Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2.8
Francis Schaeffer provided a vivid depiction of how seemingly slight differences, compounded over time, resulted in drastic differences.
From his chalet in the Alps he could see snow that lay on what appeared to be level ground but was actually the watershed. As the snow melted, the snow that lay on one side of the watershed ended in the Baltic Sea, while snow on the other, flowed to the Mediterranean.
Periods of revival expose the watershed between saving faith and hardened unbelief. They present the Church with a quandary, as our eagerness to see those previously outside of God’s grace brought into the Kingdom can lead us to de-emphasize some of the “inconvenient” or “unpalatable” Biblical truths. We want to proclaim the truth that is in Jesus, of course, but we may steer away from any teachings that, as we see it, might push a seeker down the wrong side of the watershed.
Pursuing this course over time results in many people embracing not a watered-down gospel, but a false one. But the truth of Scripture is a whole cloth, and if we accommodate the principles or priorities of unbelief at one point, we will soon enough unravel the entire fabric.
The Apostolic Church faced such a quandary as they evangelized a Roman Empire which recognized literally hundreds of religions. But not the Christian religion. Undeterred despite relentless persecution, Christians held fast to their beliefs. Consequently, the early Church upheld the tenets of the Christian faith, and, in due course, the Roman Empire bowed the knee to King Jesus.
Irenaeus (fl. late 2nd century) distinguished the Apostles from the heretics (most notably the Gnostics) by noting that the heretics accommodated their message to their audience, whereas the Apostles, and those in his day who stood with them, maintained God’s truth. The Apostles’ commitment, which often came at a steep price, preserved the purity of the Gospel.
Gnosticism eventually collapsed under the weight of its compounding contradictions, sliding down the watershed of untruth into the oblivion of irrelevance. Meanwhile, the early Church, which had seemed so intractable, blossomed, transforming the Roman world through their unity and commitment to the Gospel.
Had the Church been more accommodating, it is doubtful that we would recognize Christianity today.
Pray for church leaders, that they will hold fast the true teaching of Christ, resist the various traditions, principle, and philosophies of our unbelieving age, and refuse to accommodate unbelief by denying the Gospel of the Kingdom.
And pray for revival, and that, as it begins, we will resist the temptation to straddle the watershed, and point ourselves and those who hear us down the proper slope to the peaceful valley of the Kingdom and righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Ralph Lehman, Men’s Prayer Coordinator
T. M. Moore, Principal
Visit the website to watch the brief video on using our booklet, If Men Will Pray, to begin enlisting other men for a deeper, more satisfying, and more powerful life of prayer (click here).
Download “Men of the Church: A Solemn Call” for free by clicking this link. Make copies for all the men you know, and urge them to join you in this movement of Men at Prayer. Order your copy of Restore Us! and start your own regular Revival Prayer Group.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.