“…for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27)
I suppose that if we could choose our own religion there would be many truths of the Bible that we would exclude. We would probably leave out final judgment and the reality of hell. Suffering and trials wouldn’t be part of the Christian life. Some might act as if God really had no opinion concerning marriage and divorce. And Jesus’ compassion toward sinners would be taken to mean that sexual sins, including homosexuality were not offensive to God. We might even create a religion where Jesus was but one of many ways to spend eternity with God. Many have chosen a religion that conflicts with what the Bible teaches as it’s pretty clear that over time, instead of God’s, man’s personal views and preferences determine right and wrong. Why is it that we so desire religion meet our standard and conform to our feelings? Many long for the days of the past when it was different, but was it really different or have people, at least in some form or fashion always been attempting to choose their own religion?
“…for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” The “whole counsel of God” refers to the entirety of God’s redemptive plan given us in His Word. Paul’s travels took him many places. His three year stay in Ephesus was the longest of all the places in which he ministered. As he prepared to leave, he expressed to the elders of the church that he would not be responsible for their moral or spiritual failures. As Paul dealt with the issues of his day, he refused to omit teaching aspects of God’s Word that might be offensive to some. He was faithful to preach it all, even the truths that were difficult for people to accept.
In God’s Word we find many great promises for those who believe, but there are some hard truths as well, truths that just don’t meet with our sensibilities. But our sensibilities are not the manner in which God is measured. Our sensibilities are tainted by sin. There are certainly those who deny Biblical truth with evil intent, but I also believe that many deny it with only good intentions. However, well intentioned and seemingly compassionate or not, it is equally wrong. We must submit to God’s standards and His wisdom in every matter. People always seem quick to want to criticize religion, but I contend the problem is not so much with religion, but man who practices it. Unfortunately, even in our good intentions, we have denied God’s absolute authority in many matters of faith, and instead of Jesus Christ, we have placed ourselves on the throne. When such is the case, it is a religion worth criticizing. But that’s not the religion of the Bible. The Christian religion, the only true religion is the one where Jesus Christ alone sits on the throne, the central figure in all that God has done to secure our salvation, guaranteeing eternal life. Now that, I contend, is a religion worth choosing.
Father, your Word often conflicts with my good intentions. But your Word is always true while my good intentions are always tainted by sin. Thank you for such clarity in your Word concerning issues of life. For without it, we would be left to ourselves in determining right and wrong. There are many truths of Scripture that are impossible to understand apart from your Spirit. Thank you for grace in giving us the Holy Spirit to accept your Word. Thank you also for grace as we proclaim those truths to others. Thank you most of all for Christ, who alone cleanses us from sin that we may have eternal life. It is in His name we pray. Amen!