By Elizabeth Prata
A dear reader emailed me, dispirited. She said that she had tried to reason with a major Christian publishing company as to the fact that they sell so many books of false teachers, and thus they promote false doctrine. She became discouraged when the Publishing Rep countered her concerns with scripture and dismissed them, politely of course.
She said she felt like “a drop of water against a tsunami.”
I empathized heavily. I think we all feel like that from time to time.
When I was first saved, I remember the headiness of my new worldview. Now everything made sense! I knew why people were evil, why things always went wrong in government, why hope died, why nothing fulfilled my heart! I looked at the church as a glowing city on a hill, the resolution to everything, and a happily ever after.
Then I remember learning that more danger is within the church than out. That every NT book except Philemon warns severely of false teachers, of wolves after lambs, of lions devouring. I learned that I needed to be even more vigilant than I’d thought would have been necessary inside of a church. Actually church didn’t mean safety, it meant danger! I was flabbergasted when I learned just how many false teachers there are, and not just TV preachers, but ones in the church down the street, or even inside my own church! What I thought would be a time of ease after the restlessness of 4 decades of searching for peace, turned into a never-ending battle against my own flesh and against waves of false teaching trying to sweep me away.
Sometimes standing for Jesus means we sometimes do feel like a drop of water against a tsunami, especially when a monolith like a panel of pastors, or a major publishing company, or a mega-church are against your concerns.
|The Great Wave off Kanagawa|
I agree, sometimes our work for Jesus to withstand the evil waves of false teaching seem hopeless and pointless. I’ve had my share of difficult conversations too. The same day my reader contacted me, someone came onto a thread I’d done on Beth Moore and asking seemingly harmless questions. I offered scripture, she ignored it. I offered topics of heresies, with scripture, she ignored it. Finally she flatly said “You don’t know what you’re talking about”. All righty then.
Why, oh why, don’t they see the truth through scripture? Because they don’t submit to scripture as authority. At root, false teaching appeals to people because they are making their own gods. The flavor of false teaching they choose matches the sin they refuse to slay inside them. (2 Peter 2:18). If they are greedy, they will like prosperity preaching. If they are prideful, they will like the renown they will receive from Charismatics by giving false prophecies and speaking babbling tongues. And so on.
When we stand for truth, the hearer may or may not listen at that time. She may or may not repent later. In any case, our stand is a tribute to Jesus, demonstrating our own obedience and faith for which He will richly reward. Oh, but how powerful a drop of water can be, when it’s energized by the Spirit.
The listener’s failure to engage along biblical lines or respond to scripture will be on her own head. And that’s out of our hands. Did we try when our conscience was pressed by the Holy Spirit? Good, then we have not committed a sin of omission. (James 4:17).
Either way, they will be judged according to the amount of faith they have been given (Rev 2:23; Romans 12:3); and according to the position they hold. (James 3:1).
It reminds me of Paul, in Acts 18:6,
And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’
In Ezekiel 2:4-5 God told Ezekiel to speak His words to the rebellious House of Israel.
The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ 5 And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.
Not that we are prophets, but the point is, when we speak God’s truth we do so whether they will hear or won’t hear. On the Day when they try to argue, they will have no excuse. (Matthew 7:21-23; Romans 1:20).
Barnes’ Notes says of Paul’s declaration in Acts 18:6-
I am clean – I am not to blame for your destruction. I have done my duty. The gospel had been fairly offered and deliberately rejected; and Paul was not to blame for their ruin, which he saw was coming upon them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says of v 18:5,
What that pressure was we happen to know, with singular minuteness and vividness of description, from the apostle himself, in his first Epistles to the Corinthians and Thessalonians (1Co 2:1-5; 1Th 3:1-10). He had come away from Athens, as he remained there, in a depressed and anxious state of mind, having there met, for the first time, with unwilling Gentile ears.
But he kept going. He knew when to cut off a conversation, sometimes we turn to more fertile soils when the Gospel has been rejected, and I mean to include discernment work among the Gospel umbrella. You’re making known ‘this same Jesus’ as in Acts 1:11 who ascended and will return, and letting hearers know they are clinging to a different Jesus.
I know how hard it is to go into a place where more than likely your heartfelt message will be rejected and perhaps you will even be slandered, marginalized, or cut off completely from fellowship, as has happened to some. It’s like knowing you’ll put your face into a buzz saw.
I know the dispiriting feeling when you come up against a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. While the wall may seem tall (or the tsunami wave high) it will fall like the walls at Jericho, either sooner or later.
Persevering honors the Lord in your obedience, it hones your own discernment, it establishes a prayer focus, but it also reveals how deep someone may be in sin.
Take heart. Even Elijah, John the Baptist, Thomas, Moses, and Jeremiah as a few examples, struggled in their ministry, at times saying, ‘what’s the point? They won’t hear me anyway…’
Either way the Lord can say to you, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Sure, it feels like a drop of water against a tsunami.
Ovid said, “Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.”