T PIERCE BROWN
It is interesting to note some instances in the Bible where persons had some hidden agendas or charges they wanted to make, but were unable or ashamed to state the charge in a coherent and specific way. Let us look at two such cases and see what lessons we may get from them. In Acts 4:7, after the apostles had cured a man and were put in prison by the priests, captains of the temple and Saducees, they were brought out the next day and we find these words, “And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?”
It seems apparent that they did not want to specify exactly what had been done, for if they had asked, “Why have you preached about the resurrection?” it would have sounded as ridiculous as it really was, for there is nothing about preaching the resurrection that was unlawful or improper. Also, if they had asked, “Why have you cured a lame man?” it would have sounded equally ridiculous, for almost everyone would agree that curing a lame man was a good thing to do. So they simply asked, “Why have you done this?”
It is interesting to note Peter’s response as recorded in Acts 4:9, 10, “If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.” Without dwelling unduly on their hypocrisy and duplicity, he answered their question and stated the case so clearly that any honest, sincere person could see their problem. They had imprisoned and persecuted the Apostles for a good deed done to an impotent man! It is hard to imagine any civilized decent society that would act as if it were a crime to do a good deed to or cure an impotent man. Then, without mincing words, he preached Jesus and in four verses did more than most of do in an hour or more. They stood revealed in their wickedness and clearly condemned, but the core of his message was not condemnation, but good news. There was and is salvation in Christ. Our preaching should always be centered on Christ and him crucified and the results of it, not merely on the bad things in or out of the church.
In verse 14 there is another interesting fact that deserves another article or sermon to expound on it. “And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” When one sees the power of Jesus being demonstrated in our lives, it is very hard to find anything to say against it. But when one finds a man who is supposed to be healed who still cannot walk, one may have some question. When one sees a person who is supposed to be converted, but still acts like the old creature (Cf. 2 Cor.5:17), he may feel that he can find fault with something. Sadly enough, he usually finds fault with the gospel, rather than with the person who is not really converted. The fault most persons find with thechurchofChristis not because they see what happens when we allow the power of Jesus to change us, but because they fail to see the kind of changes that one should expect if one is following Jesus.
Another similar example is found in Acts 24:5 when Tertullus brought charges against Paul. Note the charge. “For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” Can you imagine in any court of any nation a man being tried on the charge of being a “pestilent fellow?” The Greek word, “loimon,” simply means “a pest, or a plague.” Then the next charge is not only a lie, but is so general that no court would consider it. What specific things he did to move all the Jews to sedition were not mentioned, for there was nothing of the sort to be found. The third charge was equally false, nebulous and unworthy of consideration, even if it had been true. Where did any Roman or Jewish law state that one could not belong to a sect or the Nazarenes, or even be a “ringleader” in it?
Tertullus was doubtless the best lawyer that could be found, bought or bribed. Yet the whole basis of his charges was so nebulous that no prosecuting attorney or court of any nation would seriously consider indicting a man for such. What does that have to do with anything in our present time? Possibly not much, but one significant thing that occurs to me is that such charges are still being made by those in and out of the church who are not willing or able to specify exactly what is wrong, but wish to make some person appear in a bad light, or have a hidden agenda of some sort.
Such expressions as “He is a liberal” or “He is an anti” or other expressions are used far too often, without proper specificity. Even, “He has fellowship with liberals” is thrown out as if it clearly defined some sin. If one thinks he needs to bring a charge that is credible he needs to be specific as: “On December 19th at thePodunkChurchinSometown,TN, John Dope said, ‘Doctrine is unimportant.’ This shows what we consider to be a liberal tendency.” Or, “He wrote in his church bulletin forDecember 12, 1999that it was unscriptural and sinful for a church to give financial help to anyone who is not a Christian.” If one simply says, “He is an anti,” he may leave the impression that he is against having more than one container for the fruit of the vine, or be opposed to Sunday morning Bible study, or any number of other things. A person who is not “anti-something” cannot be following the example of Christ or the Apostles, for they were against everything not authorized or approved of God. Or, “He was seen by Joe Blow drinking coffee with Dr. Smelly at the Roadway Inn last Saturday morning, and that proves that he has fellowship with a known false teacher.”
If a person means, “He disagreed with Guy N. Woods or Roy Deaver on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and that means his soul is lost and he should be marked and avoided,” he should say that. It is not sufficient to simply say, “His views of the Holy Spirit are plainly unscriptural.” Weasel words and hidden agendas are usually of little value and may be very destructive.
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.