Be discerning — be very, very discerning!

 

 

I am yet to read in the New Testament where uncompromising proclamation of the Word of God, whether accompanied by confirming signs and wonders or not, resulted in exoneration of the proclaimer. Rather, it appears to have resulted in the very opposite.

 

I am yet to read in the New Testament where governments rose up against Christians because they were offended by their preaching. Rather, it appears that persecution against the kingdom of God resulted when the religious incited government authorities to persecute the disciples because they were offended by the preaching.

 

Also I am yet to read in the New Testament where Jesus embraced popularity. Rather, He shunned it and regularly offended all who heard Him preach; including the disciples, John 6:61.

 

Popularity does not appear to be of God! It appears more likely to be of the flesh!

 

Was it not Jesus who said, “And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endures to the end, the same shall be saved”? And was it not Jesus who also said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you”. And again, “I have given them your word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world”. (Matt. 10:22, John 15:18-19, 17:14).

 

I am always concerned when I see popularity in Christendom. It makes me wonder if the Word of God is being preached in its entirety or even at all. When it is being preached uncompromisingly it offends both non-believers and believers. This is precisely what happened during Jesus’ ministry as recorded in John 6. The record begins with a multitude following Jesus and Him feeding them miraculously and their proclaiming Him to be a prophet. But, it concludes with all who heard His challenging message departing from Him because His words were too hard for them to receive. Why, even the disciples contemplated leaving Him after His message, so He challenged them by asking, “…does this offend you?”

 

What caused such desertion among the followers? It was the Prophet’s challenge to repent and change if they wanted eternal life. It was the call for total commitment. Jesus said that unless they ate His flesh and drank His blood they had no part in Him. In other words, unless that were totally committed and sustained by Jesus and all the words He taught, they would have no true life in themselves.

 

So what did the disciples choose when He challenged them? Eternal life in Him of course and all that accompanied that choice while they remained on the earth, John 6:66-71. And what accompanied that choice was not popularity but persecution whenever and wherever they preached. Yes, signs and wonders occurred and crowds gathered when they preached, but it was not long before such crowd gathering resulted in the preachers being imprisoned or run out of town. Why? Well, even though the accompanying signs and wonders drew attention to them, their cry for repentance offended the hearers.

 

Thus, popularity in Christendom or in the world coming to those who proclaim the Word of God concerns me greatly. New Testament preaching was simple, but offended all who heard it. John the Baptist preached repentance for the kingdom of God was coming and lost his head for it. Jesus preached repentance for the kingdom of God was coming and was crucified for it. The apostles preached repentance for the kingdom of God has come and suffered persecution and death for it.

 

Yet, today, the message of repentance is hardly heard and the result is – popularity with the world because it is not being offended and popular pilgrimages by believers to anywhere in the world, regardless of the cost, to get “something” from the “latest movement” in Christendom. Why not stay home, give the cost of the trip to the poor, repent and cry out, “Lord, here I am; use me in this place or wherever you determine regardless of the consequences!” Such was the heart of the unpopular prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 6:6-13.

 

John the Baptist, Jesus the Messiah and the Apostles all avoided popularity. And it was Jesus who declared, “Woe to you when everyone speaks fairly and handsomely of you and praises you, for even so their forefathers did to the false prophets”, Luke 6:26.

 

Let us be discerning – very, very discerning about what is presently “on offer” in Christendom.

 

Blessings

Bob Chapman MA  

 

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