'Are You Sitting On The Fence?'
Acts Chapter 5 Verse 34
Are you sitting on the fence regarding Christ, like so many others? "Sitting on the fence" can be like watching someone being "mugged"; you just donít want to be implicated. You feel sorry for the person being beaten, but you just donít want to get involved. However, we will not get into heaven because we are "sympathetic" towards Christ, but because we are committed to Christ.
Gamaliel in Acts 5 seems to be sitting on the fence. He did not want to come down on one side or the other, so he said a few good things about the situation and thereby thought he got "off the hook". Gamalielís argument sounded so plausible, seemed so sensible and it appeared to leave consequences to "providence". We must remember, however, being "open-minded" about Christ, is like being open-minded about having a terminal illness, or your house being on fire, or Anthrax being deposited on the island. The matter is so serious; one just cannot be neutral about so serious an issue. Jesus said: "He who is not for me, is actually against me" (Luke 11:23). Gamalielís indecision was actually a decision NOT to accept the truth at that moment.
Why do people sit on the fence regarding the most serious issue in the world? A simple answer to that question is that Satan has "blinded the minds of them that believe not". People saunter through life without a care regarding the most important issue in their lives, their own eternal destiny. When the question of eternal issues arises, Satan successfully persuades people to delay any final decision. He makes people put off the hour of decision and ensures they do not get into situations where they are confronted with them again.
A similar situation arises in chapter 24 of Acts where Felix is confronted with eternal realities by the preaching of Paul and he manages to "manoeuvre" out of a sticky position by "passing the buck" on to his successor. Felix actually became afraid of what Paul was saying because he believed what Paul was saying was the truth; yet he would not come to a decision! Everything Paul said made sense. It was so logical, yet he was unable to take a step of faith. He sends Paul away and says he will send for him when it would be more "convenient" to make a final decision. Contrary to many peoples understanding, Felix actually got his "convenient" season and often sent for Paul (Acts 24:26). However, there was one huge difference. The trembling was gone. He was no longer "moved" by what Paul said. Although in one sense it was more "convenient" he was no longer moved by the things Paul said. If you are moved by what preachers say to you it is vital that you immediately respond to the gospel because the "Spirit" can leave and never return to you in the same way again.
It is strikingly sad to note the way peopleís consciences are often seared. There is a "process". First the conscience may be "stirred"; then "stricken"; if it is then "stifled" the conscience will become "silent"; until finally it becomes "seared".
Why the indecision? The reason is that people choose something else in preference. The heart is deceitful above all things the Bible tells us. We say to ourselves that we will choose Christ later on. Itís all a bluff of Satan. We wonít. The real test is NOW. All Satan has to do is get us to delay our decision for the moment. If and when we are confronted with the issues again, he will be there to persuade us to delay yet again. History proves this true. It does not get easier as we get older, it actually gets more difficult. The older we get the harder it becomes to choose Christ because we are more "set in our ways" and resent change.
What is it that you are choosing in preference to Christ? A relationship? A job? A once-in-a-lifetime-holiday? Nothing is worth your soul. Jesus said that it was not profit to gain the whole world if it meant losing your soul.
"Choose for yourselves this day, whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15).
Rev. George Macaskill