Why should we contend for the faith? – Part 2

Why do I need to contend for the faith? Before I answer that question, let me encourage you by saying,

You don’t have to, nor should you, contend for the faith on your own.

In the middle of verse 3, when Jude says,

“I found it necessary to write to appeal to you to contend for the faith” (Jud 3b)

When Jude wrote that, he didn’t have one person in mind. The “you” in this verse is plural. So instead of reading it as saying, “you, by yourself, alone, contend for the faith”, you should read it as, “you guys together contend for the faith” or as we might say down in Georgia “ya’ll contend for the faith”.

Contending for the faith, then, is not something you do by yourself, just like Jessica didn’t finish that race by herself (see last post). She needed help. She needed Laura to finish that race because she wouldn’t have struggled on by herself. In the same way, we need others besides us so that we might continue to contend for the faith.

Yes, contending for the faith is going to take a lot of work, but you should be encouraged to expend the energy knowing you don’t have to do it on your own. We should be running beside one another, encouraging one another to contend for the faith. A single soldier doesn’t fight a war, and single Christian doesn’t contend for the faith. We do it together.

But again, why contend in the first place? It seems like something that is difficult, it seems like something that I am going to have to work at, even if I have others working with me. So why do I need to contend for the faith? Baked into that question is the beginning of the answer. It has to do with the two word phrase “the faith”.

 What does “the faith” represent?

Everything found in Scripture falls under the heading of “the faith”. It’s the whole body of theology and doctrine found in Scripture. It is the teaching that God has given in His Word. It is the truths about man, the gospel, God, Jesus, the church, the Christian life. Everything found in Scripture falls under the heading of “the faith”. That’s what we are to contend for.

We must contend for the faith because of false teachers.

Look at verse 4,

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jud 4)

Jude tells us that false teachers have staged a covert operation to infiltrate the church and deceive church members, leading them astray and away from Christ. Notice the “certain people” — false teachers — “have crept in unnoticed”. That’s the idea of the covert operation.

This is not a hypothetical instance

Jude is bringing up but something that is occurring right then in that church. There are people who have crept in unnoticed with the intention of deceiving Christians.

But here’s the thing,

This is not an isolated event.

  • In Galatians 2, Paul highlights the idea that false teachers secretly slipped into the church to to try to lead them astray.
  • In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter warns that false teachers have and will seek to “secretly bring in destructive heresies”.
  • In 1 John 2:18-27, John tells us that false teachers rose up in the church, have left, and are seeking to take others with them. He is warning the church not to follow them.

The idea that false teachers are covertly infiltrating and trying to influence church members is not an isolated event. The churches to whom Jude, Paul, Peter, and John wrote all had to deal with some form of false teaching and teachers, who were secretly trying to destroy the health of the church and lead people astray.
Just as it happened in those churches it can happen in ours.

The apostles predicted it would happen.

Look at verse 4,

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jud 4)

Look at verses 17-19

“”But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” (Jud 17–19)

False teachers sneaking into the church in an effort to mislead is nothing new. It is nothing out of the ordinary. It is not an isolated event. It happened in the first century and all throughout the ages since then. It can happen in our church as well. In fact, it is predicted that it will.

Knowing that false teachers can and are trying to infiltrate the church, we must contend for the faith.

That is why we put forth the effort, that is why we expend the energy, that is why we are constantly on guard. Because false teachers are actively seeking to infiltrate the church, and there may be some here already.

I know what you’re probably thinking,

“I know my church, I’ve been there for a while, there are no false teachers. We have structures and systems in place to keep them out, to guard against it.”

You know, that might be true. You might know your people well. You might have systems in place to help keep false teachers out. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try. That doesn’t mean they won’t get in. That they won’t infiltrate your church.

Even if false teachers haven’t physically infiltrated the church, that doesn’t mean that their false teaching can’t or hasn’t infiltrated your church

We live in an age where we are constantly bombarded with messages from all over. Some of the messages we hear and our people hear very well could be a false message. Facebook is full of them! You or your people may unintentionally bring that message into the church as you discuss things one on one with someone, dialogue in Sunday school, or discuss in Bible study. Just because a false teacher hasn’t physically infiltrated the church, doesn’t mean that their false teaching can’t. So we have to be vigilant

We have to run everything through the grid of Scripture

Everything we hear in conversation, we read, we are taught in Sunday school class, and even from the pulpit, we must run it all through the grid of Scripture. We can’t assume anything.

But in order to run the messaging, we hear through the grid of Scripture,

We have to know scripture.

We can’t even begin to guard or contend for the faith if we don’t know the faith — if we don’t know our Bible’s. This is why we have to constantly read Scripture. Not just alone, but we need to read scripture in community with other people. Whether that be Bible study or one-on-one discipleship, we need to read scripture, and we need to read it in community.

But in order for us to do that:

We have to prioritize times of Bible study.

I believe this is where many of us fall short. We are willing to prioritize all kinds of other things in our life, but we aren’t willing to prioritize the Scriptures. Instead, we let other things consume us, things that have no lasting impact. Things that pull us away from the Bible and community with others. So we must prioritize the text in our own lives and we must study scripture in community with one.

We must prioritize times of Bible study and we must lead our people to do the same because:

Our life and their life literally depends on it.

False teachers don’t want you to know and believe the true gospel. They don’t want that for your people either. They want nothing more than to lead us away from the life-giving message found in God’s Word. So we must prioritize the text in our life and we must study Scripture in community with one another and we must lead our people to do the same, so that know their Bible.

I know this isn’t always easy. So how?

How do we motivate ourself and our people to prioritize the text in their life and study with one another in community?

We must be motivated by the gospel and we must motivate our people with the gospel. We have a God who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us, in order to draw us back into relationship with Him. He’s given us His Word in order to tell us about that so that we might be able to experience salvation and know how to live in this world. We must see the value of Christ. We must help our people see the value of Christ. We must present the Word in such a way that they are captivated by Jesus, that they are drawn in by Him so that nothing else matters except Jesus.

We must be motivated by the gospel and we must motivate our people with the gospel.

Resources

[1] https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/03/health/fast-food-consumption-cdc-study/index.html

Post developed from my sermon: Why do I need to contend for the faith?

Why should we contend for the faith? – Part 1

There are things in life that are not all that important, and then there are those things that are worth fighting for. Our health is one of those things, it is worth the fight. But many Americans are losing the battle. Not only do we overeat, but we eat a lot of bad food. A recent article I read reported that 1 out of every 3 Americans eat fast food on any given day. To put that into perspective, close to 85 million people eat fast food every single day. What makes that so bad for our health is that:

“Fast foods tend to be high in calories, fat, salt and sugar, which — when consumed in excess — can be associated with obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, among other health risks.” [1]

But if we are going to fight for our health, and I think most of us would agree that our health is worth fighting for, we have to cut back on how much we eat and what we eat. For some of you, that might be a new revelation. But most of you that we shouldn’t eat as much as we do and we shouldn’t be eating the food we eat, at least not on a regular basis.

It is easy for us to grow apathetic and allow foods to creep into our diet that isn’t healthy for us. That is especially true when we get busy with the daily grind of life. The last thing we are thinking about when we are trying to get to a meeting, accomplish a deadline, or get our kids to their third practice that week is how healthy the food is we are eating. But we can’t let our guard down if we are going to contend for our health.

That is not only true of our physical health but of our own spiritual health as well. If we are going to keep ourselves spiritually healthy, then we have to constantly be on guard, we have to constantly fight for our spiritual health just like we have to constantly fight for our physical health. One way we keep ourselves spiritually healthy is by contending for the faith. This is what Jude tells the church in verse 3,

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jud 3)

Jude is concerned for this church. He wants them to contend for the faith. His letter is not accidental. It’s not like Jude picked up his iPhone to respond to an email, and the next thing he knew he was carefully crafting his next Facebook story or Instagram message that he was going to tag this church in. We often get distracted by our phone. But that is not the case for Jude. He didn’t get distracted. He had a real concern that drove him to write an urgent letter to the church telling them to contend for the faith.

Why is that? Why the urgency? Why the change of plans? Why are they to contend for the faith? Why should we contend for the faith?

In order to answer that question, we first need to know what it means to contend.

What does it mean to contend?

A couple of months ago Laura Mazur and Jessica Robertson — two women who had never met before — reached the 14-mile marker of the Dick’s Sporting Good’s marathon in Pittsburg at the same time. While there were plenty of people who reached that mark in tandem with others, this pair was unique because they were in dead last. Laura was a seasoned marathoner, but Jessica wasn’t. This was actually her first marathon. She was in last place and exhausted. Knowing that she still had 12 miles to go, she felt completely defeated.

The two began chatting. Once Laura found out how Jessica felt, she told her, “If you stay with me, I’ll stay with you and we will finish this race together.” That is exactly what they did. A while later they crossed the finish line together, holding hands. As they struggled to the end, hands clutched, a spectator took a picture of them, posted it on social media, and it has since gone viral.

The struggle they felt and the energy they expended to finish that marathon is the idea that Jude is communicating through this word “contend”. Contending for the faith, then, is not an easy thing. It is not something you do casually or occasionally. It is not a sprint. Or a jog we take a few times a week. It is a marathon. It’s a daily fight. A daily struggle. It involves us daily putting forth effort and energy as we engage in a conflict for the faith.

Hearing that, you might be thinking, “All this contending is going to require a lot of effort on my part. So why do it? Why put forth the effort?” Why do I need to contend for the faith?

Next Time

I’ll continue to answer the question: why do I need to contend for the faith? next time.

Resources

[1] https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/03/health/fast-food-consumption-cdc-study/index.html

Post developed from my sermon: Why do I need to contend for the faith?