Saturday, June 10, 2006

Session 3 - The Challenges to the Fight of Faith

This is my personal summary of session 3 of Defense and Fight for the Faith by Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 21th May 2006. It was live telecast from Jakarta to Singapore and was originally in Indonesian language. The summary is my personal translation.

Jude 3, 20, 21 exhorts us to contend for the faith once entrusted to the saints, to pray in the Holy Spirit and to keep ourselves in the love of God.

We need keep ourselves in the right faith, the faith that is centered on Christ. We have to preserve, defend and fight for this faith that has been given to us

There are a lot of elements that are difficult to accept in Christology.

- Born of a virgin? How can that be?
- Lived a perfect life?
- This one death alone could atone for humanity's sin?
- He resurrected from the dead?
- He ascended to heaven with in His physical body?
- He would come again? It has been 2000 years!

All those true facts of history need to be defended because they embed within them the secret of salvation. The virgin birth of Christ shows that He is fully human, and fully divine. He was born of Virgin Mary, a human mother, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so He is divine. He lived a sinless life so He is qualified to die for our sin. Because He is the Son of God, His life is special and His blood could atone for the entire humanity. He resurrected as the firstfruit of those who have fallen asleep (dead) and in this is our hope beyond this temporal life. He ascended to heaven with a physical body so in the same way we would meet with Him in resurrected physical body. He will come again so all the injustices in the will would be settled some day. All our hopes are rested in the mystery of all these significant historical events in the Person of Christ.

All our rights are not thrown to us from heaven without battles. The Church would be persecuted. Jesus said He had sent us like sheep in the midst of wolves. This is the situation of Christians in the world so we should not hope that we will live an easy life. It will take sacrifices and battles. It is a very cruel situation however the Lord also gives us comfort and does not live us alone to die, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

How can we fight without the presence of the Holy Spirit with us? Christians today face the greatest challenges in history from different aspects. Many Christian leaders compromise at the moment of danger and still fool Christians by showing their faithfulness. Will we fight?

Where do the challenges come from?

1. Persecution from political power
2. Attacks from religion
3. Ridicules from philosophies of the world
4. False teaching in church

The first 3 challenges are external, while the last one comes from within the church community. There are those who think they are very smart and rational who do not believe in resurrection so they attack their own faith. There are others who only want peace and do not bother to fight to defend the right faith. In Acts 15:1-2 there was a dispute regarding circumcision being one of the criteria for salvation. Instead of giving in, Paul fought for the faith and it resulted in the first theology consultation in Jerusalem. Today people do not want consultation but just want to compromise. And people still distort the things that have already been settled, like the divinity and humanity of Christ. The challenge of Gnosticism had been there since the days of the apostles and this wrong teaching decayed and developed continually throughout history. The gospel of Judas, the gospel of Thomas and the Da Vinci Code are the descendents of Gnosticism. Another challenge is relativism that does not hold the absolute. Paul and John fought hard against wrong teaching like legalism, rationalism and relativism in the church during their days and established very solid apologetics for the defense of the true faith.

The defense of the true faith involves two aspects:

1. Active aspect where we debate, oppose and be vocal to stand for the Truth
2. Passive aspect where we receive all the persecutions and die for the Truth

We need both aspects of defense today. What should we do? If we have the faith, do we fight for it? Do we ask ourselves whether we should fight for it? Do we know how heavy is the responsibility to stand for the Truth and what kind of price we have to pay? Christians must have the courage to die for the Truth.


At 3:33 AM, Blogger The Hedonese said...

Amen! Reformed folks have been as great fighters and defenders of the faith... yet I feel we have a lot to learn sometimes on how to 'fight'... in a way that is winsome, generous, fair and respectful... not only that, to embody an authentic community of living faith and practice that blesses other traditions as well. Love is the ultimate apologetics!


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