"Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed on him: but because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that is of men more than the glory that is of God." (Jn. 12:42, 43).
From its beginning, the cause of Christ has suffered because of disciples with closet convictions; the kind of men who know and believe the truth but will not stand up for it. Consider, for example, these influential rulers of our text. Potentially, their worth to the cause of their unconfessed Christ was immeasurable; effectively, however, they contributed absolutely nothing. Worse, their influence remained where they did, as must always be the case. What a testimonial to the tremendous swaying power of cowardice and pride! — It keeps them among those whom they oppose and puts them in opposition to their own faith and convictions. "But, after all", they may have reasoned, "we do have our standing in the community to think about". "And, besides, how could we ever explain to our friends of the synagogue circle about what we really believe? Why, what would they think?" — and so goes people-pleasing religion.
And so stay the people-pleasers in religion — in their "synagogues" of compromise and out of God's kingdom. But most of them do not see their "going along" as being all that serious, let alone as jeopardizing salvation. For example, it is not unusual to meet denominationalists who freely admit certain unscriptural practices espoused by their church, but will not speak out against them. They know and believe certain Bible truths, but will not practice them, for fear...? Now, what is the essential difference between these and the elders of our text? Is it less honorable to deny Christ than His word? The false idea that men can honor Christ while ignoring, perverting and desecrating His doctrine is of the devil! "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day." (Jn. 12:48) Man's part in gaining a right standing with God lies in his knowing, believing, and obeying of gospel truth (Jn. 6:45, 8:32; Mk. 16:16; Rom. 6:17; Jas. 1:21,22). Every right relationship with God is a truth-determined relationship! All that God requires of man and all that man can ever do to please and glorify God is made known in His word (2 Tim. 3:16,17; 2 Jn. 9). He who shuns it, compromises it, or adds to it reflects on the God who gave it (1 Thss. 4:13), whether Jew, denominationalist or Christian.
In recent years, many members of the church of Christ have "awakened" to find themselves in "synagogues" of liberalism. They share the dilemma of the rulers to some extent. "Shall we speak out and risk being put out — or shall we go along to get along?" May God help them to see the seriousness and importance of standing up for the Lord by standing for His truth. To continue "going along" is to continue violating conscience and fellowshipping error. Friend, your influence is where you are. Demonstrate your allegiance to Christ and His truth while you can! Stand!