‘Contending for the faith’, writes Lee Gatiss in Evangelicals Now, is a phrase often used by Christians, but not always with a clear sense of its meaning.
Gatiss offers a helpful, if hard-hitting, summary of ‘the biblical doctrine of contending’:-
1. Contending is not a worldly exercise
- We do not contend against flesh and blood, but against demonic powers.
- We do not merely contend against something but for the faith, for the gospel.
- We do not contend in a violent way for Jesus’s kingdom as if it were an earthly kingdom.
In an article in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, D.A. Carson warns against ‘word-based reductionism’:-…
The Spirit often effects greater fruitfulness in our lives in the presence of adversity, Jas 1:2-4; Rom 8:28:-
- Love matures when there are people who hate us, Mt 5:43-48.
- Joy deepens in adversity, being directed to eternal things and to him who never changes, Ps 63:3; Hab 3:27-28; Lk 6:20-23; Jn 16:33; Acts 16:25; 2 Cor 12:10; Jas 1:2.
- Peace is magnified in difficult circumstances. We have peace with God, Rom 5:1; peace from God, Php 4:7; and we are peace-makers, Mt 5:9.