The Battle For The Gospel
Robert Wurtz II
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 1:3-4 NKJV)
Jude wrote this epistle with a Holy Spirit inspired urgency. He states, “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you…” The Saints were in danger; the Gospel was being threatened. This is a picture of our times. The same enemy keeps on with his tactics. The Saints have to position themselves to guard him step for step and block him blow for blow.
I once heard a minister say that we are just one generation away from losing our heritage as Christians. All it takes is for one generation to believe a different gospel, and the faith of our fathers is in jeopardy. Many are even now waiting it out hoping the old timers will die off so they can fully implement their plans. The progressive ideas of philosophy and politics have infiltrated Christendom – leading to the notion that we must abandon the old ways and embrace a new day. Nevertheless, its the same old dog with a new name. Satan has been trying to overthrow the common faith since the day of Pentecost.
Earnestly Contend for the Faith
As Weust has pointed out, “The faith here is not faith as exercised by the individual, but Christianity itself in its historic doctrines and life-giving salvation.” The book of Acts would have been the historical account of the faith being once and for all committed to the Saints. So it is “that faith” that we have to earnestly contend for. Not the watered down forms of the last 120 years, but the faith as Peter, Phillip and Paul preached it. To understand what is meant, one needs to make a fresh study of the book of Acts. Romans explains the Gospel, but in Acts we see the preaching of it playing out in real life. Not the theoretical, but the practical. men and women are called to repent and believe the Gospel. That is, change your mind about your sinful life and turn from it. Renounce it and confess it. Then, believe the Gospel. This means our complete faith and trust in Christ alone for our salvation. It means being baptized in water and receiving the Holy Spirit.
Earnestly Contend for the Faith
“Earnestly contend” is the Greek word epagonisomai, and it is a hapax legomenon (meaning it is found only here in the New Testament). The verb was used of athletes preparing for and contending in athletic games. It speaks of a vigorous, intense, determined struggle to defeat the opposition (Wuest). We get our English word “agony” from the noun form of this word. This means that the ancient Greek athletes exerted themselves to the point of agony trying to compete and win in the games. This implies great determination and discipline. Simply put, it was very difficult to compete in the games and it is very difficult to earnestly contend for the faith that was once and for all delivered unto the Saints. This type of approach (akin to the athletic discipline and intensive effort) is what Jude says the Saints must employ in defending “The Faith” (i.e., the New Covenant).
God is never taken off guard by the enemies antics. in fact, it was prophesied hundreds of years before the writing of Jude’s epistle that this would happen. He writes, 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. Long ago God called out these deceivers. You will notice that the second half of the sentence uses Lord twice, and it is two different Greek words. The emphasis here is on the Lordship and supreme authority of Christ. This is in opposition to those who preach grace as lewdness (unbridled lust). In other words, one can be saved without having to be crucified with Christ and come under God’s absolute authority. Many people today “made a decision” for Christ, but never truly repented of their sins and placed their complete trust in Christ. They never knew godly sorrow for their sins such as brings about a repentance that remains.
We must earnestly contend for the faith of the New Testament. The world is infiltrating with a paradigm that says, “Its a new day and its all up for grabs.” Nay verily. We must contend- step for step and blow for blow. We must battle to the point of agony if necessary. Souls are at risk and the soul of the churches are at risk. If we ignore our duty and fail in our mission, we will reap a ruin incomprehensible within the churches. We have the orders to carry out and we have the grace to get it done. This is a crisis hour and as Jude put it, 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.