Defending the Faith

Defending the Faith

In our culture there are innumerable philosophies vying for our attention as well as our devotion. How do we know what’s best; what’s right; what’s wrong; what’s true? Even in our churches, in which we should find the very truth of God, there are competing doctrines and biblical interpretations which seem to muddy the waters. And then there are those who use the platform of biblical instruction to promote themselves as they advance their ideas and philosophies for personal satisfaction and gain. This is why Jude pens his letter – to counteract those who would seek to coop the early church for their own purposes.

Jude begins with a brief salutation and then states his purpose – to encourage the believers to contend for the faith. Contending for the faith is something we need to do as individual Christians and as the church. The spiritual warfare is real. It is a real struggle – an agonizing struggle – and one that we can’t naively ignore. In our culture there are innumerable philosophies vying for our attention as well as our devotion and we tend to avoid the conflict of competing ideals. Conflict is stressful whether it is internal or external. To avoid the stress and pain of conflict we simply go along to get along. Indeed, tolerance has become the ultimate test of morality as opposed to the absolute truth of God’s word. If you choose to not follow the path of agreeably going with the societal flow, you will be branded as the most evil among us.

Therefore, we must contend for the faith – defend the faith – and do so with the love and compassion of Christ. The first step in contending for the faith is knowing the faith. Study the scriptures to “present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

The next step in contending for the faith is openly and honestly discussing the truth, but we must remember that our fight is not with people, but with demonic forces of evil who are dead set (pun intended) on opposing God and the One Who is the way, the truth, and the light. The struggle is not against those who espouse such errant thoughts, but against the evil forces that perpetuate them. Furthermore, as we defend the faith, we must not become defensive. While we argue for the faith, we must not become argumentative. In our contending for the faith, we must not become contentious. We must stand firm on the truth of God ‘s word – firm in our salvation – firm in the saving grace of Jesus.

We love because He first loved us. We speak truth because He spoke (and speaks) truth to us. And we speak the truth in love because His love and truth is the only thing that will save this dying world.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 27, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com .

Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Obeying from Love

(Note: This video was taken from a backup recording so the audio and video quality are not up to standard. Please forgive these inferior qualities. However, the message is one we need to remember and let it compel us to respond by loving God and loving others in His name.)

In John 8:31 Jesus says, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.”

Then in John 14:15 He says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

John expands on this connection between love and obedience in his letter, 1 John. He reminds us of what Christ has done for us. He reminds us that we owe Him our whole lives. And it is out of gratitude and our love for him that we choose to follow Him in every way. We don’t do what He tells us to do because we think it will improve our standing with Him; we don’t do it to pay it forward so to speak; we don’t do it to work our way into heaven. We do it because we love Him. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 20, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com .

Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Living and Loving in Grace

The shortest of Paul’s letters was addressed to Philemon. In it he urged Philemon to welcome a man named Onesimus. In fact, Paul sent the letter with Onesimus who delivered it to Philemon in Colossae. The problem is that Onesimus was once a slave belonging to Philemon and to make matters worse Onesimus was a runaway slave who apparently stole property from Philemon before making his escape.

Onesimus (whose name means “useful”) joined with Paul while Paul was in prison in Rome. He proved to be quite “useful” to Paul and, in the process of spending time with Paul, gave his heart to Jesus. Paul had also led Philemon to Jesus and he wanted his brothers in Christ – Onesimus and Philemon – to transition from a slave-slave owner relationship to a relationship as brothers in Christ.

It was a significant request that Paul made of Philemon, considering how things had worked out in the past. Philemon would have been within his rights to beat his former slave, make him work even more to pay off his debt, or worse, take his life.

The thing is that God has the right as God to treat us according to our sins. We are deserving of death in the presence of a holy, righteous God. We have sinned and the payment for sin is death. And yet, God has paid our debt and forgiven our sins all through the work of Jesus. When we consider how we have been forgiven by God, we have no choice but to forgive those who have wronged us.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 13, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com .

Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com