Jude 1-4 – Contending for the Faith without being a jerk
This is sermon one of an exposition of the Epistle of Jude. But in vs 3c he tells them that it is “necessary” to “appeal” to them, and to “contend for the faith.” If this warning to “contend for the faith” was needed then, then how much more is it needed now. Even amongst the reformed movement, there’s a push for us to compromise, to be contemporary, to be in “unity” with those whom we should not, or to be ecumenical, etcetera.
His appeal was not negotiable, nor was it optional, it was a necessary appeal (a command) to admonish them (and us) to “contend for the faith.”
This “contend for the faith” is the Greek word epagōnizomai. It is a verb, and is a ‘present infinitive,’ meaning the Christian struggle is continuous.
As Calvin said,
“Jude is “literally, “exhorting you;” but as he points out the end of his counsel, the sentence ought to be thus expressed. What I have rendered, “to help the faith by contending,” means the same as to strive in retaining the faith, and courageously to sustain the contrary assaults of Satan. For he reminds them that in order to persevere in the faith, various contests must be encountered and continual warfare maintained. He says that faith had been once delivered, that they might know that they had obtained it for this end, that they might never fail or fall away.”
The ‘noun form’ is contender, and the verb is to contend. Therefore, as Christians, Jude is saying that they (and us) are to be contenders who contend for the faith.
This contending for the faith is both offensive and defensive. It includes apologetics, being on the defense (or defending the faith). And it includes polemics, being on the offense (or fighting against the err, rebuking or exposing).
It also means to struggle for, to fight for (or to fight against), to earnestly contend for (or against), or an intense effort to wrestle with, or to agonize.
A Biblical Christianity is not for the faint at heart, a Biblical Christianity is not a Namby-pamby nor a pantywaist evangelicalism; but a Biblical Christianity earnestly contends for the faith.
We must uncompromisingly stand for the inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency of God’s Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures, and His doctrines within. However, as we contend without compromise, we must do so without being argumentive jerks.
As one author said, “Yet in contending for the faith, the believer must speak and act as a Christian. As Paul wrote: “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient” (2 Tim. 2:24). He must contend without being contentious, and testify without ruining his testimony.”
I further describe this contending without being contentious (or a jerk), as walking a theological tightrope, toeing that thin line while having the heart of a dove, and the mind of a serpent, or as Paul said; we must “walk circumspectly.”
We contend by telling them the truth in love; however, we must trust in the Holy Spirit to change them (not ourselves), lest our contending be in the flesh. But if we enjoy quarreling, then we need a check-up from the neck up.
Additionally, this “contend for the faith” is a Hapax Legomenon. A Hapax Legomenon is a word(s) in the Bible that is used only once in the Scriptures.
Therefore, this “contend for the faith” reads like the front-page headline of a newspaper, is stands out there. And so let us pay particular attention to this verb, let us be a Church that contends for the faith, and sound doctrine. And that does so led by His Holy Spirit, not our own flesh.
Continuing in vs 3c, though he said “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith,” but he ends that verse with “that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
Notice it does not say ‘once upon a time,’ but in fact it says “once for all” delivered to the saints.
This means the Canon is complete, the doctrine is finished. Nothing shall be added, and nothing shall be taking away from the Scriptures. God’s sufficient canonized Scriptures have been delivered to us once and for all.
That is why we must reject modern-day alleged apostles and prophets, or those whom claim they have a “revelation,” or a “word from the Lord.”
That is why we must reject all cults, and all religions outside of our Biblical Christianity. Our Christianity needs no improvement, nor a move towards being more contemporary, relevant, or pragmatic.