“I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” – Jude 3
Jude seems to have been of like mind with the majority of us. We would rather focus on the good and uplifting things in life and shun confrontation and conflict. Point in fact, he had been planning to write to the church, those “beloved in God,” concerning what he termed “our common salvation.” In other words, he wanted to write an uplifting treatise on the salvation that believers in Christ Jesus share in common with each other. However, a proverbial roadblock was divinely placed in front of him and he was compelled to change his direction. Jude saw those who had “crept in unnoticed” – – the wolves in sheep’s clothing, if you will – – and he wanted to make an appeal to the believers of his day.
That brings me to the reason for writing this entry, and indeed it will serve to define the overarching purpose for the existence of this blog. Jude’s message was as follows, if you allow me to summarize in my own words: “Certain men have crept into the Church for the purpose of twisting the message of the Christian faith in order to draw followers to themselves with the goal of fulfilling their own lusts for gain. But you have been entrusted with the message of Scripture and the teaching of the Apostles, a sacred trust to keep and to guard. You must stand and fight for that body of Truth.” This blog exists to join that fight and to mimic Jude in the attempt to encourage all who read it to do the same.
There are two main points I would like to emphasize before concluding. First, notice that Jude appeals to believers to “contend earnestly,” a Greek word used to describe the vigorous struggle of athletes in sporting events, and the focus of that struggle is “the faith.” The faith is not only referring to belief unto salvation, but in reference to that which is believed, including the body of Christian Truth in toto, as I have already stated. The reason that it is important to note this is due to the current climate in Evangelical circles. With men such as Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones and Rob Bell leading individuals and whole churches to believe that every aspect of Christianity and doctrine must be re-thought, re-imagined, re-tooled, and re-jected, many one-time believers are wondering if there is anything to believe. Jude obviously understood there to be a definite corpus of Christian Truth. He also believed in its value to the degree that he would call a peaceful people to enter into a struggle to protect it.
Secondly, Jude identified the faith as that which “was once for all delivered to the saints.” As we look at this we must first notice that it was “delivered.” The Greek word means “to hand down (as Israel was to hand down their beliefs from generation to generation), to commit, to entrust.” It conjures up the picture of one generation of a family passing the family traditions down to the next. In this case it is the Apostolic tradition that is being passed on and is something valuable that calls for special protection. Secondly, Jude says that it was delivered “once for all.” Vincent quotes Bengle at this point stating, “No other faith will be given” (see Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, Volume 1, page 712). The New American Commentary addresses it in this way, “No supplements or corrections will be tolerated. The gospel of Jesus Christ has received its full explication through the apostles” (accessed through Logos Bible Software). Of course one must decide if he believes this to be the proper explanation of the passage, but to argue against this interpretation is fruitless. God has delivered to us the content of the Christian faith that must be fought for, protected, and treasured by all who believe. We can choose to avoid the conflict, to our peril, and allow the Truth to continue to be maligned by unbelievers. Or we can heed Jude’s call to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. The Christian faith doesn’t need to be re-thought, re-imagined, re-tooled, or re-jected. It needs to be remembered, treasured and obeyed.
Jude’s message should serve as a stern warning to McLaren, Bell and the like to take care in what they are teaching the masses for in propagating their false teaching they are placing themselves under the condemnation that is prescribed for the false teachers spoken of in the remainder of Jude’s letter. However, I don’t hold out a great deal of hope that any of these men will soon turn from their profitable false teaching. Yeah, I know God can change anyone. There is no doubt about that. But I also know that He allows men such as these to continue to go their own way in order to test His people and to bring His ultimate plans to conclusion. We’ll discuss this more some other day.