Darkness Around us (4) – Tolerance Redefined

See full series: 2019-sermons
See full series: lights-in-a-dark-world-2019

Darkness Around us (4) – Tolerance Redefined

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Philippians 2:15



Sunday, April 28, 2019 am                  


In our last lesson dealing with the darkness around us, we addressed the subject of ecumenism, which means the practice of accepting all (or other) beliefs even though we do not agree with them.   We addressed some of the errors of ecumenism which include: 1)That it promotes ignorance – because there is no incentive to study (in fact ecumenism is best executed when we DON’T study), 2) It can promote compromise, dismissing truth for the sake of unity; 3) It can promote immorality and selfishness as one can do what he wants without consequence (just find a group that says your behavior is acceptable); 4) It twists the Biblical concept of love (and other concepts); 5) It can lead to intolerance of those who question ecumenism (more on this in our lesson today); 6) It can give a false sense of security – leaving one thinking they are ok, when they are not.   This is where we left off last week and I want to pick up in summary.

I.  The ultimate danger of Ecumenism – the danger to one’s soul

  1. ONE final point summarized by all of these: Ecumenism puts one’s soul in danger.     All of the above errors can lead to one being lost.
    Some who advocate ecumenism are well intentioned – they just want people to get along.   We should be careful to question motives unless we have the evidence to show intentions. BUT good intentions are not enough to save one – Paul had good intentions as he persecuted Christians (Acts 23:1, 26:9-11 – “I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth…”, 1 Timothy 1:12-13, etc.)
    Uzzah had good intentions as they steadied the ark and was struck dead on the spot (2 Samuel 6:6-8)
    Consider how the Jews thought they were doing the right thing in persecuting Christians and rejecting God – Romans 10:1-3, John 16:2 – Jesus warned His apostles they would suffer by those who thought they were offering service to God.
  2. However, think of how much better this world would be if we all were united in Him as Jesus prayed for (John 17:20-21).
    – This was actually the goal of men like Alexander & Thomas Campbell, Barton W. Stone and other leaders of what we call the Restoration Movement. The goal was to cast off the division of denominationalism and come together.   That is why their mantra was, “Let us speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent” & “In matters of faith let there be unity, in matters of opinion, let there be liberty; In all things, let there be love.”
    There was a desire to study and follow the scriptures as taught without adding to it or taking away from it.   Doctrinal error is always the result of the teachings of men who have set aside the truth of the gospel.
  3. The challenge to this concept is the fact that the passages used to justify ecumenism are true when properly applied:
    – we do need to love (Matthew 22:37-39)
    – we should not judge wrongly (Matthew 7:1-5)
    – we must be respectful in matters of liberty (Romans 14, etc. )
    – and we ought to desire peace – Romans 14:19, 12:18.
  4. The problem is that too often they go too far or are subjective in their interpretation.
  5. TRUE unity comes when we all speak the same thing (1 Corinthians 1:10) and are of one mind, one love and one accord (Philippians 2:2) and endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3)
  6. When we are in sin, we CANNOT ignore it or go find someone who says we are ok.
    We are called upon to REPENT!
    Acts 17:30-31 – the mantra of Paul still applies – God commands all men everywhere to repent.
    Jesus in Luke 13:3 & 5 said the same thing.
    Acts 3:19 says to “repent and be converted” – the idea being repent and turn back to God.
  7. If there is a God whose laws we are to follow (and there is), then ecumenism is a danger and darkness that puts souls in eternal danger.

II.   What about tolerance?

  1. We have mentioned the call for tolerance in this study.   Let’s pursue it just a little further.
  2. What is tolerance? The ability or willingness to put up with, without interference, an existing behavior or attitude, even though we do not agree with or like it.
    This is what I have in mind when I speak of tolerance.
    But the term today is improperly applied today. In fact, some dictionaries give another definition: Sympathy or indulgence for beliefs and practices that are different than one’s own. (Webster’s)
    Today this definition has changed from putting up with, to accepting as equal and approving of that conduct or teaching.   In other words, we don’t just put up with what we believe to be wrong, we have to ACCEPT it as if it is not wrong.
  3. Tolerance is the mantra of the day. It trumps everything else when it comes to spiritual matters – so they say.
    Furthermore if one is not tolerant (according to their definition), they are often rejected and treated with the height of intolerance.   THIS is the inconsistency of the doctrine of ecumenism and the tolerance of the day. And it can become hateful and very dark.   They resort to name calling, innuendo (veiled judgments), and even hurtful treatment. Some want to destroy those they perceive to be intolerant (by their definition) and send a message that bullies the masses into subjection lest they face the same retribution.   I call this, “the intolerance of the preachers of tolerance.”
  4. Tolerance taught in scripture.
    1. As Christians we are called upon to treat everyone fairly and honestly.
    2. We are distinctly told to love our enemies and treat them as we would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12, 5:44-46, Rom. 12:17-21, etc. )
    3. Furthermore, we cannot force the truth on anyone!   Nor should it be our goal to legislate “Christianity” and force everyone to become Christians.   If we were to do this, we would be no better than Muslims and the Catholics of the inquisitions and crusades, etc.
      EVEN Jesus, while upon this earth did not FORCE anyone into obedience.   In fact, Jesus told His disciples to let them alone   (Matthew 15:13, Luke 9:51 – a village of the Samaritans that did not receive Jesus).
      We do seek to persuade, but NOT to force obedience!
    4. And the message of endurance in the face of trials demonstrates this.
      When Jesus said to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) He was saying to tolerate, even abuse. 2 Timothy 2:10 – Paul endured all things for the sake of the elect.
    5. Romans 15:1-2 – we are to bear with the weaknesses of the weak.   This applies to our brethren.
    6. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – we are to serve others, and without compromise, we are to become all things to all men.
    7. BUT, none of these qualities involve compromising the truth of God’s word.
  5. In the Bible we are NOT to tolerate error
    • John 17:17 – God’s word is the only truth!
    • Galatians 2:4-5 To whom we did not yield even for an hour.
    • Ephesians 5:11 – we have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness –
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:6 – we are called upon to withdraw from those who walk disorderly.
    • 2 John 9-11 – do not receive him into your house…
    • 1 Corinthians 5:1-11 – they were rebuked for tolerating immorality in their midst
    • So were the churches as Pergamos and Thyatira (Revelation 2:12-29).
  6. We must understand there is only ONE way to heaven
    – John 14:6, Acts 4:12 – it is found in Jesus.
    – To build on a different foundation is foolishness – Matthew 7:24-27
    – That way is rooted in obedience – Matthew 7:21-23, Luke 6:46, Hebrews 5:9, etc.
  7. Finally, we need to know that one day we will stand and give an accounting for what we have and have not done.   Revelation 20:12 speaks of this judgment. Revelation 20:15 notes that anyone whose name is not written in the Book of Life is cast into the lake of fire.
    Jesus said His words would judge us in that day – John 12:48
    2 Corinthians 5:10-11 – we must appear before the judgment seat of Christ…  NOTE how Paul reacted because of this!

This is the world in which we are to let our lights shine.   Lights in a dark world.   Let us resolve that we are going to submit to His will rather than the ways of the world – ways which are in darkness and lead to eternal separation from God.     So is your light shining consistently?