60 Seconds with the General Director Aug/Sep 1976
Someone has aptly suggested that “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” God never intended that His children be like spineless jellyfish, or fluid Jell-O, that adapts to the most convenient mold available. Quite the contrary, we are exhorted to “. . . Earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3), The word ‘”earnestly” speaks of a vigorous, intense, determined struggle to defeat the opposition. Our English word “agony” comes from the same Greek noun. That for
which we are to contend is “the faith”. In this context, the Apostle Paul is not speaking of the faith exercised by an individual, but rather a body of truth—the Gospel as revealed in the Word of God. Like an athlete summoning all his strength and inner resources to cross the finish line, we are to vigorously contend for the Gospel—to defend it from denial without and distortion within.
On occasion I have heard men say, “I have no creed, but Christ.” That sounds like a good premise until you reduce it to its logical conclusion, if a man has no creed but Christ, it’s valid to ask, “What do you believe about Christ—about His pre-existence—about His birth—about His life and death—about His resurrection and ascension—about His Second Coming? Answers to those questions touch on every major area of doctrine. The man who says, “No creed but Christ”, is attempting a futile escape from reason. Logic forces him into a definitive theological position, even if he does not want to admit it.
Sometimes, “Contending for the faith” requires resistance to an unrealistic “sentimentality”, a sentimentality that is not evidenced in the Bible, John 3:16 with its familiar, “For God so loved the world . ..” is a glorious truth—but it’s only part of the truth—part of the whole which is larger than the sum of its parts. The popular cliche “All the world needs is love” is a lie forged in the pit of hell. The Bible declares that the same deity who is a God of love is also a God of infinite righteousness. And what His righteousness condemns, His love cannot embrace. Jesus had to die so that the righteous demands of a holy God could be satisfied, it is not left for man to pick and choose—to appropriate those attributes of God which he likes and reject those which do not appeal to him.
Recently, an invitation to attend a national convention crossed my desk. Its sponsors made the appeal so broad that almost anyone could fit under its “theological umbrella”. Repeatedly it appealed to unity. A religious periodical is before me. One of its featured articles makes a similar appeal for unity. The author quotes Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” No one quarrels with the concept of unity. It is pleasant for brethren to dwell together, and unity should be encouraged wherever and whenever possible. But when its attainment requires compromise; when clearcut biblical theology must be offered on the altar as a sacrifice to achieve unity, it becomes a unity without substance—a veneer or charade at best. God still says, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). Unity at any price is too high a price.
The divine exhortation is as applicable today as it was when first God “breathed” nineteen hundred years ago. “… Earnestly contend for the faith.”
We are not instructed to be contentious, but we are commanded to contend—to vigorously, intensely and with determination, defend “the faith”. By God’s grace, that’s exactly what we intend to do.