I humbly post this for the prayerful reflection of my brothers and sisters who in obedience to Christ faithfully seek to earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all delivered unto the saints (Jude 1:3), while striving to be always ready with an answer for the hope that is in us (1 Pet. 3:15), but who (like me) may regrettably all to often neglect the remainder of the verse; “with gentleness and respect”.
The following letter was written by John Newton, perhaps best known as the writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace” to a minister with whom he was acquainted on the occasion of the latter pastor’s penning of an open letter to be published which was critical of another minister’s theological orthodoxy. May we heed godly brother Newton’s admonitions to his fellow minister of the eternal Gospel of grace.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins, in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. – Eph. 2:1-7
As you are likely to be engaged in controversy, and your love of truth is joined with a natural warmth of temper, nay friendship makes me solicitous on your behalf. You are of the strongest side; for truth is great, and must prevail; so that a person of abilities inferior to yours might take the field with a confidence of victory. I am not therefore anxious for the event of the battle. But I would have you more than a conqueror, and to triumph, not only over your adversary, but over yourself. If you cannot be vanquished, you may be wounded. To preserve you from such wounds as might give you cause of weeping over your conquests, I would present you with some considerations, which, if duly attended to, will do you the service of a coat of armor; for you will easily perceive it is taken from that great armory provided for the Christian soldier, the word of God. I take it for granted, that you will not expect any apology for my freedom, and therefore I shall not offer one. For method sake, I may reduce my advice to three heads, respecting your opponent, the public, and yourself.