Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. ~ Jude 3
I guess it's time to write a few thoughts about contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Internet discussion. Facebook. First thoughts, come on, first thoughts? Here's mine; Opinions and 'if you don't like mine, I'm gonna lay the wood on you to prove you wrong and me right. After all, I am the King of the Mountain.'
I'm an old dude. I recall the rock ages of this medium, Yahoo Groups. Yep, slow as molasses. For me it was a group of about 300 men discussing doctrine. For the most part it was great but every so often we'd get a wild boar in the field who had no understanding of the concept that Jesus taught, they will know you by your love for one another (John 13:35) and let your gentle spirit be known to all men. (Phi 4:5). As a moderator of a Reformed discussion group, email style, I never liked rebuking the brother who occasionally ran through the china shop dropping his shoulders and snorting like a fool. Yet it was necessary because men (and women) still act like babies sometimes. Some, far too often.
Fast forward to 2014. Hello Facebook and Christian discussions. I still love a good talk about God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What do the truths of soteriology have upon my orthopraxy? Is Ecclesiology important enough to wrestle with? Is my sanctification less important than my justification? What exactly does it mean to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect? (Matt 5:48) These are good and fruitful matters. The question is, what kind of fruit is it producing in you, in me? Glorious, juicy, delicious? Or rotten, scarred, and putrid?
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4–5
So with all the bible knowledge I see in many professing Christians why is the above text so forgotten? So neglected? I mean after all, these same folks that can delineate the doctrine of election to a T, fall woefully short when they supposedly reason together (Isaiah 1:18) with their brother about mundane things like animal rights. Or argue so vehemently about the qualifications of an elder that all brotherly kindness (2 Peter 1:7) is chucked out the window. Now don't get me wrong those two topics are not unimportant. They just aren't an issue with which we slur our brother with names or condescension.
Thus the title of this post; The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
or if you will
The Contenders, The Contentious, and The Condescending
I've witnessed far too many brethren looking for a fight, looking to win a debate. The Contentious.
Worse yet is The Condescending. This one can't just debate but hits below the belt, bites when clenched, scratches at eyeballs when face to face.
Brothers, it stinketh! It stinketh of pride and immaturity. It stinketh of lovelessness and arrogance. It is a shame and a blight on the name of Christ that you say you bear. What of
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel? ~ Philippians 1:27
By all means, contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Contend with all your might against the false doctrines, the doctrines of demons that wage war against Christ and His Church. Contend within the Church for the truths of scripture BUT do it rightly! Do it with love! Do it with holy compassionate zeal! But do not do it for the fight. Do not do it to smack down your brother. Lay down the pride and cease looking to win an argument. Rather
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:3–4
Seek to reason that you may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. ~ 2 Peter 3:18
Back to the 1 Corinthians passage. Love is patient. It is kind. It does not brag. It does not act unbecomingly. Period. End of story. That said, it does not mean we're soft and squishy about the word of God. No, no. Remember, we're to contend and contending by it's very definition is going to mean some exertion against forces that are opposing. Now I don't need to go in depth with our Corinthians passage. If you've been a Christian for any time at all, you know this. It's straightforward.
Brother, Sister, we never know who were talking to, who is watching on the sidelines, who is saved, who is immature, who is a devil. Should we not then obey scripture
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition ? ~ 1 Timothy 2:24-25a
God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. ~ 2 Timothy 2:25b–26
Or we just may be the tool that our gracious Lord and Master uses to more accurately explain the way of God to a brother in Christ. ~ Acts 18:26
Have we yet forgotten that we will give account for every careless word (Matt 12:36) and that judgement begins with the household of God? (1 Peter 4:17)
Oh dear saint, I know that our salvation is secure. I know that Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith. (Heb 12:2) I know that the work begun will be completed. (Phil 1:6) But I look in the mirror and I ask myself, "do you want to be a vessel of honor and hear well done good and faithful servant?" (2 Tim 2:20-21 & Matt 25:21) Or is bad and ugly the better way?
He must increase!