Closet Convictions

Dan Shipley

John 12:42-43 says: “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” From its beginning, the cause of Christ has suffered because of disciples with closet convictions; the kind of men who know and believe the truth but will not stand up for it. Consider, for example, these influential rulers of our text. Potentially, their worth to the cause of their un-confessed Christ was immeasurable; effectively, however, they contributed absolutely nothing. Worse, their influence remained where they did, as must always be the case. What a testimonial to the tremendous swaying power of cowardice and pride! It keeps them among those whom they oppose and puts them in opposition to their own faith and convictions. “But after all”, they may have reasoned, “we do have our standing in the community to think about.” And, besides, how could we ever explain to our friends of the synagogue circle about what we really believe? Why, what would they think?” So goes people-pleasing religion.

And so stay the people-pleasers in religion --- in their “synagogues” of compromise and out of God’s kingdom. But most of them do not see their “going along” as being all that serious, let alone as jeopardizing salvation. For example, it is not unusual to meet denominationalists who freely admit certain unscriptural practices espoused by their church, but will not speak out against them. They know and believe certain Bible truths, but will not practice them, for fear....? Now, what is the essential difference between these and the elders of our text? Is it less honorable to deny Christ than His word? The false idea that men can honor Christ while ignoring, perverting and desecrating His doctrine is of the devil! “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him-- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Man’s part in gaining a right standing with God lies in his knowing, believing, and obeying of gospel truth (John 6:45; 8:32; Mark 16:16; Romans 6:17; James 1:21-22). Every right relationship with God is a truth determined relationship! All that God requires of man and all that man can ever do to please and glorify God is made known in His word (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 John 9). He who shuns it, compromises it, or adds to it reflects on the God who gave it (1 Thessalonians 4:13), whether Jew, denominationalist or Christian.

In recent years, many members of the church of Christ have “awakened” to find themselves in “synagogues” of liberalism. They share the dilemma of the rulers to some extend. “Shall we speak out and risk being put out --- or shall we go along to get along?” May God help them to see the seriousness and importance of standing up for the Lord by standing for His truth. To continue “going along” is to continue violating conscience and fellowshiping error. Friend, your influence is where you are. Demonstrate your allegiance to Christ and His truth while you can! Stand!

Article taken from “Plain Talk”, Volume 17, Number 2, April 1980