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Articles

Contending Earnestly for the Faith

Contending Earnestly for the Faith

By Paul R. Blake

            “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. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3-4).

            Jude writes to encourage the called to maintain the purity of truth as a defense against the errorists among them. In addition, the Church experienced an increase in the number of Gentile converts, some of whom brought Greek philosophies with them.

            False teachers in the latter half of the first century generated a spiritually poisonous blend of the Gospel, Jewish tradition, and contemporary wisdom of men. Jude warns of these purveyors of error: "For there are certain men crept in unawares..." (v 4). This warning closely parallels Paul's admonition to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:28-30) and Peter's cautionary about scoffers (2Peter 3:1-3).

            Jude provides a solution to the problem of errorists in verse three. In order to be thorough in his letter about the common salvation, he had to impress upon the called the importance of defending the truth. "Contending earnestly for the faith" cannot be separated from "the common salvation." There are five Divine implications in verse three that cannot be overlooked by anyone who wants to continue in the salvation shared by all disciples.

            1) There is a single body of truth. "The" (singular article) "faith" (singular noun) means that there is one faith authorized by God.  The New Testament does not speak of a multiplicity of acceptable "faiths." (Eph. 4:5 - "one faith"; 2Tim. 1:13 - "the pattern of sound words"; 1Tim. 3:13 - "the faith which is in Christ Jesus")

            2) This one body of truth is apprehendable by all. God never gave a command beyond the ability of humankind to obey. Since God ordered the called to fight to maintain the purity of the single body of truth, it necessarily follows that they can discern the untainted faith from corrupted versions of it in order to contend for it. (Rom. 1:16-17, 10:17; Eph. 3:3-4)

            3) This one body of truth is complete. Jude wrote: "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (v 3, NKJV). All subsequent revelations in conflict with the faith are false doctrines. (Gal. 1:6-9)

            4) This one body of truth is authoritative; it was "delivered" to them. Inspired scripture came from the mind of God through the Holy Spirit to the apostles and prophets who wrote it down word for word for posterity. (2Tim. 3:16-17; 2Peter 1:16-21, 3:1-2)

            5) This one body of truth is exacting. It was delivered to the saints with no exemptions given to anyone for anything. All Christians must acknowledge this single body of truth, understand it alike, accept it in its fullness, recognize its authority, and contend for it earnestly against all false doctrines. Professed believers and followers of Jesus Christ need to develop the strength of character and moral courage to stand for sound doctrine. There are no neutral positions in the war against apostasy. (1Cor. 16:13)

 

A Spiritual Sandwich

By Krystal Dunlap

            Wikipedia defines the word ‘sandwich’ as “a food typically consisting of vegetables, sliced cheese or meat, placed on or between slices of bread, or more generally any dish wherein two or more pieces of bread serve as a container or wrapper for another food type.” Yet, modern society has loosely retranslated this term. Being a bit old-fashioned, I have difficulty seeing ‘sandwich’ in some of these new formats. An ‘open faced sandwich’ is just toast with toppings. A sandwich wrapped in lettuce is simply a handheld salad. Thankfully, I am unaware of anyone that claims stacked slices of bread are a sandwich.

            Despite these new adaptations, I stalwartly hold to the necessity of a filling encased within two portions of bread. It is these components that make it possible to grasp, enjoy, and consume a true sandwich.

            Within this traditional definition of the sandwich, I see a reflection of faith. To begin, one develops knowledge of the Word to provide a basis for faith. Following understanding, faith motivates obedience and growth, thus nourishing spiritual life. Finally, works stand as a manifestation of faith, completing the process that leads to salvation. It is all three components that make it possible to obtain, live, and grow in faith.

            Just like the bottom slice of a sandwich, understanding of the Word provides an essential foundation on which faith is built (Rom.10:17). The Bereans stand as an example of this. Though taught by the inspired apostle Paul, they studied daily to confirm his words as truth (Acts 17:10-11). We too must personally strive to increase in the wisdom of scripture to ensure faith’s bedrock.

            As the filling of the sandwich, faith is the spiritual essence of a Christian. It is the motivation to connect with Christ through baptism (Mark 16:16; Acts 16:30-34). It is the means by which the saved persevere throughout life (Heb.10:35-39). In fact, faith gives the power to overcome the world to believers (1 John 5:4-5). So, we must work to grow in our faith to bring us close to the Lord and strengthen our spiritual resolve.

            Like the top slice, works complete the entirety of faith. True faith cannot help but lead to great works (Matt.17:20-21). The Bible is filled with examples of those who demonstrated their faith through incredible works despite pain, struggle, and even fear of death (Hebrews 11). Like those believers, we must act upon the faith that led us to God to prove it as righteousness.

            No different than a traditional sandwich, no part can work without the other. Faith without knowledge is weak, leaving it open to destruction (Eph.4:13-14). Faith without works is already dead (James 2:26). Neither knowledge nor works can save without faith (2 Tim.3:7-8; Gal.2:15-16). Thus, it is essential that we develop all three - wisdom, faith, and works - to be truly complete.

 

A Moment’s Wisdom About Children

—“Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.” (Socrates, Greek Philosopher, 470-399 BC)

—If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.

—Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them.

—“The Hebrew word for parents is horim, and it comes from the same root as moreh, teacher. The parent is, and remains, the first and most important teacher that the child will have.” (R. K. Abelson)

—“When we choose to be parents, we accept another human being as part of ourselves, and a large part of our emotional selves will stay with that person as long as we live. From that time on, there will be another person on this earth whose orbit around us will affect us as surely as the moon affects the tides, and affect us in some ways more deeply than anyone else can. Our children are extensions of ourselves.” (Fred Rogers)

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