30 January 2013

Boldness in Truth

I was reading through some old devotionals that I had written while still full-time pastoring, and i just thought this was worth sharing - again.

Acts 14:1-3

1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. 3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

Right before Paul was stoned at Lystra (most scholars think to death, but that’s a story for another day…), he and Barnabas were traveling together on Paul’s first missionary journey in the city of Iconium. Paul being an excellent example of an evangelist, shows us some interesting things. 

He took the word directly to the people. He taught doctrine and theology that was contrary to the accepted norm, and did so in their own places of worship. How exciting/dangerous this would have been. Imagine a Protestant pastor teaching that the historical traditions and doctrines of the Catholics are wrong, in many cases heretical, IN a Catholic church! This is what Paul is doing. Taking TRUTH to the people. 

When truth is revealed to a people, some will believe, some will be skeptical, and some (through the hardness of their hearts) will not/cannot believe. Paul faced this problem here. As a speaker of truth, be you a pastor or layperson, you will encounter those who are vehemently opposed to that truth. Of those who oppose you, there are the school of thinkers that will simply shrug and walk away thinking that you are a fool, and then there are those who will not just fight you, but do so by nefarious means. These people are back-stabbers, rumor-mongerers and their job is to stir up strife and discontent among the body of believers. Like Luke says here, they "poison the minds" of believers with their lies. They stay IN the church, and make it their job to destroy what they do not like or agree with. They have a faith based on "feeling" and "emotion", NOT based on a foundation of scriptural truth.

How do we combat this? Take Paul’s example. Be persistent, and do not give up. Serve the body in defending Christ. Speak Boldly! Speak in grace and love, and know that you always have the truth and the Word on your side. In Paul’s case, his boldness was rewarded by mighty works from the hand of God. But remember, they stoned him in the next city. 

The cost of discipleship is real, and it is extreme. Jesus spent much time relating this truth to us, but we so often over look the price. We have the ability to reap the reward by dying to ourselves. Jesus did not have that option. If all Jesus had to do was die to Himself, there would have been no Cross. We would have had the perfect example, but no propitiation for our sin, no atoning sacrifice. Jesus had to be crucified to give us the opportunity. 

Be prepared to be rewarded for your boldness. But remember, they just might stone you too. If they do, at least you’ll be in good company!