It is not uncommon for people to misunderstand who we are as Christians or what we believe and teach. They may hear something and wrongly make judgments that are not based on fact. Or they may hear something and because of their own lack of Biblical understanding they may think that something is false.
This is the way it was for the early followers of the Lord. History tells us that the pagan Romans accused the Christians of all kinds of false things. They said that the Christians were guilty of incest since they called each other brother and sister. They claimed that they were cannibals since they weekly partook of the body and blood of the Savior. They accused these people of being haters of mankind since the believers refused to participate in the worldly entertainment. The pagans also believed that these early disciples were atheists since they refused to believe in and worship the many false gods of the Romans. They even said that they were a threat to the government since they refused to be part of the military.
All of these claims were false and the early apologists tried to enlighten the unbelievers to this fact. If the Romans had only looked into the beliefs and practices of the early Christians in an unbiased way they would have known that they were not guilty of these heinous sins. But it seems that some unbelievers want to find as many false rumors and bits of gossip as they can to condemn saints of wrongdoing and wrong beliefs.
Have you noticed that in our own day people continue to make statements that are only half true or may be entirely false. Sadly, some of these accusations come from professing Christians who should know better. You have heard of some of these yourself and could probably think of others. Notice a few that come to mind.
First, they may accuse us of not believing in eternal security. When someone says this, I always reply that I definitely do believe that the Christian is eternally secure, for Jesus promised, The one who endures to the end, he will be saved (Matthew 24:13). Paul also wrote, To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life (Romans 2:7). I like to point out that I believe in the eternal security of the believer. This is the key. The obedient and submissive believer has Gods promise of the Kingdom of God and eternal life (John 3:36; 1 John 5:11-13). But it is a conditional security, dependant on our continuing to abide in the vine of Christ Jesus (John 15:1-6). If a person who claims to have been saved in the past chooses to turn from the truth and renounces Christ Jesus, he doesnt have the right to claim the security that is only for the obedient believer in Christ (Matthew 7:21-23; 2 Peter 2:20-22).
Second, some may claim that we dont believe in the forgiveness of sins. Just a couple of days ago I was speaking with an acquaintance and he made this point. He had recently married two people who had been married to other people in the past. We know that most divorces are for unscriptural reasons/causes and evidently this was the case here. I pointed out that we should never contribute to the adultery of other people, since Jesus said, Whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery (Matthew 19:9). When I pointed out that the Bible says that no adulterer will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21), he accused me of not believing in Gods forgiveness. I replied that God indeed does forgivebut only if we repent of the sin and dont practice sin (cf. Acts 3:19; Romans 2:4-5). We do need to emphasize forgiveness (1 John 1:7, 9), but we also need to emphasize repentance (Acts 2:38). We also need to emphasize the disaster of one walking in known, deliberate sin (Hebrews 10:26-31).
A further accusation that often comes our way has to do with the position and work of women in Gods plan. The same person above asserted, You dont believe women can work in the church! I replied that I believe that women should be very active in the body of Christ, but Paul is clear that the women are to keep silent in the churches and it is improper for a woman to speak in church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). Of course, this person was contending that women can do all that men do in the public assemblies. He had reason to make this assertion since his own pastor is a woman. God has restricted women from being elders, shepherds or overseers (1 Timothy 3:1ff; Titus 1:5ff) and from teaching over men and having authority over the man (1 Timothy 2:11-12), but we must also teach that women may (and should) be active among Gods people in other, non-public ways (Romans 16:1-2; Acts 18:26; 21:9).
Another accusation that has often come has to do with our relationship to the government. Some may charge us with not being loyal or supportive of the civil government since we refuse to kill national enemies in war. They sometimes refer to Pauls statements in Romans 13:1-7 to prove that Christians are to be active in such killing. This passage does show the importance of obeying the civil authorities in all things that are right, but it cannot be used to prove we should do what is wrong even if the government should require it (see Acts 5:29). In fact, in the previous section of Romans (12:14-21), Paul shows that we are to love our enemies and do good to themnot kill them. We must make this distinction when we try to explain to others why we refuse to fight.
Some people may accuse us of not believing in the church since we refuse to denominate ourselves and call ourselves by some exclusive identifying name. We may point out that the early believers were simply brothers and sisters, saints, children of God, or Christians, but they wonder why we dont want to take a human name, such as Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Pentecostal, or any other denominational, sectarian name. We need to point out to them that Paul said it was wrong to call ourselves after Peter, Apollos, or even Paul himself (1 Corinthians 1:10-13), thus it would not be right to call ourselves after Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, or Menno Simons. This doesnt at all mean that we do not believe in the body of Christ or the assembly of the Lord (Matthew 16:16-18), but we refuse to be called by any name that the early believers would not have claimed.
Many other accusations and false charges may come our way but these are a few of them. Lets distinguish between the different kinds of charges. Some simply want to pick a fight and are not at all interested in the truth of the matter. Jesus said, He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God (John 8:47). We also remember the counsel, He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself (Proverbs 9:7a). On the other hand, some are sincerely mistaken and just dont understand why we do what we do or refuse to do what others may do. In such a case, lets patiently and gently explain what the Word of God teaches on each matter and pray that our loving but knowledgeable explanation will open their heart to truth (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
Dont be overcome with false or misleading accusations. Use them for the glory of God.