Continuing the Work of the Church
As we look at the early church, the start of Christianity, we see how God used men to lead the fight for sound doctrine. These men were bold in their faith, passionate, and stopping at nothing for the sake of the gospel. As false teachings bombarded the church, they would work tediously to preserve the correct gospel, fully trusting in God as they faced much opposition.
Is today's church doing enough to “contend for the faith” as is stated in Jude 3? Have we as modern day Christians become too comfortable with our faith—not a comfort that gives us boldness to contend for it as it should be, but a comfort that makes us sit back and watch our churches get ripped apart? Have we stood by and watched as people have “crept in unnoticed,” leading the church astray?
It seems that in our modern church culture, we don’t like confrontation. In turn, we are at a stalemate in our Christian faith where the only way forward will cause confrontation. We are unwilling to contend for our faith which so deeply convicts us. It does not seem profitable for us to give up our comforts for the sake of correct doctrine and the gospel. We would be seen as fools to take the risk to defend our faith in such a way that could cause us to lose our earthly treasures—or at least that is what the world thinks is treasure. We are prone to hide and cower under excuses that seem fair to us in order to save our “worldly reputation.”
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 9:38
The church is not a building that people make for a place of worship. Instead, it is a body of believers that have been called by God from their sinful state through faith in Jesus Christ. We as believers can easily fall into the error of putting all our focus into a building we call “church,” instead of focusing on our builder, Jesus Christ, who is the cornerstone of the church.
Being a believer in Jesus Christ isn’t always easy, we might face adversity and could lose everything dear to us. I like how the apostle Paul puts it in Philippians 1:29-30:
“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have”
The apostles knew what it was like to have to contend for the faith. In Acts 2:1-21 we read how the church was born at the day of Pentecost and the apostles led the early church. They were bold with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and they understood that it might cost them everything, but they were unwilling to give up proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we move throughout the New Testament, we see how they were imprisoned, beaten, ridiculed, and martyred. We can only be amazed and deeply humbled at the adversity they faced, and how they suffered all for the sake of the Christ and His church.
As the church grew rapidly, so did the problems within the church. The apostles did not stop their proclamation of the gospel, nor did they stop teaching correct doctrine—they moved forward no matter the sufferings. If only we as a body of Christ, “The Church,” would not let the world so easily hinder us from proclaiming the truth of Scripture as they did. Although these were men that had directly seen and been with the greatest teacher, Jesus, they were still called to follow Him no matter the cost.
After the apostles had died or been martyred, there was quite a period where false teaching gained some ground. The sixteenth-century Reformation began a new era in time, where, once again, a group of passionate biblically-centred Christians would not stop proclaiming the gospel at any cost. As they began the Reformation, they fought hard against the traditions of the Catholic Church, and once again reminded the people that Scripture is the only source of proper belief, and faith in Jesus Christ, not works, is the only way to salvation.
“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine” Titus 2:1
A simple but challenging verse. One verse before Titus 2:1, Paul tells Titus, “They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works.” Sometimes our greatest battles are within our own congregations, so we must be prepared to fight for sound doctrine. May we be as bold in our faith as those who went before us, willing to sacrifice all for the sake of the gospel.