Question:

Question

Answer:

Would I be wrong for preaching the whole Bible, even the parts that offend other people? I do not think so, but then again it would be nice to hear someone else on that. I mean I was thinking that the Bible said to preach to all all of the Word, but they say that you cannot preach to Christians who disagree after you have already told them once because then you are not accepting them as the weaker brother. Is that legit or is that a fallacy?

Not long ago, I was giving a young pre-teen some instruction in Tae Kwon Do. I told her how the move was to be done, I showed her how it was properly done, and then I explained why this method works best. Exasperated with me, she put her hands on her hips and puffed, "I know how to do this; you don't have to repeat yourself; once is enough for me!" The funny thing was that I was repeating the instruction in different ways precisely because she continued to do the move wrong.

We see the same attitude expressed toward the prophets. Micah brought Israel warnings from God in Micah 2:1-5. However, the response was an out cry against the crier. "'Do not speak out,' so they speak out. But if they do not speak out concerning these things, reproaches will not be turned back" (Micah 2:6). Do you see the inequity here? They speak out that the prophet must not speak out. Yet God points out that if the prophets do not speak out, there will be not chance for bad behavior to change.

The point is that people don't like to hear rebukes. "A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke" (Proverbs 13:1). Yet, preachers and the prophets of old are expected to deliver rebukes. "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (II Timothy 4:1-4). The sad fact is that people prefer comforting lies over the discomfort of the truth. "That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the LORD; who say to the seers, "Do not see," and to the prophets, "Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us."" (Isaiah 30:9-11). Jeremiah found this fact to be both astounding and dismaying. "An astonishing and horrible thing Has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?" (Jeremiah 5:30-31). God, through Micah, declared that a man advocating drinking would be popular, even though his teaching would be completely useless. "If a man walking after wind and falsehood had told lies and said, 'I will speak out to you concerning wine and liquor,' he would be spokesman to this people" (Micah 2:11).

Without a love for truth, people will turn to lies (II Thessalonians 2:10-11). Just to illustrate how far people will go in suppressing the truth, note this event recorded in Jeremiah: "Now there was also a man who prophesied in the name of the LORD, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath Jearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah. And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid and fled, and went to Egypt. Then Jehoiakim the king sent men to Egypt: Elnathan the son of Achbor, and other men who went with him to Egypt. And they brought Urijah from Egypt and brought him to Jehoiakim the king, who killed him with the sword and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people" (Jeremiah 26:20-23).

Another reason for rejecting rebukes comes from people who do not want any conflicts. Instead, they cry out, "Can't we just get along?" Now unity is vitally important. "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3). Peace is needed between brethren. "Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you" (II Corinthians 13:11). But problems arise when people seek peace and unity solely for for peace and unity. Unity can only be found in Christians united in obedience to God. Only then will there be peace. During Jeremiah's day there were false prophets who brought a message of peace. "They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, 'Peace, peace,' but there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:14). They wanted peace, but they did nothing to solve the problems which were destroying peace. "They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, saying, 'Peace, peace,' but there is no peace. Were they ashamed because of the abomination they had done? They certainly were not ashamed, and they did not know how to blush; therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time of their punishment they shall be brought down," says the LORD" (Jeremiah 8:11-12). They claimed peace for those who lived in disobedience. "They continually say to those who despise Me, 'The LORD has said, "You shall have peace"'; and to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, 'No evil shall come upon you'" (Jeremiah 23:17).

True peace only comes through obedience to God's Word, and obedience requires knowing what you need to do. Any effective teaching is going to involve repetition. "For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease" (II Peter 1:12-15). And just in case you didn't catch his message, Peter repeats himself: "Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder)" (II Peter 3:1). It doesn't matter if you already know the material or not; even the knowledgeable need reminding. "Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God" (Romans 15:14-15). We need repetition because it keeps the material fresh in our minds. "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe" (Philippians 3:1).

But what if the person you are teaching disagrees? You mentioned that you were told that if a Christian disagrees with you and then you bring the subject up again, you are not accepting him as a weaker brother. What this person is alluding to is Romans 14:1: "Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things." Paul's point is that if we receive someone as a Christian in good standing, then we should not do so with the idea that we will eventually argue them out of their odd ideas (or their doubts). The case would be similar to a woman thinking that once she marries her man, she'll "fix" all his personal problems. If a person is worth marrying, they should be worth marrying as they are, not as who they might become. If a Christian is being accepted into the fellowship, it should be an acceptance of who they are and not who they might become. Notice as you continue to read Romans 14 that Paul mentions that both the weak and the strong brother are accepted by God (Romans 14:3-4, 7-8).

However, does this acceptance mean that any topic that fellow Christians hold diverse views should not be brought up? I have had this happen to me during my college days. Because of the distance involved, I went to a congregation who's leaders held liberal views regarding the Scriptures. I was told that certain subjects were not to be mentioned because they were a small group and they couldn't afford a split. As you might guess, I didn't avoid these topics and came to learn that most were very conservative in their views. They just never considered the avoided matters because they were never discussed before I came. Avoiding any topic doesn't make sense. Paul said, "I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house ... Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:20, 26-27). You see, if only the topics people want to hear are dealt with, then the gospel would only be taught for the approval of men. "But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts" (I Thessalonians 2:4).

Especially when sin is involved, when someone is not living a life acceptable to God, we cannot be silent. That is how the nation of Israel fell. Those one guard for their spiritual welfare didn't sound the alarm when they strayed from the truth. "His watchmen are blind, They are all ignorant; They are all dumb dogs, They cannot bark; Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber" (Isaiah 56:10). For the people's sake, the watchmen cannot be silent. "I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent" (Isaiah 62:6). Yes, even when people don't want the warning, it must be given anyway. "Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen'" (Jeremiah 6:17).

In the first century, there were those raised in Judaism worshiping with Gentiles in the churches. Though they had left Judaism, many it appears continued to follow their Jewish customs. Could they successfully worship with Gentiles? Of course! This is the point of Romans 14. The Gentiles were not to look down on their Jewish brethren because they continued to keep dietary restrictions (Romans 14:3). And the Jews -- knowing intellectually that the Law was ended, but still unable to confidently change their diet -- were not to condemn their Gentile brethren (Romans 14:22-23). The Gentiles were expected to be sympathetic to their Jewish brethren and not force the issue (Romans 14:21; I Corinthians 10:23-33). They could manage this because a self-imposed dietary restriction did not prevent these brethren from properly worshiping God.

But did this mean the issue was never raised? Quite the contrary! The Jewish Christians were told not to judge those who no longer kept the traditional holy days. "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ" (Colossians 2:16-17). They were told that circumcision was not to be demanded. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:1-4). When Peter isolated himself under pressure from Jewish Christians, Paul stood toe-to-toe against him (Galatians 2:11-19). While Jewish Christians might keep customs from the Old Law on a personal basis, they were not allowed to impose their personal choice on others. The truth that the Old Law died with Christ on the cross continued to be taught.

Strive for unity and peace, not by avoiding topics, but by seeking to live acceptable to God. "How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal. The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?" says the LORD. "Is not My word like a fire?" says the LORD, "And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?"" (Jeremiah 23:26-29). God's word is the wheat: it nourishes those who partake of it. God's word is fire: it tries the spirit, destroying the bad while purifying the good that remains. God's word is a hammer: it breaks those who refuse to accept it. Always, God's word is to be taught fully and completely.

"Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Corinthians 1:10).

March 15, 2005