Everything is Controversial

Jude 3

Jude says we must “contend earnestly for the faith.” Why? It is because “the faith” is controversial. While many want to shy away from controversy, we cannot avoid it – not just because of our obligation, but because of reality. Everything is controversial to someone. In this lesson we will consider why this is, notice some examples of controversial issues, and see what we should do about all of this.

Why Everything is Controversial to Someone

  • Controversy is possible because each of us has free will – we are free to choose what to believe/practice
  • On some matters, disagreements are inconsequential (matters of opinion, Romans 14:2-3) – on others they are not (matters of faith, Jude 3)
  • God gave us free will so we would choose to obey Him
  • What is necessary for us to choose to obey the Lord? … hear the truth (Romans 10:14), love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10), understand the truth (Acts 18:24-26), humbly accept the truth (James 1:21), and practice it accurately (James 1:22; 2 Timothy 1:13); when people do not do this, there is controversy

Historically Controversial Topics

  • Circumcision/keeping the Old Law (Acts 15:1-2; Galatians 2:4-5)
  • Gnosticism – flesh is evil so immorality was inconsequential; Jesus could not have come in the flesh (2 John 7-11; Jude 3-4)
  • Missionary societies and other institutions (colleges, bookstores, publishing companies) doing the work God gave the local church to do (1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 7:14)
  • Instrumental music in worship to God (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16-17)
  • Marriage, divorce, remarriage – multiple causes for divorce, alien sinners exempt from Christ’s law, etc. (Matthew 19:3-9)
  • Many other examples that brethren have spent great amounts of time debating and discussing

Other Controversial Topics

  • Some try to avoid “controversial” subjects and stick with topics that we all agree on – this is not possible; everything is controversial to someone, even the “common salvation” that Jude initially intended to write about (Jude 3)
  • Salvation open to all (Acts 10:34-35) – some do not like this (Acts 11:2-3)
  • Belief is necessary (John 8:24) – some reject Jesus or reject what the Bible says about Him (deity)
  • Repentance is necessary (Luke 13:3,5) – some do not want to give up sinful practices
  • Confession is necessary (Romans 10:9-10) – some do not want to admit that they believe (John 12:42; Matthew 10:32-33)
  • Baptism is necessary (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21) – many reject this; they want salvation by faith alone (James 2:24)
  • Continued faithfulness is necessary (Revelation 2:10) – many want “once saved, always saved”
  • What if we attempt to please the majority and teach what most will accept? … that will be controversial to those who contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3)

What Should We Do?

  • It is impossible to avoid teaching anything that is controversial
  • Two options – (1) teach what is controversial or (2) quit teaching
  • We cannot quit (1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 3:15) – individually or collectively
  • We must be willing to teach what is controversial – “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3)
  • Accept all that the Bible says (Psalm 119:160) – teach all that the Bible says (Acts 20:27)

Conclusion

  • Rather than striving to avoid controversy, we should strive to avoid error
  • Embrace the truth no matter what others think about it – hold fast to the word (Revelation 3:10-11)

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