Are you willing to look evil in the eye and defend the truth? Are you willing to lose the favor of your parents, your siblings, and your friends because of the gospel and doctrine of Christ? You wouldn’t be the first who wasn’t willing to give up on the thrills of this life because of Christ. The apostle John wrote, “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42,43). These many rulers were almost certainly among the better educated and more highly respected citizens in the land. They were men of influence, and they loved their chief seats too much to risk offending the Pharisees, which was the strictest sect among the Jews (Acts 26:5).
The Pharisees coveted the praise of the chief rulers, also (Matt. 23:1-7). Each group was happy to have the praise of the other. It was a matter of you praise us and we will praise you. You scratch my back and I will scratch yours! Sounds like a politician, doesn’t it? The chief rulers would not confess their belief in God’s Son. They pleased men rather than God.
There was no way to confess faith in Christ without facing the ugly sarcasm and hate of the Pharisees. The ninth chapter of John tells the story of Christ’s healing a blind man. That grateful man took his stand in defense of the One who had healed him, and his wisdom was evident in the answers to those who reviled him. His parents were like the many chief rulers who believed. They showed no gratitude to the One who had given sight to their son who had never seen.
“His parents answered them, and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: but by what means he now sees, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These works spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him” (John 9:20-23). They were not as ignorant as they professed they were. They refused to express confidence in and gratitude for the One who had done so much for their son. What will some people do to win the praise of men?
The threats of the Pharisees and other prominent Jews had its desired effect. Many bowed before them and did not stand for their convictions. How many other such men were there in Israel in those days who were very quiet about their beliefs? If they had boldly proclaimed their faith in Christ the eyes of many others might have been opened through their influence.
There was some basis in the mind of Christ for selecting Peter, James, John and others to be apostles. They were not highly educated or socially prominent men (Acts 4:13). They did have some preconceived ideas about the kingdom that hindered their understanding of the mission of Christ (Matt. 20:20-28). Our Lord selected men who could be rebuked without turning back (John 6:66). They could hear truths that shocked them without losing faith (Matt. 19:23-25).
Jesus could say to the apostles: “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear” (Matt. 13:16). The god of this world had blinded the eyes of some (2 Cor. 4:4). They could not see because they would not look, and they could not hear because they would not listen. Preaching to people like this is somewhat like casting pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6; 13:15). Being willing to do the will of God has something to do with our ability to understand it. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).
Nearly two thousand years ago there were men who would not pay the price to boldly teach the truth. Are there such people in the world today? When men go out to sow the word, do they find the wayside soil, the shallow soil, and the thorny ground, as well as the good soil? Can there be any doubt? There must be many that know better than their behavior would indicate. “Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin” (Jam 4:17).
“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because he knew the power and love it involved (Rom. 1:16). Timothy was one of the truly great men of that first century, but he was warned not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord or of the persecuted saints (2 Tim. 1:8). If Paul needed the prayers of saints that he should speak boldly as he ought to speak, and if Timothy needed to be warned, surely we must need the same (Eph. 6:19,20).
Could we find men who are honorable counselors among the more liberal churches who realize that the praise of men is a dominant force among them? Would they like to stand with us if it did not entail being called an “anti”, “legalist” or some other such unpleasant name. Please, come on out of the darkness and stand in the light for the sake of your soul, your family’s welfare, and for the influence you could have on your neighbors. Love would cause you to obey (Jn 14:15,21,23).
It is still true that those who would live godly lives in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). If they persecuted Christ they will of necessity also persecute the saints of God. Men are needed who will do the work of an evangelist and endure the affliction that follows the good work. If you teach the truth as it is in Christ you will be called a legalist, a homophobe, a sexist, a trouble maker, a bible thumping extremest, a narrow minded idiot. Yet, remember this, you will please God. Are you strong enough to stand up for the truth? (1 Thess 5:21) Are you brave enough to defend the gospel? (Philip 1:15-18) Are you courageous enough to contend for the faith? (Jude 3) Are you willing to lose this life in order to gain eternal life? (Matt 6:24-26)