Contending for the Faith

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 3-4

Jude had wanted to write to these Christians about the salvation from God which had been given to them, but the Holy Spirit inspired him to write about a different topic (2 Peter 1:19-21): contending for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (v. 3).  The reason for this was due to ungodly people who promoted heinous doctrines (v. 4).  They had crept in “unnoticed,” even after the many warnings given by Jesus, Peter and Paul (Matthew 7:13-27; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Peter 2:1-22).  The same tragedy happens today, which is why God’s call to “contend for the faith” is just as relevant now as it was then.

Observe that “the faith” is said to be “once for all delivered to the saints.”  The Bible speaks of only one faith which God recognizes (Ephesians 4:4-5), a faith which is based on God’s Word and backed up by obedient works (Romans 10:17; James 2:14-26).  The phrase “once for all” literally means “one time for all time” in the original language, meaning that Paul was correct to tell Christians that there would be no further revelation (Galatians 1:6-9).  He had proclaimed “the WHOLE counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).  Peter likewise told his readers that God had already given them “ALL things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).  The Scriptures were completed two thousand years ago, friends.  No further revelation is coming, nor has it come since the first century A.D.  The Bible is all we need for our guide.  Timothy was told that the Scriptures contains all we need to become what God wants us to be (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  When some suggest God has revealed more to them than what is in the Bible, Christians must stand up and start “contending for the faith.”

Notice also that Jude described the condemned as those who pervert God’s grace into sensuality.  In his day people made up an idea about grace that gave them an excuse to sin, so much so that they were engaging in openly shameful evils.  The same thing happens today when people say, “God is too loving and His grace is too wonderful, so how in the world can He condemn me when I’m so sincere?”  Many use grace as an excuse to disregard the commands of the Bible and justify their sinful lifestyle.  Paul would reply to them that they in no way should “continue in sin so that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1-2) and would remind them that “the grace of God” which has appeared and brings “salvation for all people” also “instructs” us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts” and instead “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).  The writer of Hebrews would add that if we “go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries,” before telling us that our willful sin has “outraged the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:26-29).  Thus, we should not think that God’s grace covers us when we sin unrepentantly.

See how the condemned are said by Jude to deny Jesus.  It’s interesting that he describes Jesus with two terms that basically mean the same thing: “Master” and “Lord.”  This is to emphasize the authority of Christ (Matthew 28:18), and the need to obey Him (Hebrews 5:9).  Christ’s authority is denied today as well when His Word is disrespected and standards other than Scripture such as synods, conventions, councils, popes, bishops, preachers or our own feelings and desires are followed instead of the Bible (2 Timothy 4:1-4).  Friends, study your Bibles.  Rightly divide the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15).  Follow God’s Word and God’s Word alone.

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