Athanasius. John Owen. J. Gresham Machen. Each of these men stood for the truth of God’s Word in the face of opposition—all out of a deep love for Christ and a desire for people to know God in his fullness. Popularity was not a concern, and they took no joy in controversy for argument’s sake. However, these men were willing to suffer for the sake of guarding the sanctity of the gospel. Many threats, years of exile, deaths of loved ones, opposition from friends and authorities, sickness and pain—none of these setbacks could keep these three from maintaining their efforts for the furthering of Christ’s Kingdom or quench their zeal for Christ himself.
In Contending for Our All, John Piper has given us biographies of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen—bishop, pastor, and seminary founder. In the life of each one, personal holiness was emphasized publicly and privately despite suffering. They were true soldiers for the sake of the cross, and each man offers life lessons for Christians today. Athanasius devoted his life to defending the deity of Christ against the Arian heresy. John Owen battled Christ-belittling errors of the mind and heart with passion and skill. Going deeper in the understanding of Christ was for him the key to going deeper in fellowship with him. J. Gresham Machen saw in the liberal Christianity of the early twentieth century another religion. His exposure of its subtleties and his emphasis on the facts of history are astonishingly relevant for our time in the early twenty-first century.
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