.
Christians suffering unjust criticism should find opportunities
to glorify God and to witness for Christ. Ultimately, God's opinion
and approval is the only One that counts. It is He whom we should
continually be seeking to please.
And one thing that Christ requires is that we forgive those who
sin against us - unconditionally, wholeheartedly. We who have
been forgiven much should love much. "Blessed are you when
men hate you and when they exclude you, and revile you and cast
out your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Rejoice
in that day, and leap for joy. For indeed your reward is great
in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets
to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers
to the false prophets." Luke 6:22-26
It's Not The Critic That Counts
As United States President Theodore Roosevelt wrote:
"It is not the critic that counts
nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled;
nor where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena;
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs and comes short again and again;
who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions
and spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement
who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while doing greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
who know neither victory nor defeat!"
A Test of Character
Everything in life is a test of character. Extreme situations
expose and bring out the best, or the worst, in people. A person's
character is accurately measured by their reaction to unfairness
or bad treatment. The measure of a person's character can be
seen by the size of those things which upset him. The true flavour
of a tea bag is only tasted after it has been placed in hot water,
and so it is with ourselves. Our reputation is what men think
we are. Our character is what God knows we are. And this is only
revealed under extreme crisis situations.
So, when troubles and tribulations come, when you are insulted,
excluded, reviled and mistreated, do what our Lord Jesus commanded;
"rejoice in that day and leap for joy!" Luke 6:26
On the other hand; "Woe to you when all men speak well of
Dr. Peter Hammond
This message is based on the first chapter of Character Assassins
- Dealing with Ecclesiastical Tyrants and Terrorists.
This book and the audio CD When All Men Speak Well of You are
Christian Liberty Books
Email: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za <http://www.christianlibertybooks.co.za/>
See Also The Life of John Calvin: https://vimeo.com/channels/1317539/227893854
Dr. Peter Hammond | Director
PO Box 74 | Newlands | 7725 | Cape Town | South Africa
Tel: +27 21 689 4480 | Fax: +27 21 685 5884
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