When Paul finally arrived in Rome as a prisoner, he called together the local leaders of the Jews. He wanted to speak to them about why he had been sent to Rome in chains. As he introduced his desire, they responded by saying, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against” (Acts 28:21-22).
How sad. The sect that upholds the truth that can set us free is spoken against everywhere (I Timothy 3:15; John 8:32). If you are like me, you tend to think that such a great thing when presented properly will be accepted by all. Even if they decide not to agree at least they ought to appreciate what we believe and be tolerant of our goals. Yet, that is simply not the case.
No matter what we do, if we are faithful to God and His word, some will simply not like us. Jesus Himself said that some would speak against us and believe they are speaking in the name of God (John 15:21). That means some who even believe they are acting as Christians will persecute and speak out against those who are truly practicing the truth.
When others speak against us, instead of softening what Jesus taught or hiding in our church buildings, we need to rely on God. We can pray as the psalmist that God not allow our enemies to exult over us or put us to shame (Psalm 25:2). We can ask God to lead us on level paths and not give us up to the will of our adversaries (Psalm 27:11). False witnesses abound against us, but God can provide us with faith and victory. We can take refuge in God and seek His deliverance (Psalm 31:1-2).
We do not retaliate with vengeance. We do not try to put our enemies in their place. When we are wise, we will respond as Jesus did while on trial, simply allowing the enemies to speak. We do not have to provide a defense against our attackers. God will defend in His time. Rather, we treat those who would attack us with kindness, patience, love (Romans 12:20-21). We need to overcome evil with good, not rise to the evil and return it upon them. It is so easy to seek vengeance, to seek retaliation, to try to provide tit for tat. That is not how Christ would have us act.
Lean on Christ. Do the right thing. Be at peace with others as much as depends on you. Let our enemies beat their heads against the wall trying to get us to move away from Christ. We can take refuge in God and find deliverance. As we live by these means, some of our enemies will even be softened and repent, becoming able to glorify God on the day of visitation (I Peter 2:12).
No matter what we do, someone won’t like us. No matter what we do, some will speak against us. That will hurt us. However, we can lean on God and He will provide deliverance in His time. Let’s just do the right thing today no matter what anyone else says about us.
A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. If you have ears to hear, listen up.
If you’ve stumbled across this page and you’re not a child of God, Satan’s plan for you today is to make you Stay Out!. He doesn’t want you reading what we have to say on this website. He doesn’t want you thinking about what the Bible says or means. He is trying to make sure your heart is like the hardened path beside the field that will not allow the seed to penetrate, but will keep it on the surface so the birds can eat the seed before the seed can do any good.
If you are on this page because you are already in Christ, Satan plans to make you Drop Out! He hopes he can make you angry at someone. He hopes he can throw some temptation in your path. He hopes he can get you walking in a different direction. He’ll do whatever he can to make you wither away and die spiritually. He put rocks in your heart so that if the seed of the word ever penetrated it, there would be no room for it to grow. He will do whatever he can to get you to keep from reading your Bible, praying, spending time with Christians. If he can keep that up, then over time, you’ll just drift away and drop out. He’s hoping today will be that day.
If you are on this page because you are already in Christ and you’ve determined not to leave, Satan plans to make you Fizzle Out! That is, he’ll let you keep meeting with the church. He’ll even let you keep reading your Bible and praying sometimes. But he’ll make sure your relationship with Jesus never gets below the surface. He’ll work to make sure it never really affects how you live. He’ll place job promotions before you. He’ll fill your time with superfluous things. He’ll send you chasing paychecks, nicer cars, bigger houses, better gadgets. He’ll fill your mind with justifications about how behaving this way just this once won’t matter, God will probably even understand. In the end, you’ll feel like your a good Christian because at least you didn’t drop out, but you won’t be producing any fruit.
Be wary. Satan has plans for you today. If he can get you to do any of the above things today, he’ll have won today’s battle. Don’t let him win. Rely on God today. Get in, Stay in, and Grow up. God will strengthen you to bear fruit today if you simply draw closer to Him. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Make today a rock removing, weed pulling, fruit bearing day. To God be the glory.
I recently read an article by Ken Chumbley in Focus Magazine that really made me think. I wanted to share it with you. The article is reprinted here with permission by both brother Chumbley and Focus Magazine.
The Threat I Pose
Religiously, I am what is known as a fundamentalist. This term carries a variety of meanings, but in my case it means I hold to certain beliefs generally considered to be the indispensable core in Christianity. I believe, for example, that the Bible is the word of God; I believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ; and I believe in the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. Further, I view with suspicion any teaching characterized as progressive, modern, or liberal. In my experience, what has been called progressive usually turns out to be transgressive, in that the progressive doctrine commonly progresses beyond the limit of Scripture. “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God” (2 John 9). Without question I am a religious conservative, in that I believe in staunchly preserving, as best I can, what I understand New Testament Christianity to be. For the record, the only label I apply to myself is Christian (Acts 11:26); I only aspire to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
But having said all this, I must acknowledge the historical verity that regarding threats to the faith—to paraphrase Pogo—I have met the enemy and he is me. What I mean is this: in the annals of Christianity, the greatest apostasies came not from the religious left, but from the right. The damage caused by heresies such as gnosticism, Marcionism, Manichaeism, monorchianism, Arianism, sacerdotalism, and so on was minimal compared to that which resulted from those who “defended the faith” against the heretics. As John W. Kennedy summarized it in The Torch of the Testimony (Christian Books, 1965), it was the counter-measures adopted by the orthodox, “much more than the heresies themselves, [which] were responsible for the changes which were eventually to lead the assemblies so far away from the simplicity of church life as it was in New Testament times” (60). Even a cursory understanding of ecclesiastical history will sustain this proposition.
And what were the orthodox reactions to heresy that were themselves heretical? Here is a short list.
- Clericalism—which created a spiritual hierarchy of clergy who arrogated to themselves the right to define the faith, interpret the Bible, and identify as heretical all who questioned their conclusions.
- Creedalism—which sought to impose orthodoxy by requiring assent to precise statements of certain truths that excluded contemporary heresies. This trend, however, eventually emphasized confessing the creed to the neglect of weighty matters such as love (e.g., I John 3:16-18) and obedience (e.g., I John 2:3-6).
- Legalism—which placed trust in one’s righteousness rather than in God (Ezk. 33:13; Luke 18:9). Legalism is an insidious heresy wherein faith in one’s obedience is substituted for the obedience of the faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26).
- Dogmatism—(or, if you will, traditionalism) which elevated man’s word over God’s word (Mark 7:1-13; Col. 2:20-23).
I repeat: in ecclesiastical history, these “isms” of the right proved far more lethal to the primitive pattern of Christianity than anything from the left. It was the conservatives (the scribes and Pharisees), not the liberals (the Sadducees), who were most frequently condemned by the Lord during His personal ministry.
The besetting sins of the right are not countered by jumping to the left. True orthodoxy is maintained by charting a course within the parameters of the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24), holding belief, love, and obedience in their proper balance. Failing in this, they who consider themselves Christ’s proponents may, in fact, have positioned themselves as His opponents (Matthew 16:22-23).
It is a lesson we conservatives would do well to remember.