Contend Earnestly for the Faith!
By Elmarie Swart
I am currently reading John MacArthur’s book, The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception , I was going to do another post on the pages 66-65 (I will still write about this) of John MacArthur’s book when I found this very good and relevant piece written about Chapter 3 . I have found it very relevant and necessary to share this with all. Out in the Cyber world between Christians I do detect alot of important disagreements. Most of the time it would be because those who are into a false teaching or church have no real knowledge of the Word. Why ? Because true Biblical expository teachings are fading away. We are told to test every thing we are told by teachers and hold fast to that which is good, and also to test because many false teachers will lead many on the wide road to destruction. 1Th 5:21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 1Jn 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
I am in full agreement with this good piece of writing as to why we must fight the truth war in all earnest while still here on earth and we need to contend earnestly for the faith now even more than before. Daily more and more sheep are led astray to the slaughter house by the false winds and doctrines bellowing across the the world now more than ever. As we come to know the Word of God ,we will find that nothing of the false teachings today are really new, they were there while Jesus and the Apostle’s walked the earth. We are given the commandment by Jesus to spread the Gospel and surely the warnings against false teachings forms part to earnestly contend for the faith!! Jesus also said he came not to bring peace but a sword. Mat 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Paul also said for Jesus’s namesake we will suffer, Php 1:29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,
As those who understand and know the dangers of the many false gospels being taught by many false Christs. The ones who is suffering most are those we know close to us, being family or friends, who are being tossed to and fro by all the winds of change in the different doctrines of demons. Paul said in Eph 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.Paul also said to Timothy : 1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, Paul also says : 2Ti 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 2Ti 4:4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2Ti 4:5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.(ESV)
I have found that when I would warn someone about a false teaching and give them Biblical proof about this or that false teacher that I get a number of responses . They would say how dare you ! Then they will lash out in extreme anger in some way. Then they will quote the most misused verse in the Bible Matt 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. Then they would remove you from their social media page like Facebook or they could make a comment about you personally on their blog/Facebook page being full of conceit and strive. Then there is the “you are unloving ” response also. I ask is it loving to leave a person who professes the faith in a false teaching? This has been my general experience in the cyber world for the last almost 3 years now. Many professing Christians minds are dulled and lulled into a “do not judge” attitude by these false teachers.
We are NOT to Judge a person’s MOTIVES (Matt 7:1), but we ARE to Judge a Fellow Believer’s & Teachers: FRUIT / ACTIONS (Matt 7:15-20, John 7:24, 1 Cor 5:12–13, 1 John 4:1); to make sure they’re NOT Teaching CONTRARY to GOD’S WORD, and that the ESSENTIAL CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE is CORRECT, for the Protection of Gods People, His Sheep (John 10).
This little written piece I read long ago on So4J website also makes so much sense to me, read it and understand what it says.
If a certain Bible Teacher continually Teaches error (re: Essential Christian Doctrine,etc) after they, the the Bible Teacher or Professing Christian, has been warned by the Body of Christ of this Error— it would be very UNLOVING & BIBLICALLY INCORRECT if we, God’s People, didn’t lovingly WARN other FELLOW BROTHERS & SISTERS in Christ (like Jesus, Peter, Paul, etc. See below: (Naming names below) of these BIBLICAL ERRORS. We are to WARN others out of LOVE for the TRUTH (Eph 4:15, Jude 1:1-4) & for the ETERNAL SAFETY of God’s People, His Flock (Acts 20:28-32, 1 Peter 5:2-4, John 10). We Warn others of the DANGERS of these Teachings &/or False Teachers who are PREACHING & TEACHING things that are CONTRARY to God’s Word— those who are keeping people Focused on this Life, on the BROAD PATH leading to Destruction (Hell) with their: Vague Watered-Down-gospel of Half-truths, etc. It does NOT matter what the INTENTIONS or MOTIVES of these Ministers are either— i.e. A False Teacher might be a WELL MEANING PERSON, who’s Agenda might NOT be out to Intentionally hurt God’s People. In fact they might believe 1000% that they are doing God’s Work. But whether they’re out to Deceive people on Purpose or Not, it doesn’t matter— as this False Teacher might be a Victim of Satan’s Lies himself— being that he is DUPED & DECEIVED! See More at this Link: BEWARE OF FALSE TEACHERS. And there are many Ministers who are NOT doing what God’s Word Exhorts them to do and that is to GUARD the SHEEP (God’s People, His Flock) that has been ENTRUSTED to THEM. (Acts 20:28-32, 1 Tim 6:20-21, 1 Peter 5:2-4).
Naming Names – Paul Warns Believers about 8 False Converts in 2 Timothy
If A Preacher or Teacher is NOT Correctly Teaching Essential Christian Doctrine (the True Gospel of Jesus Christ, etc.) and the Teaching is keeping people focused on this Life & on the Broad Path to Hell, OR if they are Prophesying Falsely (Deut 13:1-18, Deut 18:20-22), we are to “MARK THEM” (NAME NAMES of False Teachers & Deceivers)— of which Paul did 8 TIMES in 2 Timothy seen below.
- Rom 16:17-18 (KJV) “MARK THEM which cause DIVISIONS & OFFENCES CONTRARY to the DOCTRINE which you have learned; and AVOID them. For they that are such SERVE NOT our Lord Jesus Christ, but their OWN BELLY (personal interests); and by GOOD WORDS & FAIR SPEECHES (smooth talk) DECEIVE the HEARTS of the SIMPLE (i.e. innocent, unsuspecting, naive, undiscerning).”
False Teachers must be Silenced as Titus 1:10-14 states. They are: Rebellious, Mere Talkers, and Deceivers:
- Titus 1:10-14 (NASB) ”For there are MANY REBELLIOUS MEN, EMPTY TALKERS and DECEIVERS, especially those of the circumcision, who MUST be SILENCED because they are UPSETTING WHOLE FAMILIES, TEACHING things they should NOT TEACH for the SAKE of SORDID GAIN (dishonest). One of themselves, a PROPHET OF THEIR OWN, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. For this reason REPROVE THEM SEVERELY so that they may be SOUND IN THE FAITH, NOT paying attention to JEWISH MYTHS and COMMANDMENTS OF MEN who TURN AWAY from the TRUTH.” One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
The Apostle Paul “Name Names” of 8 Deceivers— for the Protection of the Church— in 2nd Timothy. Here are the 8 Deceivers:
1 – Phygellus – 2 Tim 1:15
2 – Hermogenes – 2 Tim 1:15
3 – Hymenaeus 2 Tim 2:17
4 – Philetus – 2 Tim 2:17
5 – Jannes – 2 Tim 3:8
6 – Jambres – 2 Tim 3:8
7 – Demas – 2 Tim 4:10
8 – Alexander the Coppersmith – 2 Tim 4:14
1 – Phygellus – 2 Tim 1:15
- 2 Tim 1:15 Paul said, “This you know, that all those in Asia have TURNED AWAY FROM ME, among whom are PHYGELLUS and Hermogenes.”
2 – Hemogenes – 2 Tim 1:15
- 2 Tim 1:15 Paul said, “This you know, that all those in Asia have TURNED AWAY FROM ME, among whom are Phygellus and HEMOGENES.”
3 – Hymenaeus – 2 Tim 1:17
- 2 Tim 2:17 Paul warns, “And their MESSAGE will SPREAD LIKE CANCER. HYMENAEUS and Philetus are of this sort..”
4 – Philetus – 2 Tim 1:17
- 2 Tim 2:17 Paul warns, “And their MESSAGE will SPREAD LIKE CANCER. Hymenaeus and PHILETUS are of this sort..”
5 – Jannes – 2 Tim 3:8
- 2 Tim 3:8 Paul warns, “Now as JANNES and Jambres RESISTED Moses, so do these also RESIST THE TRUTH: MEN OF CORRUPT MINDS, DISAPPROVED concerning the FAITH..”
6 – Jambres – 2 Tim 3:8
- 2 Tim 3:8 Paul warns, “Now as Jannes and JAMBRES RESISTED Moses, so do these also RESIST THE TRUTH: MEN OF CORRUPT MINDS, DISAPPROVED concerning the FAITH..”
7 – Demas – 2 Tim 4:10
- 2 Tim 4:10 Paul warns, “..for DEMAS has FORSAKEN ME, having LOVED this PRESENT world, and has DEPARTED for Thessalonica–Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.”
8 – Alexander the Coppersmith – 2 Tim 4:14
- 2 Tim 4:14 “ALEXANDER THE COPPERSMITH did me MUCH HARM. May the Lord REPAY him According to his WORKS..”
If Paul didn’t make any Judgments, and warn fellow Believers about these various people in 2 Timothy (above), then some of the True Believers might have unknowingly gotten involved with these people, and led astray in their Worldly ways, etc.
Jesus Warned us about a Great Deception in the End Times (Matt 24:11), it is here, Right Now (2 Tim 4:3-4, 1 Tim 4:1). There are MANY Preachers who Preach a Feel Good gospel which keeps people on the BROAD PATH (Matt 7:13-14), and focused on this Temporal Life (2 Cor 4:17-18, Gal 1:6-12) vs what Jesus taught us in Luke 9:23-24; Matt 10:37-39.
Phil 3:18-19 “For I have told you often before, and I say it again with Tears in my eyes, that there are MANY whose CONDUCT SHOWS they are really ENEMIES of the CROSS of CHRIST. They are headed for DESTRUCTION. Their god is their Appetite, they Brag about shameful things, and they THINK ONLY ABOUT THIS LIFE HERE ON EARTH.”
Jude 1:1-4 (NKJV) “Jude warns, “Jude, a Bondservant of Jesus Christ (Half Brother of Jesus), and Brother of James— To those who are CALLED, SANCTIFIED by GOD the FATHER, & PRESERVED in JESUS: MERCY, PEACE, and LOVE be MULTIPLIED to you. Beloved, while I was VERY DILIGENT to WRITE to you concerning our COMMON SALVATION, I found it NECESSARY to WRITE to you EXHORTING you to CONTEND EARNESTLY for the FAITH which was once for all delivered to the SAINTS. For CERTAIN MEN have CREPT IN UNNOTICED, who long ago were marked out for this Condemnation, UNGODLY men, who TURN the GRACE of our GOD into LEWDNESS and DENY the only LORD GOD and our LORD JESUS CHRIST.”
Now we can get back to what I want to share with you about The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception.
It is my prayer that those who read here will go further and read the complete book by John MacArthur.
Chapter Three of John MacArthur’s book, The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception is entitled “Constrained Into Conflict: Why We Must Fight for the Faith.”
Recently, I ran across a link to several John MacArthur Videos. Many of them are excerpts from his book The Truth War.
“When It’s Time To Go To War.” I found it very interesting that the verse in Jude 3, which contains the phrase “contend earnestly for the faith” is actually stronger in meaning when translated from the Greek. MacArthur writes:
The expression “contend earnestly” is translated from a strong Greek verb epagonizomai,literally meaning “agonize against.” The word describes an intensive, arduous, drawn-out fight. There is nothing passive, peaceful, or easy about it. Jude “exhorted” them – meaning he urged and commanded them – to wage a mighty battle on behalf of the true faith.
So then literally, we are to “agonize against” the falsehoods that creep up into Christianity that often, quite frankly, turn Christian truth into something unrecognizable. I could cite dozens of examples. But two of the most contentious moral problems of our time are the acceptance of homosexual behavior and abortion of children in the womb.
There will always be people who try and twist the truth to their own advantage. Many times it is used as an excuse to cover their sins. But there is only One Provision for the forgiveness of sins – and that is Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. Christ is the only way to be reconciled unto the Father.
John MacArthur continues:
Jude himself says he felt the necessity to write this command. He employs a verb that speaks of pressure. In other words, he sensed a strong, God-given compulsion to write these things. He was not writing them because he took some kind of perverse glee in being militant. He was not responding to a momentary whimsy or personal anger. This was critical, and since the writers of Scripture never wrote by human self-will, but only as they were moved by the Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:21), the extreme urgency of Jude reflects the sovereign influence of the Holy Spirit, and therefore also the mind of Christ.
I love that last line – “This was critical, and since the writers of Scripture never wrote by human self-will, but only as they were moved by the Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:21), the extreme urgency of Jude reflects the sovereign influence of the Holy Spirit, and therefore also the mind of Christ.”
I don’t know about you, but in my lifetime I have NEVER seen so many liars getting away with their sin and corruption than over the past two and a half years. It seems that ever since the Obama administration got into office, any semblance of a reasonable government was out the window. As one example, we only need to turn on the T.V. each day and hear the bad news about the current debt crisis to understand how fallen man has gotten us into such a mess. Then, in the next news segment we find out that Obama has raised 86 million dollars for his re-election campaign. Why would anyone in their right mind want to re-elect this monster?? Answer: money, power, influence, and the desire to “fundamentally transform America” which is code word for collapsing our Constitutional Republic Capitalist system and bringing in a cesspool combination of communism, socialism, Islamo-fascism and sharia law. What could go wrong? But all of that is for another blog post.
John MacArthur continues:
We thus have an urgent mandate from God Himself to do our part in the Truth War. The Holy Spirit, through the pen of Jude, is urging Christians to exercise caution, discernment, courage, and the will to contend earnestly for the truth.
Notice what we are supposed to be fighting for. It is not anything petty, personal, mundane, or ego related. This warfare has a very narrow objective. What we are called to defend is no less than “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
Jude is speaking of apostolic doctrine (Acts 2:42) – objective Christian truth – the faith, as delivered from Jesus through the agency of the Holy Spirit by the apostles to the church. As he says in verse 17: “Remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Notice: no one discovered or invented the Christian faith. It was delivered to us. It was not as if someone mystically ascended into the transcendental realm and drew down an understanding of the truth. We don’t need an enlightened guru to open the mysteries of the faith for us (cf. 1 John 2:27). The truth was entrusted by God to the whole church – intact and “once for all.” It came by revelation, through the teaching of the apostles as preserved for us in Scripture. Jude speaks of “the faith” as a complete body of truth already delivered – so there is no need to seek additional revelation or to embellish the substance of “the faith” in any way. Our task is simply to interpret, understand, publish, and defend the truth God has once and for all delivered to the church.
The fact that the Bible is the Written Word of God, Jesus is the Living Word of God, and the Holy Spirit of God guides us into all truth allows born again believers in Jesus Christ to “interpret, understand, publish, and defend the truth God has once and for all delivered to the church.” How can we spot untruths, heresy, apostasy and lies? By making sure that what is being espoused by any preacher, teacher, or layperson is not contradictory to what the Bible teaches!
John MacArthur explains:
That is what the Truth War is ultimately all about. It is not mere wrangling between competing earthly ideologies. It is not simply a campaign to refine someones religious creed or win a denominational spitting contest. It is not a battle of wits over arcane theological fine points. It is not an argument for sport. It is not like a school debate, staged to see who is more skilled or more clever in the art of argumentation. It is not merely academic in any sense. And it is certainly not a game. It is a very serious struggle to safeguard the heart and soul of truth itself and to unleash that truth against the powers of darkness – in hopes of rescuing the eternal souls of men and women who have been unwittingly ensnared by the trap of devilish deception.
This is a battle we cannot wage effectively if we always try to come across to the world as merely nice, nonchalant, docile, agreeable, and fun-loving people. We must not take our cues from people who are perfectly happy to compromise the truth wherever possible “for harmony’s sake.” Friendly dialogue may sound affable and pleasant. But neither Christ or the apostles ever confronted serious, soul-destroying error by building collegial relationships with false teachers. In fact, we are expressly forbidden to do that (Romans 16:17; 2 Corinthians 6:14-15; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 John 10-11). Scripture is clear about how we are to respond when the very foundations of the Christian faith are under attack, and Jude states it succinctly: it is our bounden duty to contend earnestly for the faith.
I have to chuckle each time I see someones car with the bumper sticker that says “COEXIST” where each letter represents a different religion. It seems to me that the liberal/progressive advocates of such a symbol often hate those who adhere to true Christian faith and they tend not to hide their disdain. Just watch some of the alphabet soup news programs and commentary shows out there and you will see what I mean!
Why is there such hatred for Christians? I think that it is because of what Jesus told us in these verses:
Jhn 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before [it hated] you.
Jhn 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Jhn 15:25 “But [this happened] that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’
Read the entire chapter of John 15. It starts out Jhn 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” Jesus is speaking in these verses and He goes on to reveal that Jhn 15:5 “I am the vine, you [are] the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
John 15 is such a comfort these days. Why? Because Jesus has warned us that followers of him will be hated. It is part of the “turf” in the warfare we are in for the souls of men.
John MacArthur continues:
Notice carefully: Jude is not suggesting (nor am I) that Christians should contend among themselves over every petty disagreement or divide into factions over every personality conflict. In fact, that is the very thing the apostle Paul condemned in 1 Corinthians 3:3-7. Divisiveness and sectarianism are terrible sins that hurt the church when major divisions are manufactured out of petty differences over trivial, doubtful, indifferent, or less-than-vital matter (Romans 14:1).
We cannot include differences over abortion or homosexual practice. They are not in the “petty disagreement” categories. Both of them break at least one, if not more of the Ten Commandments. However, a difference over whether a hard Christian rock band sings a Christmas song or a more traditional choir sings it better would be a petty argument. Such a thing is a matter of taste.
John MacArthur continues:
Now, you might think that the difference between a picayune disagreement and a serious threat to some core truth of Christianity would always be obvious and clear-cut. Usually, it is. Most of the time, it is easy enough to see the distinction between a peripheral issue and a matter of urgent and fundamental importance. But not always. And here is where mature wisdom and careful discernment become absolutely crucial for every Christian: sometimes serious threats to our faith come in subtle disguise so that they are barely noticeable. And false teachers like to surround their deadly error with some truth. Therein lies the seduction. We must never assume that things like the teacher’s reputation, the warmth of his personality, or majority opinion about him are perfectly safe barometers of whether his teaching is really dangerous or not. We also shouldn’t imagine that common sense, intuition, or first impressions are reliable ways of determining whether this or that error poses a serious threat or not. Scripture, and Scripture alone, is the only safe guide in this area.
As Dr. MacArthur states in that last paragraph sentence, “Scripture, and Scripture alone, is the only safe guide in this area.”
This article is also dedicated to two dear Sisters across the big wide ocean, I have come to know out there in the Cyber world Sister Tracy (Who sent me a huge gift all the way from USA including The Truth War By John MacArthur and it is currently out of print here in South Africa) and Sister Debbie who is also dear and a like minded sister in Christ who also earnestly contends for the faith.
Much love and blessings in His name