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.
(Jude 1:3 NKJV)
Contend earnestly for the faith
Jude’s letter addresses an ever-present need – contend earnestly for the faith. Though most people today contentiously express their distaste for contention, this inspired writer affirms its necessity.
Everyone applauds a policeman who contends with a kidnapper to rescue a little child from an unthinkable fate. Everyone applauds a doctor who contends with an illness in order to save the life of a loved one. Jude encourages his readers to do something even more noble and necessary: contend for the faith to save a soul from eternal destruction.
“The faith” is the gospel. Consider Paul’s use of this expression in Galatians 1. In verse 23 he refers to “the faith which he now preaches. But in verse 11 he calls it “the gospel” that he preached and declares that it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In one sense the gospel does not need to be defended. Its truth will stand forever (compare Matthew 24:35). Nothing can destroy God’s word. Truth is truth.
Why, then, does Jude instruct his readers to contend earnestly for the gospel? “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemna-tion, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Evil men attack the gospel, but they cannot harm its truth. They can, however, do eternal damage to the souls of Jude’s readers.
Paul affirms that he is appointed for the defense of the gospel (Philippians 1:16). Jude exhorts us to join this faith by contending earnestly for the faith. Our motive is to save those who are being misled by “ungodly men” (Jude 4).
Jude tells us that this faith was “once for all delivered to the saints.” There will never be another gospel to replace this one. The same message that saved people in the first century also saves people in the twenty-first century.
Jude speaks of “our common salvation” because it applies to all people on earth, then and now, whether Jew, Greek, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free (Colossians 3:11). God never intended that each of us should choose his own way. There is only one way that saves (John 14:6). Every other road leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).
May God bless our efforts to contend earnestly for the faith.
-- Rick Duggin