Is Truth a Popularity Contest?
And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. Revelation 13:8 NLT
Sadly many put their confidence in popular opinion, while the Bible tells us the vast majority of the world will worship the beast.
Interestingly while Jesus claimed to be God, the majority accused Him of blasphemy and had Him crucified for making such a claim. Later the beast claims to be God, but, instead of accusing him of blasphemy, the majority worships him. Truth is clearly not a popularity contest.
Occasionally, at church or the Adventist school where I teach Bible and evangelism, someone will ask me, “What do we believe about such and such?” My response has always been, “I don’t know what you believe, but here is what I and many Seventh-day Adventists believe,” and I show them in the Bible what I believe and why. I am not going to tell someone what they believe. That is not teaching. That’s brainwashing. Besides truth is not truth just because everyone in the Adventist church believes it. Truth is not a popularity contest in the church or the world. Truth is truth only if the Bible supports it.
During the Dark Ages, when people did not have access to the Bible, people trusted their priests to tell them what they believed, and because of that there was a lot of brainwashing going on.
Even before the Dark Ages, priests abused their authority, and tried to brainwash people into believing whatever they believed. This happened in Jesus’ day when those in “authority” were trying to capture Jesus.
When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded. “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? John 7:45-48 NLT
The guards experienced and heard the Word of God speaking to them and believed. Since the Pharisees did not want to believe, they mocked at this. In John 7 the Pharisees misconstrued Scripture to try and prove their point, but amazingly, instead of hanging their hat on Scripture, they hung it on the fact that none of the rulers or leaders believed. Is truth a popularity contest? If everyone else believes something is it right, and if no one else believes it, then is it wrong? Is that how it works?
The number of people who believe something simply because everyone else believes it is staggering. Take the state of the dead for example. Years ago I attended the funeral of a dear Adventist saint. Her family believed in the immortality of the soul and asked the Adventist preacher doing her funeral to “put her in heaven now.” The pastor replied that he could not do that since it simply is not true. However he told them he believed in liberty of conscience and freedom of speech so if one of them wanted to stand up and say she was in heaven, they could. So one of the family members stood up and talked about how her grandmother was now in heaven. I remember she kept saying “we cling to this!” Very emphatically, yet she gave no Scriptural reference other than that is what everyone believes. So I am not sure exactly what it was she was clinging to other than popular belief. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul tells us to “comfort each other with these words” about the resurrection. Sadly instead of comforting each other with the words Paul told us to use to comfort each other, many people use phrases about going straight to heaven when you die that are nowhere in the Bible and Paul nor anyone else ever suggested that we use. Sadly those phrases have been used so often that people believe it because they have heard it so many times.
When it comes to Sabbath keeping, I have heard so many people say that Sunday must be the true day because the whole world can’t be wrong. They forget that at the time of the flood only 8 people were right! Truth is not a popularity contest.
And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Acts 17:11 NLT
Like the temple guards, the Bereans were interested in new ideas as long as they were found in Scripture. They didn’t believe something because Paul and Silas believed it or because a ruler did. On their own they searched the Scriptures daily to find truth.
I have heard Seventh-day Adventists telling their Baptist and Methodist friends to search the Bible for themselves because their pastors could be wrong. I have watched some of the same Seventh-day Adventists listening to their own favorite Adventist preachers, without bothering to search the Scriptures, because, after all, their pastor is Adventist, so he is automatically right, right? Wrong! We all make mistakes, as we all continue to learn and grow.
Let’s not be like the foolish Pharisees in John 7, who hung their hats on how many people believed or did not believe something. Truth is not a popularity contest. Let’s search the Scriptures ourselves to find truth.