Cled E. Wallace
Christianity was born and has triumphed in the heat of controversy. It claims and demonstrates divine origin. It treats all opposition as rebellion against God, and every manifestation of “Anti-Christ” as a huge and destructive lie. It spurns all offers of compromise or fellowship with rival religions. He that exalts himself against its perfect and exhaustive principles of truth is called a “son of perdition” and is denied the salvation that can be found only in Christ. This sure and dogmatic attitude precipitated a conflict that loosed tidal waves of persecution and drenched the earth with blood.
Jesus, the Christ, is called “the author and perfecter of our faith.” He came down from Heaven with the expressed purpose of doing the will of God. He propagated no opinions of His own. He was the mouthpiece of supreme authority. “For I spake not from myself; but the Father that sent me, He hath given me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is life eternal; the things therefore which I speak, even as the Father hath said unto me, so I speak.” (John 12:49-50)
Jesus, The Invincible Polemic
There could be no compromise of this perfect revelation of truth out of consideration for any conflicting system of doctrine or philosophy, however respectable it might be. The stage was all set for bitter and ceaseless conflict until error was banished and the will of God held undisputed sway. Jesus, the Apostle of God, to wrest a world of humanity from the dominion of Satan, must be a strong contender, an invincible polemic. As a matter of fact He was the greatest fighter and the most successful debater the world ever saw.
The first great conflict was with the devil himself, the commander-in-chief of the forces of evil. A compromise would have been a victory for the devil. The truth of God would have been crushed to earth to rise no more. Without the aid of even one angel, and He had legions of them at his command, Jesus emerged from that contest in sole possession of the field. The devil left Him. The only weapon Jesus used was the Word of God. He repelled three major attacks with an “it is written.” Jesus entertained supreme respect for the written word of God, something that many of his professed followers sadly lack.
The War With Tradition and Hypocrisy
The fight was not over when the devil left Jesus “for a season.” He was deeply entrenched in the organized religion of the day. It was organized rebellion against God in the sheep’s clothing of piety. They paid the Almighty a lip devotion while they worshipped tradition and taught “as their doctrines the precepts of men.” Jesus was not deceived, as the people were, by the long faces and long robes of Pharisaism. He clearly discerned the trail of the serpent beneath it all and was unimpressed by sad faces and street corner prayers. He quickly joined issue, and started a fight to the finish, with the lovers of money, power and popular applause, whose highest ambition was a position of influence in an earthly kingdom ruled over by a speculative Messiah.
They quickly and instinctively recognized Jesus as the enemy of their cherished ambitions. They were jealous of His influence over the people. The war was on with no thought of compromise on either side. The enemies of the truth used traditional weapons and used them skilfully. At first they hoped that it would be effective to ignore Him. His spreading fame put an end to that. He was active and persistent in a most tantalizing way. He clearly held them in contempt and was getting it over to the people. That the people might have a clear right of way for fellowship with God, their leaders must be utterly discredited. They tried ridicule. He came from Nazareth. His family was poor. He did not enjoy traditional training. He was not orthodox. In fact, He was just a plain nobody. His company was bad. He associated with publicans and sinners. This line of attack failed. Something must be done to stop this young prophet. They put forth their shrewdest to meet him in debate. He made fools of them. It came to the point where they did not dare to ask Him even a question. He carried the war to the courts of the temple and branded them “blind guides.” “hypocrites,” strainers of gnats and swallowers of camels,” “whited sepulchres,” “serpents,” “off-spring of vipers,” “fools” and “sons of hell.” There was one weapon left and they used it. They said “Let’s kill him,” and they did. They mocked Him and scourged Him and crucified Him.
Contending For The Faith
The triumph of falsehood was brief. A guarded and sealed tomb could not hold Him. He arose from the dead. Seated at the right hand of God with all authority, He began His reign. Chosen and inspired ambassadors in Jerusalem launched a world wide campaign to bring all nations into captivity to the law of Christ.
The law of the Kingdom of Heaven is found in the “Apostles’ doctrine.” The Holy Spirit came to guide them into “all truth.” The truth that they preached, defended and died for we now have in the New Testament. It is “the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints” and Christians are commanded to “contend earnestly” for it.
Politics is a game of compromise and party platforms are constantly changing. There is room for a broad tolerance in the realm of opinion. But it is not so with faith. Faith must believe what God says and do what he commands. Faith must not go beyond what is written.
Issues Not Settled By Prayer
There is a place in the life of the Christian for prayer. But doctrinal issues are not settled by prayer. A schismatic might be talking so volubly to God that it might be in order to tell him to hush and let God talk awhile. Doctrinal matters are settled by the written word of God, not by an impression that some mystic receives in answer to prayer.
A prominent feature of the Christian’s armor is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” False doctrine is the chief means that Satan uses in deceiving men and keeping them from obeying the truth. It is the duty of the disciples of Christ to meet it and expose it.