Fight Valiantly! This Happy Contention
Posted by Lee Gatiss, 18 Apr 2019
As we conclude our Lent series on fighting valiantly as Christians, Lee Gatiss looks at the joy of faithful service. The last of our Lent video podcasts is now available on our YouTube channel.
Matthew Hole (d. 1730) was a presbyter in the Church of England during the turbulent times of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In his commentary on the lectionary readings in the Book of Common Prayer, he urges every faithful Christian to be involved in contending for the faith. He writes:
“Let us all engage in this happy contention to preserve the unity and purity of the christian faith, against all sin and error. There are some that would undermine the faith by schisms and divisions, and others that would corrupt it by errors and heresies; both which are great opposers of Christ’s doctrine, and great obstructers of our salvation.”
He then urges us to contend against dividers and sectaries (those who split the church into smaller and smaller sects), by “standing fast in one spirit” (Philippians 1:27); against those who would “blend or corrupt” the gospel, perverting the faith of many; against those who would subvert and undermine the faith or “make it a tool to serve their other secular ends and designs.” But his parting word is a daily challenge for us all: we must contend for the faith, he says, by “living answerable to it, against all loose and profane professors of it, who are its greatest enemies, and do it the most mischief.”
Fight Valiantly! Godly Engagement
Posted by Lee Gatiss, 17 Apr 2019
The Bible says we must engage in the good fight of faith with godliness and humility. Watch the video podcast of today's post on our YouTube channel.
We need to remember to contend by spiritually applying the gospel and drawing the necessary lines, in a way that pleases God. There is a danger that if we don’t stand firm and oppose heresy we end up sliding into compromise and heresy ourselves, since we are always inclined to corruption no matter how pure our church may be on paper. But it is equally dangerous to fight in a way that loses sight of our Lord Jesus. If we are servants of the Lord and not just of some ecclesiastical faction, we will not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach (2 Timothy 2:24). Our relationships to our human opponents must always be sufficiently respectful and dignified that we are able to speak in a way that they can hear and learn and, by God’s grace, possibly repent.
I pray for and preach all this to myself, and I know I don’t always get it right. But let us be in no doubt: James 3-4 is correct, about the kind of meekness we need in today’s church, and it is not the “earthly, unspiritual, demonic” approach of contentious quarrelling. Many of us doubt the effectiveness of humility. James says that pure, impartial, and sincere wisdom leads to a harvest of righteousness rather than rivalry and discord (James 3:17-18). It puts friendship with God first, and tries to contend for him only in ways pleasing to him. Only this way of going about things will lead to the results that God himself longs to see.
Lee on the Lectionary: Easter Sunday (Year C)
Posted by Lee Gatiss, 17 Apr 2019
This week we rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the glorious harmony of the new creation which he has inaugurated.
The readings for Easter Sunday (Year C) are Isaiah 65:17-25, Acts 10:34-43, and Luke 24:1-12.
You can follow along with these video expositions on the Lee on the Lectionary Facebook page. We also tweet the video link every Sunday morning at 6am for those who like a morning exposition of the word to begin the week. Follow us @churchsociety.