“Concessions of Compromise”
3) OUT OF GRATEFUL OBEDIENCE TO GOD, WE MUST NEVER DO THINGS THAT ARE CULTURALLY ACCEPTED BUT ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN BY HIS WORD.
We live in a day when many who profess to be Christians are ignorant of God’s holy standards for His people. I have met college students who say that they know Christ, but who do not feel that it is wrong to have sex outside of marriage. Divorce has become so widespread, even in evangelical circles that many professing Christians walk away from their marriages as if divorce were just an unfortunate event, rather than a grievous sin. God’s moral standards do not change over time or from culture to culture. We must not be so influenced by our culture that we violate God’s holy standards. This leads to the final section of our text:
- Our authoritative guide for all faith and practice is God’s Word, which should be taught and learned (15:30-35).
Judas and Silas, who accompanied Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch, “strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.” I like that! And Luke reports that Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, “teaching and preaching, with many others also, the word of the Lord.” In Acts 11:26, we saw how these men “for an entire year met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”
We often forget that the Great Commission is not just evangelism. That’s the first part of it; but the Great Commission also requires “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). Churches today are starved because pastors are expected to do all sorts of things, with teaching and preaching God’s Word low on the list. It should be at the top.
Also, the church has always been plagued with false teachers like these Judaizers, whose words unsettled the souls of the saints (15:24). The Greek word “unsettled” occurs only here in the New Testament. It was used outside the Bible to refer to going bankrupt or to a military force plundering a town (James Moulton & George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament [Eerdmans], p. 37). Paul later warned the Ephesian pastors that from among their ranks, men would arise, “speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). So we always need to be growing in our knowledge and application of God’s Word, so that false teachers do not plunder our souls.
During 1977, millions of people lined up at museums across the United States to view the treasures from the tomb of King Tutankhamen of Egypt. It is interesting that Ali Hassan, the curator of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, discovered that some of the jewels in the tomb were not genuine, but were only colored glass. When he was asked how this could go undetected for so many years, Mr. Hassan answered, “We were blinded by the gold. One just assumes that real gold and real gems go hand-in-hand. This is a case where they don’t” (“Our Daily Bread,” Fall, 1978).
Satan mixes truth and error to deceive Christians. He gets us to compromise and unite over doctrines where we should not budge an inch. And, he gets us to fight and divide over issues where we need to concede our rights out of love. We need God’s wisdom and discernment to know essential truth where we must never concede, and to know areas where it is right to concede out of love so as not to offend others
Excerpt from a Bible Lesson by Stephen J. Cole