Gospel ministry is not just proclamation, evangelism, and pastoral care; it involves contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. If, at the end of the day, we have maintained Christian orthodoxy but failed to proclaim the gospel, we cannot claim to have pleased Christ nor fulfilled the New Testament ministry. In just the same way, if, at the end of the day we have proclaimed the gospel but failed to maintain Christian orthodoxy, we will have failed Christ.
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is a brilliant example of contending for the faith. If the church is the temple of the living God and if that temple is holy, then tolerance of what God calls unholy will provoke his jealousy. There is an astonishing campaign at present in Canada and the USA to portray the blessing of same sex unions as a little in-house issue for the church, that those opposing this constitutionalization of sexual immorality are somehow missing the point and being side-tracked from gospel ministry. I received a letter this week from someone in the diocese of New Westminster who referred to the stance of biblically orthodox Anglicans as a “tedious and unnecessary conflict.” If that is the case then 1 Corinthians is a tedious and unnecessary book and the holiness of the people for whom Christ died is also tedious and unnecessary. We cannot just be pragmatic about this. We cannot believe those who say: “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” Christian ministry which pleases Christ and is faithful to the New Testament will involve both gospel proclamation as well as contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.