By David Faust
Originally Jude intended to write a general letter. He said, “I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share” (v. 3)—perhaps a positive, encouraging letter like 1 Peter. Instead, alarmed by the rising threat of false teaching, he wrote a passionate warning in the style of 2 Peter. Jude explained, “I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (v. 3).
Contend is a translation of the Greek word epagonizesthai, which suggests that defending the faith may be costly and agonizing. To contend for our faith means fighting for it, standing up for it, vigorously protecting it—even if doing so puts us out of step with our culture.
There are several reasons we should take to heart Jude’s warning to contend for the faith:
For our own sake. Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy the truth and do not sell it.” Anything we exchange for truth is a bad deal. Jesus referred to the kingdom of God as a pearl of great price. What could be more valuable than our relationship with God?
For the sake of our forerunners in the faith. We stand on the shoulders of faithful Christians from past generations, and we owe a debt of gratitude to those who led us to Christ and taught us his Word. In my office hangs an ordination certificate signed by godly leaders who laid their hands on me and prayed for my ministry nearly 40 years ago. They were ordinary men—farmers, schoolteachers, businessmen, laborers, ministers—but they loved God, loved me, and trusted me to carry on the Lord’s work. Their signatures motivate me to be faithful. I don’t want to let them down.
For the sake of the next generation. In his eye-opening book, The Great Evangelical Recession, John S. Dickerson warned that Bible-believing churches are losing ground at an alarming rate. He noted, “The fastest growing subcultures in the United States express a militant antagonism against Christians who take the Bible seriously. . . . what’s left of a smaller, shrinking, strapped church is also splintering and splitting itself over politics and postmodern views of God and the Bible.”
The spiritual well-being of our young people hangs in the balance. Jude said, “Be merciful to those who doubt” (v. 22). We must prepare the next generation for the tough questions and spiritual challenges ahead of them. Jeff Vines at Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas, California, urges every member of his congregation to take an Apologetics 101 course dealing with basic truths, such as the existence of God and the resurrection of Christ. Jeff devotes two or three days each year to a retreat with the church’s high school seniors to strengthen their faith before they leave home to pursue careers and degrees.
For the Lord’s sake. Jude started with a warning but ended with a doxology. God “is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (v. 24). We give God glory when we speak the truth in love and contend earnestly for the faith.
1. What false teachings do you consider the greatest threat to the church today?
2. How do you personally “contend for the faith”?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for November 30, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Daniel 7, 8