Verse of the Day

Monday, May 12, 2014

When the Majority Was Wrong (Matthew 7:13-14)

When the Majority Was Wrong

Matthew 7:13-14

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. [1]

The majority was wrong in Eden (Gen. 3), in Noah's time before the Flood (Gen. 6:1-13), at Babel (Gen. 11:1-9), in Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:16-19:30), when David went against Goliath (1 Sam. 17), in the churches in Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6), and Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22), and in the entire world between the Fall and the Final Judgment  (Mt. 7:13-14). Similar Biblical examples may be multiplied beyond this sampling.  If the truth of this matter were to be told the majority is usually wrong this side of glory.  It is a rare exception when it is otherwise.  Righteousness is not determined by any majority anyway.  Truth is not decided by popular vote.  God's Kingdom is not a democracy.  The three Persons of the Triune God is [2] the only majority that matters when it comes to righteousness and truth. 

The following interchange in the movie Chariots of Fire is worth pondering on this issue:

Reverend. J. D. Liddell (played by John Young): "Sandy, the kingdom of God is not a democracy. The Lord never seeks reelection. There's no discussion, no deliberation, no referanda as to which road to take. There's one right, one wrong. One absolute ruler."
Sandy McGrath (played by Struan Rodger): "A dictator, you mean?"
Reverend J. D. Liddell: "Aye, but a benign, loving dictator." [3]

J. C. Ryle makes this point in his comments on Luke 6:46-49 -

"Few indeed are the builders upon rocks, and great is the ridicule and persecution which they have to endure! Many are the builders upon sand, and mighty are the disappointments and failures which are the only result of their work! Surely, if ever there was a proof that man is fallen and blind in spiritual things, it may be seen in the fact that the majority of every generation of baptized people, persist in building on sand." [4]

Perhaps one of the most soul-stirring considerations of this subject is that penned by Octavius Winslow:

"“Save me, O God, by your name, and judge me by your strength. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah. Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with those who uphold my soul.” Psalm 54:1-4

WHERE was David now? “In the wilderness of Ziph, in a wood.” With not a follower or companion, this favorite of the nation was a homeless wanderer, hunted like a partridge upon the mountain by the bloodthirsty king. But oh, the deep teaching of which he would now be the subject! The nothingness of earthly glory—the emptiness of human applause—the poverty of the creature—the treachery of his own heart—in a word, the vapid nature and utter insufficiency of all earthly good, would be among the many holy and costly lessons he would now learn.

Nor this alone. Driven from man, he would now be more exclusively and entirely shut in with God. In his happy experience, that wilderness would be as a peopled world, and that wood as a blooming paradise. From the profound depths of its solitude and stillness, there would ascend the voice of prayer and the melody of praise. The wilderness of Ziph would be another Patmos, all radiant with the glorious and precious presence of Him, who laid his right hand upon the exiled Evangelist, and said, “Fear not, I am He that lives.”

See we no fore-shadowing of Jesus here? Oh yes; much, we think. Nor is this strange, since David was preeminently a personal type of Christ. There were periods in our Lord’s brief and humiliating history on earth, when, indeed, He seemed for awhile to ride upon the topmost wave of popular favor. After some stupendous prodigy of His power, or some splendid outgushing of His benevolence, sending its electric thrill through the gazing and admiring populace, He would often become the envy and the dread of the Jewish Sanhedrin.

Jealous of His widening fame and growing power, they would seek to tarnish the one by detraction, and to arrest the other by His death. Escaping from their fury, He would betake Himself to the fastnesses of the rock, and to the solitude of the desert—but, alas! with no human sympathy to strengthen His hands in God. Oh, how strangely has Jesus trodden the path, along which He is leading His saints to glory!

Is there nothing analogous to this in the experience of the faithful? Who can witness for the Lord Jesus—conceive some new idea of doing good—occupy some prominent post of responsibility and power—or prove successful in some enterprise of Christian benevolence—and while thus winning the admiration and applause of the many, not find himself an object of the unholy envy and vituperation of a few? “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you!” Thus may an active, zealous, successful Christian be crucified between human idolatry on the one hand, and creature jealousy on the other. Well, be it so, if self be slain, and God is glorified.

The great secret, however, to learn here is, entire deadness to both. Going forward in the work of the Lord, as judgment dictates, as conscience approves, and as Providence guides—dead to human applause, and indifferent to human censure; ever taking the low place, aiming at the Lord’s glory, and seeking the honor that comes from God only—this is happiness. Oh, to live and labor, to give and to suffer, in the meek simplicity of Christ, and with eternity full in view! The Lord grant us grace so to live, and so to die!" [5]

Therefore, let us not be surprised when the majority is wrong.  Let us rather expect that it will likely be so between the Fall and the Final Judgment.  Let us assume that it will be the norm, and that what is popular should be suspect as wrong in the very nature of the case.  Let us not look to the majority for truth or righteousness.  Let us be willing to stand alone if necessary, and necessary it may well be if the history of our fallen race teaches us anything at all.  Certainly let us be willing to align ourselves with the minority, the faithful remnant, regardless of how small that band may be.  In doing so let us understand that we follow in a heritage of others who did so before us, “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38).  Let us position ourselves with all who have affirmed in the past and are affirming in our day by their allegiance to God that His truth is not up for a vote, and who recognize that His righteous kingdom is not a democracy.  All truth and righteousness is established by the three witnesses of the Triune God: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  Let us bow to this witness, and honor it even when it is not popular.  Let us continue doing so especially when we see the unmistakable fulfillment of Paul's prophetic words, "...the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Tim. 4:3-4)

Soli Deo Gloria,

John T. “Jack” Jeffery
Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
Greentown, PA

9 AUG 2012
12 MAY 2014

[1] Cp. Lk. 13:23-24.
[2] Agreement of subject and verb in number is being observed here.  Even though "Person" is plural in the subject phrase, the predicate, "the only majority", may be turned around as the subject: "The only majority that matters when it comes to righteousness and truth is the three Persons of the Triune God."  In other words, this is not saying "They are...", but "This is..." (as in "this entity" or "this being").  This should clarify how and why the main verb in this sentence is singular.
[3] Source: Chariots of Fire (Allied Stars, 1981); Rev_JD_Liddell_The_Kingdom_of_God_is. (n.d.). Columbia World of Quotations. Retrieved August 09, 2012, from website:
[4] J. C. Ryle (1816-1900), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Vol. 2: Luke 1-10 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, n.d.; 1990 reprint of 1856 original); also published as Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1997, 1986), pg. 197, s.v. Luke 6:46-49; on Grace Gems at [accessed 9 AUG 2012].
[5] Octavius Winslow (1808-1878), Evening Thoughts, or Daily Walking With God (1858), s.v. June 30; on Grace Gems at [accessed 9 AUG 2012].

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