2Co 4:1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2Co 4:2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. 2Co 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 2Co 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2Co 4:5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.
It is pretty apparent that when Paul and the other Apostles approached someone with the gospel that they did so by openly telling them that they were sinners under the judgment of God and that their only hope was in Christ. Their conversation and timing varied but eventually they got to the main point. Paul says in the above verses that even though often he was rejected out of hand and even mistreated he did not lose heart in evangelism because the gospel’s success is in the sovereign work of the Lord. If people rejected the gospel it was because they were in darkness and it was only if the Lord opened their heart that they were going to believe anyway.
In verse 2 he is contrasting the way many pagan religions work with the way the gospel works. They use trickery and mysticism to gain followers but he didn’t have to since the truth of the gospel is the power by which sinners are converted. God either gave success or he didn’t but Paul didn’t have to manipulate people to come to God for salvation. In fact, to do so only worked to keep them in darkness because only the Truth can set us free.
My point in all this is that there is a troubling trend among even otherwise doctrinally sound people today to try and gain respect with the lost in order to win them to Christ. I am not speaking of trying to be likeable and loving to the lost but in trying to not do anything that offends the world in order to win the world. It is to compromise truth so as not to offend and it ends up as being underhanded in trying to get people into the church and to come to Christ.
It is seen in the way that many are approaching the issues of homosexuality today. They tell us that we shouldn’t be against it or make a big deal over it. I read where one pastor said that it isn’t important what position you take on the issue. They say if we continue to condemn this behavior we drive people away. Some point out that churches are driving away their young people by taking a stance against homosexuality because we have already lost the issue with the under 30 age. But there are some big problems with such thinking by Christians.
Can you image the early church in Rome evangelizing by telling their neighbors that it is ok for them to continue having their orgies and drunken parties; it is okay to continue sacrificing to their idols; God loves you anyway and just come to Christ, he will save you whether you repent from your sin or not? If our young people or anyone else for that matter don’t think we should make sin an issue then they aren’t part of the church anyway. The problem is that our culture has been making it a habit of redefining what is sin for some time now and the church has not been making much of a fuss and now that we finally do with homosexuality the world rightly calls us on our hypocrisy. We have allowed members to commit adultery and divorce for any reason and have pretty much ignored church discipline and when we take a stand the world wonders why we look at sexual perversity differently all of the sudden.
We need to remember what the Lord said about how the world hated him and it will hate us. We are looking for the sheep; those that the Lord is going to regenerate and bring into the kingdom. They are among the goats and our duty is to proclaim Christ and his sheep will hear his voice and come out from the flock of goats and into Christ’s flock. We are not told to try and win the respect of the goats because they aren’t going to be saved anyway.
Yes, I know that we don’t know who the sheep or the elect are but I am saying that we find them by preaching the gospel which says that the only way to get right with God is by repentance of sin and faith in Christ. If we start trying to gain the respect of the world by going along with their definition of sin we lose any reason to preach the gospel of repentance. Homosexuality is just the latest of a long list of sins that the world refuses to acknowledge as displeasing to God; of course, they deny God as well; at least the God of the Bible. It isn’t the first and it won’t be the last time the world refuses to admit their sin.
John the Baptist was beheaded because he told Herod that his divorce was sin and Jesus had nothing but good to say about John and his ministry. What Herod needed was a reason to believe in Christ and if you don’t show him his sin what reason did he have. Yet today many are telling us that Christians are narrow and bigoted when we do the same thing. It is disturbing when people who claim to love the Lord immediate bow to the PC police in these matters because all we do is compromise the very gospel itself. We need to be less concerned with attracting goats and start looking for sheep and they are attracted by truth, not compromise.
Perhaps Romans 1:16 is so familiar to us that we forget what Paul is getting at, Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Friendship and compromise has never gotten the job done; only being honest with people by proclaiming the truth of the gospel, both repentance from sin and faith in Christ, will the Holy Spirit bring one into the kingdom of God.