by John MacArthur
As always, a war is being waged against the truth. We are on one side or the other. There is no middle ground–no safe zone for the uncommitted. Lately the question of truth itself–what it is and whether we can truly know it at all–has become one of the major points of contention. We also happen to be living in a generation when many so-called Christians have no taste for conflict and contention. Multitudes of biblically and doctrinally malnourished Christians have come to think of controversy as something that should always be avoided, whatever the cost. Sadly, that is what many weak pastors have modeled for them.
Controversy and conflict in the church are never to be relished or engaged in without sufficient cause. But in every generation, the battle for the truth has proved ultimately unavoidable, because the enemies of truth are relentless. Truth is always under assault. And it is actually a sin not to fight when vital truths are under attack.
That is true even though fighting sometimes results in conflict within the visible community of professing Christians. In fact, whenever the enemies of gospel truth succeed in infiltrating the church, faithful believers are obliged to take the battle to them even there. That is certainly the case today, as it has been since apostolic times. …
When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, believers from this generation will not be able to justify their apathy by complaining that the strife of conflict over truth just seemed “too negative” for the kind of culture we lived in–or that the issues were “merely doctrinal” and therefore not worth the effort.
Remember, Christ rebuked the churches in Revelation 2 – 3 who had tolerated false teachers in their midst (2:14-16;20-23). He expressly commended the Ephesian church for examining the claims of certain false apostles and exposing them as liars (2:2). Churches have a clear duty to guard the faith against false teachers who infiltrate. Christ Himself demands it.
At the same time, we need to notice carefully that a polemical defense of the faith by no means guarantees a healthy church, much less a healthy individual Christian. Christ also rebuked the doctrinally sound Ephesians for departing from their first love (Revelation 2:4). As vital as it is for us to enlist in the Truth War and do battle for our faith, it is even more important to remember why we are fighting–not merely for the thrill of vanquishing some foe or winning some argument, but out of a genuine love for Christ, who is the living, breathing embodiment of all that we hold true and worth fighting for.
HAT TIP: Old Truth