Defenders of the Faith?
Beverly Hills, California
Perhaps the big failure of those throughout past history who professed to serve God was found to be in their lack of convictions. So time and time and time again the Israelites lapsed into idolatry. This same problem confronts those professing to follow Christ today. The lack of convictions foster covetousness, and covetousness is idolatry.
There are several facets that might be considered in this weakness, but the ones we are now taking into account have to do with those, primarily, who preach and claim to be great defenders of the faith, and the elders who have the oversight of the congregation. These too often fail to understand their obligation through ignorance of the Bible or cowardly shrink from their duty when a problem becomes serious and a defense is needed. Just let the situation affect their family, their close friends, or their pocketbook, or things they covet, and they shrink back, forget about the cause of Christ, and rise to champion their own cause. Unlike Paul's admonition in 2 Tim. 4:7, they would rather switch than put up a fight for God's word, This is one of the big reasons so many have gone liberal, and are in apostasy. Time and time again one will find preachers, elders, and even members of the church that will recommend some preacher for a work, when they know that he is not worthy of recommendation or even fit to preach. Preaching the word of God is a sacred trust. Too often the one being considered for the new position will -pull a "snow job" on his friends and get letters to prove his worthiness and good standing. These are often accepted without further investigation by the church seeking the preacher. Thus the work much of the time is laid "wide open" to false teaching and brain-washing techniques. Then after a few months the church is confronted with problems and, perhaps, a split that is never healed. With heartaches and confusion that confronts the members, the big question they ask is, "Where did we go wrong?"
The big "cliches" used as excuses to justify their actions in recommending a preacher are, that he is a "nice guy," or a "good fellow," or that he is misunderstood and will not preach his "pet hobby" from the pulpit, or that they wanted to help him out. Sometimes it is that one church wants to get rid of him, so they push him off on someone else, and sponsor him to ruin some other congregation with his idiosyncrasies, apostate ideas, or sinful living. They never stop to think about what they are doing to others that might be led to stumble, or that Christ wants his church kept pure and without blemish, or that the church is a divine institution.
Is the statement that Paul made in Phil. 1:16, where he said, "I am set for the defense of the gospel," a phrase to be ignored? Or is the command to "put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil," found in Eph. 6:11, to be taken lightly? The New Testament gives many statements urging the Christians to contend for the faith, or to "fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on life eternal," as in 1 Tim. 6:12. Are such statements as these to be passed over and pushed aside as not really obligatory or of any consequence? Are so many blinded and cannot understand what it means to "fight for the faith?" We are commanded to "seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matt. 6:33). So, if God is not first in our consideration and defense, we are not fit to be considered soldiers, and not fit to be citizens of the kingdom of God. Do we have courage only for the defense of fleshly reasonings and selfish aims? It is sickening to see how many, supposedly followers of Christ and defenders of the faith, play "dead," and show that they do not have any more intestinal fortitude to defend the faith than a proverbial "chicken," when the time comes to be counted. This is one of the big facto`s that is causing so much weakness, controversy, and unfaithfulness in the church today and is leading to liberalism and apostasy.
So our attitude toward the word of God will determine how we will fare when we face the judgment. Will the Lord say to you or to .me, "ye workers of iniquity, depart from me I never knew you?" Being defenders of the faith is not a cowardly, part-time, halfhearted, lackadaisical, careless, hypocritical attitude toward God and his word, but a complete dedication to Christ and his cause.
Truth Magazine XIX: 41, p. 652