Ok…let’s try this again (The Watchman) in three simple, logical points.
First, sin, if left unconfessed and unrepented of in the life of any human being, will lead that human being to the fate of eternal torment separated from God in hell.
Second, God has given us the remedy for sin in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the propitiation for sin and through whom we receive the fate of eternal paradise in communion with God in heaven.
Therefore, thirdly, to warn someone of the consequences of sin and share with them the good news of Jesus Christ is _______________. (you fill in the blank)
How many of you filled in the blank with the word hateful? Or judgmental? Or unkind? Or unloving? Or not my responsibility? As ludicrous as these options seem to be, at least to me, you may be surprised at how many people, including professing Christians, actually have used these terms to describe other believers that hold to the conviction that it is necessary and right for God’s children to share the truth of scripture with other people, even if it uncomfortably confronts sin, which it often does. I should know because these words and others have all been used to describe me at different points of my Christian ministry, but especially in the past few months. And what is my reply? Partially, here it is…
First of all, let’s remember the words of Jesus when He said:
“…If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32 (NASB95)
There are many professing Christians and whole churches out there who truly, honestly believe that we should not publicly stand for truth because it causes more problems than solutions. By that I mean, it should not be shared, it should not be expressed, it should not be preached, and most definitely, it should not be “imposed” upon others. Instead, it should be kept in our own little closet where it doesn’t ruffle any feathers, causes no debates, and hurts nobody’s feelings.
Now, I could understand this approach if we were talking about our personal opinion on a matter. In fact, we could all learn a little restraint when it comes to voicing our own opinions at times. But this is the life-saving TRUTH of the gospel that we are talking about! Objective, unbiased, transcendent, powerful, eternal truth; not someone’s opinion or cleverly devised tale as Peter puts it. This is truth stating that Jesus Christ is Lord, plain and simple. And if this truth has been revealed to you (you will know whether or not it has been because this verse says along with truth and its acceptance comes true freedom) then you are responsible for sharing the accuracy of this news with the world around you. It is not an option, it is a calling from God almighty to every single person He has saved by grace. We are God’s watchmen in a wicked society placed with the responsibility and privilege of heralding the good news that Christ has come to save us from our sins because He is returning soon to judge the living and the dead. The logic of Romans explains it clearly for us:
“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14 (NASB95)
Secondly, we must also remember the words of Jesus when He spoke just as clearly to us at another time, saying:
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33 (NASB95)
To those who want to sit on their hands when the opportunity to stand for truth is available, I would humbly plead with them to consider what Jesus said. In refusing to stand for the truth of Jesus Christ by remaining silent, aren’t we in fact denying Him? Isn’t our silence in and of itself an act of denial? It may seem noble to sit on the fence when it comes to issues that have divided our society lately, but that isn’t what the Lord expects of us; He expects us to be good stewards. Jesus said we are the salt of the earth, and we are to be on guard against losing our saltiness because we become good for nothing. In the same way, Jesus said we are the light of the world, a city set on a hill for all to see; not a lamp hidden under a basket. We are to be bold witnesses of Jesus Christ, by His grace, by His Holy Spirit. It is an oxymoron to say “silent Christian.”
I am reminded of the story of Polycarp, one of the ancient fathers of the Christian church. It was believed that he was a disciple of John the beloved and lived a long life of faithfully following Christ in the midst of a hostile, pagan Roman society. At the end of his life, he was finally arrested and brought to trial in the stadium at Smyrna where he was faced with the decision of either confessing Caesar as Lord (which also meant denying Jesus as Lord) or death. In his old age, he made this statement before a stadium of atheists and the governor of Smyrna which sealed his fate, both on earth and in heaven.
“Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?” -Polycarp, an apprentice of John, just before he was martyred
Thirdly, in all of this, including recent criticisms of my position on truth, I am reminded of the words of Paul in Corinthians where he stated:
“Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (NASB95)
God knows the thoughts and intentions of my heart; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Also I am aware that He is my Judge as well as my Justifier; I humbly submit myself to these truths. In light of this, just as Paul says, the opinion of the world means very little to me in light of what God says. Although the counsel of other Christians as well as those who have experienced the challenges of life and have lived to tell the tale is very much respected and sought after, if what is said doesn’t line up with the word of God, then it just doesn’t carry much weight in my book. Along with that, instead of seeking the praise and approval of men, I understand clearly that the Lord has called me to make disciples of all nations for the glory of God, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded us to do. This is not only my commission from the Lord but everyone’s commission as a Christian. And I truly believe that one day the Lord will hold me accountable for how faithful I was to this task.
One thing I am sure of is that I don’t want to find myself standing before the Lord with eternity ahead of me and have Him ask me, “Why didn’t you tell others about Me? Why didn’t you stand for My truth when you had the opportunity? Why did you let them believe the lies of the devil? Why did you allow them to give in to the lusts of their flesh when you could have challenged them with My word? Why were you ashamed of Me?” By God’s grace and the mighty power of the Holy Spirit who lives within me, the Lord will not have to question my faithfulness in this area, for I am seeking those words of the Lord, “Well done good and faithful servant!”
Fourthly, I am once again befuddled by the obviously blatant hypocrisy of those who cry “Judgmental!” when someone offers loving, truthful correction through the expression of God’s word to another individual. For what escapes their notice is that in their accusation they themselves are guilty of the very thing they denounce. I have written much about this (Who Are You to Judge? – Part 1 Who Are You to Judge? – Part 2) and am really weary of it.
If my passion for the truth of Jesus Christ in all things offends other Christians who believe we should just be quiet, if this causes you to not like me because in your opinion it is people like me who give Christianity a bad name, if you dismiss me as a born-again radical, that’s ok because I am living for an audience of One. And He has told me to preach His word, proclaim His truth, and to always give a defense for the hope that lies within me and by His ability I will do just that.
I will not be silent.
And I will not be ashamed on judgment day.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NASB95)