Are We Commanded to Contend for the Faith?
To most Bible students Jude 3 comes to mind concerning contending for the faith. “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.”
Many in the church today choose not to do the things that are unpleasant. An example of this would be church discipline. “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (II Thessalonians 3:6). What part of this verse concerning church discipline is obscure or difficult to understand? Could it be that it is not clear whether church discipline is commanded or not? Is authority the issue? That is to say, was this Paul’s opinion? No! It is to be done “in the name of (by the authority of) the Lord.” Could it possibly be that the Bible is not clear as to who should be withdrawn from? No! Paul said, “every brother that walketh disorderly.” So then, the problem concerning the lack of church discipline is not that the Bible is unclear. It is that church discipline is an unpleasant thing for many to deal with; thus, they refuse to do as God has said.
Contending for the faith falls into the same category. It is an unpleasant task; therefore, many refuse to do as God has said. Some feel that no one can contend for the faith without being contentious. They feel it is not Christ-like to argue or ever be negative about anything. Perhaps they should consult their Bibles more and read books on how to win friends and influence people less! Please take note of some of Paul’s admonitions:
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:2).
“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (I Timothy 5:20).
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).
Jesus is our example, and His life was filled with occasions when He would contend for truth with the religious leaders of His day. The apostles also on many occasions did the same. Consider their conflicts with the Judaizing teachers in Acts 15:1-5 and Galatians 2:3-5. Paul even withstood Peter when he was wrong. “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed” (Galatians 2:11).
Many do not seem to be aware that we are in a war (Ephesians 6:11-20; I Timothy 1:18; II Timothy 2:3-4). They act as if they were running for public office and insist on offending no one under any circumstance. These pious pretenders are actually in violation of God’s Word by refusing to contend for the faith. Much error is being taught today from those claiming to be members of the body of Christ. You may choose how you will fight this battle. For example, you may contend publicly by articles, radio, classes, lectureships, books, brotherhood papers, or other means. You cannot, however, fail to contend for the faith in any form and claim to be following God’s Word.
Many today are like the antis of years gone by. Concerning caring for orphans, they are not doing it and they are not sure how it is to be done. However, they are sure that the way you are doing it is wrong! It is not uncommon for brethren today who are not contending for the faith to condemn the methods of those who are. Also, today when men try to follow the Bible and contend for the faith against false teachers, they may face one of the following. Someone may say that you just have an axe to grind. Or perhaps someone will accuse you of misrepresenting the false teachers. Still others may say “We have heard him preach before and we did not hear any false doctrine.” Still others may say, “You say he is off on marriage, divorce, and remarriage; we will ask him not to speak on that.” Some may even accuse you of judging when you try to obey the Bible and contend for the faith.
Are we commanded to contend for the faith? Yes! But like so many other commands, many are willing to do only the ones they choose. How sad that many of these brethren refuse to contend for the faith and condemn faithful men who obey God by contending for the faith!