First Prize: College Contending for God’s Word

A fight is going on.  Christian, do you see it?  One by one, valuable things are being stripped from you.  This is no ordinary fight; it is much more important.  The moment you use human weapons or strategies you are done; you fail.  This is a war over your worship, your life, your very soul; this fight is over your Bible, your word from God.  The devil realizes its implications better than you and will do everything in his power to stop it from achieving its purpose. Today there is a compelling need to contend for the faith. That serpent of old knows his time is short and he is working harder than ever before.

James MacDonald writes “God’s people who prefer contentment to contending sit by and watch” as these things are taken away from them.  Our fight begins with the recognition of the power of the Word of God which destroys all opposition. It is won only if you use the Sword of the Spirit and the prayer of faith. Any other way will fail. Christian, this is a call to pick up your dusty sword and sharpen it, for your opponent has already penetrated the walls!  Step up to the battle lines armed with that Word of God and contend for the faith.  Will you be like so much of the world and promote contentment and compromise, or will you be a contending Christian?

In our contending for God’s Word, first we need to realize who ourenemy is and his strategies, then we must see the compelling need, and finally, our response to it.

Our Enemy

To start with, we need to know our enemy.  What team does not know their opponent before engaging in a contest?  We are dealing with no one but that serpent of old, Satan. In debating with the atheist, we debate Satan himself. In arguing with a false teacher, we argue with Satan himself.  When heresy arises in the church, we deal with Satan himself. When temptations arise throughout our lives, we are being tempted by Satan himself.  If we do not acknowledge this, then we will be inclined to think that God is tempting us, or God brought this sin upon us (James 1).  Much more, if we do not acknowledge that our enemy is the devil, we will not know how to respond to his attacks and we will underestimate him.  You see the importance in acknowledging our enemy.

Satan’s Strategies

What good is it to acknowledge our enemy, however, if we do not know his strategies?  Christian, you are not left uninformed; your Leader has gone through the devil’s temptations and revealed to you his strategies.  He has left a Book for us in which He shows the devil’s strategies and how toovercome them.  That Book is the Bible, our Word from God.  Satan wants us to follow him in rebelling against God by uplifting the self above God (Gen. 3).  Bill Pride points out Satan’s chief goal: “A tiny crack in the dike can lead to a breach that floods the countryside. It only takes a spark to start a raging fire.  Satan knows this and that is why he is always trying to pry the church off her firm foundation on the rock.”  That rock is Jesus Christ and His Word (1 Cor. 10:4, Matt. 7:24, 25).  If Satan can replace that foundation with the self, if Christ and His Word are not central to our lives in everything we do, he will have won (Matt. 7:26, 27).

Satan seeks to achieve his goal in several ways that are described for us in the Bible.  Ever since the Garden of Eden, he attempts to undermine God’s Word.  That will only continue to increase.  Satan tries to get us to doubt the straightforwardness of the Bible saying, “Hath God indeed said…?” (Gen. 3:1).

For a while, it looked as though Satan had succeeded.  The Roman Catholic Church believed that the interpretation of the Bible lay solely with the church. However, God in His grace caused Martin Luther to say, “Unless I am convinced by Sacred Scripture…I cannot recant.”   He had read the Bible personally and seen the errors the church was covering up.  He showed the need for personal study of God’s Word and not just leaving it to the leaders of the church.  Satan uses false teachers to distract us from the truth.There are several ways to recognize false teachers whom Satan uses to try to deceive us.  Jude gives some practical suggestions. As we have seen already, a false teacher will undermine God’s authority (Num. 16:3).  Jude also recognized that many times the false teacher will arise from within the church.  We may find this hard to believe, but Satan provided the example, once being an angel, but falling (Rev. 12:9).
Another common characteristic is found in the example of Satan approaching Eve instead of Adam (Gen 3).  God created man as the head of his family, and yet the devil did not approach the head, but went through different means (Eph. 5:23).  Paul warned Timothy of this “For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins” (1 Tim. 3:6, 7).  Evil teaching worms its way into your homes.  From there it enters into the church. Pastor Roberts, in How to Kill a Church Without Trying, states “The Christian Life is the only one I know where you don’t get a vacation.  Why?  Because the enemy never takes a vacation.”

The Rampant Need

Satan has not stopped working. Paul warns Timothy that “perilous times will come; For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:1). Doesn’t this describe our generation? Christ has warned us that “many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matt. 24:11). The call Jude gives is very relevant in a day where thechurch is undergoing the same problem as the church was in his day.  He saw the need to contend for the faith because “certain men have crept in unnoticed…” (Jude 4).  He implies that the need has grown rampantly.

As the church grows, troublemakers will come. oday, these men have crept into our churches and we cannot detect them very well. They are as wolves in sheep’s skin (Matt. 7:15). hey do not use such words as “Hath God indeed said…” per se, insteadthey “turn the grace of our God into lewdness” (Jude 4).  They emphasize having fun on this playground called life because they misinterpret the grace of God. They think that Christ has already won the battle, so we as Christians have nothing to do.

It is true that Christ has crushed Satan’s head with His death.  He has won the battle.  However, Satan still roams around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour until Christ comes again (1 Pet. 5:8).  As long as Christ tarries, false prophets will try to get us to compromise, little by little allowing more and more to be deemed as acceptable.  They do not see the need to contend for the faith.At the heart of the matter is the replacing of the Word of God in our lives.  If Christ has won the battle then why do we need the Bible? Deceitful desires have taken the place of it. We need to do as Martin Luther and take every thought captive in obedience to Christ.  Are we listening to music that is exalting man instead of God, watching a movie that appeals to our desires for fun but dishonors God and His Creation, or talking about vain things when it would be so much more profitable to be discussing spiritual things?

We are coming to that point where we no longer think for ourselves.  Instead we look to movies to think for us and to tell us right from wrong.  So what if our friends think it is not cool to take sermon notes, to sing, or to live for Christ.  Christian, you have your best Friend in Heaven who will never call you not cool (John 15:13).

If you think these issues sound trivial in comparison to doctrinal issues and ask why not argue doctrinal issues instead, then you have succumb to Satan‘s attacks. He wants us not to worry about the simplicity of studying the Bible.  If Satan can get us to forget about the Bible or revise it to our liking, he will have succeeded and our Sword will be rendered useless.  If he can delay our response to God’s Word he will have rendered our Sword useless, as well.

J.I. Packer states “If I were the devil, one of my first aims would be to stop folk from digging into the Bible.”  Look around and you will see that in our worship services, Bible studies, and basically all parts of our lives, we lack a spirit of earnestness, intensity, and fervor because we do not believe that anything significant is at stake.

Today the Word of God is replaced by screens in worship; its words are compromised in false translations which are gender neutral, adding and subtracting from it as they please; the centrality of God in worship has been replaced with instruments, drama, and decorations.  We even go as far as replacing the centrality of the Word of God with a singer or two.  In every other item in our worship either we interact with God or God with us; however, in special music, only those who are performing are interacting with God. How much better would it be if the entire congregation would praise God instead of just one or two!  Again, these items may seem insignificant, even trivial; however, if we allow one spark, a flame will start, one crack in the dike and a flood will come.

How long can we wait before we say something about the gross mistreatment of God’s Word in these new translations that are Man’s word instead of God’s Word. How long will we continue to uphold entertainment in our man-centered worship of God, lettingSatan accomplish his goal of delaying our response?  How long will we try to use our human means before yielding them to God and submitting to His power?

Let it be said of us that we were not content on this playground called Life, but chose to speak out about sin, even if it means that our friends call us sinful for not being content.  By God’s grace, He has called me to be a con tender rather than be content with sin, and I believe He gives that call to every Christian.  These men whom Satan works through may be in your Bible study, your youth group, maybe even in your family; Christian, does your radar detect them?

Our Response

Do not despair!  You are not left to yourself in the fight; God has given us what is needed for the battle. He has given us His Word: “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17), “sharper than a two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12); “It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please” (Isaiah 55:11).  Jude tells us to “build yourselves up on your most holy faith” (Jude 20).

Charles Spurgeon gives us the basis of our fight, our contending: “The truth is like a lion; whoever heard of defending a lion?  Just turn it lose and it will defend itself.”  This does not mean that we have nothing to do.  We have that great task of letting the Word of God loose in this generation. When problems arise, we need to respond with the Word of God, not defending it with any human means.  We need to attack false doctrines with the Word of God, not our words.  If we let His Word loose it will accomplish what He desires.  How our fight would be different if we had Scripture to respond to every circumstance that arises in our lives!

In order to respond with the Word of God, we need to have it written upon our hearts.  Paul tells us to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16).  We should say as Spurgeon did “It is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you.”  This is done by reading the Bible and memorizing it.

It was said of John Bunyan “Why this man is a living Bible!  Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline…He cannot speak without quoting a text.” How true that should be of every Christian!  If all Christians would do that, Satan could not touch us.
When Christ was tempted He wounded the serpent three times, saying “It is written…” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10).  Let it be said of us that our blood was Bibline.  If we are attacked, we respond by bleeding the Bible.  Instead of swearing or getting mad, we respond with Scripture. Christ could have been mad at Satan undermining His ability, but instead, He responded with Scripture.  How should you be able to tell if someone is a Christian but if their blood is Bibline?

Above all, Satan is defeated when we are on our knees in prayer. Jude advises us to start “praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20). Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).  Christ says “Watch and pray” (Matt. 26:41).  If we are in constant communion with God, the devil cannot even approach us.  Therefore our fight should be rooted in prayer.

Spurgeon speaks of the importance of prayer: “I always feel that there is something wrong if I go without prayer for even half an hour in the day.  I cannot under stand how a Christian man can go from morning to evening, without prayer.  I cannot comprehend how he lives, and how he fights the battle of life without asking the guardian care of God while the arrows of temptation are flying so thickly around him.”

When I think of praying every half hour, it seems like a lot, but really it is not.  If we truly love God and He is our Father and Best Friend, we should be in constant communion with Him.   We should be constantly asking Him for help as the devil’s darts are flying about us.  How our fight with the devil would change if we were in prayer every thirty minutes!

The siege ram is coming in the distance.  It may not look too dangerous but each hit will bring you closer and closer to destruction. A wolf in sheep’s clothing wants to get in.  Will you let it in?  A woman seeks to become a leader in the church or have a say in its leadership.  A man in your church seeks to increase the amount of singing, taking away from the Word.  How will you respond? Will you put your life on the line to stop heresy?  Will you risk being ridiculed by your friends?  Will you be content or will you contend for the faith?

The need is there and it will only increase until Christ’s second coming.  The means are there too; God has not left us to ourselves. Stand up Christian and fight!  The gates of hell shall not prevail against you if Christ is on your side!  If you think that something is wrong, stand, even if you are all alone.  Martin Luther stood alone, and look how God worked through Him.  “Put on the armor of Good that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:11, 13).  Test all things so that one day God will say of you “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21), you have contended for the faith, for My Word.  Here is “the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12)!  Christian, step up to the battle lines, armed with the Word of God and contend for the faith!  Lord, unleash your power on the world through us!

Bibliography

Piper, John When I Don’t Desire God. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004.

Pride, Bill, Flirting with the Devil, Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988.

Sproul, R.C. Knowing Scripture. Madison, WI: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, 1977.

How to Kill a Church Without Even Trying by Pastor Bill Roberts

Reflections on Doctrine: Authority of Scripture by James MacDonald

Mr. Jason Berkenpas lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He attends Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.

Outlook Index
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007