Contending Earnestly for the Faith

Jude 3-4

3 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.

4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJ)

The Christian faith is something which must be defended. Every Christian must be its defender. If the Christian tradition comes down from generation to generation, each generation must hand it on uncorrupted and unperverted. There are times when that is difficult.

  1. The Necessary Purpose of the Letter. 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.
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    2. Necessary
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      2. Many things in the Bible are called necessary.
      3. One such is found in Acts 17:3
      4. Acts 17:3 it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, (RSV)
      5. It was necessary that Jesus die for our sins; the Holy Spirit must needs warn us through Jude that men will deny the necessity for that death.
      6. In order to bring Christianity into line with the other religions of the world they must remove the offense of the cross.
      7. But whatever else is necessary, it was needed that Jesus suffer, die, and be raised from the dead.
      8. Paul said that it was necessary that he preach the gospel.
      9. And it was necessary that Jude write concerning these who have crept into the churches, bring with them damnable heresies.
    3. Contend for the faith.
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      2. Now we can contend for the faith without being contentious.
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        2. Some people never agree with anyone as a matter of principle.
        3. There are some who make a big deal out of everything.
        4. I call that majoring on minor issues.
        5. As one person said, we need to decide on which crosses we will be crucified.
        6. And we must never forget the admonition to speak the truth in love.
        7. And we must never forget that it is perfectly Christlike to condemn the sin while offering forgiveness to repentant sinners.
      3. But we must contend for what the Bible says is right.
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        2. We live in a society that says let everyone do their own thing.
        3. In Judges the very last verse, the writer laments the terrible moral conditions of the day with these words, "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." Judg 21:25 (NKJ)
        4. Now that may sound proper, but if there were twenty people in a boat and they were all doing their own thing it might not be too bad, but when one group starts drilling holes in the bottom of the boat the rest had better do more than try to bail out the water.
        5. We hear people say that what a person does is their own business.
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          2. This may be partially true.
          3. But if they are contracting AIDS and then expecting the rest of society to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep them alive, I say it is our business.
          4. Or if they are making pornographic material that will bring despair and ruin to other couples in the society then I say they need to be stopped.
          5. Or when they promote a lifestyle that will undermine and destabilize the family as we know it then the rest of people in this boat had better wake up.
          6. We must remember that in any community, what one person does will very likely affect others in that community, therefore the community has some say in what it allows its members to do.
        6. Every prophet, preacher and pastor in the Bible spoke out against the immorality of their day.
        7. They were continually calling on those who had dedicated their lives to God to stand firm in their resistance to the immorality of the day.
        8. Now I read recently where one preacher wrote that morality is not a doctrinal issue. But every issue that relates to our Christian life and to godliness is a doctrinal issue.
      4. Therefore the major thing we must contend for is the faith.
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        2. That is that system of understanding that Jesus gave to the apostles concerning God, man, salvation, the eternal state and how we should live soberly, righteously in this evil world.
        3. Titus 2:11-13 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, NKJV
        4. But today that is becoming ever increasingly harder and harder to do.
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          2. One reason and the most obvious reason is that people do not know their Bibles like the should.
          3. In a recent Barna poll only 1% of the pastors responding said that preaching the Bible so that people could understand it and follow it was a main priority.
          4. How can we contend for that which we do not know?
          5. How can we defend what we do not understand?
          6. When was the last time you involved yourself in a systematic Bible Study, either private or public?
          7. Do you systematically read your Bible?
        5. For many of us contending for the faith may be taking an active part in the church, teaching Sunday School, working in the children's program
        6. It may mean praying for the pastor and the other leaders in the church that God will direct them and give them wisdom.
        7. It may mean that we support and encourage one another to not compromise but to remain faithful in this present evil world.
      5. There is an OT illustration of this principle.
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        2. In the book of Nehemiah they were trying to rebuild the walls of the city of Jerusalem.
        3. The enemy, their own non-Jewish neighbors, did not want them to do that.
        4. The opposition tried everything in the book and even what was not in the book.
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          2. They mocked and ridiculed their efforts.
          3. They tried to discourage the people.
          4. They tried deception.
          5. Finally they threatened to attack them.
        5. But Nehemiah would not give in.
        6. One of my favorite passages in Nehemiah is Neh 4:14 where Nehemiah says, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses." (NKJ)
        7. The finished the work. Notice how they did it.
        8. Neh 4:17-18 17 Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. 18 Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me. (NKJ)
      6. Now the parallel in Jude is very similar.
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        2. In verse 20 of Jude he says, But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, (NKJ)
        3. They were to contend for the faith and build one another up in the faith.
        4. Now Nehemiah used swords of steel but we are to use the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
        5. At the same time that we defend the faith, were are to grow and help one another grow in the faith.
      7. Notice also that this faith is not a liquid substance that can change shape with each approaching millennium to meet everyone's fancy.
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        2. It was once and for all time delivered to the saints and that is the way it has come to us.
        3. It is not judged by us as to weather or not it is right but we are judged by it according to either our acceptance of in or our rejection of it.
        4. Some today think that the Bible means what we think it means.
        5. But the truth is that the Bible means what God intended it to mean and neither you nor I or our denominational leaders or anyone else can change that.
        6. Modern Christianity reads the Bible and if it doesn't agree with their norms, they simply re-interpret it, or should I say deny it.
        7. There have always been those who either want to add to the Bible or take away from it.
        8. Some deny that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible.
        9. Others deny that Isaiah wrote all of Isaiah.
        10. Others have come along in later years with a new revelation, something that we need to add.
        11. Rev 22:18-19 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (NKJ)

Are we contending for the faith, or just being contentious? Are we working to accomplish the same things that the Apostles were? Are we trying to build one another up in the faith? Are we trying to build up our own selves in the faith?

God is calling us through the little letter of Jude to take our faith more seriously. He is encouraging us not to be gullible when it comes to those who would worm their way into Christianity and lead others astray.

Let us resolve that we will stand firm in the faith that was once delivered to the saints and that we will communicate that faith to our generation. That we will pass the baton on to our children so they will pass it on to others also.