Are You Contending for the Faith or Just Being Contentious?
"And how shall they preach, except they be sent?" Romans 10:15a
When a believer contends for the faith that was once delivered to the saints it is a fight of the good fight of faith and laboring fervently for the truth in the Spirit of Christ. What spirit do you show or have shown? Are we supposed to be so stressed out in contending for what we believe to the point that the only thing left after the battle is chalk outlines on the pavement of our brethren?
It would be most unfortunate for a believer who was once delivered from his/her sins to turn from the present truth that the Lord Jesus had given them to later be destroyed for lack of faith. How terrible would that be to once know the truth and then turn from it! It is imperative that a believer stand in the present truth that as has been delivered unto them as we go on unto perfection, not looking back, nor being sidetracked by the cunning devices of Satan and his ministers. For truth stands alone without having to be contentious. Why would one be contentious fighting to the point of intimidation if their revelation of Jesus Christ is correct? For the Holy Ghost definitely does not need our help in bending people’s wills for the sake of our revelation. Nothing is accomplished out of contention and strife. However, there are those who believe that they are always right and will gladly stomp their foot and point their finger in your face (which can either be in person or otherwise over the internet) because they believe that they could never not ever be wrong. I mean after all in their mind’s eye they are always right. How dare anyone disagree with the revelation that the Lord has given concerning this or that! Even the Lord Jesus did not become contentious in his temptation by Satan, but simply stated “it is written”, case closed. There was no heated debate, no contention or strife; just a simple stated Word that defeated Satan. The Lord did not run looking for Satan to get his point across and neither should the body of Christ. He was led of the Spirit of God into the wilderness there to be tempted of Satan. We find ourselves on a daily basis in spiritual warfare, but we must realize that God puts us in certain places or situations for his glory. It is not for us to brow beat and berate people, but to simply state the reason why we follow our great God and Saviour. We are not to dispute or spew intimidating slander, but rather have a spirit of meekness considering that we were all at one time in need of Jesus and his gentle touch to heal our broken spirits. We are to be strong and of good courage, for God himself will give us “a mouth that they cannot gainsay nor resist”.
Have you ever been around a preacher or believer that you could not get a word in edgewise? Have you stated a differing opinion with a believer who “has to have the last word”? I remember witnessing a one sided conversation between my husband and another preacher. The speed at which he was talking without taking a breath I was convinced the man was going to pass out. I felt as if I standing across from a talking locomotive traveling down the tracks at supersonic speed. He never allowed my husband to answer any of his questions but rather he would ask the question and without waiting to reload a breath answer the question himself. During that brief conversation he had decided the fate of several saints, declared judgment on anyone he disliked, listed his preaching itinerary for the next year and declared the answer for world peace.
How about the one that never admits that they can be wrong in their “pet” revelation? You have no doubt heard it called, “O that is his/her candy stick!” Forget the rest of the Word of God, this is their ministry and they are certainly going to get it across to you, even if it kills them and they are the ones left lying in that chalk outline. They deliver an onslaught of cunning jabs and unkind remarks as if to be jesting with the body of Christ in some kind of humorous fashion while at the same time they are exhibiting a stubborn and totally unteachable spirit. Do they actually think this is the Spirit of Christ? What altar are we partaking of when we have the characteristics of such a contentious spirit?
Believers who are contentious about their particular beliefs gender strife in the church. Have you ever observed how contention works in a church congregation? Believers who wish to create contention for varying beliefs of doctrine are definitely not there to edify the body of Christ; but rather to contend for their own particular slant on the Gospel of Jesus. According to the following verse, a church that has only a dry morsel of truth is better than a church that is full of sacrifices with strife.
Divisions always have more than one vision in one mind and one accord, being in the unity of the faith. “Di” of the word division means “many or diverse”; that is, “many or diverse visions”. Without a vision, the people perish, not obtaining a growth into the truth due to contention and strife. This is Satan’s way of slowing and sometimes even stopping the flow of truth into the church of Jesus Christ. Satan subtlety assures the preacher or believer that the body of Christ cannot make it without their particular vision on a certain matter.
A preacher or believer must be contentious if he or she does not preach the revelation of Jesus Christ, for truth stands alone and is witnessed to by God Himself. Regardless of how much one is contentious over their “pet” revelation, the Holy Ghost is the one that has the final and ultimate word in declaring the truth. Word that is leavened by man’s own revelation and not God must be promoted and propagated by asserting one’s own views pushing it down people’s throats to parade as truth since the Holy Ghost will not prick nor prepare the heart of the listener to receive any doctrine that is not Jesus. It only takes a little leaven to leaven the whole lump. Many false teachers have entered into the church, preaching and teaching a Jesus that is contrary to the Word of God as to His Person and Work. To know Jesus is to know the focus and intent of the Word of God in Person and Work in the gathering of all things back to God, both heavenly and earthly. Any error in the Word can cost a believer their salvation as adding to or taking away from the Book which is Jesus.
Paul spoke that we are to have the mind of Jesus who humbled himself unto the death of the cross, for he that is greatest is servant of all. Extravagant admirations of the heart set on anything other than Jesus genders image self worship rather than reflecting the true Light of Jesus. This is the so called “Movie Star Mentality” seen not only in preaching, but in the ministry of music and in the congregation as well. They are too high-minded to condescend to the needs of people. We should be building up the body of Christ by love as the chief motive because setting anything on passionately set affections leads to idolatry which ultimately leads to competition. Have you ever heard of “saint competition”? When saint competition raises its self it is seeking to surpass and out do all others, becoming contentious rather than contending for the faith. “Better than you” runs rampart as a peacock spirit demonstrating a church or body of believers who have become more concerned about their looks and image rather than reaching souls for Jesus. They prefer to spread their feathers in the lime light rather than exhibit the Lamb-Light. The motive of each of us in the body of Christ must be self sacrifice for the Lord rather than self motivation. This self motivation runs rampart in today’s apostolic churches patterning themselves after Charismatic churches.
Jokes across the pulpits become a “hip” church, using props rather than anointing to get their image across. The Church of Today enters the contest for superiority getting an advantage over other churches offering talent, oratory ability, short “snappy” services that are entertaining along with accented singing and music to top off the “church extravaganza”. The display of human talent, reasoning, oratory ability, and all other “let’s go to church and have a party” spirit simply eludes the cross of Jesus. The end result is a slippery slide that leads to dissention, strife, disputing, and every carnal work of the flesh as man demands the attention due to his performance and ability.
The overriding testimony of shorter services with greater show renders an emotional experience that even the world itself cannot equal in grandeur. So what’s the big deal? Sounds like we are reaching souls and keeping them by our great abilities that God has given us, therefore, how could we be wrong?. The motivation must be love to God in a move to exalt the Lord Jesus and him only. The affections must be set upon the Lord Jesus alone and not contention for our own beliefs, for the truth stands alone and does not need to be propped up by anyone, for the Lord Jesus said that he did not need man to testify of him, for the Father himself gives us the testimony of His Son in revealing His name that one must believe in order to be saved.
Contending? Contentious? “No one cares what you know until they know that you care!” You must “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” in a living testimony of Jesus for God to exalt you in due time. The problem with some preachers and believers is that they believe that “whosoever doth not tout his own horn, the same shall not be touted”. I’m not sure where that is in the Bible, but it seems to be lived out a lot in our ranks.
Next time someone wants to contend with you, ask yourself this question, “Did the Lord Jesus become contentious with anyone while in the days of his flesh?” Our Lord did not even pay them any attention, but simply went to the lost sheep who received his ministry. Neither did Michael become contentious when Satan disputed with him over the body of Moses, but simply stated “the Lord rebuke you”. The passengers have boarded the Glory Train and God is moving, not in the am phi-theatre productions of man in self promoting the Gospel, but in the true proclamation of the Real Jesus. As we lift him up, He is still drawing all men unto himself in the real revelation of Jesus. Watch out for the “Diotrephes” of this present day, as they are the ones that are contentious, bringing strife into the body of Christ.
A word of advice; if you want to get a word in edgewise, don’t invite him to dinner.