Contending for the Faith - Personal ExamplesBy Chad Wagner on Sunday, September 6, 2009.
Contending for the Faith - Some Personal Examples I. The mandate to contend for the faith. 1. God has commanded us in the scripture to contend for the faith (Jud 3). Contend - 1. intr. To strive earnestly; to make vigorous efforts; to endeavour, to struggle. Earnestly - 1. In an earnest manner; in a manner indicating earnestness. Earnest - (adj) 1. Of persons: Serious, as opposed to trifling; usually in emphatic sense, intensely serious, gravely impassioned, in any purpose, feeling, conviction, or action; sincerely zealous. Of feelings, convictions, etc.: Intense, ardent. Of actions or words: Proceeding from or implying intensity of feeling or conviction. Ardent - 1. Burning, on fire, red-hot; fiery, hot, parching. Zealous - 1. Full of or incited by zeal; characterized by zeal or passionate ardour; fervently devoted to the promotion of some person or cause; intensely earnest; actively enthusiastic. 2. We are to strive for the faith of the gospel (Phi 1:27). Strive - 1. intr. To be in a state of variance or mutual hostility. Variance - II. 6. a. The state or fact of disagreeing or falling out; discord, dissension, contention, debate. Hostility - 1. a. The state or fact of being hostile; hostile action exercised by one community, state, or power against another; esp. such as involves war. Hostile - 1. a. Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of an enemy; pertaining to or engaged in actual hostilities. A. As seen in the definition, striving involves warfare (Eph 6:10-17; 1Ti 1:18; 2Ti 2:3-5). B. This warfare is spiritual, not carnal (2Co 10:3-5). C. Not only must we strive against adversaries, but also against ourselves (Luk 13:24). D. Make sure striving is done lawfully (2Ti 2:5). E. Make sure striving is done to be profitable (2Ti 2:14). II. The Biblical examples of contending for the faith. 1. Our Lord Jesus spent much of His ministry disputing with the religionists of His day (Mat 23:13-36; Joh 8:21-59). A. Jesus contended for the faith to stop the mouths of the gainsayers (Tit 1:9-11). B. Jesus’ disputes caused men’s mouths to be stopped (Mat 22:22; Mat 22:33; Mat 22:46). Astonished - 1. Bereft of sensation; stunned, benumbed. Bereft - 1. Forcibly deprived, robbed, having lost the possession or use of; void of. Stunned - 1. Rendered unconscious or dazed, as by a blow, etc.; astounded, bewildered. Benumbed - Rendered torpid or numb; deprived of strength or the power of motion by a chilling influence. C. Jesus’ disputations also often resulted in his enemies trying to kill Him (Joh 8:59; Joh 10:31; Luk 4:28-29). 2. Paul, our apostle and example, strove and contended for the faith (Rom 15:20). A. Shortly after his conversion, Paul disputed with the Grecians (Act 9:29). Dispute (v) - 1. To contend with opposing arguments or assertions; to debate or discourse argumentatively; to discuss, argue, hold disputation; often, to debate in a vehement manner or with altercation about something. B. Paul and Barnabas disputed with the Jews about circumcision (Act 15:2). Dissension - 1. Disagreement in opinion; esp. such disagreement as produces strife or contention; discord; an instance of this, a violent disagreement or quarrel arising from difference of opinion. C. Paul repeatedly disputed with the Jews in the synagogues (Act 17:17; Act 19:8-9). D. These were religious people. Devout - 1. Devoted to divine worship or service; solemn and reverential in religious exercises; pious, religious. 3. Though we are given examples to contend for the faith, not all disputing is acceptable. A. We are not to strive without cause (Pro 3:30). B. Try a soft answer before a knock-down drag-out fight (Pro 15:1; Pro 25:15). C. We are not to dispute over matters of liberty (Rom 14:1). D. We are not to dispute with brethren (Phi 2:14; 1Co 3:3). E. We are not to dispute with men of corrupt minds (1Ti 6:3-5; Pro 14:7). F. Don’t dispute with the devil; give it to God (Jud 9). III. Some personal experiences contending for the faith and lessons learned. 1. Defending the doctrine of election and realizing the importance of primary meanings. A. While perusing the church website, Mr. Doe (not actual name) came across a TFTD on The False Savior: Free Will and took issue with the doctrine of election. B. During the correspondence, it became apparent that Mr. Doe was not using the Biblical method of Bible interpretation, specifically giving the sense of words (Neh 8:8). Sense - III. Meaning, signification. 19. a. The meaning or signification of a word or phrase; also, any one of the different meanings of a word, or that which it bears in a particular collocation or context. C. This is a common problem which many people have: they simply assign a meaning to a word that fits with their preconceived doctrinal position, even though the meaning might be totally fallacious. D. Many times, contending for the faith may be as simple as defining words of the subject at hand in their primary meanings. E. Consider the assertions made by Mr. Doe about the elect, and the refutation of them using the sense of the word: i. “Elect is not those elected to Salvation.” (Mr.Doe’s 2nd Letter) ii. “We are called His elect not because He picked and chose before time began, but because being God, He knows who would be those that would come.” (Mr.Doe’s 3rd Letter) iii. Refutation: Elect (n). - 1. Picked out, chosen; also, chosen for excellence or by preference; select, choice. Also absol. a person or persons chosen. (Oxford English Dictionary) 2. a. spec. in Theol. Chosen by God, esp. for salvation or eternal life. Opposed to reprobate. Often absol. with plural sense, the elect. (Oxford English Dictionary) F. Consider the assertion made by Mr. Doe about predestination, and the refutation of it by using the sense of the word: i. “If you say that God has chose or predestined some to be saved, then He chose the rest to go to Hell.” (Mr.Doe’s 3rd Letter) ii. Refutation: Predestinate (v). 1. Theol. Of God: To foreordain by a divine decree or purpose: a. to salvation or eternal life; to elect. (OED) 2. Defending the inerrancy and accuracy of the KJV and learning the importance of primary meanings and comparing spiritual things with spiritual versus the foolishness of going to the Greek to cast doubt on the KJV. A. While contending with a pastor friend and defending the text of the KJV, the argument was raised that the KJV is not an accurate translation of the Greek NT for the following reason: i. Jesus in (Joh 21:15-17) asked Peter if he loved Him thrice and Peter responded that he loved Jesus thrice. ii. The first two times Jesus used the Greek word “agapao”, but the third time Jesus used the word “phileo”, but the KJV used “lovest” all three times. Peter responded all three times using the Greek word “phileo” which is translated as “love” all three times in the KJV. iii. The Greek word “agapao” was alleged to mean a deep sacrificial love and “phileo” was a different kind of love, more of a friendship love, therefore the KJV did not preserve the original meaning of the text. B. Refutation #1: Show that the sense of the word “love” encompasses the sense of both “agapao” and “phileo”: Agapao (G25)- to love (in a social or moral sense): - (be-) love (-ed). Compare G5368 (Strong’s Concordance) Phileo (G5368)- to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), that is, have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while G25 is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety: the two thus stand related very much as G2309 and G1014, or as G2372 and G3563 respectively; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head); specifically to kiss (as a mark of tenderness): - kiss, love. (Strong’s Concordance) Love- 1. a. trans. With personal obj. or one capable of personification: To bear love to; to entertain a great affection or regard for; to hold dear. C. The primary ENGLISH definition of “love” shows that it includes both the senses of “agapao” and “phileo”, which proves that it is an accurate translation of BOTH Greek words. D. Refutation #2: Use another Biblical method of Bible interpretation, which is to compare spiritual things with spiritual (1Co 2:13), and show that “agapao” and “phileo” are sometimes used interchangeably in the Bible. i. Jesus said the Pharisees loved (agapao) the uppermost seats in the synagogues (Luk 11:43). “Woe3759 unto you,5213 Pharisees!5330 for3754 ye love25 the3588 uppermost seats4410 in1722 the3588 synagogues,4864 and2532 greetings783 in1722 the3588 markets.58” In a parallel passage, Jesus said that the Pharisees loved (phileo) the uppermost rooms at feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues in (Mat 23:6-7) and (Luk 20:46). “And5037 love5368 the3588 uppermost rooms4411 at1722 feasts,1173 and2532 the3588 chief seats4410 in1722 the3588 synagogues,4864 And2532 greetings783 in1722 the3588 markets,58 and2532 to be called2564 of5259 men,444 Rabbi,4461 Rabbi.4461” (Mat 23:6-7) “Beware4337 of575 the3588 scribes,1122 which desire2309 to walk4043 in1722 long robes,4749 and2532 love5368 greetings783 in1722 the3588 markets,58 and2532 the highest seats4410 in1722 the3588 synagogues,4864 and2532 the chief rooms4411 at1722 feasts;1173” (Luk 20:46) We can see here in (Greek) words to plain too deny that “agapao” and “phileo” can be, and are, used interchangeably in the Bible. ii. The Bible says that whom the Lord loveth (agapao), he chastens in (Heb 12:6). “For1063 whom3739 the Lord2962 loveth25 he chasteneth,3811 and1161 scourgeth3146 every3956 son5207 whom3739 he receiveth.3858” (Heb 12:6) In the very same context, Jesus says that He rebukes and chastens as many as He loves (phileo) in (Rev 3:19). “As many as3745, (1437) I1473 love,5368 I rebuke1651 and2532 chasten:3811 be zealous2206 therefore,3767 and2532 repent.3340” (Rev 3:19) Again, we can see here in (Greek) words to plain too deny that “agapao” and “phileo” can be, and are, used interchangeably in the Bible. iii. The same can be shown concerning the disciple that Jesus loved (agapao) in (Joh 19:26; 21:7; 21:20) that he also loved (phileo) in (Joh 20:2). iv. Jesus’ love for Lazarus and the Father’s love for Jesus are also examples of this. 3. Defending the Biblical doctrine of remarriage after divorce due to the spouse committing fornication, and once again realizing the importance of primary meanings and comparing scripture with itself. A. A person that I came in contact with was convinced by the teaching of her pastor that a person could not be remarried after divorce for ANY reason, unless the spouse died. i. Knowing that Jesus contradicted such a teaching in (Mat 19:9; 5:32), an argument was made that in these verses, Jesus was speaking of people who were espoused, but not married and therefore if a man that was espoused to a woman found her to have committed fornication, he could put her away and marry another without being an adulterer. ii. The cornerstone of this argument was the fact that Jesus used the word “fornication” instead of “adultery”, and therefore was referring to unmarried people since only an unmarried person can commit fornication. The Argument: “This verse is talking about people who are espoused to marry but aren't married.” (Ms. Doe) “If this verse were talking about marriage, God would have used the word "adultery" because that is the married version of fornication. A married person cannot commit fornication because the word is speaking of having sex before marriage, and clearly the person is already married if they are cheating on their wife or husband, so the word "adultery" is used.” (Ms. Doe) B. Once again, the refutation to this argument is 1) primary meanings, 2) comparing scripture with itself, and 3) sound reasoning. i. The primary meaning of “fornication”: Fornication- 1. Voluntary sexual intercourse between a man (in restricted use, an unmarried man) and an unmarried woman. In Scripture extended to adultery. (OED) Fornication- 1. The incontinence or lewdness of unmarried persons, male or female; also, the criminal conversation of a MARRIED man with an unmarried woman (Websters Unabridged Dictionary, 1892). C. The context of (Mat 5:32) is (Mat 5:31), which is a quote from (Deu 24:1) which is speaking of MARRIAGE, not espousal D. The context of (Mat 19:1-9) is marriage, not espousal. i. In verses 4-5, Jesus quotes (Gen 1:27 and 2:24) referring to Adam and Eve. a. Adam and Eve were MARRIED, not espoused. b. This can be proven by the fact that they were “one flesh” which is terminology describing sexual union between a man and a woman (1Co 6:15-16). ii. Jesus said the man that shall put away his wife and marry another commits ADULTERY (Mat 19:9). Adultery- 1. Violation of the marriage bed; the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with one of the opposite sex, whether unmarried, or married to another (the former case being technically designated single, the latter double adultery). iii. How can a person that is not married commit adultery? iv. The fact that the man would be committing adultery proves that he was married and violating his marriage bed.