“Beloved, with all earnestness being made to write to you concerning our common salivation I am obligated to write to you commanding to contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3)
I suppose most of us would agree that a particular saying or word of instruction may be received in many different ways. For instance, when we observe in the news the threat of an encroaching hurricane on the gulf coast of America, I would expect the words which comprise that report (or warning) to affect the inhabitants in Florida in a way which is different from those who live in Oregon.
I think this is a truth we often do not consider when we read a book like Jude or any historical account for that matter. The Bible, though eternally relevant in the substance of its truth, was written to people in a time and place, and world with which we have no relationship. Think about it. A historical faith which had been maintained, contended for, celebrated, passed on, beat up, attacked, persecuted, nearly eliminated and scorned–that is, the Hebrew faith–has now in the first century been attacked (so it would seem) in such a way that the faith would never be the same again. This attack came from, of course, their own Messiah, Jesus.
Now try (as best you can) to place yourself in the shoes (or sandals) of a Hebrew of the first century. What do you do? Its not like a muslim today embracing Christianity. Its not like a first century Roman pantheist becoming a Hebrew. No. These are conversions from polar religious systems. Christianity does not disavow the Hebrew faith because one is antagonistic toward the other (at least not in essence). Instead Christianity consumes Judaism. Now which way do you turn as a Jew of the first century? This new Way has embraced and reoriented everything you know about Yahweh and your culture.
Feel the pressure.
Oh God make me feel the pressure!
What do I know about contending for the faith Lord!?!
Remember that “contending” in Jude 3 (ESV) is not to be understood strictly as defending. Rather it means work through or to exercise.
Feel the daily pressure of the Old Way beating on a new convert of this New Way.
Feel the pressure of the new convert. Feel the confusion. Feel the uncertainty. Remember the recipients of the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints” had not received the gospel from the Living and Breathing Christ, but from people. Feel the dilemma.
Feel the reluctance to live for this New Way.
Feel how fresh the message was. Consider how vulnerable the message was and maligned by those who say they believe in the Faith but only use it to gain power and dominance over people.
Feel the pressure of Judas.
See the disciples flee Christ.
Hear Peter betray Christ.
See Jesus contend. Think, oh think, about your Master! He was the agent of our contention!
Think of the temptation by Satan to yield; to amend; to change; to add; to back off; to relax………………………
See Paul. .beaten. Beaten. Beaten. Beaten within an inch of his life
(hear the whisper)
Paul…………..change…………don’t go so far…………yield…………….relax.
“For we who live
being given over to death
for Jesus sake…”
” ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me,
they will also persecute,
Think about the external difficulty; the internal difficulty; the economic difficulty; the social difficulty; the material difficulty; the ethical difficulty the gospel brings towards your life.
Are you a Christian who contends, strives for the faith….. or for yourself?
Do you feel the pressure?
Do you contend for your rights in the workplace?
Do you contend for understanding in your marriage?
Do you contend for your race?
Do you contend for your denomination?
Do you contend for your doctrine?
Do you contend for your pleasure?
Do you contend for your popularity?
Do you contend for your comfort?
Do you contend for your putrid selfishness?
Do you contend for a diluted gospel that’s been twisted to meet your insatiable idolatry?
Are you Christian, a little Messiah, who contends as your Lord and your Apostles both internally and externally for the faith once delivered to the saints of ages past; the faith of the gospel, the only means to life.
Do you exercise it within yourself?
Do you strive for it in this world?
Consider these things.
And consider carefully please…
for the sake of the gospel…
for the sake of your judgement appointment before Christ…
….that if you don’t, you may very well be one of the snakes that slipped into Jude 4 to pervert God as the serpent did surreptitiously before Eve.