WHY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH?

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“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.

 

THE WORLD IS THE BATTLEGROUND

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“In the Western world the enemy has forsworn violence. He comes against us no more with sword and fagot; he now comes smiling, bearing gifts. He raises his eyes to heaven and swears that he too believes in the faith of our fathers, but his real purpose is to destroy that faith, or at least to modify it to such an extent that it is no longer the supernatural thing it once was. He comes in the name of philosophy or psychology or anthropology, and with sweet reasonableness urges us to rethink our historic position, to be less rigid, more tolerant, more broadly understanding.”

– AW Tozer

 

“It is impossible to be a true soldier of Jesus Christ and not fight.”

– J. Gresham Machen

 

“Spiritual Christians look upon the world not as a playground but as a battleground.”

– AW Tozer

2 Timothy 2:3-4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

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.

Ephesians 6:11-12 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

PREACHING THE TRUTH

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“Again, men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end … It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of the truth”

– J. Gresham Machen, June 17, 1932, in London

 

UNITY IN COMPROMISE AND THEOLOGICAL ERROR

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“Diversity and division is infinitely more precious than a satanic unity. The problem God’s people are facing today: Satan wants unity in what? — in error. God would infinitely prefer division because of truth. Do you know what Jesus said in Matthew 10? He said, ‘I have come not to bring peace, not to bring unity, but to bring division, to set a son against his father, a daughter against her mother, so that people within their own households will be enemies of each other.’ That is what Jesus said he came to do … God’s smashing of satanic ecumenical unity was an incredible blessing [Genesis 11: the Tower of Babel] … The potential for satanic depravity is infinite, as long as what continues? — a unity in error — organized blasphemy. Measure this friends. Grasp it. Satan will, in his brief hour, at the end of this world, be given his opportunity to demonstrate what total unity is like in the human race, when every person will have a mark on the forehead or right hand, and will walk lockstep under incredible blasphemy …

“You say, ‘We want unity.’ Oh, really? What kind of unity? ‘We want all the churches to get together.’ Oh, really? You mean in error, in confusion, in heresy? That is, dear friends, the ecumenical movement of our hour, in which all the great denominations and all the great church leaders are becoming more and more unified. In what? — in compromise and theological error; and this is the ultimate horror.”

 — John Whitcomb Jr., Nebraska, Fall of 1984

“Again, men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end … It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of the truth”

— J. Gresham Machen, June 17, 1932, in London