We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Saturday, February 22, 2014

All Things to All People?

Our culture has abandoned such concepts as duty and responsibility as antiquated Victorianism.  But these are the virtues our text [1 Cor. 9:22-23] extols against an emphasis on “demands” and “rights.”  Those who would use this passage to support libertarianism miss his point entirely.  It is precisely because he was “all things to all men” that he would not participate with the pagans in their temples.

Some might argue that Paul contradicts himself.  If he was truly “all things” to the Gentile, he would attend the pagan festivals, not avoid them!  It is here that the interface of the message and the method is seen.  He does not attend because it would entail the compromise of his message (a point he will expand in the next chapter).  The festival was a place of “fellowship” with demons.  And it is entirely incompatible with the believer’s association with the Table of the Lord and the body of Christ (10:14-23).  By the same token, he will approach the Jew with a keen sensitivity to those matters of religious observance that might cause offense and stand as stumbling blocks to their response to the gospel.  But here too he will draw the line where he might compromise the law of Christ.  In such cases, he will take his stand and let the chips fall where they may.

The contemporary Church struggles with this today.  Many fail to recognize the line Paul draws between communication and compromise.  In our efforts to be “all things to all,” it is possible that we have forgotten the message for which we have sacrificially abandoned all rights to personal liberty?  New Testament believers “came out from among them” when they “turned to God from idols.”  Today it is not uncommon to invite the idols (be they musical or media figures) into our feasts in order to “identify” with the lost.  One wonders what we think we are supposed to do with our unsuspecting guests after we have put the idols on the platform and hidden the gospel, like a door prize, under the tables.

Dan Mitchell, The Book of First Corinthians: Christianity In A Hostile Culture,  p.136-137

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