China’s best-known monument is the Great Wall that surrounded the country during the Ming Dynasty. At four thousand miles long and over twenty feet tall, the Wall was designed to be an impregnable obstacle to invading armies. The idea was a good one, and it would have worked well—except that the enemy was able to bribe the gatekeeper. With the compromise of one guard, an impenetrable wall was rendered useless.
Gatekeepers of Truth
God has called us to stand as gatekeepers of the truth. And He has given us a full armor in which to stand guard. Ephesians 6:13 teaches, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Those who see truth as progressive become like the Chinese guard on the wall who sold his country for a personal bribe. For the acceptance of men, a larger ministry platform, or weariness in the battle, they surrender the truth.
It is easy for believers—especially in the Western world, where the church is generally prosperous and respected—to be complacent and become oblivious to the seriousness of the battle around us.
Pastors in America are not stalked in public and pounced on in secret worship services as are many pastors in China. Our churches are not assaulted with open fire as they are in Egypt. Our leaders do not serve hard labor sentences in prisons of torture as church leaders do in Asia.
So we forget that truth is under siege. We let down our guard.
But truth is under siege. Satan continues to hurl his fiery darts; and if we don’t determine to stand, our loss will be a disgraceful one. Lulled into complacency, we will remove our armor and willingly hand over the truth in a pragmatic decision for prosperity.
How do we stand for the truth? I suggest five practical stances as you hold the truth.
Remember to Personally Stand for the Truth
Before Satan targets your ministry, he targets your heart. God commands us to resist his pull: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
The Apostle Paul understood the personal nature of spiritual warfare. With passion and strategy, Paul made one spiritual conquest after another. He went to pagan cities as the first Christian witness and boldly proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am truly awed when I think of a lone man entering these cities and lifting his voice to the truth. What courage, what boldness, and what victories God gave! From one city to the next, Paul led people to Christ and planted churches—and all of this in a morally decadent culture.
But even this man who was used of God to reach much of the Roman Empire with the gospel knew his susceptibility. He knew he was not beyond personal failure. And so he wrote, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
With the voice of one who was experienced in personal combat, Paul wrote Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16).
Take heed. Satan attacks men before he attacks ministries.
We are vulnerable, but Christ is strong. When we put our confidence in our strength, we fail. But when we put our confidence in Him, we have victory. First John 4:4 reminds us that we can overcome, “Because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Remember to Stay Involved as Salt and Light
Although it may be difficult to minister in a post-Christian society, our witness makes the most impact when it is most needed.
Consider the audience who first heard the words of Matthew 5:13–16, “Ye are the salt of the earth….” In the prior words, they had heard instruction about what to do when (not if ) persecution would come. It was not easy to be salt and light in the first-century Roman Empire, but the early church did it.
We’ve known so little of what can be called real persecution here in America that I’m afraid we don’t value the truth as we should. It seems we’re quick to explain why our salt has lost its zest and why our lights don’t shine rather than asking what we can do to be a stronger influence on our society.
So, what can we do?
1. View today’s issues from a biblical perspective. One of the subtle moves of those who seek to undermine truth is to attach moral issues to political platforms. It’s bigoted to argue that one party’s stance is better than the other. But it’s biblical to preach that abortion is murder and same-sex marriage is sinful.
Christians need to understand that the Bible speaks to the moral issues of the day. When these issues surface in legislation, Christians must be ready to explain them from a biblical viewpoint.
Pastors, in particular, should be sensitive to moral issues that surface and should preach the key Scripture passages that address that specific issue. For instance, when a state referendum is raised concerning same-sex marriage, specifically and biblically teach your people what God’s Word says about marriage. Ask them to turn to Genesis 1:27, 2:24, Matthew 19:5, and Romans 1:26–28. Preach what the biblical family is supposed to be from Ephesians 5. Today’s Christians need to know what the Bible says concerning these issues. But this will only happen as pastors preach these issues from the Scripture passages that teach them.
2. Stay informed of current events and legislation. Spread the truth by reading and distributing biblical materials. If you wonder how much weight written materials have for today’s generation, take a look at the pamphlets, flyers, signs, and websites sponsored by liberal influencers.
Yes, materials influence. They also make truth easier to spread. (Our ministry has attempted to address this need through Striving Together Publications, especially through our “Contemporary Issues” series of booklets and minibooks.) Whatever sources you use, it is vital to give solidly biblical material to equip your people.
3. Notify fellow believers of unbiblical laws being proposed. I have always appreciated it when other California pastors have called to tell me of a harmful piece of state legislation coming up for vote in Sacramento. In many cases, as the Lord leads, I’ve even mentioned upcoming legislation to our church family and provided them with the information to respond to lawmakers.
4. Contact elected officials and oppose ungodly legislation. Many elected officials will respond to calls, letters, or emails from their constituents—especially when the response comes as a combined effort from Christians of multiple churches.
Some post online rants about ungodly legislation and the officials behind it, but often they fail to contact the officials directly. One phone call will go a long way. One letter will go even further.
5. Encourage leaders who are standing for right. Write leaders who do vote against ungodly legislation—even if their vote was overruled—and thank them for standing for right. In Washington, D.C., as in the legislative assemblies of most states, those who are willing to uphold biblical values are in the minority. Express appreciation for their stand.
6. Witness to local leaders. Our church family has done our best to develop positive relationships with our local leaders—our state representatives, city mayor, city council, law enforcement officers, and first responders. We host an annual appreciation day in their honor, and we make opportunities to share the gospel with them.
7. Attend local meetings. Involve yourself in the betterment of your community. Attend city council and town hall meetings. Let your local leaders know that you are personally invested in making your community a better place.
Remember Past Generations Did Not Have a Moral Majority
Other than immigrants from some countries, today’s Americans have only known freedom. And for the most part, we’ve known a society that was still heavily influenced and largely shaped by the Christianity of our forefathers.
But today, America is on a fast slide from the truth. Culturally and legislatively, our nation is forcefully rejecting God and righteousness. Without a nationwide revival, my grandchildren (and quite possibly my children) will live in a heathen country that is antagonistic toward—if not suppressive of—Christianity.
If we’re not careful, we will observe this decline of the moral landscape and throw up our hands in despair. What difference does our work make? How can we plant churches in a country that is resisting truth?
Our freedom has been a blessing, but it has never been a necessity for the spread of truth. Remember, first-century Christians didn’t have a moral majority—they didn’t even have a political voice.
The New Testament records in sharp detail the suffering that early Christians endured at the hands of the government: “And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11:36–38).
Our Baptist forefathers did not have a moral majority. They too endured horrific torture, murder, and persecution. But they did not fail to stand for truth.
I’m concerned that if we believe we need a moral majority to stand, we may have to lose our freedom to be reminded that the strength of the New Testament church has never stood in culture’s acceptance. It has always stood on God’s Word and in the Holy Spirit’s power. With these, we can continue to stand for truth in a decadent society.
Remember Christians in Our World Today Are Suffering
It’s not just Christians of the past who have suffered for the truth. As you read these words, Christians today are being tortured for their faith in China, Iran, Egypt, Libya, India, North Korea—and those are just a few locations. All over the world, Christians are facing fierce persecution, and God is giving them courage and grace to stand for the truth.
The Apostle Peter used the testimonies of suffering Christians to firm the resolve and strengthen the faith of other believers. As he warned them to be vigilant against Satan, he followed with the admonition, “Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:9).
Paul instructed Timothy to expect persecution: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
The suffering of Christians in our world today reveals the pettiness of trifles we allow to fill our time and consume our focus. Rather than getting bent out of shape regarding issues that don’t have a bearing on our stand for the truth, perhaps we should heed the instruction of Hebrews 13:3: “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”
Remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who stand for truth in other countries. Pray for them, and commit to likewise stand.
Remember the Purpose for Standing
Why all the effort to stand for truth? The answer is found in a pointed question from a young shepherd boy: “Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:29). Too much is at stake for us to bow out now. How can we betray the truth when men have given their lives for it? How can we deny the truth when Christ has suffered to bring us its freedom?
I suggest four reasons—four holy purposes—why we must stand for the truth.
1. The glory of God. Remember what incited David’s courage to face Goliath? “…who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26).
David was no match for Goliath, but that made no difference. David had a passion to glorify God. He was unwilling to stand idly by while God’s name was defamed.
2. The generations following us. I don’t lightly make statements such as I made earlier about my grandchildren possibly growing up in a heathen nation. Truthfully, I tremble for them. I don’t want them to face the persecution our forefathers have faced.
But more than I fear for their physical safety, I care that they know the truth and that they know the truth is worth defending. Should I reject the truth or abandon vigilance for its perpetuation, I would be telling my children and grandchildren that the truth is not worth defending.
Solomon instructed his son, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). Solomon’s example of pluralism, unfortunately, sent a different—and a louder—message to his son. With his words, he told Rehoboam to buy the truth; by his actions, he told him it was all right to sell the truth if it was personally or politically expedient.
Grievously, many men who once stood for the truth have let their guard down and fallen for the wiles of the devil. These were men who not only believed the truth but preached it as well. Somewhere along the line, however, they failed to live the truth—and the generations following suffered. Perhaps this is one reason Paul’s greatest fear was, “That by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27). It is not enough to simply preach the truth. Standing for truth means that we live the truth.
3. The commands of the Word. How can we rationalize compromise in light of the clear commands of God’s Word? God gives us everything we need to stand— and He commands us to do so. Verse upon verse reminds us of this:
Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life (Acts 5:20).
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13).
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:11–14).
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27).
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved (Philippians 4:1).
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
We cannot compromise truth and be faithful to the Word of God at the same time.
4. The souls of men. Who suffers when God’s people compromise? The local church suffers—we lose our purpose.
The generations following us suffer—they lose the truth.
But there is another group who suffers—lost men and women who do not hear the gospel.
The eternity of some depend on your stand for truth. Don’t compromise.
Today, truth is clearly for sale. Politicians trade truth for legislated sin. The general populace sells truth for the pleasures of sin. And even spiritual leaders surrender truth for the acceptance of men.
In a day when truth is on the market—freely exchanged for expediency of the moment—God calls His people to hold His eternal truth and stand for it.
Stand therefore. And having done all, stand.