Contend To The EndTuesday, March 15, 2011
There are things worth dying for. The gospel is at the top. Regardless of what others may say or what seems most culturally acceptable, the gospel remains the power of God to deal with the penalty, power, and eventually presence of sin and is therefore worth giving your life to and for.
This is super important to remember at a time when so many preachers are calling into question (and even mocking) cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith that brothers and sisters throughout history have literally taken a bullet for, burned for, lost their children for, been raped for, lost limbs for and thrown in prison for. In light of this, I can’t help but think of Jude 1:
I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed…who pervert the grace of our God…
Perverting the grace of God is serious business–messing with the good news is ultimately very bad news.
Both theological liberalism and theological legalism “pervert the grace of our God.” Both are equally dangerous because both ignore the gospel. Liberals pervert the grace of God by turning it into God’s soft tolerance and refusal to judge anybody for anything. Legalists pervert it by maintaining a cautions, even suspicious, posture toward grace–championing the need to “keep it in check”, sustaining a “yes grace…but” position that keeps moralism swirling around in our hearts and churches.
At the root of both theological liberalism and theological legalism is unbelief–failure to believe the gospel of God’s grace in all of its glory, radicality, hilarity, and scandal.
Speaking into this failure to believe the gospel, which inevitably leads to a failure to preach the gospel, B.B. Warfield exhorts us with beautiful, urgent passion and clarity:
When we really believe the Gospel of the Grace of God—when we really believe that it is the power of God unto salvation, the only power of salvation in this wicked world of ours—it is a comparatively easy thing to preach it, to preach it in its purity, to preach it in the face of a scoffing, truculent and murdering world. Here is the secret. . . . Believe this Gospel, and you can and will preach it. Let men say what they will, and do what they will—let them injure, ridicule, persecute, slay—believe this Gospel and you will preach it.
Men often say of some element of the Gospel: “I can’t preach that.” Sometimes they mean that the world will not receive this or that. Sometimes they mean that the world will not endure this or that. Sometimes they mean that they cannot so preach this or that as to win the respect or the sympathy or the acceptance of the world. The Gospel cannot be preached? Cannot be preached? It can be preached if you will believe it. Here is the root of all your difficulties. You do not fully believe this Gospel! Believe it! Believe it and then it will preach itself!
God has not sent us into the world to say the most plausible things we can think of; to touch men with what they already believe. He has sent us to preach unpalatable truths to a world lying in wickedness; apparently absurd truths to men, proud of their intellects; mysterious truths to men who are carnal and cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. Shall we despair? Certainly, if it is left to us not only to plant and to water but also to give the increase. Certainly not, if we appeal to and depend upon the Spirit of faith.
But let Him move on our hearts and we will believe these truths; and, even as it is written, I believed and therefore have I spoken, we also will believe and therefore speak. Let Him but move on the hearts of our hearers and they too will believe what He has led us to speak. We cannot proclaim to the world that the house is afire—it is a disagreeable thing to say, scarcely to be risked in the presence of those whose interest it is not to believe it? But believe it, and how quickly you rush forth to shout the unpalatable truth! So believe it and we shall assert to the world that it is lost in its sin, and rushing down to an eternal doom; that in Christ alone is there redemption; and through the Spirit alone can men receive this redemption. What care we if it be unpalatable, if it be true? For if it be true, it is urgent.
Christian, believe the gospel…and then preach the gospel! You may lose life and limb, sacrifice reputation and “relevance”, but the gospel remains God’s power to set the captives free. Don’t forget it. Don’t ignore it. It’s worth dying for.