Sanctified Fighting

26 Oct
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Approximately three years ago, a couple of friends encouraged me to initiate a blog. After consideration, I selected a  term from greek that informs our english word   “contend”  in the book of  Jude. 

 My purpose was to focus upon the issues that are dismissed, neglected or ignored by the church in general but especially within the continuationist-charismatic stream in particular.

Wow! I certainly have not lacked for material nor has there been a shortage of vocal critics. Some find the posts to negative for their liking and have had no reservation in questioning my motives. With that in mind, Koinonia posted a scholarly article that seems to affirm the pressing need for our frail and imperfect attempt at developing the biblical art of “antagonizing”.

“Koinonia” is sponsored by Zondervan and the article is from William D. [Bill] Mounce who posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics. He is the author of the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek, and is the general editor for Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation.

As you can see, this scholarly brother has earned the right to be heard. Now read his post concerning Jude and discover why “antagonizing” is an effort more ministers should embrace and with less concern for being winsomely gentle.

William Mounce says.” take the kids’ gloves off and duke it out. This is not the time for caution and reserve. It is war.”

Now you can understand the antagoniz picture with the gloves off! 



Fight for the Faith: Jude 3

“Jude writes to his church that they are to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” He wanted to write to them about their common salvation, but because evil people had snuck into the church, he was forced to write a different kind of letter.

The description of these people is scathing. They were “shepherds feeding themselves” (v 12) instead of the flock, a clear allusion to the fact that they were in leadership (cf. the Pastorals). They were worldly people, causing divisions, and were “devoid of the Spirit” (v 19).

Can you imagine? Non-Christians in leadership positions in the church seeking the things of the world (perhaps like power and prestige)? I can, and so can many pastors with whom I have spoken over the last several years.

Specifically, they were teaching that sanctification did not matter, perverting “the grace of our God into sensuality,” and were in some way deficient in their Christology, denying “our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (ESV, v 4). In other words, they were denying some of the core doctrines of the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (v 3).

Just as Timothy had learned in Ephesus, so also Jude’s church learned that Paul’s prophesy that “fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29) is in a real sense paradigmatic of what can happen in any church. I find myself welcoming opposition from outside the church, because the spiritual warfare that exists inside all chuches is much more insidious and much more difficult to fight.

So what are we to do? Part of the answer is found in the word “contend” (v 3). You can see the NASB and NET struggling a bit with the relatively weak “contend” (ESV, NIV, RSV) when they write “contend earnestly” (“earnestly contend,“ KJV). NLT has “defend.” TEV has “fight.” NJB has “fight hard,“ which actually is the right translation.

Buried behind the English is the strong επαγωνιζομαι, which BDAG defines as “to exert intense effort on behalf of something, contend.” But “contend” can be so weak as in “to assert something.” Louw and Nida are closer when they give us, “to exert intense effort.”

Jude is telling the church that it is time to take the kids’ gloves off and duke it out. This is not the time for caution and reserve. It is war. Whenever I read Jude I think of John Piper’s admonitions to accept a war-time life style. It is war, and the battle is both within and without the church. For Jude and many churches, the fieriest battle lie within.

I first started thinking about Jude when I found that Preterism was being taught within the church where I was serving. I had never heard of it before, and the idea that all eschatological hope was fulfilled in 70 A.D. and that there was no necessary eschatological future for the church astonished me (Perhaps there are different flavors of Preterism, but this is what was being pushed in our youth group.)

The problem was that unlike Jude, the three people teaching this were good people and one especially had had a strong and positive influence on my oldest son. But in working through Jude and seeing when and how we deal with false teaching convinced me that this was a theological error that was too significant to ignore or even deal with gently.

I preached a three-part series on Jude, established the policy, gave the people a chance to talk with me and change their mind, and when they did not, they were released from service.

Was this too much? No, because the eschatological hope of Christ’ return and the effect that has on our lives is so central to the Bible that to remove it leaves us with a faith that does not agree with the faith once for all delivered to the saints. You can’t even take communion, which proclaims the Lord’s death “until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26).

I took no joy in this process, but Jude says that we must at times “fight” for the faith.”


Posted by on October 26, 2010 in Uncategorized


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5 responses to “Sanctified Fighting

  1. Tim Wyatt

    October 28, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Hammer on! What is not truth is lies! The lines have been blurred far to far for some to ever recover themselves! I sat under a pastor teaching this “Preterism”,(I did not know that there was a word for it), from the pulpit. There are even books on the matter. One portion states emphatically that Matthew has been completely fulfilled!

    My discern-er quickly informed me it was time to get out of this heresy haven!

    Paul referred to them as shipwrecked. I had another Pastor who referred to them as ‘willfully deceived” from 2 Timothy 3;13. Keep us “Antagonistic”, concerning the faithfulness and truth of God’s infallible Word!

    Blessings on your battle,

    Tim Wyatt

    • Tim Wyatt

      October 28, 2010 at 6:45 pm

      I should have stated Matthew chapter 24 has been fulfilled.

    • RGH

      October 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm

      Thanks for droppin by Tim. Hey, take a minute and check out the top 10 books list and you will see “When Shall These Things Be” by Keith Matheison. It addresses the heresy of full preterism. Awesome read.

  2. Ben

    November 1, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I found the word study of Antagoniz, and the overall examination of the Jude text here, to be powerful and uplifting. We are to “fight hard” against those who preach empty confession faiths, “turning the grace of our God into sensuality”, and essentially taking any kind of genuine repentance out of the message.

    Regarding Preterism, I am no stranger to it. The first time I remember encountering it in person was ironically when I attended CFNI. I was at a house gathering with a brother named Omar, and expressed my excitement in watching the fulfillment of the prophecy in Scripture indicating that “the kingdom of God is near” (Lk 21:31). One of the leaders of the particular group told me to study further, insisting I would find out that Mt 24 and Lk 21 have already been fulfilled. I told him that the Scriptures indicated that clearly was not the case. Some people think rebuke is a “non-Christian” thing to do, yet even God does it to those he loves (Rev 3:19)! Lord rebuke me and allow me to repent before your holiness!

    • RGH

      November 7, 2010 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks for droppin by. However, I must share a little correction. Full preterism is what the article is addressing. Partial preterism that see’s Matthew 24 and parts of the book of Revelation as being historically fulfilled is absolutely within the bounds of orthodoxy. Full preterism advocates that the final resurrection is a past event and therefore puts the teaching in the “heretical” category.


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