Joseph Herrin (04-22-2011)
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When the Truth Offends
I do not believe there is any greater hindrance to an apprehension of truth than having a closed mind. The refusal to consider something as true has sealed the fate of many. The Jewish rulers, Priests and Pharisees refused to consider that Yahshua was the Messiah prophesied in Scripture. Though He performed mighty miracles before them, even raising the dead, they would not permit the light of truth to enter their minds, for this man before them was not what they wished Him to be.
The Jewish leaders were looking for a Messiah who would vindicate them, declaring them to be the rightful rulers of the world because of their natural heritage as descendants of Abraham. Instead, Yahshua exposed their lack of relationship to Abraham. They did not believe God, nor honor Him with the obedience of Abraham. They were unable to rule themselves, much less others.
The Son of God is called “the Truth” (John 14:6). Though Truth was standing directly in front of the Jews, and providing many attesting signs, and fulfilling every prophetic word, the Jewish leaders and those who followed them staunchly denied the Truth. They rejected the Lord of glory, ridiculing and mocking the Truth.
Men continue to do the same thing today. Sadly, even Christian men and women refuse to give truth a hearing. This was prophesied to be the state of the church in the last days before the return of Christ.
II Timothy 4:3-4
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.
What do these words mean, “they will not endure sound doctrine”? It is testifying that men in the church will not permit truth to be heard. They will resist truth fervently, preferring lies. They will embrace that which is false, and do so with great defiance and zealousness.
Although Paul had in mind doctrines of the Kingdom of God and His Christ, his words apply equally to other areas of truth. Paul is describing an attitude of men’s hearts in the last days. They will be stubborn, hardened, willful, violent, and proud. It requires patience, humility, and gentleness to receive truth, especially when the truth does not vindicate us, nor appear in the manner we would wish.
Someone has said, “Don’t trust information given in a discourteous or slanderous spirit.” There is some wisdom in this advice, for a discourteous or slanderous spirit may reveal the presence of a prejudiced mind that will act with enmity and violence to every opposing thought, no matter its worthiness. However, a person’s courtesy, or lack thereof, should not be taken as sure evidence of truth or error. At times rude people can have truth, and there are many pleasant liars in this world.
I believe one characteristic of all who will be judged as overcomers in Christ is that they will have a deep love of truth. They want truth, even if the truth offends them, or is not what they would wish it to be. This devotion to truth was revealed in Peter, and the core group of disciples Yahshua had chosen (excluding Judas).
In John chapter 6 we read of an encounter between Christ and the multitudes who had joined themselves to Him. Christ knew that most of them were following for the wrong reasons. They wanted the bread and the fish He had multiplied. They wanted someone to lead them who would satisfy their carnal desires. Christ wanted followers who were passionate for truth.
In this encounter we find Christ speaking some difficult sayings to the people. The sayings offended them. Consequently, the multitudes dispersed, including many who had been disciples. Christ turned to the twelve and asked them, “Do you want to leave as well?” Peter’s response is revelatory:
But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Peter and the rest of the disciples were surely offended by Christ’s words, as were the others. The words Yahshua spoke were difficult, and hard to understand. Peter and the rest of the twelve saw Christ driving away the multitudes, and this surely did not please their souls. They most likely were gladdened that Christ’s followers were increasing, and they were numbered among the inner circle of His followers. This provided them honor, and prestige, and they could envision this increasing as the whole nation began to follow Christ. When Christ drove the multitudes away, the twelve were surely confused and disappointed, prompting Christ to ask what He did of them.
I have found this to be a great error of the church today. The church seeks to attract people to Christianity by alluring them with things other than truth. They present a distorted gospel, devoid of the cross. They proclaim a message of prosperity and blessing to those who would follow Christ. They entice them with false doctrines of a full and satisfied life now,
and rapture out of this world before tribulation arrives.
In effect, the church is attracting people through a message that appeals to the flesh.
Christ gave a very consistent invitation to those who would be His disciples. He said, “Come and die.” “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me.” Christ did not appeal to the flesh. He offended the flesh. Christ’s appeal was in revealing that He alone was the Way, the Truth and the Life. Those who loved truth would come to Him despite the offense His message presented to the flesh. This would assure that it was those who loved truth who were following Him.
What the church has done in removing the offense of Christ’s message, and seeking to allure carnal people into the embrace of the church, is to take unto herself multitudes of people who do not love truth.
A sister in Christ came to visit with her husband some weeks back. As we were talking I began to speak of the afflicted path that leads to life. This sister asked a very sincere question. She asked, “How will people be drawn to Christ if we focus on affliction and the cross? Won’t such a message drive them away?” I was mindful of the approach of most Christians and churches today. They seek to attract people by offering them what the flesh wants. They have Christian rock concerts, flashy entertainment, short motivational messages, and programs, programs, programs. There is something to appeal to every group among the church; for those sports obsessed, to the shop-a-holics. The churches offer softball teams and trips to the outlet malls. For the more well-to-do, there are the ever present Christian cruises with the banquet tables open 24 hours a day.
I shared with this sister that we are not to seek to draw others to Christ through fleshly enticement. The type of bait you use will determine the fish that you catch. If you allure people with that which appeals to the flesh you will end up with a bunch of carnal people who have no real love for the truth. Instead, we must present Christ as the Truth, not avoiding the mention of the disciple’s cross, or the afflicted path. If we use Truth as bait, then we will catch those who are lovers of the truth.
Understanding that the vast majority of Christians today have been allured to embrace the Christian religious system through carnal enticements and sensual doctrines, I am not surprised when I encounter such a high percentage of professing Christians who manifest no real love for truth. It was not truth that drew them to Christ. It was a promise of receiving a get-out-of-hell-free-card. It was the programs and entertainments of the church, along with its no-cost message that drew them.
There is only a remnant today among the body of Christ who love truth, and who were attracted to Christ because He is Truth. The message of the cross does not appeal to the flesh. Many have canceled their subscription to this blog when the message was offensive to them. When I spent time writing about the afflicted path, many who were attracted by the blogs speaking prophetically of the parables in current events fell away. Some are titillated when they hear some sign proclaimed of the end of the age and of the soon return of Christ, but they are offended when they hear of the suffering they must pass through.
I have not gotten sidetracked from my initial message here. There is a tie-in between what I have shared about following Christ even when His message offends us, and these current events and theories that we are discussing. If you love truth, you will not close your mind to evidence that leads to a conclusion your soul does not desire; You will be open-minded, willing to embrace truth, even when it offends, or is not what you wished, or anticipated.
Already I am receiving comments and e-mails from professing Christians who are offended by this current teaching series. In two comments yesterday I was characterized as “hypocritical” and “shallow and unenlightened.” Although the presence of such discourtesy is not conclusive proof that the writers are in error, it does not give testimony to the fruit of Christ being present in their lives. The focus of yesterday’s post was being patient and gentle in setting forth our arguments in a manner that is helpful to a brother, being able to lead him to truth. The need to manifest love in our words and actions was stressed, yet the comments received were insulting and disparaging.
People of God, if Christians are to be offended and begin to insult one another over some matter as mundane as the latest conspiracy theory, then what will they do when they are faced with the offense of suffering reproach, loss, imprisonment, beating and even death for His sake? Truly we will see fulfilled in these days Christ’s words that “many will betray one another,” and “many will fall away.”
I challenge you, as you set your mind to discourse with others on topics such as the ones named in this series, to observe your words and attitude. Are you offended because someone disagrees with you? Are your words disparaging toward the other person? Are you impatient? Have you manifested a willingness to carefully consider arguments contrary to your own view? Do you desire for all parties to arrive at truth more than to prove yourself right? Do patience, love, gentleness, and humility characterize your writings?
Christ said we would know those who are His by their fruit. Are the fruit of the Spirit being manifested in your words and in your conversations with others? Be aware of the presence of personal offense when you are discoursing with others. Personal offense is a tell-tale sign of some selfish motive. It reveals that a man or woman has let their soul take over the conversation, and they are no longer being led of the Spirit. Personal offense is never approved by God.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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