EARNESTLY CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH
By Rodney W. Francis
We are living in challenging days; days when we need to be continually “pressing into God” and staying focussed on His purpose for our lives. In Jude verses three and four we read these words: “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 (“villainy; wickedness; crime; sexual immorality”) and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jude was “very diligent” in writing this warning to us. To be “diligent” means “the effort of one’s part, while keeping faith and reliance on God. Diligence, when combined with faith, assures spiritual success.” If the matter of which Jude is writing to us was not serious or important, then he would not have written in as strong a language as he did.
The Message is clear: The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has to be so precious to us that we are willing to “contend earnestly for the faith” in an ongoing way. There are enemies that are concentrated against the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and if we do not keep close to Jesus ~ and keep pursuing the path He has chosen for us ~ then it is very possible for us to listen to the wrong voice, receive wrong guidance and be led astray into something that causes us to lose out on the grace and love of Jesus toward us. This message has to be proclaimed today. I have personally never known a time when there is so much deception in Christian ranks. Christians are getting caught up into all kind of beliefs and things which, while they might sound good, spiritual and exciting to begin with, the end result is a slow but sure deviation from the truth. All beliefs and teachings must be lined-up against the word of Truth, Jesus Christ. Any belief or teaching that takes Jesus Christ away from the centrality of the Gospel is wrong. Jude warns us that men will creep in unnoticed. They like to mix in with God’s people and then in a subtle way sow their seeds of doubt and error.
Deception thrives when Christians do not know their Bible!
It shocked me recently when I discovered that the deeds of the Nicolaitans came as a result of the teachings of Nicolas ~ one of the seven Holy Spirit-filled wise deacons of Acts 6 ! Whatever Nicolas taught, it was not the truth of the Holy Spirit, for Jesus said that He hated those deeds (see revelation 2:6 ). Somewhere along the way Nicolas got side-tracked and finished up in error.
In Matthew Chapter 24 Jesus warned us: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many . . . then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (read whole chapter).
Even more challenging is the fact that when Satan entered into Judas Iscariot not one of the disciples of Jesus discerned any difference! (see Luke 22:3-4 ; John 13:21-31 ). Even though Jesus gave them a sign by giving Judas a piece of bread, none of them comprehended what was happening. The big question is: “Are we any different today? Are we just as blind and ignorant of what is really happening around us when the enemy is at work and seeking to sow his deception amongst us?” The moment Satan entered Judas Iscariot, Judas set about to betray Jesus. That is what the devil and deception does ~ he makes us start betraying Jesus ~ in our thoughts, our speech, our beliefs, our practices, etc. The subtle thing about deception is that when deception takes a hold of someone’s life that person that does not know they are deceived. They are convinced that what they are believing and doing is right!
So, how would you know if you were deceived? Do you have friends around you that are close enough to you that if they were genuinely concerned about the way you are going, they would feel they had the right to speak to you and to tell you of their concerns for you? This is more important than you think. So many today have become isolated and do not allow other Christians to get close enough to them for this to happen. Then they can become deceived and slip away before they can receive the help they need. We all need close friends. Friends whose opinions we really value. It is good for us to tell our friends that they are free to speak into our lives if they have any concerns at all about us.
FOLLOWING JESUS IS TOTAL COMMITMENT
There is no such thing as a passive believer. To believe on Jesus Christ and to follow Him means a total commitment of all we have and are. To follow Jesus Christ means we are putting ourselves at odds against “the god of this age” who blinds those who do not believe and seeks to keep them away from the truth and revelation of the Living Christ Jesus today (see 2 Corinthians 4 ). We are in a battle; there is a warfare raging! That is why we are told to “contend earnestly” for the faith. The word “contend” means to “battle, strive, dispute.” The word “earnestly” means “an intensely serious state of mind; something important.” We cannot be passive and earnestly contend at the same time!
This brings us to the questions of: “How much do we value the Salvation of Jesus Christ in our lives? Is it worth fighting for? Are we prepared to go without, to be criticized, persecuted and even to lay down our lives for?” When we value Jesus Christ more than anyone or anything else in life, then we will discover the power and blessing of Who the risen Christ Jesus really is. We Christians are often quick to quote parts of Scripture, like “And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” but we forget that the verse carries on and states: “and they did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:10-11 ). It is that final part that gives us the power to overcome, because we are putting our lives and actions where our mouth is. That comes from “contending earnestly” for the faith. That is total commitment ~ something that is greatly lacking today.
Where is it at for you, dear friend?
How much do you value Jesus Christ?
Is he worth your total commitment?
Give Him your all today ~ you will not regret it.