Should we wield the “sword of truth” against each other over doctrinal differences OR as a weapon to defeat the world, the flesh and the devil?
Doctrinal Truth. In a discussion I had with a brother about our need to love one another, he replied with a big, “Yes, but we should never compromise the truth.” Have you heard that one before? Here’s Webster’s third definition of compromise: “to weaken or give up one’s principles or ideals for reasons of expediency.” But the spin I hear from well meaning brothers is more often about doctrines than ideals or values. These doctrines or “biblical truths,” have divided Christians since the 3rd century and given great comfort and delight to our enemy, whose major strategy against God’s Kingdom is “divide and conquer.”
Webster’s First Definition of Compromise “When two opposing sides, for the sake of peace and agreement, each give in and meet in the middle.” The U.S. Constitution, probably the second most important document, after the Bible, is an example of brilliant compromising. Without willingness for opposing parties to meet in the middle,, we would be a divided nation, not a united one. But should Christians compromise? The answer is not only that we should, but God has given us a model for it in His Word.
The Jerusalem Compromise In Acts 15, we read how early church leaders met in Jerusalem to resolve a huge problem. The issue was a vast cultural divide between Jewish believers, who held to Jewish practices, such as kosher meals, and non-Jewish believers. Jews who truly loved Jesus, felt they could not fellowship with Gentiles who loved Jesus, unless they adopted their kosher doctrine. Breaking bread together was at the heart of Christian fellowship (See Acts 2: 42-47). Peter testified that God truly was at work among Gentiles bringing them to Christ. But how could Christ’s “love one another” mandate be met, if these two groups couldn’t even sit down together for a meal?
Under the influence of the Spirit’s work—the council decided that the their relationship with Christ and one another and Christ’s ongoing mission to the world, trumped their doctrines. In a Spirit of humility, Jews made a loving compromise by agreeing non-Jews could share at Christ’s table without adopting Jewish beliefs. Non-Jews compromised by respecting their Jewish brothers’ consciences. They agreed to abstain from (a) food offered to idols, (b) sexual immorality, (c) eating meat of strangled animals and blood. This summit is a model of how believers with different views can come together by meeting in the middle. It follows Jesus principle, “Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down their lives [Gr: psyche], i.e. egos, for one another.” True Christian love involves laying down our holy cows for the sake of love for Christ. our brethren and our mission.
What is Truth? Jesus said, “I am truth.” (John 14:6). Doesn’t this mean that truth, at its highest level is personal, involving right relationship with God and others? But what about our statements of faiths, our creeds and our doctrines? What does the Bible say? At the judgment, will Jesus greet us with a doctrinal quiz that we must pass before we can enter His kingdom? Or, as we learn In the parable of the sheep and goats, will he simply recognize us as his own by how we have loved… or how we have withhold it?
But there must be bedrock truths, without which, we can have no unity, right?
“Trust and Obey Can we find any higher truth than the words of the old hymn, “Trust and obey; there’s no other way…” These words rightly divide the word of truth because they stress Jesus’ two core commands. The first is basic, found in John 3:16–“believe.” To have a relationship with Christ, we must first put our faith and trust in Him. (See John 6: 28,29). Second, we must obey Christ’s new order for a new order–his great commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13: 34, 35).
“Trust and obey!” These two words, trump all others.
The Sword of Truth. Those who wish to serve Christ’s cause by wielding the sword to defend their versions of the truth “once delivered to the saints,” should remember: the bedrock of all truth is to trust God, to love God and to love one another.
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