I enjoy a good argument. Not one that is saturated in anger, mind you, but a nice, friendly, impassioned debate.
- Is synchronized swimming a sport? (no)
- Is a hotdog a sandwich? (no)
- Are all the Star Wars movies enjoyable? (yes)
- Should people use gift as a verb? (no)
There’s just something about going back and forth with someone that can be invigorating. At least for me. Some of you reading this probably are struggling to see anything enjoyable about debating. If you’d like, we can debate the pros and cons of debating.
While all of these examples are pretty meaningless—except for the use of gift—this week’s session reminds us that we need to be ready at all times to debate—or contend—for something that is of infinite meaning: the faith (Jude 3). Contending for the faith requires that we take two postures.
Posture 1: Defense
When we think of contending for the faith, defending the faith is usually what we think of first. And it should be. This was the immediate context of Jude’s epistle, and it is what we experience quite often in our context. As the people of God, we need to be ready at all times to defend truth when others deny it as we also proclaim God’s glory when others defame it.
Some might be prone to say that the church is under attack like never before. We cannot, nor should not, diminish threats to the church, but we need to be careful about statements like this. There are two reasons.
First, this statement fails to appreciate the struggle the church has had from the very beginning. Claiming that the church faces greater challenges now than ever is hyperbole really. We are not the first to face rejection and scorn, and we will not be the last until Christ returns. We can, and should, find comfort in knowing we are walking ground that has been tread upon often by others.
Second, it is easy for some to develop the wrong view of the unbelievers around us and to begin to see them as the enemy. It is easy for the church to enter a combative, preserve our rights, mode, rather than that continues to see unbelievers as our mission—those we are called to love and share the gospel with—for whom we are willing to sacrifice all but the gospel.
We defend the gospel when needed, but we are to do so out of love, in a winsome manner.
Posture 2: Advancement
Defending the gospel is not all we do. We should not wait passively to contend for the faith; there is also an aspect where we go on the advance, moving the gospel forward so that others might trust in Christ. We do this in two primary ways.
First, we advance the gospel by sharing the gospel—by telling others of God’s story of redemption through Jesus Christ. This is why seeing the Bible as narrative is so important. It provides us with a compelling way to explain to the world what sin is, what we cannot do to address sin, what God has one, and how we can be saved from sin. But it doesn’t end there. The narrative of Scripture continues—we are in the midst of one of the acts, as we wait for the final act—Jesus’ return—to occur.
Second, we advance the gospel by living the gospel—by showing others the difference God’s story of redemption through Jesus Christ means to us and how the world should work and will work again when the Kingdom comes in full. We show our changed lives. We show our joy. And we fight for justice today, not to achieve it apart from God, but as shadows of God’s perfect justice.
Some wish to live within the sound Of Church or Chapel bell, I want to run a Rescue Shop Within a yard of hell.” — C. T. Studd (1860-1931)C. T. Studd, quoted in C. T. Studd: Cricketer & Pioneer, by Norman Grubb (Fort Washington, PA: CLC Publications, 1933, reprint 2010), 145.
Tips for Teaching this Week’s Session
Every week, members of The Gospel Project for Kids team offer guidance to help you as you prepare to teach every session to preschoolers and kids. Listen in as we discuss:
- The big idea of the session
- Any areas of caution or requiring additional prep time
- What we hope God will do through this session
This training is available on Ministry Grid, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and other podcast platforms.