by Mike Ratliff
32 Πᾶς οὖν ὅστις ὁμολογήσει ἐν ἐμοὶ ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὁμολογήσω κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν [τοῖς] οὐρανοῖς· 33 ὅστις δ’ ἂν ἀρνήσηταί με ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἀρνήσομαι κἀγὼ αὐτὸν ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν [τοῖς] οὐρανοῖς. (Matthew 10:32-33 NA28)
32 So everyone who confesses me before men I also will confess him before my Father who is in Heaven 33 and whoever denies me before men I will also deny him before my Father who is in Heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 a personal translation from the NA28 Greek text)
What does it mean to confess Jesus before men? Is it what so many say in our time that it is a simple profession of faith that you are a “Jesus Follow?” Or as so many do in that they point to their religious affiliation? One thing is made clear in Sacred Scripture; if one does profess to be a Christian then that “faith” that is presented will be tested. The test will be along some line of demarcation that divides what is genuine faith from what is of the flesh or of this world. Of course, there are three results of these tests. Christians go through the fires of tribulation and stand firm and their faith is strengthened as the Holy Spirit works through that test to reveal the truth of their faith to them and also to those whom God intended to see it for his own purposes. However, genuine believers can also fall badly as their faith is tested as did Peter the night of our Lord’s trial in which he denied our Lord 3 times and also when Paul had to confront him about his hypocrisy when the Judiazers came to Antioch (Galatians 2:11-13). In both cases Peter failed the test because of “fear of men.” Did this make him an unbeliever? Of course not! No, these tests were used by God to reveal to him problems with his walk in which he needed to confess and repent. On the other hand, there is a third result in which disingenuous faith is revealed and these false believers immediately fall away as their faith is revealed to be not supernatural, but of the flesh or of the world. I covered this in this post back in 2006.
The test or trial that comes to bear that reveals genuine faith from disingenuous faith is often in the area of “compromise.” Those applying pressure will make the threat in such a way that it is “okay” to be Christian, but when it comes to adhering to everything Jesus taught as Orthodox then to be “accepted” or to be “allowed” some benefit or to “not be threatened” or to “not to continue to be persecuted” then compromise is demanded. Here is what John MacArthur said about Matthew 10:32-33, which I placed at the top of this post, “The person who acknowledges Christ as Lord in life or in death, if necessary, is the one whom the Lord will acknowledge before God as his own.” The key here is that Christ as Lord in life or in death means Lord over all and that means if we proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Saviour then we cannot compromise anything that falls within what we call Christian Orthodoxy. However, I would like to offer you three examples that are somewhat troubling in our time.
The first one is that of Louie Giglio who was offered the role to pray at the latest Presidential Inaugural, but when some pro-homosexual rights activists vetted him and found that he had once preached a sermon that was theologically sound about the sin of homosexuality and how those mired in that sin must repent, they demanded he recant or be removed from the event. He had the opportunity to take a stand for the Gospel and Biblical Truth, but instead, he backed away and simply said that he had ceased to preach like that and instead, he now, “Made much of Jesus” as the focus of his ministry.
The second one is Neil Clark Warren, the founder of eHarmony. In an interview on the Christian Post he stated that, “he believes the same-sex marriage debate has “damaged his company,” and that he hopes America can “be more harmonious” on the issue.” What struck me about the content of the interview was how Warren seemed to buckle to the pressure, but described himself as a “”passionate follower of Jesus.” That sounded to me very similar to what Giglio said, but what did he actually end up doing about the persecution? Did he stand firm? Did he rely on the power of prayer and stand firm relying on God to take him through the fire? No, he compromised.
The final example is Tim Tebow. I like football. I played it until it became obvious that I wasn’t going to grow anymore and everyone else in my class was continuing to get much larger. I got tired of being told I was too small, et cetera. In any case, I still enjoy watching it and when Tebow graduated college and began playing in the NFL I liked watching him play and succeed even when “experts” said he couldn’t. I also liked his stance as a Christian, but I have learned over the years that celebrity Christians will always have their fleshly side revealed sooner or later. I thought it would come when he went to play for the NY Jets, but it actually was revealed in a much more concrete way that the world probably has no problem with, but those with discernment see it as his big fumble.
He was offered the opportunity to preach at First Baptist Church of Dallas. I am old enough to have been to the old brick structure in downtown Dallas to hear W.A. Criswell preach back in 1950’s when I was a little boy. In any case, Tim Tebow came under a great deal of pressure from the pro-homosexual rights activists to not preach there if he knew what was good for him. Why? You can read about that here. His response was quite sad.
Why bring this up? What should we take from this? My brethren, these tests will come upon all who profess to be Christians in this lost and dying world, especially upon those that the seed of our enemy perceives that they have a way to apply leverage or pressure upon in order to “conform” them to the ways of the world. The world does not want to hear the truth. It hates the truth. We disobey God when we attempt to soften the truth. Sin is sin no matter who attempts to make it socially acceptable.
If President Obama’s limousine pulled up outside your house and all of his guards escorted you into his presence and you were either threatened in some way to compromise the truth or else or, probably more likely, if you were offered something that the world would really covet if you would only compromise…what would you do?
Soli Deo Gloria!
Greek Bible text from: Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th revised edition, Edited by Barbara Aland and others, © 2012 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.