Contend earnestly for the faith!
This exhortation is the theme of the letter of Jude,
which is addressed: To those who are called,
sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ
Contend earnestly for the faith! Judes letter is a
spiritual call to arms, a call to defend the
original faith against the destructive influence of false teachers
in the church.
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 (Jude 3).
Judes exhortation is motivated by love.
Jude loves his brethren and is concerned about their eternal
salvation. He begins and ends his letter with a blessing: Mercy,
peace, and love be multiplied to you (Jude 2); Now to Him
who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you
faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to
God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty,
dominion and power, both now and forever (Jude 24, 25).
Jude wants his fellow Christians to continue enjoying the
mercy, peace and love that are theirs in Christ. He wants them
to be kept from stumbling so they can stand in the presence of
God with exceeding joy.
Let us carefully consider Judes exhortation. 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 (Jude 3).
What does Jude mean by our common salvation?
He addresses his letter to the sanctified ones (Jude 1),
those who have been saved from sin by Christ. Their salvation
is common or mutual because it is shared by all true
Mankind can be saved only through Jesus Christ: Nor is
there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under
heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts
The saved have a common salvation because all the saved
are added to the same church (Acts 2:47), the church of Christ,
which is His body (Ephesians 1:22, 23).
On the first day of the week (Acts 20:7) they all eat at the
Lords table (1 Corinthians 10:21) and partake of the loaf and
cup as a communion with the body and blood of Christ (1
Corinthians 10:16) by which they are saved. For we, though
many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that
one bread (1 Corinthians 10:17).
What is the faith?
The faith is what is believed by the saved, which is all
the truth as revealed by the Holy Spirit through the apostles
(John 16:13) and believed by the church. It is the faith of
Jesus (Revelation 14:12), the convictions Jesus prescribes for
This collection of truths believed by the church of Christ is
also called the gospel of Christ (Romans 15:19), the word of
Christ (Colossians 3:16) and the doctrine of Christ (2 John
The Christian faith is a common faith (Titus 1:4). All true
disciples of Christ have the same faith, they believe the same
things. Their common salvation is based on their common
faith, practiced, not in isolation, but in a community of
believers, the church of Christ. Through their mutually held
faith they have fellowship with God and with each other (1 John
Because of division at Corinth, Paul admonished: Now I
plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no
divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together
in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians
The spirit of our times would tell us that we may believe
whatever we want, that one religion is as good as another, that
we may join the denomination of our choice.
Once when I tried to strike up a conversation with a
denominational preacher by saying that it was sad that we were
divided, he objected. He thought it was good that people could
select a faith they liked from among many choices!
But Jude tells us to earnestly contend for the faith. In the
first century that faith was delivered to the saints once for all
and it has been preserved for us as the New Testament.
There is only one faith that is from God. There is one
body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your
calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father
of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all
The one God is not the author of the thousands of
conflicting faiths proclaimed and practiced in the guise of
Christianity. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians
14:33). The one God is the author of the one faith that
includes one baptism and results in one body (one church).
Thus the faith consists of all the convictions Jesus has
prescribed for His followers. This most holy faith is their
foundation for edification and hope of eternal life: But you,
beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying
in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking
for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life (Jude
Which faith was delivered once for all to the saints?
A lover of truth searching for the one faith is confronted by
a bewildering multiplicity of conflicting faiths claiming to be
A few simple tests, however, can immediately eliminate
most of them. If a faith originated after the time of the
apostles, it cannot be the faith that was once for all delivered to
the saints. If a faith is based on alleged prophecies after the
time of the apostles, it cannot be the faith that was once for all
delivered to the saints. If a faith changes items of faith, it
cannot be the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
If a faith conforms itself to the spirit of the times, it cannot be
the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. If a faith
does not even try to be the original faith, it cannot be the faith
that was once for all delivered to the saints.
With regard to those who claim adherence to the original
faith, one must investigate whether their claim is correct. This
eliminates all whose faith obviously differs from the original
The faith that was once for all delivered to the saints has
been preserved in the New Testament (John 20:30, 31;
Romans 16:25, 26; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 2
Peter 2:19-21). That is where the one faith is found. Our task is
simply to learn that faith, accept it and put it into practice.
Why must we contend for the faith?
To contend for something means to proclaim it forcefully,
prove it logically and defend it from all opposition.
Jude gives this reason for his exhortation: 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 3, 4 NASB).
Jude is gentle and mild as he exhorts his brethren, but in
his denunciation of false teachers, he uses extremely forceful
language. It reminds us of the scathing condemnation of the
Sadducees and Pharisees by Jesus and John the Baptist
(Matthew 3:7; 23:232-33). Jude condemns false teachers so
vehemently because he loves his brethren and wants them to
Thus, we must contend for the faith because false teachers
are constantly trying to lead Christians astray. Jesus predicted
this: Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many
(Matthew 24:11). Peter wrote: There will be false teachers
among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies (2
Paul warned the elders at Ephesus: For I know this, that
after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not
sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up,
speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after
themselves (Acts 20:29, 30).
Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia who were being
influenced by false teachers: I marvel that you are turning
away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to
a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some
who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But
even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel
to you than what we have preached to you, let him be
accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone
preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received,
let him be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9).
Paul wrote to the saints at Rome: Now I urge you,
brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary
to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them (Romans
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the
things we have heard, lest we drift away (Hebrews 2:1). We
may not go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6).
Thus Jude exhorts us to contend earnestly to defend the
faith against false teachers.
To be saved we must adhere to the original faith.
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine
of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of
Christ has both the Father and the Son (2 John 9).
Christians must be obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7), they
must continue in the faith (Acts 14:22), they must be
strengthened in the faith (Acts 16:5), they must be
established in the faith (Colossians 2:7), they must stand
fast in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13), they must be sound in
the faith (Titus 1:13), they must keep the faith (2 Timothy
4:7), they must strive together for the faith of the gospel
Judes exhortation is urgently needed today.
Paul warned: Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter
times some will depart from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1). For the
time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but
according to their own desires, because they have itching ears,
they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn
their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables
(2 Timothy 4:3, 4). A better description of contemporary
Christendom is hard to find!
In the midst of such widespread apostasy, it is not easy to
remain true to the original faith.
In the first century there were Christians who fell away (1
Timothy 1:19; 6:21; 2 Timothy 3:8) and also in our time there
are Christians who fall away. In the first century there were
local congregations that went astray and today also there are
local congregations that drift away from the truth.
This can also happen to us if we are not constantly on
guard to avoid departures from the original faith. We must be
faithful followers of Christ and the church of Christ as
designated in the New Testament.
Let us take Judes exhortation to heart!
There is only one faith that saves, the original faith that
was preached in the first century and is preserved in the New
Testament. Let us therefore contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Amen.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive