Sadly, I have come to the point where I must warn you that those who are willing to stand on the Truth of the Scriptures, must be willing to accept criticism, even ridicule, even if it is from their own family! The words of Titus Brandsma (who was martyred at Dachau under Hitler) is ringing true, “Those who want to win the world for Christ must have the courage to come into conflict with it.”
Friends, the gospel of love has become a message of hate to those who oppose it. But none of us should be surprised by that because Jesus stated that, “Everyone will hate you because you are committed to me” (Matthew 10:22). And, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). “The time is coming when people who murder you will think that they are serving God!” (John 16:2). You get the point.
We may as well accept the reality that speaking the Truth is going to cost us. There is no sense asking why the people hate us, or why they are making such hateful comments about us. Jesus made it very clear that we would experience this. Yes, there are some who will applaud our boldness, but their voices will be silenced by the crowds. But that’s okay, because our Lord has so radically changed our lives by the power of His Spirit that like Jeremiah we cry out:
“His word is inside me like a burning fire shut up in my bones. I wear myself out holding it in, but I can’t do it any longer!” (Jeremiah 20:9).
As was said of the Baptizer, he was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness!”
Sadly, today the voices of the prophets are ignored and our pulpits are exchanging truth for tolerance, boldness for balance, and conviction for cowardliness. We don’t want to offend anyone because we are so afraid of losing members of our church and the donor-base of our “Ministry.” But that’s the thing, Truth is controversial. It offends because it is exclusive. It is also absolute! Truth does not depend on, nor is it changed by, the opinions of people. It is exclusive because it is “narrow.” It excludes anything that is contrary to it. Truth convicts and challenges us to seek Holiness and to Pursue Righteousness. We are to be seeking the respect and honor of our Lord, not of men. Our modern culture does not, and should never, dictate what we Preach and Teach.
As Michael Card sang,
He will be the truth that will offend them one and all
A stone that makes men stumble
And a rock that makes them fall
Many will be broken so that He can make them whole
And many will be crushed and lose their own soul
Along the path of life there lies a stubborn Scandalon
And all who come this way must be offended
To some He is a barrier, To others He’s the way
For all should know the scandal of believing
The Scriptures are Truth, and should never be compromised to protect our feelings. The Truth will offend us! The Scriptures are suppose to set the tone of the conduct of our lives. But sadly, the Spirit of God is weeping at the lukewarm, people-pleasing preaching that is flooding our churches. Yes, I realize there are still many wonderful pastors and churches out there, but, as a whole, the church is drifting way off course.
The only difference between believers and unbelievers is that believers are simply forgiven. However, they seem to have forgotten to embrace the full gracious gift of wholeness and restoration through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross! It is through the cross that sin has been atone for and conquered! We have accepted what Paul taught the church in Rome: “If you declare that Yeshua, Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought him back to life, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). But we forget that Paul also wrote,
“Don’t you know that wicked people will not inherit the kingdom of God? Stop deceiving yourselves! People who continue to commit sexual sins, who worship false gods, those who commit adultery, homosexuals, or thieves, those who are greedy or drunk, who use abusive language, or who rob people will not inherit the kingdom of God. That’s what some of you were! But you have been washed and made holy, and you have received God’s approval in the name of the Lord Yeshua Christ and in the Spirit of our God . . . Be alert and on your guard; stand firm in your faith and respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and Holy fervor born of faith. Act like men and be courageous; grow in strength! . . . take up the whole armor that God supplies. Then you will be able to take a stand during these evil days” (I Corinthian 6:9-11, 16:13, Ephesians 6:13).
There must be something different about the disciples of Jesus!
Despite the criticism and threats of the enemies of Righteousness, we must stand our ground and be willing to share the gracious gift of Life, that Jesus offered us If that means that you will be labeled narrow-minded, legalistic, judgmental, arrogant, and intolerant, that is okay. It is the cost of of bearing the cross of Christ and speaking the truth in love. Paul instructed Timothy by saying, “Be ready to spread the word whether or not the time is right. Point out errors, warn people, and encourage them. Be very patient when you teach” (II Timothy 4:2).
What Paul was saying is that we must preach the joyful and wonderful things in the Scriptures, as well as the difficult truths. We must preach the cross and the new life along with preaching about Hell and Heaven. We must be willing to preach damnation, followed up with a message of salvation. We must preach about sin, but that sin is removed through Grace. We must preach wrath which is soothe by Love. preach judgment which is calmed through Mercy. We must preach obedience and forgiveness. Preach that Yahweh “is love,” but also that He is just. It is our love for our Father that compels us to share all of His truth — and it is His Love for them, that we are sharing.
Paul followed up his comments to Timothy, “A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. People will refuse to listen to the truth and turn to myths” (II Timothy 4:3-4). Tozer reminded us that we will stand to be judged someday: “That makes me both love Him and fear Him! I love Him because He is my Savior, and I fear Him because He is my Judge.”
If nothing else, this should sound an alarm in the heart of every preacher, pastor, teacher and disciple of Jesus to seriously examine themselves to determine whether we are encouraging sin through our silence? If so, we are heading down a dangerous path and we must speak the truth in love despite the cost.
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