Valiant for the Truth

October 19, 2010

The record of history shows that wherever and whenever men and women have taken a stand for God and the inherent and inerrant accuracy of the truth of His Word, it has always kindled the fires of religious fervor. Such was especially the case during the period in history known as The Reformation. Those in the positions of religious power and authority expended themselves to fan the flames and consume anyone who stood in their way, because the truth of God’s Word (that sets men and women free) threatened the stranglehold and control that the religious order held over people (and their money), and this they could not tolerate.

The truth of the matter is that the truth of God’s Word always sets men and women free, in every category of their life.

John 8:31, 32
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

The accurate knowledge of God’s Word (not the knowledge of denominational theology) sets men and women free in mind and body. It brings healing to the physical body, and restores sanity to the human mind. It will set men and women free in their finances, in their marriage, in their parenting, in their relationships with others, in their businesses. There is no category or segment of human existence that the accurate knowledge of God’s Word does not address and bring deliverance!

II Peter 1:3
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”

The truth of the matter is that throughout history God has spoken in a variety of ways. One of these many ways was by His prophets – His messengers.

Hebrews 1:1
“God, who at sundry (various) times and in divers (many) manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.”

These individuals received the revelation of God directly from the source, and then delivered the message to those to whom they were sent. They were God’s spokesmen, God’s mouthpiece, His messengers. They used their vocabulary, but what they spoke was God’s Word. That is why the written Word of God (the revelation of God in writing) is of no private interpretation, because it did not come by the will of man, but these holy men of God spake as they were directed by God. They spoke (and wrote) what God wanted them to declare.

II Peter 1:20, 21
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

The record of God’s Word shows time and again how God’s prophets, those who spoke for God, were received and treated by the people.

II Chronicles 36:14-16
“Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.”

Jeremiah was such a man. Jeremiah was a prophet of God, a messenger of God. He spoke for God and delivered “the word of the Lord” that God gave him verbatim to God’s people. Of all the prophets in Old Testament, none was ever treated any more cruelly than was Jeremiah. Yet, he remained valiant for the truth.

One time during his life and ministry Jeremiah was put in the stocks at the gate of the city, by the religious leader of the community (the “chief governor of the house of the Lord”), so everyone could laugh at and ridicule him, because the religious leader of the community didn’t like the Word of God that Jeremiah had been speaking.

Jeremiah 20:1, 2
“Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD.”

Sincerity and religious piety is no guarantee for truth. Just because a man is religious, just because he is sincere, just because he has the right degrees from the right theological seminary or is intellectually eminently qualified, doesn’t make him right or in line with the truth of God’s Word. Pashur was religious! He was sincere! He was at the top wrung of the religious ladder – “the chief governor in the house of the Lord.” He was top echelon of the denomination. What makes a man right is whether or not what he speaks is in line with the truth of God’s Word (rightly-divided), not whether or not it is in line with accepted theological thought or religious teaching.

After Pashur released Jeremiah from the stocks and had summoned him to see whether or not Jeremiah would like to change his mind about what he had said, Jeremiah gave him the Word of God again, and then some. Jeremiah hit Pashur ‘right between the eyes’ with the truth of God, with absolutely no concern whether Pashur would like or appreciate what he had to say. With no concern whether or not he would be ostracized or ridiculed or imprisoned or even killed.

Later in his life and ministry the political heads of the society didn’t like the Word of God that Jeremiah spoke, so they lowered him into an abandoned cistern that was used as a holding tank for human excrement.

Jeremiah 38:6
“Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.”

They lowered this wonderful man of God, God’s spokesman, God’s prophet, His messenger, into a septic tank filled with human waste – sewage! This is as heartbreaking as it is incredible! This was the value society placed on the truth of God by the mouth of Jeremiah the prophet. They considered him, and the Word of God he spoke – sewage! We see this today in our modern society where the Word of God is unwelcome in so many places. It is unwelcome in our schools. It is unwelcome in our legislative bodies (how dare we open a legislative session with a prayer beseeching God for His blessing and guidance on the proceedings). It is unwelcome in our businesses (lest a lawsuit be filed for religious harassment). It is unwelcome at our sporting events (lest the unbelievers be offended). It is even unwelcome in many of our churches (if what the Scripture declares contradicts the theology of the church). This was true in Jeremiah’s day and time as well, and he spoke to it.

Jeremiah 23:1, 11
“Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!

For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.”

O’ for a Jeremiah in our day and time! O’ for men of God who will speak for Him. Men who are willing to boldly and courageously declare the truth of the accuracy of God’s Word in the face of religious opposition. Men who are valiant for the truth!

© 2010 The Bible Study Group, Inc.

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There a number of things that many people would like to tell us come with age – wisdom, tolerance, and beauty, being among them. (In my case I don’t know about the “beauty” part.) I’d like to throw a couple in the mix – loving honesty and fearless boldness. As I have gotten older I have come to appreciate these, in myself as well as others. Earthly life is so fleeting. As I have gotten older I have come to realize how fleeting it is. When I started in the ministry I was twenty years old (though my study of Scripture began many years before that) and thought I was invincible, that I’d live forever. Now, more than thirty-three years later the invincibility factor has gone down a notch or two.

As the years have gone on I have developed a serious appreciation for loving honesty and fearless boldness. Tell me what you think. Cut to the chase. Spit it out damn it! Don’t beat around the bush, please! I haven’t time. If you think I’m a no-good, four-flushing, double-talking, two-faced, bottom-feeder…..tell me. I’m good with it! I have a thick hide! I don’t go wee-wee in my pants because somebody tells me what’s on their mind. I promise I won’t take my toys and go home because you tell me what you’re thinking. I won’t think any less of you either. As a matter of fact, I will think more highly of you and have more respect for you. I so appreciate honesty and boldness in men and women as I have gotten older.

The truth of the matter is that loving honesty gets to the bottom of things, and fearless boldness is required to be lovingly honest most times. I have always told my wife, my sons, and others that I have counseled over the years that “light makes manifest.” This is true throughout the Word of God. Sooner or later, as the truth is spoken with love and honesty and boldness, as principle is stood upon, the facts of the case become evident and the truth of the situation becomes crystal clear. A person doesn’t always need to jump up and down in their defense. “Light makes manifest!”

When someone is young I think they spend a lot of time worrying about how not to offend people, how to be diplomatic, how to hide what they’re really thinking, how not to hurt people’s feelings. Now, please don’t misunderstand, I’m not advocating being unkind, unloving, rude, or crass. I have dealt with people like that too; People who have a ‘running off of the mouth,’ that are loud and rude and unkind in their speech under the guise of (pseudo-) honesty.

James 3:3-8
“Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”

This is not what I’m talking about – being loud, and rude, and obnoxious, and hurtful. I’m talking about loving honesty and fearless boldness to introduce ‘light’ and truth into situations, which always “makes manifest.” I have watched businesses, organizations, and ministries go down the proverbial toilet because men and women were not willing, or were afraid to have the boldness to speak up, afraid to be honest, or have others be honest with them. We are not to be obnoxious and hurtful in our honesty, but bold and at the same time, loving. Those who have the Word of God hidden in their heart ought to have a word to speak at the right time and in the right way.

Proverbs 25:11
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Galatians 6:1
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Matthew 10:16b
“Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

Fear and hesitancy to ‘speak up’ and be honest many times might seem to be justifiable. People in positions of perceived power and authority and leadership are often very proud of what they have achieved, and they oftentimes don’t want to hear, and aren’t interested in the opinions of others. Unsolicited opinions and reproofs are often met with dire consequences, especially in government and religion. Many is the resignation of a leader that has been asked for; many are those that have been told their services were no longer needed, for ‘speaking up.’

John 9:22
“These words 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.”

I have a few people in my life, my wife being the primary one, who keep me ‘grounded,’ who I trust, who I rely on for counsel and wisdom and honesty. I may not always like what they have to say at the moment, but after the sting goes away, and I put my ego away, I always take what they say and search my heart and go to my Heavenly Father in prayer and to the Word of God because I know that they love me. Some of these are men and women who I have had the honor and privilege of teaching the Word of God for many years; men and women who are ‘workmen’ of the Word, who are faithful, who are seasoned in the Word of God and spiritually mature, who have proved their mettle, and who walk with the power of God in their life. What would it say about my ability as a minister, or as a teacher if I were to dismiss the counsel of those individuals? In the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul did just that when he decided to go to Jerusalem against the will of God, ignoring wise counsel and reproof, and it cost him dearly, landing him in prison, and severely curtailing his ministry and the outreach of the Word of God for the rest of his life.

Proverbs 11:14
“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

Proverbs 27:6a
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend;”

Along with serving and coordinating the Bible Study Group, I have also enjoyed teaching martial arts for many years. I tell my students that when they ‘pull their punches’ or intentionally execute a technique ‘offline’ or ‘half-heartedly’ that it is disrespectful to their training partner. It shows they don’t think their partner is capable of handling the situation, which is going to be detrimental to their partner if they find themselves in a real life self-defense situation.

When I train with my students I want them to hit me, to execute their attack straight-forward, direct and at the target. I expect, and appreciate the same thing from my wife, my sons, and my friends. Don’t pull the punch; don’t throw it offline, or beat around the bush. Give it to me straight! Spit it out damn-it! Tell it to me like it is! Tell me what’s on your mind! Please don’t disrespect me by not telling me the truth! It is disrespectful to not tell someone the truth who needs to hear it. Likewise, it is disrespectful to dismiss out of hand the counsel of the faithful. What someone does with the truth from your lips is their problem, not yours. Sometimes they may be so offended, become so enraged, that they will consider you an enemy. That is between them and God, and you have nothing of which to feel guilty.

Galatians 4:16
“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”

I have two wonderful friends that come to mind as I write this. I consider each a trusted confidant and wise counselor. Each has a unique approach in their loving honesty and fearless boldness toward me. One will sit with me, quietly tell me what’s in his heart, what he thinks about a situation, or if he thinks I could handle a situation better. The other will tell me in no uncertain terms exactly how he feels about a situation, exactly what he is thinking, and if he thinks I need to relocate my head to a different part of my anatomy. God how I love and respect them both! I thank God for ‘long-suits’ and the ministries in the Body of Christ, without which all would be left to their own devices. Every believer should be blessed and consider it an honor to have friends and counselors like that. People with the courage to be lovingly honest and fearlessly bold! We’d have fewer problems and failures in governments, in families, in businesses, in churches and ministries.

Ephesians 4:11-15
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”

Proverbs 19:21
“There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.”

Loving honesty and fearless boldness ought not to be feared, but sought after and appreciated.

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