Contending for the Faith- Part 2
In my last post, I talked about contending for the faith by means of an argument.
In this post, I’d like to pose the question:
How do I contend for the faith in a way that glorifies God?
I think there are a few verses we can go to for Biblical direction concerning this topic.
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garments stained by the flesh.” (Jude 20-23)
1. Ground yourself in the Word and in prayer. There is no way to glorify God in an argument that is rooted in love of self. Your argument must spring from your love of the Lord, and your desire to bring clarity and understanding to those with whom you argue. If you don’t expose yourself to the means of grace, chances are there is going to be a lot of you in your argument. This is the very first and most important thing that you can do. Commit yourself to studying God’s Word and meditating on His goodness and His grace. Plead with Him to purify your intentions and direct your conversation.
2. Do it for the purpose of giving hope. “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15) The goal of your conversation should not be for your sparring partner to foster faith and hope in you for answers to all their theological questions, but to find hope in Jesus! Our goal should be to build one another up in the faith, and to spread the Gospel to a fallen world. We should also be ready to defend the Gospel.
3. Do it with Gentleness and Respect. Remember that the person you are arguing with was created in the image of God. Remember that they are not made of stone- no matter how immovable they may seem. Speak lovingly, gently, and patiently with them- using Christ as your example. Consider John 4 where Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman. It is apparent from reading the text that she is not quick-witted, yet, Jesus is not frustrated or impatient, but He speaks to her with the loving care of a pastor. So should we charitably converse with our brothers and sisters.
Obviously this is much easier in theory than it is in practice…which is why 1. is so important. But through the work of the Spirit in us and the power of the Word to transform us, it is possible for us to set aside our pride, our contentiousness, and our love of self to work to the glory of the Lord.
For further reading on this topic, from a man much smarter than I- read John Piper’s sermon manuscript on Contending for the Faith here.