When Enough Isn't Enough<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
By Tamara Scott
We've all heard, if not used, the expression "enough is enough", but what about those times when enough isn't enough.
In our justice system, a witness is asked to give an oath. It's usually something to the effect "I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God". Of course, God may likely be left out now with the new thinking of our day, you know, that America is to somehow be separate from the faith our forefathers so heavily entwined in early documents. That aside, the oath reminds us to tell the truth we should not bear false witness. Dishonesty not only breaks the 9th commandment, but it can likely change the outcome of a court case. But the oath goes further than simply prompting us not to lie; it requires us to tell the whole truth. Why is that so critical? Imagine if the truth were spoken, but some of it were omitted; it could clearly change the outcome of a court case. "I saw him toss the baby from the window" will have a much different outcome when we learn the whole truth and the rest of the sentence, "to the fireman below." When truth is omitted an innocent defendant might be wrongly imprisoned or a guilty party may be wrongly set free and able to harm again. If the whole truth isn't told it could literally cause someone's life to be in jeopardy.
We see the offense of this when Teri Schiavo, an innocent woman is forced to starve to death when her case is refused by the courts, and again, when the "King of Pop" is exonerated, but certainly not innocent in the eyes of nearly half of America according to the CNN/USA/Gallup poll following the trial. When truth is perverted or partially omitted, justice is prevented.
Half-truths are a danger in our churches of America today. Pastors are opting for more 'seeker friendly' messages where part of the scriptures might be omitted so visitors will be less likely to feel uncomfortable.
However, much like the courts systems, lives are at stake. In the church, these lives are eternal. Ministers who only share the pleasant passage in a verse will be held accountable for not sharing the unpleasant part that teaches full repentance and accountability, James 3:1. Just as the courts, not knowing the whole truth may cause someone to make wrong decisions in their life that will adversely affect their own outcome on judgment day.
For instance, if a newcomer hears only the pleasant half of John 3:36, "And all who believe in God's son have eternal life," they might be surprised to know that there is a consequence for not believing. The next sentence of the same verse tells us "Those who don't obey the Son will never experience eternal life, but the wrath of God remains upon them". That second sentence helps us understand the urgency in which we need to believe. It's not enough to tell church visitors God promises eternal life. Pastors need to teach their congregations how to believe and what happens when we choose not to believe.
Even the spiritually mature believer needs to be reminded and prompted by the whole teaching of the Bible. II Tim 3:16 reminds us that ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. This is pretty straightforward teaching and certainly not 'seeker sensitive'.
The Bible warns against those who add, delete, or change His word. I think that encompasses preaching 'gospel-lite' versions where He intended otherwise.
We can all see the joy of giving a light-hearted message of encouragement rather than one of admonishment. However, one without the other is unbalanced and can be dangerous. Pastors must continually train believers in obedience to God's whole word, to repent, die to ourselves, to leave our ways and turn to God's ways, and take every thought captive that no one may deceive us through false teaching nor vain philosophy. We need to test everything we hear, say, and do with the word of God, even the positive and pleasant phrases we hear from today's pulpits.
Motivational messages may leave one feeling lighter, but they can be misleading if the whole truth has been omitted for a version of it. I don't know if all pastors have to take an oath before taking the pulpit, but they should. I solemnly swear to teach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but God's truth, unmodified. Amen". Because sometimes enough just isn't enough!
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