By Eugene Crawley
Throughout the years the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity and simplicity, as well as its completeness, has been attacked. Men have sought to destroy and set at nought “the power of God unto salvation”. This evidently was true in Paul’s day, for we find a statement of his in Phil. 1:17 to this effect, “. . . knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel.” So, it was evident to them that Paul had a fixed purpose, one carefully thought out and expressed, not only in word, but in action. This was manifested faithfully by Paul on a number of occasions by his defense of the word of God.
It was not his purpose to defend the religion of the Jews, in which he was so well instructed and in which he excelled, or the various positions handed down by tradition. His avowed determination was to defend the truth and he was “set” for it. In defending the truth, he defended the positions that the faithful are to hold.
Like Paul, we should “be set,” not for the defense of inherited positions, pet projects, or previously espoused doctrines, but for the defense of the gospel of Christ, for the truth that “frees from sin.” To do so involves learning God’s will (and how badly some need to do so) that we may know what we stand for and why, and that because it is authorized in the Divine Scriptures.
Indeed, our position should be, and must be, to defend the truth, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. When this is our position, we are at liberty to accept the truth as we learn it, and are not bound to try to defend and justify an unscriptural position in which we may find ourselves. When one takes a stand for a certain position, he is obligated to attempt to defend it, regardless of what the word of God teat es. One can very easily find himself in difficult circumstances by not being careful about what he accepts.
Truly there is a difference in defending the truth, and in defending a certain position or practice. To defend the truth is not only easier, but it is the honorable thing to do; so, may we determine to “earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints” (Dude 3). By so doing we can save ourselves and them who hear us (1 Tim. 4:16). To do otherwise is to tread on dangerous ground which leads farther away from the Lord.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 30, p. 482
July 31, 1980