Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Urgency and Necessity of The Truth War

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."

I have had this book for a long time. Every so often, I go back and read some of the chapters. If you do a search on this blog, you will find at least four blog posts about the book. Recently, I ran across a link to several John MacArthur Videos. Many of them are excerpts from his book The Truth War.

Years ago, I bookmarked the final three pages of chapter three. It is subtitled, "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.

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.

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."

Amen!!!

The term "Scripture" itself appears in the Bible 32 times!

This is a beautiful verse:

Gal 3:22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Hat Tips:

Grace To You.org - The Truth War pp. 74-77

Blue Letter Bible and all links.

3 comments:

Susan Smith said...

Christine said, “But two of the most contentious moral problems of our time are the acceptance of homosexual behavior and abortion of children in the womb.”

I agree Christine. Having been an active lesbian for more than 20 years, and having given a baby up for adoption, your statement of fact touched my heart deeply.

My behavior and thoughts as a female homosexual were an abomination in the eyes of God. I am thankful the Messiah delivered me from the behavior and three years later set me free from the identity of a lesbian.

Most likely I would have chosen abortion rather than adoption if abortion had been legal in the State of Florida when I became pregnant because of immoral heterosexual behavior. I am thankful today that abortion was illegal in Florida during my pregnancy.

G-d bless you, my friend for speaking truth. LIFE is about Jesus Christ and him crucified. Death is about living in sin. Keep shining. The fragrance you give the world is beautiful to those who are being saved. It is the stench of death to those who are perishing.

I remain yours in the Messiah. (ss)

Christinewjc said...

Jesus is our Deliverer Susan! Thank God that he saved you and me from our sins!

Being set free from former wrong behavior is a sign that He has graciously saved us and we are being sanctified through Him!

Like you, I would NEVER want to go back to living in sin. It is death - and the famous ploy of the enemy of our souls. Satan always uses the same techniques - just in various ways on each individual in order to keep him/her in the bondage of sin. If only those who are still in bondage would realize this!! But all we can do is preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified to those who are perishing and continue to pray that they will one day see the Light - that being Jesus Christ Himself - and escape that stench of death that you so accurately stated in your comment.

Someone once said, "the truth shall set you free - but it's going to hurt first." I think that sin hurts us all and since Jesus is the only way to be cleansed from it and its consequences, we must continue to "earnestly contend for the faith" as Jude instructs us.

God bless you Susan.

Love in Christ,
Christine

cryandhowl said...

Good morning Christine!
Steve here (x09). Just thought I'd stop by and say "hello" and refresh my soul by reading your latest post. I surely hope you and your family are doing well. I'll be visiting more often as things have gotten much better here in Texas.