“Contend for the faith” is a phrase found in Jude verse
3. It is a clarion call to stand
forthrightly and unashamedly for the cause of truth and righteousness. While most of Jude’s 25 verses describe the
kind of beliefs and people the faithful are to stand against, many seem not to
realize that “the faith” Jude is most concerned about is the faith inside the
believer. Look carefully at the reason
Jude gives for writing his letter:
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. (v.3).
“Once delivered to the saints.” He then introduces the subject of how people
“crept in…who pervert the grace of our God…”
But before he launches into a full out assault on the godlessness he is
so disturbed about, he throws this dart at his readers:
I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a
people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
Jude wanted to write to believers about salvation but found
it necessary to change the subject to condemnation because the faith that was
once delivered to them was slipping away…from their hearts. People read Jude
and think he’s thundering down on those who are already condemned. Not so.
He’s disturbed that believers have become so willing to follow the
crowd. His words aren’t a warning about
what happens to evil people who fight against holy people. His words are a warning about what happens
when holy people accommodate sinful ideas and practices. In the verse above he reminds the Church that
the very people who were “saved” from slavery in Egypt were the same people who
were marched around in the wilderness until they died because of their
Jude is saying, “Why do you listen to those who lead you
into despair?” There is much to be said
for fighting for truth in an ungodly culture and society. But that fight can only succeed if each and
every believer first fights to keep the faith that dwells within them. Before “contend for the faith” can mean
engage evil in the world it must first mean protect the truth in your own
Look around the Church today and see what paths the people
of God are willing to go down. From
accepting homosexuality as normative Christian behavior to
agreeing that prayer has no place outside of places of worship to accepting
dependence on government is God’s will.
It’s unconscionable and unfathomable.
Not that sinful practices and beliefs are demanding acceptance but that
members of the community of faith and holiness are yielding personally to those
demands. Although Jude exposes evil in
the world for what it is his thunder is aimed at Christians, “you must
remember…build yourselves up in your most holy faith…pray.” Another way to put what Jude is saying to
Christians is this: stop going along to get along!
The role of the Church in society is very simple. It is to be holy. It is not to be liked. It is not to be accepted. It is not to be accommodating. The victorious Church is not the one that has
garnered the most public approval and acceptance. Rather, it is the one that has stood firm on
its Biblical foundation not yielding to worldly pressures and demands to
conform and modify its standards.
Contending for the faith eventually means saying “No!” to a
society that demands its evil ways be universally accepted. But first it must mean fighting for holiness
in our own hearts. As Peter put it “it
is time for judgment to begin at the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17). That is where contending for the faith must
always begin. Addressing cultural evil
before personally dealing with it in the Church is putting the cart before the
horse. Fight the good fight within and
only then are you ready for taking it outside.
Ray Rooney, Jr.