Aaron Armstong provides a very helpful game plan for living the intentional Christian life characterized with contending for the faith with his new book Contend. Aaron walks the reader through the book of Jude, illuminating the importance of defending the Christian faith by freely dispensing mercy on those whom intentionally or incidentally teach false doctrine. Armstong reminds his Christian brothers and sisters, “There is a tension in contending that requires us to uphold both people and doctrine. We cannot contend without love for people any more than we can contend without a love for truth.” He challenges readers to examine today’s context of Christian living and reminds us of the great danger of hidden reefs (false teachers) in our midst. We live in a time when people within the Church look so longingly towards unity that they are willing to sacrifice truth to gain this unity. At the same time others choose dividing over contending because they lack the love and mercy required of those who are defenders of the faith. In either case false teachers are either accepted or neglected but not contended.
The church could use a healthy dose of instruction on how to contend for the faith. For the most part, we are ill-equipped. If you think I am mistaken on this assessment, I heartily encourage you to take up my exhortation to give this book a read. I too felt overly confident in my ability to contend, and quickly was humbled as I listened to Armstrong’s reproof of what biblically contending is and isn’t. When we contend, we fight the enemy within our midst. Contending for the faith is not about waging wars against those who do not believe, it is about uncovering the double agents in our midst. Contending is about discerning false teacher that are teaching differently about God, the gospel, and the scripture then what was “once for all delivered to the saints.” Rather than merely disposing these double agents, the goal is to give mercy and correction in order to restore them to a rightful place in the assembly. Aquilla and Priscilla’s correction of Apollos comes to mind here.
Armstrong points out, “Scripture consistently warns us that the most severe threats to the gospel come from within the church.” We may have tons of head knowledge concerning doctrine. We may even know how to wage the war of apologetics. However, we often lack the discernment necessary to test the teachings of our “brothers” and pick out what false teachers and teachings lie hidden beneath the waters of our own church. We also lack the tact to do so in a loving and merciful way garnered with prayer. We lack training and have not planned properly for how we can rightly contend for the faith.
Furthermore, have you ever said, “I don’t see what the big deal is anyway!” Have you ever thought, “I don’t really have time or desire to discuss this issue with this brother or sister.” Armstrong rightly challenges us to consider, “If we love anything – our comfort, our reputations, even our families – more than we love Christ, we will fail to contend for the faith.” He also says, “…there are uncomfortable things we must all be prepared to do – and do in a very Christian way – if we are really going to take our faith seriously. And that, at its most basic level, is what it means to contend.” Brothers and sisters, in today’s world we do not have the luxury of a lazy faith. This book, Contend, comes in handy as we strive to be alert and watchful over our churches and families so as to defend the faith in a fallen world.
Armstrong’s book Contend offers an assessment of context, bringing the reader up to speed on some of the hot-bed issues and concerns that are tied to the millennial generation, which is built on values of pluralism, relativism, and tolerance. Contend provides a framework for the core doctrines of God, the gospel, and scripture that are worth defending. Contend also discerns and discriminates between what are primary and secondary matters of importance and how to approach these matters with a heart of prayer and mercy. Contend trains pastors to feed, correct, and protect their flock. Contend trains congregations to build up, persevere, and wait as they contend for the faith. Ultimately Contend brings meaningfulness to reproving false teaching and challenges the Church to see this as a worthwhile endeavor. I give this book a hefty recommendation. It will certainly sharpen each reader as they discern the huge importance of how their individual spiritual life plays into the vitality of preserving the true faith of the Church at large.
Start reading Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World by Aaron Armstrong today. You may order it from Amazon or direct from Cruciform Press. I recommend purchasing a subscription from Cruciform Press. They crank out a high quality book regularly. You can also purchase Awaiting a Savior by Aaron Armstrong for $0.99 but only for a limited time.
Read more book reviews by Joey Cochran here.