And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers (1 Thess 2:13).
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks utterances of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Pet 4:10-11).
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:19-21).
And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:11).
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we speak very boldly (2 Cor 3:12).
“Yeah, well, you know, that’s just like, uh, your opinion, man.”
A line from a comedy about a slacker who, riven by self-doubt, has become a rallying cry.
Whenever you present the Gospel, whenever you dare claim that what the Bible says—what God has said—is true, you will be presented with this.
How dare you claim that you know something that others don’t? How dare you disrespect everybody else’s beliefs by claiming that yours are right?
In 21st century America, “tolerance” has come to mean, “embracing and accepting as equally valid.” Which is odd, because disagreeing about the validity of something is a prerequisite for tolerating it. I mean, you don’t have to tolerate things you agree with. No, if you tolerate something, it means that you don’t agree with it.
Yet it is no longer tolerant to say something is true if it clashes with someone else’s beliefs or identity. Truth doesn’t matter any more.
This attitude of tolerance came out of pluralism, saying that no single religion or belief system or culture or worldview should be in control, but rather they should all be allowed to coexist and flourish together. Which is a good ideal, but there are problems with it.
First, you have to ignore all of the religions, belief systems, cultures, and worldviews (I’ll just say religions from now on because that is the part it’s most concerned about) that believe they should be in control. So it’s already violating tenets of some of the very same religions it’s, in theory, allowing to coexist with the others.
Second—and this is the cause of the first—in order to keep any one religion out of control, to keep it from dominance, you must treat all religions as equally valid. And since these religions have mutually-exclusive truth claims—claims which by their very nature cannot both be valid—the only way to treat all religions as equally valid is to treat them all as completely false.
So pluralism, although sought as a solution to the tyranny of the total dominance of a single religious system, in fact only allows atheism and agnosticism to dominate.
Fast forward a while, and a culture that is shaped by this system will start to be primarily atheistic and agnostic, and will view all religions—and their corresponding truth claims—as false.
And when one of those religions starts to claim truth, it upsets the order of this society. So then it must be stamped down. It must be taught that it is not right in these claims because the others are equally valid. It has to stop rocking the boat.
So a system intended to allow free expression of religion begins to, in fact, stamp out religion. And it creates a society that encourages the destruction of religion.
And so a society forms where claiming truth is hateful. It’s disrespectful. You’re allowed to believe what you believe so long as you say and do nothing about it.
Why am I going through all this? Because it’s the predominant attitude I see in our society, particularly among those of my generation and younger.
When you present the Gospel, you run into this attitude a lot. You’re told “that’s your opinion.” You’re told, “But other people disagree!” As if that means anything. Of course they disagree; that’s why we’re having the discussion! The fact that people disagree is irrelevant to the truth.
And you have been raised in this culture. And because of this, when people of younger generations present God’s word, they tend to do it in a very hesitant and unsure way. It is not stated with boldness.
But boldness comes from conviction and hope, as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3.
I’m not saying that you need to be insensitive. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t go around insulting people over the truth of the Gospel. But the Bible itself acknowledges that the word of God is offensive to those who are opposed to it.
So you cannot be afraid to offend. The very fact that you are proclaiming the word of God is going to offend. So be bold in it.
Do you really believe that you are speaking the truth? Do you really believe that this is the word of God? Do you really have the hope of life in Christ?
Then when you speak God’s word, act like you’re sharing God’s own words. Do it boldly! Speak like you mean it! Actually mean it!