Scriptures

When Not To Be Silent, Part 4

Introduction

‘When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, ‘You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? ‘We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. ‘But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. ‘For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!’ Galatians 2:11-21

The apostle Paul was far from being a character who would be silent when he ought to speak. In the above text, he told the Christians at Galatia how he was not silent when Cephas (i.e. Peter) negatively influenced some Jewish Christians, to the point of leading Barnabas astray as he wrongly (in hypocrisy) withdrew from eating with the Gentiles as soon as some men came from James. Peter was clearly afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.

However, Paul was not silent when he saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel. He openly rebuked Peter as the situation necessitated it since others had been adversely influenced.

Similarly, he clearly told the elders of the church at Ephesus that he had not hesitated to preach and teach them all that would be helpful to them, persuading everyone to turn to God in repentance and have faith in Jesus, Acts 20:20-21.

He went further to say that he had not hesitated to proclaim to them the whole will of God’ and that for three years, he never stopped warning each of them with tears. What a passionate farewell!

When there is a terrible error that blatantly negates the truth of the gospel, do we keep silent? Not keeping silent is not the same as being aggressive. We can lovingly speak to people to warn them of imminent dangers. The scriptures enjoin us to speak the truth in love.

When our loved ones go astray, we should not look the other way but lovingly reel them back to the Master in the spirit of gentleness so that we ourselves are not tempted. Most importantly, our ways of life should constantly preach the gospel, clearly communicating Christ and Him crucified to all those around us.

‘From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: ‘You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. ‘And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. ‘Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.’ Acts 20:17-31

Prayer

Our Majestic God, the heavens declare your glorious splendour and the firmament shows your handiwork. As You speak to us through your creation, may our words and actions clearly express the gospel of your Son. Amen.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.’"

Acts 18:9

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