WHY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH?

“From all corners of the world comes a challenge to God’s Word.  Doubt and denial are encouraged by the enemy.  Everything seems against the Gospel of Christ.  But we must remain to fulfill our duty.

What is the duty of Christian men at such a time?  What is the duty, in particular, of leaders in the work?

In the first place, they should encourage those who are engaging in the intellectual and spiritual struggle.  They should not say, in the sense in which some say it, that more time should be devoted to the propagation of the Gospel and less to the defence of the Gospel.  Certainly there should be the propagation of the Gospel.  Believers should certainly not content themselves with warding off attacks, but should also unfold in an ordinary and positive way the full riches of the Gospel.  But far more is usually meant by those who call for less defence and more propagation.  What they really intend is the discouragement of the whole intellectual defence of the faith.  And their words come as a blow in the face of those who are fighting the great battle.  As a matter of fact, not less time, but more time, should be devoted to the defence of the Gospel.

Indeed, truth cannot be stated clearly at all without being set over against error.  Thus a large part of the New Testament is polemic; the enunciation of evangelical truth was occasioned by the errors which had arisen in the churches.  So it will always be, on account of the fundamental laws of the human mind.  Moreover, the present crisis must be taken into account.

There may have been a day when there could be the propagation of Christianity without defence.  But such a day at any rate is past.  At the present time, when the opponents of the Gospel are almost in control of our churches, the slightest avoidance of the defence of the Gospel is just sheer unfaithfulness to the Lord.

There have been previous great crises in the church, crises almost comparable to this.  One appeared in the second century, when the very life of Christendom was threatened by the Gnostics.  Another came in the Middle Ages when the Gospel of God’s grace seemed forgotten.  In such times of crisis, God has always saved the church.  But He has always saved it not by theological pacifists, but sturdy contenders for the truth.”

— J Gresham Machen

Jude 1:3-4 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

Titus 1:9-16 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

 

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