Summary: All true believers have a responsibility to contend for the faith.
The writer of Psalm 11 presents us with a penetrating and probing question:
"If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do?" That is, what must believers do to prevent destruction of the foundation of their faith? The answer to the psalmist’s question is found in Jude 3. What will keep the foundations of our faith solid are believers who will take seriously Jude’s admonition to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."
To accomplish that we must go beyond a knowledge of the state of the church and an ability to identify imposters. We must take appropriate and effective action to defend the faith from the destructive work of those imposters.
But how do we defend our faith? Jude, in his epistle, gives us the motivation and the mandate that provide us with the starting point for defending our faith in the face of apostasy.
Our Irresistible Motivation
Jude 3 is an interesting verse. At this point the writer changes topics midstream in his letter. Note Jude’s 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."
Jude had fully intended to write about "our common salvation." But a compulsion came over him and he changed the direction of his pen. That compulsion was the Holy Spirit moving him to change his message, and Jude was sensitive enough to the Spirit’s leading to do so. He was irresistibly motivated.
God’s people today need to catch that motivation. For example, the Bible is under attack in our land. We see our universities and seminaries support teachers who do not believe the historicity (e.g. that Adam and Eve were historical people). We make room for those who discount the miracles of the Bible. Rather than stepping out in defense of the faith we are too often content to ignore the problem or compromise with it. Where are God’s people today who sense an irresistible motivation to exhort others to "contend earnestly for the faith"?
Jude is speaking about apostasy in an apologetic sense here. Not apologetic as in apologizing, but apologetic in the sense of making a defense for the truth.
He is calling for believers to defend the faith that some are denying; to preserve the faith that some are corrupting. To contend for the faith means that we must take seriously the defense of our most holy faith in days when it is being so subtly undermined.
Why does it seem that so many are sounding the trumpet call today? Because many believers are responding to the irresistible motivation to contend for the faith. Often, we are accused of being intolerant and seeking to gain power when the truth is that we are motivated by an urgency to regain purity of the faith.
When, like Jude, we become aware of apostasy, we too will have a compulsion ... an irresistible motivation ... to contend for the faith.
Our Inescapable Mandate
The believer must take seriously the inescapable mandate given the church, which is enveloped in Jude’s words "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." An examination of the message of the book of Jude reveals the key aspects of this mandate.
The Content of the Mandate
What is "the faith"? Whereas "faith" denotes the act of believing, "the faith" is that which is believed. "The faith" is that body of Bible doctrine that makes up the complete revelation of truth. It is the full and final revelation of God contained in the Scriptures. It is the word of truth unfolded from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible. Our mandate is to contend for "the faith" and the content of the mandate is "the faith."
The Completeness of the Mandate
Jude says that the mandate is "once for all" delivered to the saints. It was not delivered merely once upon a time, but once for all time. (The Greek word for "once" is properly translated in the NKJV as "once for all). There can be no addition or subtraction. The Bible is a finished work. No wonder the last warning of the Bible sounds the alarm, "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Rev. 22:18-19).
The Bible is complete.
It is interesting to note that the same word used in Jude is used also in Hebrews 9:26-28 to describe our Savior’s finished work on the cross.