In the movie A Few Good Men (I do not recommend this movie), two enlisted men are on trial for the death of a fellow soldier. The movie comes to a climax as Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee places Colonel Nathan R. Jessep on the stand. Kaffee is going to try and get Jessep to admit he ordered a “Code Red” and thus the two enlisted men are not guilty of murder but were simply following orders. So Lt. Kaffee asks the question, “Colonel Jessep, did you order the Code Red?” Since ordering a Code Red was a violation itself, the Judge interrupts saying, “You don’t have to answer that question.” However, Col. Jessep says, “I’ll answer the question. You want answers?” To this Kaffee responds, “I think I’m entitled.” Jessep then asks a little more forcefully, “You want answers?” To which Kaffee states emphatically, “I want the truth!” At this point Col. Jessep shouts back, “You can’t handle the truth!” He then gives a soliloquy about men like himself in regard to defending the nation. Religiously, many people think they want the truth, but they “can’t handle the truth.”
Many “can’t handle the truth” regarding the exclusivity of the Lord’s way and His church. Many want to find numerous ways to go to the Father and obtain heaven’s home. Many in our society today are wanting to make the way broad enough to include just about anyone no matter what they believe or do. Some would include Muslims and atheists. Yet, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). He sets forth an exclusivity that He is the only way and there are no other ways to the Father. Not only is He the one and only way, but the church of Christ is the only place where salvation exists. In Acts 2, when the Jews “received the Word” (2:41) by repenting and being baptized (2:38), they were added by God to the church (2:47). Which church? Paul says, “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4). He has already told us that the church is His body (1:22-23). Thus, there is only one church. That one church belongs to Christ since He built it (Mat. 16:18) and paid the purchase price for it (Acts 20:28). It should be no wonder then that it wears His name—the church of Christ (Rom. 16:16). It is this one church that Christ is going to save (Eph. 5:23).
Many “can’t handle the truth” relating to denominationalism and that those who are in a denomination (Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Catholic, et al.) are lost and will spend eternity in hell if they do not obey the Truth. Yet, while many “can’t handle the truth” relating to this, it is still the truth.
Many “can’t handle the truth” when they find out what God has authorized as to our avenues of worshiping Him. Most can handle many of the aspects of worship, but when the demand of the need to attend all the services of the Lord’s church to worship God, many simply “can’t handle the truth.” They might not mind attending on Sunday morning, but start complaining about Sunday night and they will forget about mid-week Bible study. Others “can’t handle the truth” when they learn that the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship is sinful. They are going to have their idol (the instrument) no matter what God says. While they think they want the truth, when they are told the truth, they really “can’t handle the truth.”
There are a lot of people who simply “can’t handle the truth” when it comes to how one becomes a Christian and who is and is not a Christian. Most religious people “can’t handle the truth” regarding baptism being for the remission of sins or a condition of being saved. Most denominationalists will accept the need to be baptized, however they rebel against the purpose God has said to be baptized. God said the one must be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21), to have the remission or forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), to wash away sins (22:16), or to become a disciple (Mat. 28:19-20). All of these are various ways of expressing the one purpose of baptism. Baptism is that one act that changes our state from being lost to being saved. One must have an understanding of why he is being baptized for it to be something more than simply a dunking in water. (Some “can’t handle the truth” about baptism being an immersion in water.) When they learn that those who have not been baptized for the purpose God established are not saved, not a Christian, and thus on their way to eternal torment, they simply “can’t handle the truth.”
Some look at the church and its work and think they want the truth regarding the church’s work. They see denominations building all sorts of “family life centers” and recreational halls, then providing entertainment and all forms of recreation for their people and some will wonder if there is anything spiritual regarding the work of the church. The Bible does establish the work of the church as being concerned with the spiritual. Jesus responded to Pilate by saying, “My kingdom is not of
this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). Many can accept a general teaching regarding the church’s work, thus thinking they want the truth. However, when it comes to really understanding that the work of the church is spiritual, and thus where the church has the right to function and spend its money on, they “can’t handle the truth.” The church has the right to spend its money on things pertaining to the work and worship of the church (preaching to the lost, edifying the saved, benevolence, worship activities). However, there is no authority from God to spend the Lord’s money on taking the kids to Six Flags, or a movie, or to enter some kind of “church league” ball team, or a thousand and one other activities. (Obviously there is nothing wrong with the family or the home engaging in secular activities—it should be encouraged.) Secular activities such as these are simply not the work of the church, but many while thinking they want the truth, “can’t handle the truth.”
The fellowship of the Lord’s church is certainly important but seemingly has been almost ignored over the past few years (maybe longer). When one obeys the Gospel, he comes into a relationship with Deity (Mat. 28:19). When he walks in the light, then he has fellowship with God (1 John 1:7). When one has fellowship with God and others have fellowship with Him, then they have fellowship one with another. Most Christians long to hear the truth in this regard. They like the idea of having fellowship with God and with other Christians. If they could just stop at this point, then they can handle the truth (and now many preachers will stop at this). They do not really care for the application of God’s Word regarding fellowship. Some rebel at the idea that we cannot have fellowship with those who are in the world including our denominational friends. The Scriptures teach: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers… Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:14, 17).
While most will accept the truth regarding those in the world (some while verbally accepting it will not practice it), many will not accept the truth regarding those who have obeyed the Gospel at one time but are no longer walking in the light. The Scriptures teach us not to fellowship those who are immoral (1 Cor. 5). We are not to fellowship those who walk out of step with the Christian lifestyle (2 The. 3:6). When one becomes factious or divisive (a heretick) we must withdraw our fellowship from that person (Tit. 3:10). Then if a person teaches doctrinal error, brethren must not fellowship him (1 Tim. 1:3, 19-20; 6:3-5; Tit. 1:9-11). However, we must not extend fellowship to one who does fellowship (do anything that might indicate we are in agreement with him, or support or aid him in any way) the false teacher (2 John 911). Many brethren simply “can’t handle the truth” when it comes to applying God’s Word regarding fellowship matters. They will continue to extend their fellowship to those God has essentially said: do not fellowship.
Are you one who wants the truth? Or are you one who wants the truth but “can’t handle the truth”? Solomon told us: “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Pro. 23:23). Is truth really worth it to you? Your eternal destiny depends on your answer to that simple question.