Contending for the faith against liberalism, legalism, indifference, the relationship of faith, opinion and love, and false teachers needs to be considered in view of what the church needs to do to be saved. There is no doubt that as Christians, elders, and preachers we have the God given responsibility to do so. Yet, there is a considerable amount of confusion as to exactly how this is to be carried out. In this article we want to examine those things necessary to earnestly contend for the faith.

 A POINT OF ORDER – JUDE 3a – Jude would rather have written about the common salvation he enjoyed with his fellow Christians than about opposing error. The positive should always be enjoyed over the negative. There is no doubt that God would rather save than condemn (John 3:17; 1 Timothy 2:3, 4; 2 Peter 3:9). There is no sense of which God rejoices at the loss of souls. The facts are, punishment makes God deeply distressed (Luke 19:41-44; Matthew 23:37).

As Christians we should be careful if…

We delight in finding fault – Galatians 5:13-15.

We expend more energy to dig for dirt on a brother than to

find vindication for him – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.

We reach snap judgments with incomplete evidence – Joshua                                                             22:7-34.

NEVERTHELESS, A NEED – JUDE 3b – But in the face of this, rebuking false teachers is necessary. In Matthew 23 Jesus presents a scathing rebuke on the legalistic Pharisees. The words of Peter in 2 Peter 2 are equally pointed in their condemnation of liberalism. The gospel preacher’s job description includes the charge to “rebuke” when such is in order (2 Timothy 4:1, 2). True love does not ignore rebellion against God (1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

The church must be protected from those who would destroy her. Elders must be able to protect the congregation by silencing those who would cause trouble for the church (Titus 1:9-11). Those who would rebel and subvert the cause of Christ must be dealt with (2 John 9, 10).      The church is not to give fellowship to a brother or sister who will not be dissuaded from open rebellion (1 Corinthians 5:11). A factious man is to be rejected after the first and second admonition (Titus 3:10). Those who continue in sin are to be openly rebuked (1 Timothy 5:20).

Anyone who brings division into the body is to be avoided (Romans 16:17, 18). When one will not repent after all reasonable efforts have been made to correct his sin, he is to be avoided (Matthew 18:15-17).

Be careful if…

We choose to let wrong go unopposed – John 2:14-17.

We think that indulgence of sin is ever constructive – 2 Samuel                                                          15:1-10.

We believe that rebuke is by its nature unloving – Hebrews 12:6.

 

 BUT REMEMBER… – Patience is to be extended, as long as hope can be seen. The charge of 2 Timothy 4:1, 2 includes “all patience.” Those in opposition are to be engaged with kindness and patience (2 Timothy 2:24-26). The deceived are viewed differently than are deceivers. Most people in the wrong are victims of subversive people (Matthew 18:7). Jesus looked at the deceived differently than he did those who were the hypocritical deceivers (Matthew 9:36-38; 23:15). We must treat our erring brother as a brother (2 Thessalonians 3:15).

Compassion is very important to God. Helping those in need, not destroying them, is God’s will (Galatians 6:1, 2; Hebrews 12:12). Isaiah foretold a Messiah who would rescue the perishing (Matthew 12:17-21). We still have the command to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15).

Some have the erroneous idea that to protect the church we should not reach out to the lost in fear of their bringing in false doctrine. Don’t you think the Lord thought of that before He said “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”? It was Jesus himself who warned against “wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Yet He later gave the Great Commission. It was Paul who warned of “wolves” who would “enter in among” the flock (Acts 20:29). Likewise, he warned that there would come from among their own selves those who would “draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). Yet, Paul traveled the “world over” seeking the lost. The answer to the problem is not to refuse to reach out to the lost, but have elders who are prepared to deal with such matters should they come up (Acts 20:28; Titus 1:7-11).

We must love salvation over condemnation. Yet, we must contend earnestly for the faith. Never forget, however, that compassion is to have its place.

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