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Contend For the Faith (Jude 3 part 2)
by Gino Geraci
3/21/2007 / Bible Studies
"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3 NJKV).
In part one of Jude three, I wrote about the fact that Jude was a reluctant counter-cult apologist. He wrote his words of warning not because he wanted to, but because he found it absolutely necessary to do so. While Peter had warned that false teachers were coming, Jude warned that they had arrived. Their arrival prompted Jude to exhort the believers to contend earnestly for the faith.
FAITH WORTH CONTENDING FOR DEFINED
Jude was concerned about "the faith" which was once for all delivered to the saints. What is the "faith once delivered"? Let's start with a simple definition of "the faith," which is the foundation of relationship and fellowship with God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The faith Jude exhorts us to contend for is two things. First, it is the orthodox Christian teachings revealed in the Scripture that center on the person of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work. This incorporates His virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, glorious physical resurrection from the dead, ascension into heaven, His coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His eternal majesty. Second, it is the life-giving salvation that comes from real relationship and friendship with the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.
In the New Testament the word faith or believe can refer to two things: either the act of believing or the content of what a person believes.
C.S. Lewis called this Mere Christianity; Dr. Walter Martin called it Essential Christianity. Under the subheading of faith we have the doctrine of authority, the doctrine of God, the doctrine of Jesus, the doctrine of sin and salvation, the atonement, Christ's resurrection from the dead, the doctrine of the church etc.
THE FIGHT WE MUST FIGHT
"Do you know what the two greatest problems in America are?" a reporter asked a passerby. "I don't know and I don't care." "Then you have both of them!" was the abrupt reply. Ignorance and apathy are the two greatest problems in the church today. Ignorance and apathy will not solve the problem of false teachers and false teaching. In fact, in order to defend the faith, two primary things are needed. First, we must recognize that a state of war exists. Second, we need a willingness to fight!
The ministry of discernment is not for the faint of heart or for cowards. Courage is a necessary ingredient in any battle, including the battle for the truth.
The battle for the truth is not passive. In fact, Jude tells us to contend earnestly. The Greek word translated "contend" is epagonizomai. The word means to struggle, like one would in an athletic contest, to compete for a prize, or to fight with an adversary. The word gives us a picture of an intense struggle. Paul uses the same word when he wrote, "Everyone who competes (epagonizomai) in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1Cor.9:25 NKJV).
To "contend for the faith" means to:
* Actively and energetically oppose the false teacher and the false teaching
* Present the evidence of the authenticity of the Scriptures
* Affirm that all Scripture is given by God
* Open the real meaning of the Word of God and allow that meaning to change our lives
* Contend for the very system of truth, a Biblical worldview, in all its simplicity and purity.
Critics of Christianity accuse us of being narrow or close minded. But Norman Geisler, in his excellent book entitled, I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist suggests the Christian should not confuse narrow mindedness with empty mindedness.
There is a time to be broad minded, and a time to be narrow minded. We must be broad in our love for the lost that is great enough to cover all (John 3:16,1 Corinthians 13), and in our vision that looks at the whole world through the eyes of Jesus. We must also be broad in our passion for the people who don't know God and are without Him in this present evil world (Matthew 28:19-20). We want to be broad and generous in love, knowledge, compassion and understanding.
But we believe the essential truths of the gospel are narrow, and we acknowledge that many types of truth are narrow. Mathematical truth is narrow. Scientific truth is narrow. Historical truth is narrow. And the truth of the gospel is narrow. We are not doing God or mankind a favor by broadening the narrow gate. We cannot be more generous than God Himself. Remember that He is the one who said, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14, NKJV).
Paul suffered loss and misunderstanding for standing for the faith. Someone even greater than Paul made enemies by His faithful ministry of truth: the Lord Jesus Christ. Bitter enemies hounded, tested, persecuted, imprisoned, and tortured Jesus. They mocked, jeered and joked while He hung on a cross.
Paul was misunderstood for standing for the truth. Jesus was and is misunderstood for being the truth. It shouldn't surprise us that we will also be misunderstood and criticized for proclaiming the truth. But we have no other choice; we must earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. It may not be popular to contend for the faith, but it's absolutely necessary.
Copyright by Gino Geraci
Gino Geraci is pastor of Calvary South Denver ( www.calvarycsd.org ). His radio broadcasts can be listened to live, M-F from 4:00 - 6:00 pm MST on www.krks.com. He can be contacted by emailing [email protected] .
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