Summary: Every Christian should not only know and love the truth but be willing and able to be contend for the truth which has been entrusted to us and not surrender it for the sake of harmony or unity.
Contending or Surrendering
Introduction: The church has been entrusted as stewards of the manifold grace and wisdom of God. Yet today people professing to be Christians would attack the very notion of absolute truth. Not only should every Christian know and love the truth but we are to be contending for the truth which has been entrusted to us not surrendering it for the sake of harmony or unity.
I. The Call to Contend
A. Jude 3 “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
B. Earnestly contend (epagonizesthai) = Only used here in the New Testament, signifying "to contend about a thing, as a combatant"
C. You and I are called into a spiritual warfare as soldiers of the cross.
D. 2 Timothy 2:3 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.’
E. Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
F. “Contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” –
1. The Faith – the entire revealed body of truth regarding salvation
2. Once for all delivered to the saints - "one time for all time"
3. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
4. 2 Peter 1:19 “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts”
G. Believers are called to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. As many of us as believe in him, and have obtained eternal life through him, are now enlisted beneath his banner to fight the battles of holiness against sin and of truth against error. – Spurgeon
H. We are to hold tenaciously to the Truth and stand against any who would alter, add or diminish its message.
I. As members of Christ’s kingdom, kingdom living and passivity are not compatible.
J. Proverbs 23:23 “Buy the truth, and sell it not”
II. The Necessity of Contending
A. Jude 3a, 4 “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you... For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness (lewdness) , and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
B. Christ and His disciples warned that the church would be infiltrated by those who held to false teachings and who would lead others astray.
1. Matthew 24:11 "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”
2. 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, [and] bring on themselves swift destruction.”
3. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
C. What was disturbing to Jude was that as he was that the attack on the church did not come from outside the church; not from the pagans. The apostasy came from people who professed to be Christians. They had arisen within the church and were doing three things: First, they were challenging the absolute final authority of the Word of God as the source of absolute truth. Second, they were changing the grace of God into a license to live worldly and sinful lives. Third they were denying the exclusivity and deity of Christ.
D. Today is no different. Two-thirds of born-again Christians believe there is no such thing as absolute truth. - George Barna, quoted in What in the World!, vol. 23, no. 5, 1998)
E. Relativism has become acceptable in the church. It is shrouded with the words “This is how I believe” or “It’s a matter of interpretation” or “This is what seems right to me”. We no longer hear the emphatic words “Thus saith the Lord!”
F. We no longer take a stand on what is right or wrong but say it’s up to the individual to determine in his own mind what is right or wrong.