Recently we studied the letter of Jude. We covered the verses surrounding verses 3 & 4 in regards to contending for the faith. Below is a summary of the sermon notes from that message.
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:3-4 ESV
I was curious to find out who the audience of Jude was in this letter. For starters, Jude was a half-brother to Christ. He was the brother of James. The audience was those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ. These are verses 1 & 2. It is important to note also that from the reference given, Christians are those who God has called and they have answered/ responded to that call. They are also sanctified = set apart. Setting apart from the world and set apart unto God. These people also have an added advantage over all else. Jesus Christ: Jesus Christ is their Guardian and Protector. From that, we learn these 3 privileges that called and responded Christians have. They are sanctified, Preserved and they are called.
Contending means, competing with others in a struggle to achieve something. It also means to contest, strive, struggle, and tussle. Following the root of the translation we find out that from the Greek translation, the word used meant wrestling, and wrestling is hard and diligent work. Considering the present infinitive tense used here, ‘contending’ means it needs to be a continuous process. Of course, it is a fact that only valuable things are protected with such effort. This that we are about to contend for must be very valuable.
From his initial intention for the letter of Jude, he wanted to write to them about our common salvation. Theirs – The audience of the letter at the time, but now ours as well. Something happened and Jude found it necessary to write something different and this is what He wrote. This is what I mean, from the verse, Jude intended to write about their ‘common salvation but the holy spirit convicted him to write about ‘contending for the faith’ instead. This is what happens when you listen to the nudging of the Holy Spirit. He guides accordingly for the situation at hand. This would have been just another letter from a Christian writer to a particular church but now this was a key letter – a key message to the church.
Common salvation is emphasized because it belongs to the Jews and the Gentiles alike and offers salvation to the whole world. We emphasize Jews and Gentiles because the friction at the time was Jews still looked down upon the Gentiles because up to a point within the years leading to this after the death of Jesus Christ, the Jews believed that the savior was coming just for the Jews. But up to that point in Acts Chapter 10, this salvation was for both Jews and Gentiles. Breaking down to this context. Poor and rich all come to God the same way. Washamba na waliochanuka all come to God the same way. Cool vs Old school all come to the Lord the same way. Young and old… Same same. = Common Salvation! So if it is not common salvation, it isn’t God’s salvation and it is not salvation at all! An example comes to mind of various modern beliefs that are rising in that you can be a good Christian without going to church. The gathering of the saints is a command that we should uphold for the good of every individual. I mean, the church itself is not the building or the structure but the communion of believers. This communion of believers is key to the spiritual growth of every individual in the body of Christ. The common salvation which we profess is this only one that Jesus Christ died for our sins and we become new creations when we believe in Him. We are saved when we believe in Him. Not anything or anyone ways. Observe that God loved the ‘world’, not ‘Jews’. Imagine the weirdness in the post-resurrection age reading that “For God so loved
the Jews that he gave his only begotten son…”
““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”John 3:16-18 ESV
The idea here to contend for the faith is to maintain the original faith of the Gospel which was being destroyed by false teachers as you will see in vs 4. “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4 ESV
The Faith: [Note the Article ‘The’] Faith has a lot of definitions and meanings and in this context, this faith that we are being told to contend for is not the other 2 definitions of faith. This is not our own personal belief. It is also not the sense of our trust in God. Also, there is that tendency to believe in the modern notions of “faith that is in my heart”, I am “being true to self”. “The Faith” here means, “The essential truths of the Gospel that all true Christians hold in common”. The Faith is the body of truth that very early in the church took a definite form and built its pillars upon. This faith is repeatedly threatened from within and outside the church. Below are verses we need to be keen on where this faith is referred to.
“And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7 ESV
“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22 ESV
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7 ESV
“To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” 1 Timothy 1:2 ESV
The concept of “Delivered Once” means that the Faith was delivered one time and doesn’t need to be delivered again. We distribute this truth again and again through teaching and preaching etc, but Jesus does not die again and again for us to believe. Or, Jesus does not die again and again = especially not during easter weekend so that those who did not believe last year could believe this year. It happened with finality those 2000 plus years ago. There is no other Gospel, there will be none. Its content is being more fully understood as we all grow in spirit and its implications developed and associated predictions in scripture fulfilled but it will never be supplemented. Therefore brethren beware of people claiming to have a new revelation that completes God’s word to mankind. Anyone who comes along and claims to have a fresh word of God to add to the faith once for all delivered to the saints is against scripture.
At the time of writing this letter, there had arisen false teachers as well as those who had not yet grasped the context of salvation and new life properly. Then there are Certain People being referred to in verse 4. We find that these certain people are false teachers. They are everywhere in the new testament and even us being in this new dispensation find ourselves in a world scattered with these false teachers. “Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus so that they might bring us into slavery—” Galatians 2:4 ESV. Simon Peter in his letter to the believers warned them of similar people. “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master, who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.”— 2 Peter 2:1-2 ESV. These are those we are being called upon to contend with. Rather, it is these false teachings and prophecies, it is these characters who are perverting the grace of God into sensuality and denying the Master Jesus Christ who we are being called upon to contend with. If you manage to change an individual’s belief, then you have changed his entire makeup. For us Christians who are Christians because of what we believe in and not how we live – actions and ways of life, etc, we have to constantly protect ourselves in all ways.
So we ask ourselves in what ways do we contend for the Faith? While this is not an all conclusive list of how to contend for the faith, I believe that this is a good starting point. As the Holy Spirit continues working on us and giving us more understanding, we will figure out god guided ways as per context and season on how to contend for the faith in our own individual walks as the body of Christ.
- By giving unflinching/bold [not showing fear & hesitstion] witness. If anyone asks us why we are Christians, we need to know why we are actually Christians, not because we go to church versus those who go to the temples, shrines or mosques, and other places. We need to know clearly what “The Faith” is all about.
- Making possible the training of faithful ambassadors for Jesus. This is important because one of the reasons false teachers and prophets are arising is because there is a laxity of sorts or there is insufficient training of faithful ambassadors of Christ. We too as congregants, need to be diligent in training ourselves in the Word. We need to study and meditate on the word of God seriously so that we can grow in wisdom and knowledge of His work.
- Strengthening the hands of faithful pastors who honor the word of God in their pulpits. We need to be louder with sound doctrine than the theatrics that are on the pulpits, honestly. We too are a big part of the problem if we find it easier to mock, and fuel trends of pulpit theatrics in the name of fun and entertainment. Let us share more of the sound doctrine. Where there is a willingness to be corrected, let us also correct in love, all for the purpose of the growth of the body of Christ.
- Living uncompromising Christian lives and giving credit to the Lord who changed us. Remember, we are Christians not because of the things we do, but because of what we believe in. It is what we believe in that changes the things we do. Giving credit to God is key because in a world full of motivational speaking and super theories on ‘how to be perfect’, ‘How to become a better you,’ and all that, we tend to forget that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who transformed us and continues to transform us in our new life in Christ.
- Being faithful to scripture. This is as simple as it comes. This is our guideline, our road map. Everything we need is in there.
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.1 Timothy 6:12
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Thank you for reading.