FOF-07 - Defending the Faith
Please feel free to download audio and video for personal listening or teaching. Please do not alter any content. All material is copyrighted and intended to be used in its entirety and is free for distribution under these terms. To save, simply click the button and the download will begin.
FUNDAMENTALS OF FAITH
“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,” Jude verse 3.
We welcome you today to our study of fundamentals of the faith. Specifically
today we're thinking about the fundamental idea of standing up for and defending the
faith against error, which does so much damage to the souls of men and women
worldwide. As we think about the idea of defending the faith, the very idea of
controversy itself, is something that most of us really don't like. We don't like disputing
or debating or much contention or disagreement. We don't like strife and argumentation
a whole lot. The idea of controversy itself means something that's turned in the opposite
direction. We'd rather like for people to agree with us, rather than have to face someone
who takes a different idea than we do. As we think about this idea of defending the faith,
we don't like controversy usually, because it makes us feel uncomfortable. It makes us
feel uncomfortable, because we want to be liked by everybody. We’re afraid that
somebody's going to get angry with us, or maybe somebody doesn't have all the facts.
Some people associate standing up for the truth and controversy, with not being as
loving as we ought to be.
As we think today about defending the faith, there's no doubt Jesus had people
who disliked Him. There is no doubt that people became very angry at times with the
Lord and Savior, so much so that that was one of the main motivating factors people put
Him on the cross. There were those who didn't have all the facts, and yet Jesus still
presented the truth and opposed error. No one would ever say Jesus didn’t love, when
He stood up for the truth. That's the same for Christians today. When we defend the
faith, when we contend earnestly for the truth, we’re not being mean or unkind. We're
simply trying to let God's truth and God's word shine forth. Galatians 4:16 says it this
way, “Have I become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” When Paul spoke to
Christians in Galatia, some of whom were greatly confused and in error about mixing
the old law and the new law, was he becoming their enemy when he spoke the truth of
God? Absolutely not! “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed,” the proverb
writer said in Proverbs 27:5.
Now as we think about the basis and what it is that causes controversy, I'm
reminded of Binford's law of controversy, which was expressed by Gregory Binford in
this way. He said controversy is passion inversely proportionate to the amount of real or
true information available. Controversy becomes passionate in an inadvertent way
inversely proportionate to the amount of facts somebody may have. If we stand behind
the truth, and if we're going to simply say what God's word says, should we be
passionate about speaking up for the truth and opposing error? Absolutely! Christians
should be passionate about that. Ephesians 5:11 says we're to, “Have no fellowship
with the unfruitful works of darkness; rather we are to expose them.” Why is it that Jesus
spoke so passionately about the resurrection in Mark 12? They had this long argument
with a woman who had the seven husbands. ‘Whose husband is she now?’ Jesus
passionately said, ‘You do therefore greatly err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the
power of God. In Heaven they’re neither married nor given in marriage, but they're like
the Angels.’ He goes on to show, because the resurrection is such a vital part of
Christianity, He spoke passionately about the error they held there and defended God's
Now let's think for a moment about what it is, what causes us, to have to at times
defend the faith and stand up for truth. Sometimes error and controversy occurs, maybe
because rumors or gossip cause it to be unnecessary. Maybe somebody's heard
something, or somebody told somebody something and that kind of went around the
chain through everybody and before the long it's not even true. Maybe it started out with
some sense of truth, but has been so exaggerated or gone through the gossip chain so
much, that it's really not true. When we think about rumors and gossip causing error,
Paul spoke about in 1 Timothy 1:3-5. He said, “You've got to stand up and make sure to
teach the one gospel. Don't give heed to fables or endless genealogies, which cause
disputes rather than godly edification, which is in the faith.” The fables, the endless
genealogies, the rumor and gossip maybe that had been spread there, the ancient
history, which wasn't a source of tradition, caused controversy in the first century. Other
times it's a failure to accept the facts that causes controversy. God makes clear in the
Scriptures what's true. Jesus said, “The truth will make you free,” John 8:32. We know
that God's word is truth, John 17:17. That truth is the only source we need to be saved.
2 Peter 1:3, God has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through
knowledge of Him who called us.
When there are people trying to promote other facts, whether it be a church
history, whether it be oral tradition, whether it be the books of men, and those facts
oppose Scripture, and people are not willing to accept those. Controversy naturally
comes when we don't accept the facts that are plain in the Scripture. Another reason
that we often have to defend the faith is, because in some situations prejudice and pride
can cause controversy. You see this clearly in the ministry of Jesus. As Jesus is
teaching from the old law that the old law itself has been done away with, encouraging
people to follow the new law, you’ve got this whole idea of circumcision. People wanting
to be the seed of Abraham, and Jesus clearly teaches that circumcision does not avail
in New Testament Christianity, that the old law of Moses and the seed of Abraham, He
is the seed of Abraham. They're having been brought up that way, and being prejudiced
toward it for so long, they couldn't get over the problems that existed in their own mind,
even though the facts were very clear.
When we think about controversy, we've got to ask ourselves, is personal bias
and prejudice and what I like or don't like playing a factor in my understanding the truth?
Whatever the controversy is, and whatever causes it, we've got to deal with controversy
in the scriptural way. Whether it's disagreeing over the Scripture, what oral tradition and
Scripture might say, and how we need to let the Bible have its say, or whatever it may
be. The answer is always to deal with it in a scriptural approved way, and let God's word
have the say. In doing that, let's then recognize, what are some attitudes and motives
that are needed from someone trying to stand up for and defend the faith? No doubt,
the main attitude that is needed is genuine love. Paul told Timothy, 1 Timothy 1:3-5,
“charge some that they teach no other doctrine,” and again he said, “don't give in to
fables or endless genealogies which are going to cause disputes,” and then he said this,
“the purpose of the commandment, to charge some to teach no other doctrine, is love
from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith.” When we stand
up for truth, when we try to teach God's truth, and oppose error, how do we do that?
Love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith. Luke 19:10,
Jesus is the great example of this. Jesus often had to stand up for truth, but Jesus came
for the sole purpose of seeking and saving the lost. No doubt His motivation was love.
Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved
you that you also love one another,” and yet Jesus at times even had to oppose His
own disciples for some of the things they may have espoused.
When we're dealing with controversy, let's let brotherly love continue, Hebrews
13:1. Let's realize we've got to even love our enemies, Matthew 5:44 -46. And so when
we talk about this idea, we’re talking about the words of Ephesians 4:15. I've got to, and
anyone who stands up for truth which all of us at times must, we've got to speak the
truth in love. And there's no doubt truth must come first and truth must reign supreme in.
And I understand God's word is the absolute source of all truth, Psalm 119:160. But as I
speak the word of God, do I want to be mean and hateful and unkind and demeaning to
people? Of course not! I want to speak the truth in love, meaning that our motivation is
love and that love ought to be exhibited in the way we say, the things that we do, and
that were really trying to help people understand God's word.
Ultimately another attitude that is needed, in trying to stand up for and defend the
faith is, we need a desire to please God not men. I want you to think about Paul's
example in Galatians 1. As Paul thought about his past life, and how he had been often
caught up in tradition and the things of men, Paul made this great statement and I want
you to listen to the words of Galatians 1. Notice what the apostle Paul says in verse
number 10, Paul says, “For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please
men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Paul said, ‘Am I
trying to persuade God or men? Who am I trying to persuade? Men. Am I still trying to
please men or God?’ He's trying to please God; therefore he wants to speak the very
words of God. Our desire, please understand, God wants all men to be saved and
Christians do as well, but our desire in defending the truth and standing up for what's
right, is to make God happy. I want to stand behind and stand firmly upon God's word. I
want to do that in an attitude and motivation of love. But ultimately when I think about
who's happy, or who's unhappy, my number one concern is, does this make God
happy? As we stand up for the truth in the way that he wants us to.
Another motivation that we need and in defending the truth, is we need first to
seek the truth. I want to make sure I'm seeking truth first. Above all else truth must reign
supreme. Jesus said in John 8:32, “You shall know the truth and the truth will make you
free.” If it's truth that sets men free, then in defending God's truth, I want to seek the
truth. I want to know the truth. I want to stand behind truth. Proverbs 23:23, the writer in
the long-ago said, “Buy the truth and sell it not.” ‘Have I become your enemy because I
tell you the truth?’ is the question Paul asked to those in Galatia. And friend, as we've
mentioned, it is the word of God that is the source of truth. Not my feelings, not my
opinion, not your feelings, and not your opinion or anybody else's. Jesus prayed to the
father in the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John in verse 17, “Sanctify them by your
truth, your word is truth.”
Now are there other attitudes that are needed in dealing with controversy in
defending the faith? Absolutely! Kindness goes a long way in dealing with controversy.
Do we even if we disagree with somebody, even if we recognize somebody is teaching
blatant error about the Scriptures, do I still want to be kind and respectful of that person
who's been created in the image of God and who has an eternal soul? Sure I do!
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Ephesians 4:32, we’re to have
kindness. 1 Corinthians 13:4, kindness is directly connected and tenderness is directly
connected to love. And so, even when we may passionately stand up for the truth, and
even when we say what God says and oppose error, can we do that in kindness? Sure!
Will it always be deemed, looked at as kindness? It may not be, but if our motive and
attitude is to be kind and loving and speak the truth that's the things that God Himself is
Also, when we think about defending the faith, friend we've got to have the
attitude that I am going to contend earnestly for the faith. Jude verse 3, Jude wanted to
write. And he wanted to write about the common salvation, but there was a problem that
compelled him. “Though I was very diligent to write you concerning our common
salvation, I found it necessary,” there was a need “I found it necessary to exhort to write
to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered
to the saints.” I've got to be willing to expose the unfruitful works of darkness, Ephesians
5:11. If I know the truth, and if I want to do it in a kind and loving way, but if I never have
the courage to stand up, I'm missing an attitude and a motivation that I need. God
needs His people to, in kindness and love, stand up and to battle for the truth. Fight the
good fight of faith, Paul would say in 1 Timothy 6:12-18. Defend the faith that it's been
delivered, and Jude gives the reasoning which was once for all delivered to the saints.
This is the system of faith in the New Testament Scriptures. This is all of God's
revelation. There isn't going to be anything else. It was once for all delivered to the
saints, and God needs us. He wants us to stand up for the truth.
As we think about the idea of salvation, let's realize just as importantly in our
defending for the faith, we need the attitude and the motivation of we're doing this, we're
standing up for truth, for the motivation of the salvation of souls. Matthew 9:36-38,
Jesus looked down upon the people from where He was sitting and He saw them. They
were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus turned to His disciples and said, “Truly the
harvest is plentiful the laborers are few, pray the Lord of hosts will send out laborers into
His field or His harvest.” Why did Jesus oppose the religious elite? Why did He say
things that made them so mad that they ultimately sent Him to the cross? Jesus did it,
because He wanted people to be saved. Why did Jesus say to His disciples, “Go into all
the world and preach the gospel?” That gospel was going to oppose religious error at
times. Jesus wants all men to be saved and that's got to be our motivation.
The motivation cannot be to beat somebody over the head with the Bible, if we
can use that language. The motivation cannot be to make ourselves look good, to feel
better about ourselves, to give ourselves some kind of sense of religious approval. No!
Our motivation in standing up for truth must be the salvation of men and women's souls.
Do we really believe, think about this, those who are in religious error, those who've
been taught ways of salvation that are not correct, those who are living lives that some
have pawned off on them as religious, that are living in immorality, do we really believe
those people are going to be lost? Does that motivate us then, to stand up for and teach
Friend, as you think about the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His willingness
to stand up for truth and defend the faith, there's no doubt that Jesus at times was
viewed as stepping right into the mire of controversy headlong. Jesus did that in certain
areas. He did it as it related to salvation. For example, Jesus taught in John 14:6,
opposed to the many ideas that the Jews had, opposed to the ideas the Greeks and
idolaters had, and the Romans had, Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life no
man comes to the father except by me.” In a world where there was a pluralist idea in
many ways of salvation, the people thought were available, Jesus boldly stood up, and
whether it be controversial or not said, ‘I am the way the only way to the Father.’ Acts
4:12, ‘nor is there salvation in any name any other name there's no other name under
heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’ As it relates to matters of
salvation, when people go out and teach doctrines that the Bible clearly teaches are not
correct, ‘all you've got to do to be saved is believe in Jesus.’ Bible doesn't teach that. In
fact, the Bible says faith only won't save, James 2:24. When people make up these
ideas about salvation, and as they go around the country and saying, ‘all you got a do to
be saved to say the sinner’s prayer.’ When you turn to the pages of your Bible and that
prayer isn't even in there. We need to oppose that type of error by teaching God's
simple plan of salvation. Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized will be saved.”
Jesus said in John 3:5, “Unless a man is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter
the kingdom of heaven.
We've got to as Jesus did. Jesus stood up for and defended God's truth on
matters that related to worship. A woman came to Jesus with a question. She said ‘we
Samaritans us over here, we've heard that you worship on mount Gerazhim. Jews say
you got to worship in Jerusalem. I want to know, where do you really worship in
essence?’ And Jesus said, “It's not the place, in essence, God is spirit and those who
worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” Her idea wasn't right necessarily, nor
was the Jew’s idea right necessarily. Jesus presented the truth on the matter about
worship and stood up for that. Jesus did that even to Satan himself. Matthew 4:9-10,
Satan came to Jesus and he said, ‘all these things I'll give you if you fall down and
worship me.’ Jesus stood up for truth, “You shall worship the Lord your God, it is written,
you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”
Christians must stand up today and defend the pattern of worship in the New
Testament. That is to be in spirit and according to the truth. That it is on the first day of
the week that Christians come together to worship God, to sing, to pray, to give, and to
take the Lord's supper, Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. That that Christians today are to
sing and make melody in their heart. That God hasn't asked us in the New Testament
age to have an organ or a band or a ten piece rock band or a piano up there. God wants
me to sing and make melody in my heart. There is the place that I'm to sing from the
heart and make melody with our voices as we teach and admonish one another
Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19.
Jesus was also viewed controversially and had to defend the faith when it came
to a difficult discussions like marriage, divorce, and remarriage. There were opposing
views in Jesus day on this subject. And so the Jews want to know what does the Rabbi,
what does the master teacher say. And they come to Jesus with the question: can a
man divorce his wife for just any reason? One's camp said yes among the scholars of
the day. Another camp said no. What do you say Jesus? “From the beginning it's not
so,” Jesus said. Jesus goes all the way back to the beginning and says, “For this reason
a man shall leave his father and mother be joined to his wife and the two shall become
one flesh therefore what God has joined together let not man separate.” Should you
divorce your wife for any reason? Of course not! Jesus said and then He said in
Matthew 19:9, “but I say to you whoever divorces his wife except for fornication and
marries commits adultery.” Friend it's not unkind and it's not unloving when we say what
Jesus said right there. The one and only scriptural reason Jesus gave for divorce was
fornication. Then and only then does the innocent party have the right to remarry.
Those things sometimes are viewed as unkind and unloving. Friend that's not the
way it is at all in Scripture. We say these things because we love people, and because
we want them to go to heaven. One of the things that Jesus spoke so plainly about that
has become rather controversial and that we must defend the faith for today is the one
true church you read about the Bible. Friend Jesus said, “I will build my church.” How
many churches and whose church did Jesus build? Listen again, “I will build my
church,” Matthew 16:18. It belongs to Christ. And it's singular in origin, Ephesians 4:4.
“There is but one body,” 1 Corinthians 12:20. “There are many members yet but one
body,” Colossians 3:15. “We've been called into God's love and mercy. And being we
been called into one body and be ye thankful.” One church, one body. It belongs to
Jesus. He built it. And denominationalism is contrary to the teaching of Christ. Paul said
to those in Corinth who are trying to promote denominationalism, “Let there be no
divisions among you.” Is it unkind to say denominationalism, the naming religious
groups after men, the following the teaching of men, is not according to God's will? Of
course not! We say that in love, because the Bible teaches there's one church. The
Bible teaches how to get into that one church, and the Bible teaches only those in that
church, when Christ comes back are going to go and be with the Father, 1 Corinthians
Today, we encourage Christians. We stand up for and we defend the truth
because that's what God wants. But we must, and this is our motivation and our desire
we want to speak the truth in love. If truth is not first all else fails. If truth is first and
there's no love, we have a hard time reaching folks.
May God help us to have the courage to truly defend the faith.
Study Questions for: “Fundamentals of the Faith: Defending the Faith”
1. According to Proverbs 27:5, what is better than love carefully concealed?
2. What should we do to the unfruitful works of the darkness according to
3. 1 Timothy tells us we must do what?
4. What will the truth do according to John 8:32?
5. In Galatians 1:10, why did Paul not want to please men?
6. What shall we do with the truth according to Proverbs 23:23?
7. According to John 17:17, the word is what?
8. In Matthew 9:36-38, what was few?
9. According to John 14:6, how can we get to the Father?
10. What must we do to enter Heaven according to John 3:5?