The first martyr in the church also was its first debater. The Bible was taken from the people by compromise, but it can never be restored by that method. Most desire to hear “the gospel of compromise” preached, as opposed to “the gospel of confrontation”. Of course, what most want to hear never saves any one, not even the one that does the preaching. Paul declared, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
The most deadly weapon the devil has ever used in arsenal has been the spirit of compromise. It is his last resort when all other methods have failed. The enemies of the truth have saturated the church with the spirit of compromise which conceals their purposes from thousands of good conscientious people whose emotional nature predominates their reasoning faculties. Therefore, anyone who dares defend the truth of God makes this kind of deceiver strike back by slander. They are quick to say “Legalist”, “Pharisee” or as Ahab said to Elijah, “Trouble Maker”! In fact, they will say most anything to silence the truth of God.
Just as the devil challenged God’s word as soon as he had spoken, so he assaulted the church as soon as it was established. The first efforts of the devil’s cohorts in religious discussion are recorded in Acts 6:8-10. “And Stephen full of grace and power, worked great wonders and signs among the people. But there arose certain of them that were of the synagogue called the synagogue of the Libertines, and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he speak.” Their defeat was so crushing and humiliating in this controversy that the devil never has believed in debating since. His emissaries were so enraged over their defeat that they hired witnesses to falsely swear away Stephen’s very life. So Stephen, the first debater in the church became the first martyr of the church of Christ.
Because this is a fact, shall we selfishly agree with the devil that religious controversy is wrong, and that Stephen was the “trouble in Israel?” Around the first altar was committed the first murder, but does this prove that religion is wrong?
The death of Stephen did not end debaters for the truth of God. No! In fact, the same man who had Stephen killed, Saul of Tarsus, subsequently was converted to Christianity, and became even a larger debater for the truth than Stephen. It was Paul who said he was set for the defense of the gospel. Philip 1:17 He was determined to prove all things and hold firm that which is good. 1 Thess 5:21
The true servants of God have always caused havoc on those who desire compromise over absolute truth. Elijah was deemed a trouble maker, 1 Kin 18:17 Paul was deemed an enemy, Gal 4:16 and Jesus was called a blasphemer. Mt 9:3 Why should it be different today? In this warfare of good vs evil, right vs wrong, and righteousness vs unrighteousness, let us be set to defend and contend for the faith. Jude 3 So long as God blesses us with the health, strength, and vigor of mind, let us defend the gospel of Christ, the doctrine of Christ, and all that is moral and just!