I want to start by reminding those of you in the Vancouver, BC area of the Answering Islam Conference coming up this Saturday. The details are in the graphic on the left. There is no charge for the conference, but we will be taking up an offering to help defray the costs.
Our ministry is called Fortress of Faith. Fortress has a military idea to it. It is not foreign for Christians to think in military terms because we are to be soldiers of the cross. The Bible tells us to put on spiritual armor.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)
When we talk about being soldiers and use the other military terms found in the New Testament, we are talking about spiritual warfare, not physical warfare.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual4 wickedness in high [places]. (Ephesians 6:12)
(For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God3 to the pulling down of strong holds;) (2 Corinthians 10:4)
We know that the enemy of God is the Devil, and he is the deceiver. the Bible tells us he is the great deceiver, and a liar. He is the father of lies. Satan has a mission to destroy mankind and to destroy God’s message of salvation. His goal is to keep as many people from the salvation of God as possible.
When I was a youth pastor just coming out of Bible College, I remember telling my young people in class, I’m going to teach you how to tell a good lie. This really made them sit up in their seats. My purpose was to teach how deceptive the Devil is. He is a master at lying, and the best way to tell a lie it to take the deceit and cover it with a skin of truth. This makes it appear to be the real thing.
Have you ever seen a counterfeit note? When I was a young person living in England, I worked at a pizza delivery place and someone passed a counterfeit 5 pound note to me. when I got back to the store we had one of those lights that detects counterfeit bills. That is when we discovered that is was a fake bill. You couldn’t tell feeling it, or taking a casual glance at it, but now that I knew that is was fake, I compared it closely to the real thing.
A counterfeit is fake but it looks like the real thing. As I examined the note, I began to see some of the differences. I thought this could be a great illustration so I took 5 pounds out of my own pocket and kept it to use for illustration purposes. I kept it folded up in a special place in my wallet where I knew where it was. A few years later my wife needed some money and I told here to take some out of my wallet. She took that 5 pound note and used it. Don’t tell anyone about that, please. I regret that I no longer have the bill because I used it on a number of occasions to illustrate how the Devil is a deceiver.
In the book of Jude, we are told to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). The Greek word that is translated “contend” is the word from which we get our English word “agonize.” The Idea is that we are to strive and struggle, not just to defend the faith, but contend for it. Contend means to strive or struggle against opposition. It is the root word for contentious.
We are not to be passive in defending the faith. It is more than just saying, this is what I believe, and it is OK for you to believe what you believe. It is to actively defend with strong reasoning and arguments. We must take a strong, vigorous, and if necessary, contentious position to struggle for the faith that was once delivered to us by God.
In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul told Timothy:
I have fought a good fight, I have finished [my] course, I have kept the faith: (2 Timothy 4:7)
He also told the young preacher, Timothy, to do the same.
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)
When we fight for something, we don’t stand passively, we engage the enemy. We are to fight for what we believe (the faith). In 1 Timothy 1:18, Paul tells Timothy to “war a good warfare.”
This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; (1 Timothy 1:18)
Again, we have the idea of struggle. It is something that we contend for.
Somewhere along the line Christians have been convinced that they should just be passive in their belief. We seem to think that we should believe what we believe and let others believe whatever they want to believe. We know what truth is, and we are to contend for it. This is exactly what Paul did in Athens when we debated with the philosophers of his day.
This doesn’t mean that we have license to be vitriolic and abrasive in our contention. The Bible tells us to speak the truth in love. We are to use wisdom and be as inoffensive as possible.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
The bible also tells us that our speech is to be seasoned with salt.
Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:6)
Salt stings a bit, but has healing power. In Matthew 5 we are told to be the salt of the earth.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matthew 5:13)
Have you ever eaten something that was too salty? It is not palatable and we spit it out. On the other hand, if there is no salt to season food, it is bland. The salt in these passages refers to the Word of God. We are to season our speech with the salt of the Word of God, but not dump so much on that it overwhelms.
There is truth, and we must stand up and contend for it.
The Devil is a deceiver and a liar. He has created much deception and false religion that looks like the religion of God, but on close examination is does not stand up as truth. The deception is covered in a skin of truth.
In Islam, for example, you can find teaching that is wholesome. This is true because it borrowed portions of the Bible. The Devil is a master deceiver and he has covered his deception with some things that are good and some things that are true. While Muslims hold to these things, they are deceived into believing that Jesus was not God, He was just a man. They are also taught that Jesus was not crucified and He did not rise from the grave.
The deception in Islam keeps Muslims away from three essential truths that would bring them to salvation. If Jesus is not God, He is not our Saviour. If He didn’t die on the cross, there is no atonement for the remission of man’s sin. If He didn’t rise from the grave, there is no justification and He cannot be our Saviour.
We must be soldiers of the cross.
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
If we are soldiers of the cross, our Saviour is our Captain. We must be busy pleasing Him and doing His will. We cannot entangle ourselves with the affairs of this world. Let’s fight the good fight and be faithful.