November 27, 2006
So what is it to be approved by God, and entrusted with the gospel? Is there any man born of a woman today that is born worthy in the sight of God, any man that is born approved by God? The answer is quite obviously no.
Romans 3:10-12, "As it is written: 'there is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable."
In light of this scripture, how then can Apostle Paul that God had found him worthy, that God had approved him and entrusted him with the gospel? What is the means by which we can attain this approval in the sight of God? Once again, it is the gospel that answers, clearly and succinctly.
Matthew 10:37-38, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of Me."
In other words, it is denial of all that we possess, denial of self, and the daily taking up of the cross that makes us approved, worthy of being entrusted with the gospel, and ready to be sent out in His harvest field, that we may do His work and fulfill His plan. Paul was human just like everyone else, as far as being born in sin, and unworthy in the sight of God. It was neither his good works, or deeds that made him worthy, and approved by God, but rather the fact that he was saved and sanctified by grace. It was God that brought Paul to this place of being approved by Him, not his own strength or worthiness. After freely receiving salvation, what made Paul worthy to be entrusted with the gospel, the reason he was approved by God, was his complete denial of all tings, including the things that seemed good to him, and the complete and total acceptance of God's will and plan for his life.
We see our life in Christ in such general terms, painted by those who would speak of it with such broad strokes, that rarely do we hear a man can be saved, but in his stubbornness, not walk in God's perfect will. Rather than surrender ourselves wholly and completely into the arms of God, we attempt to impose conditions upon Him, demanding positions and responsibilities, which He had not planned for our lives.
Another reason why so few are found to be approved by God, is that although they come to the foot of the cross, although they receive Christ, they want to continue practicing old traditions and customs from their old way of life, that seem good to them. A man is only ready to embrace all of God, when he has abandoned everything else, including himself. Even though some things from the old life may seem good to us, it is still a hindrance and stumbling block in the way of what God wants to do in us. Deny all, abandon all, that you may gain and receive all.
God found Paul worthy, and entrusted him with His Gospel, because he was a new being, unburdened of all that was of this earth, having denied, his higher education, his relations, his worldly knowledge, and even himself. Only those who are born again, who have crucified the old flesh can be entrusted of God to preach the mystery of the Gospel, for only they have the strength to speak the Word of truth rightly, not being a respecter of persons, or fearful of men. They expect nothing of men, for men have nothing to offer, having gained the kingdom of God, and the knowledge of the mystery of the Gospel.
The greatest threat to the truth is when it must be dependent on other people, when it is readily set aside due to men's influence, or for fear of offending. When we distort truth because of men, it has no hope of thriving it is stifled and left to fend for itself. When we begin to weigh down the truth of Scripture with personal interests, the interest of a certain denomination, or other earthly causes, we will always seek to speak words that are pleasing to men and not God. We will always be weary of offending those who we deem important, those who we think can help us in our ministry, all the while justifying our betrayal of truth by saying we must walk with wisdom, that we may not be a stumbling block.
To walk with wisdom, is an approved spiritual method of work, but this can never lead to the sacrifice of truth, or to the omission of God's words for fear of bringing offense to those who are living duplicitous lives. The word of God is as a two edged sword, and this is a truth we must never forget, for with one edge it cuts, and with the other it heals. We cannot use only one edge of the sword of God if we truly seek to serve Him, and to heal the disease that has wormed its way into the hearts of those who are hearing it. When a tumor must be removed, even if it may be painful, a cut must be made in the flesh, and that which is harming the entire body must be removed for the sake of the body.
Where the word, and work of God is concerned, we cannot try to be pleasing to men, but rather be bold and willing to make any sacrifice, in calling evil, evil, and good, good. One cannot have a divided heart when it comes to the work of God, and that goes for the shepherds, as well as the sheep.
I once heard a story of a young pastor, who was called to lead a very affluent congregation. Due to the importance and affluence of said congregation, the young pastor was called in by his overseer, and instructed to speak delicately, and not mention sin too directly, to keep the messages upbeat, because they were a sensitive fellowship. The young pastor promised that he would give a sermon appropriate to the congregation, and the overseer taking this as his consent to water down the gospel, sent him on his way.
Upon his arrival to the new perish, the young pastor stood up the first Sunday he was there, and proceeded to preach a sermon centered around John chapter 11 verse 39, wherein Martha the sister of Lazarus, said to Christ, 'Lord by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.'
With a courage that could only have been birthed by the conviction of truth in his heart, the young pastor then proceeded to rebuke the congregation, saying that their sins were as a stench to God, and if there was any hope of life, they needed to repent quickly. The congregation reacted to the sermon, as one would expect when confronted with the truth that they needed to turn away from sin, when they were unwilling to do so, and calling in the overseer they demanded that the young pastor be removed immediately. When asked why he had not chosen a different sermon, the young pastor smiled and said, 'I felt it was the most appropriate scripture, given the spiritual condition of this congregation.' Upon hearing his answer, the overseer began to blush, but bent to the will of the congregation, and removed the young pastor.
All will answer before God. It is an inescapable truth, and one with which many who choose to compromise truth have to contend on a daily basis. God knows the intent of our hearts, He knows not only that we have omitted a certain truth, but also why we have omitted said truth.
When we are entrusted with the gospel, concern for our well being, or what others may think of us cannot be allowed to cloud our judgment or alter the truth. Even those who would call themselves Christians, who have only made a half hearted commitment to God, often times persecute and speak evil of the few who choose to surrender to God in totality.
How can we expect the world to understand us, when they said of Christ, that he was out of his mind? How can we reconcile ourselves to the idea that a lost sinner, bound in darkness and shackled in death, can walk into one of today's modern churches and not feel challenged, or compelled to change? Could it be that we have sacrificed truth for the sake of number, that although we have been entrusted with the gospel, we speak not pleasing to God, but pleasing to men?
In order to speak pleasing to men, one must invariably attempt to flatter them, for there is nothing the wayward soul loves more than to be told all is well, to be lauded for his achievements. Yes, rather than challenge with the truth, we prefer to flatter, for flattery is much easier to give, as well as to receive. In its simplest definition, flattery is to satisfy one's own vanity by words, or deeds, and in a spiritual context, to pander to the old self, to the old flesh, and make it feel justified.
Only when one has a personal agenda will he seek to flatter another. Whether the agenda is to gain followers, to receive praise, or to receive material goods for pandering to the flesh, it is still an abomination in the eyes of God, a stench in His nostrils.
Paul never used flattery, because he had died to the world, and to his personal self-interests. He did not seek to gain followers, but to preach the soul saving truth of the Gospel, that those who would hear may be drawn into a relation and intimacy with Christ. Because he was no respecter of persons, because he had no personal gain or agenda, Paul spoke the truth without flattery, and by doing so remained faithful and approved by God.
When men seek to convince people into following them, rather than Christ, when the focus is on the person rather than on the Savior, flattery ensues, and truth is betrayed. Only when we have surrendered our all to Christ, can the influence and temptation to flatter be done away with in us.
Today more than ever there are followers of men in the house of God, rather than followers of Christ. We cling to the man, and idolize his teaching, perhaps because his standard is not as high as Christ's, but we will never know the divine power of God in our midst, we will never experience the fullness of God in our hearts, if we are not, first and foremost followers of Jesus Christ.
May we seek to be approved by God, and in all righteousness fearlessly stand on His word, His promise, and His strength! May we endeavor to be pleasing to Him rather than men, and realize that though truth may be painful at times, the omission of truth is nothing less than an eternal sentence for those who may have otherwise turned from their wicked ways if only they had heard it! Perceive all things through the prism of eternity, and you will never again be indifferent toward a dying world headed for destruction. Be faithful that you may be approved in perpetuity, and having finished your race, receive the reward reserved for the obedient.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.