A WORD IN PASSING August 2017
'For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own
desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears
want to hear.' 2 Timothy 3:3
How important it is that when the Christian gospel is proclaimed it is the full gospel - 'The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.' For God is the God of truth and nothing less than the truth is acceptable to Him. Nothing less than the truth will He sanctify in his service. There may be some gospel truths we would rather not mention when sharing the 'good news' with others; aspects of the faith that make it less consumer friendly; aspects that make us feel uncomfortable; things we'd prefer not to be there. The problem is that once you compromise truth truth is the one thing you no longer have.
Paul was well aware of the danger of dumbing down the gospel in order to make it an easier sell. He knew the temptation that lay in compromising gospel truth in order to achieve results. So again and again he writes to his fellow Christian missioners instructing them to,
'Watch your life and doctrine carefully. Persevere in them' (1 Tim 4:16), 'hold firmly to the
trustworthy message as it has been taught so that you can encourage others by sound doctrine
and refute those who oppose it' (Titus 1:9), 'You must teach what is in accord with sound
The danger of compromising the truth of the gospel in order to popularise ministries and fill churches is as real today as it was in Paul's time. But such a ministry, such churches - though owned by men - will never be owned by God.
Christianity is 'an affair of the heart', and Christians are called by God to set their hearts first and foremost on Him; setting their hearts not to please men but God - the God who 'tests our hearts' (1 Thess 2:4). It's then, and only then - when God is in His rightful place on the throne of our heart and at the heart of church life - that the true blessing comes; individually and corporately. We need to remember that all of our life lies open to His testing scrutiny. There is nothing that can be hidden - deeds, motives, action, inaction, etc. Other Christians can be fooled, but never God. He knows when our 'first love' (Rev 2:4) lies elsewhere.
The follower of Jesus Christ is commissioned in His service. Paul's heart, and those of his fellow missioners, was set on pleasing God. It was a costly calling but it was a fruitful calling. God was able to reach the hearts of others through them because their hearts were set on Him. The full gospel was proclaimed. The truth was declared. Their service was sanctified. Grace flowed - and continues to flow.
And there lies the challenge for the church today: consumer friendly christianity or sound doctrine, compromise or 'Christ crucified' (1 Cor 1:23)? Who are you looking to serve? Who are you seeking to please? If you're confused take a dose of sound doctrine. It might not be a remedy for 'itching ears' but it's the divine diagnosis for conditions of the heart.