Word of the Week by Justin Breeden – Contend Earnestly For the Faith
The Word of the Week – Contend Earnestly For the Faith
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:3-4 NASB
The Epistle of Jude is a letter that was written by the half-brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55) around the year 60 A.D. It was addressed to a specific group of Christians whose identity is now unknown to us. Nevertheless, the principles contained within Jude’s letter serve as a perpetual message for the church throughout the ages.
In verse three we read that Jude had originally intended to write regarding our common salvation but was instead compelled by necessity to address a much more pressing issue – the way in which Christians should react to false teaching and false teachers. He instructs his readers to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
The phrase contend earnestly means to wrestle or fight for something. It was originally used to refer to an athlete competing for victory in the Olympic Games. In this same way, Jude calls the church to the fight for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
What does the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints refer to? It refers to the body of doctrinal truths held by the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. This raises a couple of points that desperately needed to be addressed today:
- Doctrine matters! Unfortunately it seems that there is an attitude among many today that sound doctrine is unimportant. According to Jude, nothing could be further from the truth! Sound doctrine is the very bedrock of the church and must be contended for earnestly.
- There is a definite body of Biblical doctrine! How could Jude instruct the church to contend for a body of doctrine of which they were uncertain? He could not. This means that there was and is a specific body of beliefs that constitute true Christianity by which all things must be tested.
- The body of Biblical doctrine is final and complete! Jude tells us that, even in his time, the body of Biblical doctrine was already complete, once for all handed down to the church. This means that we are not looking for new revelations from God but rather to understand and walk in the light of the body of doctrinal truth that has already been revealed.
Why is it important for Christians to contend for the truth? In verse four Jude tells us that it is because false teachers will come into the church and lead people away from the Word of God. Therefore we must fight for these truths! The late Dr. Walter Martin once said, “Controversy for the sake of controversy is sin; controversy for the sake of truth is a divine command.” Amen!
While there is not enough space in this article to lay out the specific details of the faith which was once for all handed down, we nevertheless can give a very brief outline in closing:
- The Doctrine of the One True God – The doctrine that God eternally exists as three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and each person is fully God, and there is one God (Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem, pg. 1256). (See Matthew 28:19)
- The Doctrine of the One True Christ – Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man in one person, and will be so forever (Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem, pg. 529). (See John 1:1 & John 1:14)
- The Doctrine of the One True Gospel – Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. (See Ephesians 2:8-10)
Will you contend for the truth?
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, It must not suffer loss:
From vict’ry unto vict’ry His army shall He lead,
Till ev’ry foe is vanquished, And Christ is Lord indeed.
Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, (George Duffield Jr. 1818-1888)
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