Searching for the Impossible #3

In two previous articles, we noticed several items that people search for in religion that are actually impossible searches. In other words, their search is in vain. They will not find the things they are searching for because they do not exist. We also pointed out that many think they have found what they are looking for because someone has falsely led them to believe they could find those things for which they were searching.

The only way to know we have truly found what we are searching for in religion is to prove it by the word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Paul told the Christians in Rome, “May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man is found a liar” (Romans 3:4). The context of this statement deals with the question of Jews who did not believe what God had revealed. We should verify the teaching and depend upon no one’s word, but God’s (1 John 4:1). This should be a sobering admonition.

The Bereans of old left us a noble example: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Have we personally checked the teaching we have heard through the years? Have we followed the admonition of Paul to the Corinthians: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5)? Do not wait until judgment day to discover that your search was in vain, search the scriptures now, “prove all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Here are some final impossible searches for you to consider.

A non-controversial or non-offensive way to preach the gospel. There are some in the Lord’s church that believes the gospel can be preached effectively without offending anyone. One way that some attempt to preach without offense is to use less scripture in their preaching. Personal stories, poems, jokes, and such as have been substituted for book, chapter, and verse lessons. Another technique used by those who would rather be popular with men than with God is to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative in their preaching and writing.

A preacher’s goal should not be to offend someone, but when the gospel is preached, as it was in the first century some will be offended. No one could preach better than Jesus. Yet, He offended some. The people of Nazareth wanted to kill Jesus for speaking the truth from the Old Testament (Luke 4:6-30). Some were enraged at Jesus because He did a good deed on the Sabbath (Luke 6:6-11). He was practicing the truth and this caused controversy. He offended others by teaching the truth on hypocrisy (Matthew 15:1-14). Jesus’ disciples even informed Him that He had offended some, but Jesus did not apologize or take back what He had said (Matthew 15:1-14). Jesus also spoke the truth about His divine nature and this caused some who heard Him become so angry they tried to stone Him (John 10:25-39).

The problem these people had was with the truth, not with the manner in which it was presented. It is the content of the gospel that upsets those who are not sincere in their search for the truth.

John the Baptist was killed for what he said and not how he said it (Mark 6:18-19). Peter and John were arrested because of their teaching on the resurrection, not because of the way in which they presented it. It was the truth about the resurrection that offended the Sadducees and there was no way it could have been presented that would have pleased them (Acts 4:1-3).

Some people are offended today when the truth is presented on baptism. When we teach exactly what the Bible teaches, that baptism is essential for salvation and those not baptized for the remission of sins will be lost, this offends many in the denominational world (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). The same is true when the truth is preached on the one true church and the only acceptable way to worship God in His church (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 4:4; John 4:24). Those in denominational churches worshiping according to the teachings of men are offended when someone dares call them back to the word of God (Matthew 15:8-12).

Some brethren are also offended by the truth. Especially when it exposes sin in their life, the life of a loved one, or the error being taught by a beloved teacher or preacher. Many are greatly offended at the Lord’s teaching on marriage, divorce, and remarriage (Matthew 19:9). They and their friends may be guilty of practicing error or teaching error on this subject, and they do resent this being exposed, so they seek to stone those who do expose the false teachers and their errors.

The same is also true when it comes to the subject of fellowship. The Bible plainly teaches that Christians are not to have fellowship with those who teach false doctrines (Romans 16:17; 2 John 9-11). Those who follow the teaching of truth and expose the false teacher offend some brethren. These offended brethren lie, misrepresent, and hurl verbal assaults at those who speak the truth in love on these subjects. Why do they seek to destroy these men? It is not because of the way in which the truth is presented, but it is the truth itself that offends them. Most likely they will not be honest enough to admit this.
We must follow the example of Jesus and preach the truth to all. Some will be offended, some will scoff, but others will appreciate it, and obey it to the salvation of their souls. Preaching the truth as Jesus, Peter, and Stephen did in the first century will cause hearts to be pricked (Acts 2:37; 7:54). It is the condition of the hearers’ hearts that determines whether or not they will be offended. Searching for a way to preach the truth without offending all those who hear is an impossible search. We should be tactful and seek a good way to present the gospel, but remember it is the truth that is offensive, and not the way it is presented. Also, those offended will most likely never own up to this fact.

A way to make Christianity fun. Another impossible search that some are attempting is to find a way to make Christianity fun. In this way, it will be more appealing to the masses. Food, fun, and various forms of entertainment are offered. Christianity is pictured as an easy road to travel with little or no bumps. Children are taught in vacation “Bible” schools that it is fun and exciting to be a Christian. Skits, clapping, and laughing are replacing sober Bible study and memorization of scripture.

This is a far different picture than we get from the word of God. According to the truth, Christianity is not popular and it is never presented as being fun. Jesus taught people to count the cost before making a decision to follow Him (Luke 14:25-33). He taught about the possibility that even a man’s family may turn on him and become his enemy (Matthew 10:32-39). Jesus also said that those in the world would hate His followers because His followers would expose the sin in the life of those in the world (John 15:19; 3:19). Does this sound fun?

The apostle Paul taught, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Paul prepared those he converted for a rough road (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4). Peter taught that Christians will be thought of as strange to those in the world because of their righteous living (1 Peter 4:3-4). In reality, true Christianity is not popular and fun. It is the only way to heaven and Jesus taught that this way was a narrow and difficult way (Matthew 7:13-14).

Children need to be taught that the church is not a social club, and that church services are not a time for fun and games. They need to be taught that true joy and happiness are the results of humbly following God. Joy comes from being at peace with God through justification by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1; Philippians 4:7; 2:16). The assemblies of the church are times devoted to serious dignified worship and praise to God; to strengthen others and be strengthened (John 4:24; Hebrews 10:23-25).

The church is composed of people who have been saved by the blood of Jesus and these people will be laughed at and thought peculiar by those in the world (Acts 2:47; 17:32). Maybe some children of Christians are lost to the world because they have been led to think that Christianity is fun and when they reach their teenage years they find out differently. We need to prepare those we teach to expect persecution and rejection by the world, and that this is the way to eternal life. Yes, searching for a way to make Christianity fun is a vain search and will end in disappointment.

Christmas, Easter, or any other holy day in the Bible. The origin of these days can be traced to man, not God; therefore, these days are nothing more than vain attempts to honor God (Matthew 21:23-27; 7:21-23; 15:8-9). We do not say these things to offend, but to cause people to think. We honor God by obeying His will (Romans 2:23). We prove our love for God by obeying His commandments, not inventing new ones with the intention of pleasing us (1 John 5:5:3). God has revealed worship that will please and honor Him (John 4:24; Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 11:23-26; Ephesians 5:19). Any addition, subtraction, or substitution from the divine standard will result in rejection and eternal loss (Galatians 1:6-9). Do not wait until the Judgment Day to discover the truth about these things (Matthew 7:22-23). Search the scriptures and obey what God has revealed in His word.

Don’t search for what cannot be found. God has revealed the way of salvation in His word. It can be found. Hear the word of God, believe it, confess your faith, repent of your sins, and be immersed for the forgiveness of your sins (Romans 10:17; Mark 16:15-16; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 2:38). The Lord will you add to His church, and there worship Him according to the truth (Acts 2:47; John 4:24; Colossians 3:17). This is not an impossible search.

Andy Alexander