Speaking the Truth in Love
The Correct Response To The Truth
1. It might seem obvious what the correct response to God’s truth ought to be—acceptance and obedience.
2. Yet, this is not always the case. In fact, more often than not, people do not respond properly to the truth.
A. Some think that as long as they were “sincere” in whatever they have done that God will accept this. Of course, they do not realize that such an approach makes truth irrelevant.
B. Others think that as long as they have done some act that truth calls for, no matter what the reason for doing it may be, it is acceptable to God and no further action is necessary. These do not realize that such an approach allows “obedience” for any reason to be acceptable.
3. In this lesson I would like to address the response to truth that is acceptable to God.
4. In doing so, I hope that each of us will examine our own response to the truth so that we will all be assured of having a proper response and correct any actions that were not performed in accordance with truth.
I. Consider the example of Peter the Apostle:
A. Peter, like most other Christians, spent his time preaching only to the Jews (Acts 11:19).
1. Note that this was the case even after the persecution of Acts 8 broke out.
2. And, it seems apparent that this was the practice of Peter.
B. Peter, however, was confronted by God concerning this misconception about the universal nature of the gospel and the passing of the O.T. law (Acts 10:9-16; “law” was a “barrier”).
1. He believed his actions were acceptable and sought to defend them; so God repeated His instructions three times (Acts 10:13-16).
2. God then told him to go with these Gentiles “doubting nothing” (Acts 10:19-22).
3. What must Peter do?
a. When faced with the truth, Peter had to “obey.”
b. For, he now realized the Gentiles were acceptable to God and, therefore, had to preach to them the salvation of Christ (Acts 10:34-36, 44-48).
c. To have responded any other way, despite being sincere in his convictions, would have been an attempt to “withstand God” (Acts 11:17).
II. Consider the example of Saul:
A. Saul lived his life in “good conscience,” even though he was doing many things contrary to the way of truth (Acts 23:1).
1. Saul committed many atrocities against God and His people.
a. Saul was the apparent “ring leader” in the murder of Stephen (Acts 7:57-8:1).
b. Saul “made havoc of the church” by carrying Christians off to prison (Acts 8:3).
c. Saul thought he should do many things contrary to the name of Jesus (Acts 26:9-11).
d. He was a blasphemer, persecutor, and an insolent man (1 Timothy 1:12-13).
2. So, Saul’s “clear conscience” did not justify his actions.
B. What must Saul Do?
1. When faced with the truth that Christ was the Messiah, he had to accept it and respond accordingly in obedience (Acts 9:3-8).
2. When faced with the fact that he had not obeyed God properly, to maintain a “good conscience” he had to be baptized into Christ to for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:12-16; 1 Peter 3:21).
III. Consider the response of Apollos (Acts 18:24-26):
A. Apollos was a sincere and capable preacher of Christ, teaching God’s will accurately in most every area (Acts 18:24-25).
a. Yet, he knew only the “baptism of John.”
2. Yet Apollos, like many religions today, was in error concerning the question of “what must I do to be saved?”
a. It makes little difference what else we teach if we incorrectly preach what a person must do to be saved (John 8:31-32).
b. So, teaching error on this subject is serious!
B. What must Apollos do?
1. When his error was perceived, he was instructed concerning how to accurately preach the truth concerning the baptism of Jesus (Acts 18:26).
a. We learn from this that what we preach/believe/practice matters!
b. It is not enough to have “mostly” the truth.
2. Would he have remained acceptable before God if he had refused to respond to this instruction and change his preaching? No! (1 Timothy 4:16).
3. Truth demands obedience and change!
IV. Consider the response of certain “disciples” in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-5):
A. It should first be noted that these people were called “disciples,” either because they became “disciples” or because that they were seeking to follow after Christ and His ways (Acts 19:1).
2. At this point, however, it became evident that there was a problem with their actions in relationship to “how to be saved” (Acts 19:2b-4).
i. It was a baptism that looked forward to Christ coming.
ii. Christ’s baptism looks back to the fact that Christ has already come and died for our sins and is by God's authority (Matthew 28:18-20).
b. Thus, the truth and intent of one’s baptism determine whether it is acceptable to God.
B. What must these Ephesians do?
1. When the truth exposed the error of their baptism, they had to be re-baptized in order to be acceptable to Christ (Acts 19:5).
2. Would they have been acceptable to God if they had refused to be re-baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus” because they had already been baptized?
3. Only baptism “in the name of Christ” and “for the forgiveness of sin” is acceptable to God, making their previous baptism ineffective in dealing with sin (Acts 2:38)!
4. Remember, it is only the truth that sets us free (John 8:31-32).
V. So, how must we respond to the truth?
A. We have no other choice than to:
1. Obey it and be acceptable to God.
2. Or reject it and do nothing and find ourselves lost in sin!
B. So, when faced with the truth, our “good conscience toward God” can only continue when we repent and “do” what the truth teaches.
C. So, we must be like…
1. Peter, who overcame preconceived ideas when faced with the universal nature of the gospel and preached the way of salvation to the Gentiles!
2. Saul, who although he had acted with sincerity and a good conscience, when faced with the truth changed his beliefs and practice to submit to the will of God!
3. Apollos, whose humility led him to change his teaching when it was found to be in error, even when much of what he taught and practiced was in accordance with the truth!
D. So, what must I do…when faced with my error concerning “How I was ‘saved””?
1. Most religious teaching concerning baptism is not according to the truth.
a. The baptism taught by most religious organizations is founded upon a misconception of the order of events concerning salvation.
b. These churches teach that baptism is for “saved” people, or people who have already had their sins forgiven! Some teach that one does ever need to be baptised!
2. So, when faced with the fact that our actions taken “to be saved” are not biblical, we must do no less than what was done by the Ephesians, who only knew of John's baptism—“obey,” even if it means being re-baptized!
a. Being baptized today because we believe we are “already saved,” is no more obeying the truth than being baptized today in John’s baptism.
b. Sincerity and preconceived ideas do not change this.
c. If our actions “to be saved” are not according to the truth, we must obey the truth, including being re-baptized like these disciples of Ephesus, in order to be saved!
1. If you have been following human traditions—the doctrines of men, understand that these are sinful and make worship vain (Matthew 15:9).
2. If you obeyed error in order to be “saved,” which includes being baptized in accordance with erroneous teaching (i.e., baptized because you are already saved), then your baptism was and continues to be ineffective and you need to be re-baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that you can enter Christ and your sins be forgiven.
3. Otherwise, you are attempting to “withstand” God.
We Hope to see you next time on “Speaking The Truth In Love”.