On Sunday March 19th, 2017, I had the privilege of debating an atheist. It can be viewed here or at WCFAV.org — the video is entitled: Atheism Vs Christianity: Does Science Confirm the Bible? Make sure to view my final closing statement at 2:56:00.
During that closing statement when I began to talk about the real reason we deny God: "The carnal mind is enmity [war] against God" (Romans 8:7), a few members of a local Satanic group walked out. But this is very common when one focuses on the power of Christ. He is not a genie in a bottle; He is the Lord Jesus Christ: "Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Christ is Lord" (cf. Philippians 2:10 ).
The words of Titus Brandsma (martyred at Dachau under Hitler) rang true that night, "Those who want to win the world for Christ must have the courage to come into conflict with it." This gospel of love is, ironically, becoming a message of hate to those who oppose it. Speaking the truth costs me (and it will cost you). While most feedback is very encouraging, those who are upset will often stop at nothing to get their point across. Do I enjoy this? That goes without answer.
Although many applaud boldness, if the truth be told, life would be much easier if I took a secular job and avoided controversy. But I cannot. God radically changed my life by the power of His Spirit through His truth: "It's like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can't do it!" (Jeremiah 20:9).
As stated before, one of my great concerns is for the pulpits of America: many are exchanging truth for tolerance, boldness for balance, and conviction for cowardness. Pastors who are called to defend the truth often run from it. We don't want to offend lest we lose our audience. But truth is controversial — it convicts and challenges. We are not to seek the applause of men but the applause of God.
The pulpit inevitably sets the tone of the religious climate of the nation. The lukewarm, sexsaturated culture simply reflects the lack of conviction in the pulpit as well as the pew. Granted, there are many wonderful pastors and churches — I appreciate their ministry, but, as a whole, the church has drifted off course. The Bible was written so that people would know the truth — the truth about God, creation, sin, and redemption. In reality, truth invites scrutiny; whereas, error runs from it (cf. 1 John 5:13).
We are not called to make truth tolerable but to make it clear. Even a brief review of the New Testament confirms this. Jesus perfectly balanced grace and mercy with confrontation and correction. He wanted people to know the truth even if it offended.
We live in a culture that often describes conservative Christians as "ignorant" and "narrowminded" simply because we claim that we can know the truth. Many reject the Bible as absolute truth because absolute truth, by definition, is exclusive. But they fail to realize that relativism is also exclusive — it excludes those who hold to absolutes.
People will accept numerical truth such as 2 + 2 = 4, but they don't like "moral" truth. They want the freedom to do what they want, when they want, how they want, to whom they want, which, according to Scripture, leads to their our own destruction. God's Word says to confront, confess, and turn from our sins, whereas relativism encourages us to ignore, overlook, and continue in them. Relativism says, "If it 'feels' good, do it."
That may be a great marketing slogan, but it's dangerous. Truth is not relative. No other decision will impact our lives more than who, or what, we choose to follow. For this reason, lay aside feelings and opinions as you embrace absolute truth. Feelings and opinions change — truth does not! It's a hill on which to die.
Again, the entire debate can be viewed at WCFAV.org under media or via the livestream link on our home page.
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at shaneidleman.com or wcfav.org. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch This article originally appeared on The Christian Post. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of Christian Today or its editors.