8/7/14 “TRUTH – Is A Hill To Die On” – Pastor Shane Idleman
“Truth is a hill on which to die” is often used as a military metaphor. To defend certain strategic hills from attack may cost soldiers their lives. In battle, there are strategic “hills” that must be captured in order to gain victory. This example parallels the hill of truth that Christians must hold.
The words of Titus Brandsma (martyred at Dachau under Hitler) are ringing true across the globe, “Those who want to win the world for Christ must have the courage to come into conflict with it.” This gospel of love is, ironically, becoming a message of hate to those who oppose it: “A time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God” (John 16:2).
Speaking the truth costs me (and it will cost you). While most feedback is very encouraging, those who are upset will often stop at nothing to get their point across. Do I enjoy this? That goes without answer. Although many applaud boldness, if the truth be told, life would be much easier if I took a secular job and avoided controversy. But I cannot. God radically changed my life by the power of His Spirit through His truth: “It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!” (Jeremiah 20:9).
As stated before, one of my great concerns is for the pulpits of America: many are exchanging truth for tolerance, boldness for balance, and conviction for cowardness. Pastors who are called to defend the truth often run from it. We don’t want to offended lest we lose our audience. But truth is controversial—it convicts and challenges. We are not to seek the applause of men but the applause of God. The pulpit inevitably sets the tone of the religious climate of the nation.
The lukewarm, sex-saturated culture simply reflects the lack of conviction in the pulpit as well as the pew. Granted, there are many wonderful pastors and churches—I appreciate their ministry, but, as a whole, the church has drifted off course. The Bible was written so that people would know the truth—the truth about God, creation, sin, and redemption. In reality, truth invites scrutiny; whereas, error runs from it (cf. 1 John 5:13). We are not called to make truth tolerable but to make it clear.
Relativism opens the door to speculation and closes the door to truly understanding God. It’s a very popular and pervasive deception: “Every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes” (Deuteronomy 12:8). The term “situational ethics” comes from the relative viewpoint. As a matter of fact, the educational system, as a whole, relies largely on “values free” and “situational ethics” textbooks. The natural question is, “What impact has this had on our youth and on the nation?” An undeniable impact.
In Acts 20:31, the apostle Paul spoke the truth in love as reflected in his statement, “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” Was he wrong, out of step with the culture, and arrogant? No…he was speaking the truth in love. Even a brief review of the New Testament confirms this. Jesus perfectly balanced grace and mercy with confrontation and correction. He wanted people to know the truth even if it offended.
We live in a culture that often describes conservative Christians as “ignorant” and “narrow-minded” simply because we claim that we can know the truth. Postmoderns, on the other hand, often interpret only by experience and feeling. Truth is relative to the situation rather than absolute. Feelings shouldn’t lead but follow: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Although feelings can be good and God-ordained, when it comes to making decisions, we shouldn’t interpret the Scriptures in the light of our feelings, but rather, interpret our feelings through the light of Scripture.
Many reject the Bible as absolute truth because absolute truth, by definition, is exclusive. But they fail to realize that relativism is also exclusive—it excludes those who hold to absolutes. People will accept numerical truth such as 2 + 2 = 4, but they don’t like “moral” truth. They want the freedom to do what they want, when they want, how they want, to whom they want, which, according to Scripture, leads to their our own destruction.
God’s Word says to confront, confess, and turn from our sins, whereas relativism encourages us to ignore, overlook, and continue in them. Relativism says, “If it ‘feels’ good, do it.” That may be a great marketing slogan, but it’s dangerous. Truth is not relative. No other decision will impact our lives more than who, or what, we choose to follow. For this reason, lay aside feelings and opinions as you embrace absolute truth. Feelings and opinions change—truth does not! It’s a hill on which to die.
Watch the short clip, Answers For A Confused Church, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsWh-yUdJJE
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He just released his 7th book, Desperate for More of God. Shane’s sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at www.WCFAV.org. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/confusedchurch.