Contend for the faith


I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16)

So said the apostle Paul, whose life work was to address the issues of the pagan spirituality in the Greek culture he lived in, and present the challenge of the unique claims of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The letters Paul wrote to the churches he founded were often a plea to the new believers to remain true to the faith they were baptised into.  With regard to the Judaisers, who erroneously preached that the Gentile Christians needed to become Jews in order to receive salvation, Paul said:

Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil (Philippians 3:2)

He was just as strong in combatting the Gnostic heresies which were rife in the Hellenistic culture of the first century AD.  His exhortation to the Church was:

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8)

In the introduction to the book of Jude in the Zondervan New International Version it states that ‘the dangers facing the Church at this time were not those of outright persecution and extinction but of heretics and distorters of the faith.’  Jude felt compelled to write a warning:

I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.  For certain men who condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you.  They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a licence for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord (Jude 3-4)

Today, our Western culture is reinventing a world increasingly similar to the Greek culture of the Early Church – yet the Gospel of Jesus Christ remains the same.  Paul’s and Jude’s exhortations are just as relevant to us.  Whilst there is no overt, full-blown persecution, Christianity is being marginalised and the Gospel is being distorted.

When the Early Church was persecuted by the religious and pagan authorities of their day and they were forced into hiding, they identified one another by the fish symbol, a Greek mnemonic meaning ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour’.  This was their creed, and thousands met their death for defending it. 

The institutional Church today invites ridicule and contempt from society.  They see division in the ranks, denominationalism, conflicting messages, weak leadership and compromise.  No wonder their opinion is so low.  Ask the ‘man in the street’ what Christians believe, and if he has any idea at all, he could come up with a multitude of answers, but probably not anything so precise and succinct as the Early Church creed.

The story of the Bible confirms that there will always be a ‘remnant’ of believers who remain true to the faith in every generation, who contend for the truth and power of the Gospel and defend it.  This is the task of the organic Church, and here at Christian Spectrum we’re committed to fight in this battle – a battle that has never been fiercer than at this moment in history.

Hebrew spirituality

The task of the organic, vibrant Church today is challenging, but no more so than the challenge the Israelites faced, when God called them to model to the nations around what relationship with God looked like.  Theirs was not just a set of beliefs or instructions – it was who they were and how they lived that was the illustration of a lively relationship with the living God.  Similarly, we’re called to demonstrate to our world what relationship with Jesus looks like, by our lifestyle and our proclamation.

Where the Church or society deviates from the faith delivered by Jesus to his disciples and thence to the growing Church, our task is to contend for the truth of the Gospel and declare in word and deed that the Kingdom of God is amongst us.  Unless we stand in the gap, spiritual blindness, apostasy and deception will increase unabated.

The Bride of Christ

The culmination of the Bible message is the wedding supper of the Lamb, when the Bride (the Church) has made herself ready for Jesus, her Bridegroom King.  She is robed in white garments, a stunning testimony to the saving work of Jesus on the cross and her determination to defend the pure Gospel.  We long to see the Bride revealed in all her splendour and power, ready and longing for the Bridegroom to come.  We’ll do all we can to hasten that day.

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