And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:9-10).
The church of Christ, the church of our Lord (Matt. 16:16-19; Acts 20:28), is very special. We have in our possession the things which the prophets of old desired to look into, the very things that have now been revealed to us in His word (I Cor. 2:7-13). Those holy men were deprived of that sacred knowledge and yet inquired and searched diligently into the things revealed to them but which they, themselves, could not alone understand (I Pet. 1:10,11). Moreover, not only the ancient prophets but even now the angels still desire to look into these things (I Pet.1:12). Now that is special! That is very special!
Is there any conceivable, intelligible reason why we, as His servants, would not want to make this known to every accountable human being? Paul said it was God’s plan “to make all men see” these truths. This is why He commanded His apostles, and consequently us through them, to take this good news into all the world and to preach it to every creature, and to teach all nations (Mark 16:15,16; Matt. 28:18-20). The great commission gives us the marching orders for the church. It is why we, as the church, exist (Acts 2:47)!
Faithful men and women of God willingly sacrificed their lives to fulfill the great commission. That commission was why Stephen was stoned to death in the great persecution against the early church which was at Jerusalem (Acts 7:59 – 8:4). That is why Christians were assaulted and thrown into prison at the hands of it’s arch nemesis, Saul of Tarsus (Acts 8:3,4). That is why James the brother of John was slain with the sword, when Herod stretched forth his hand “to vex certain of the church” (Acts 12:1,2). That is why Antipas was horribly martyred because he held fast to the name of Christ and did not deny His Faith (Rev. 2:13) and the early church faced the Great Tribulation which resulted in the deaths of many a faithful child of God (Rev. 2:10; Matt. 24:21).
How many preachers, how many elders, how many Christians today would preach the truth and let the chips fall where they may, as these brethren did long ago? How many today would be willing to hazard their lives for the name of the Lord (Acts 15:26)? If the answer is that there are many today who would do this, then why are there so many apparently so timid now when it comes to professing the name of the Lord and His church to the world? Does courage somehow blossom in the bosom of timidity when the danger increases? Is he who is unfaithful in the lesser more likely or less likely to flourish in the greater (Luke 16:10)?
It is hard to conceive of a time when the apostle Paul would have cloaked the message of the gospel in some dress that hid it’s power and truth from men either to avoid confrontation or to lure the unsuspecting prospects by “good words and fair speeches” (Rom. 16:18). It is hard to imagine Paul ever downplaying the importance of the Lord’s church. Certainly, he said our speech should always be with grace, seasoned with salt (Col.4:6). But that does not mean we pull the punches!
Paul pulled no punches when he spoke to the Jews in Thessalonica (Acts 17). He reasoned with them out of the scriptures and opened and alleged that Christ must needs have suffered (Acts 17:1-4). He did not shy away from the truth even though the unbelieving Jews suborned certain lewd fellows of the baser sort against him (Acts 17:5,6).
Paul did not pull his punches when speaking to the Athenians but told them plainly that they were worshiping in ignorance (Acts 17:23). He did not feel it audacious or presumptuous or harmful to instruct them in their religious inscience.
Paul pulled no punches when he, no doubt in exasperation, shook his raiment, as if to shake off the dust of the responsibility for the Corinthian Jews, and declared that he would henceforth go the Gentiles, saying “Your blood be upon your own heads. I am clean” (Acts 18:6). Even if he had been tempted to dull the edge of the Spirit’s sword for whatever reason, the Lord would have disallowed it, for He enjoined him to “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace” (Acts 18:9).
Brethren, is it not plain? Could it be any clearer that the truth is to be spoken, in love to be sure, but spoken without compromise? Let us not be afraid to boldly proclaim either the name of the Lord or His church or His gospel. Let us never soften the edges of the old, rugged cross in order to ease the discomfort of those that seek a soft road to heaven. Let it not be said of any child of God that he willfully withheld some vital truth to lure people with some false sense of comfort.
Don’t pull your punches or cushion the cross.
Eric L. Padgett