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View Full Version : John Piper on Jude 1-4 - Contend for the Faith



BlackCalvinist
10-19-2006, 09:52 AM
Here's the first half of a sermon on Jude 1-4:

Jude's letter begins and ends with very comforting words to Christians. In verse 1 it describes us as "those who are called, loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ." All three verbs are passive. They stress the action of God. God calls, God loves, and God keeps. We are called, are loved and are kept. Jude is very eager to begin by stressing the security of the believer in God's electing and preserving love.

Then at the end of his letter in verse 24 he says, "Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God … be glory …" Notice, in verse 1 we are kept by God for Jesus Christ. And in verse 24 God is able to keep us from falling. Jude begins and ends the letter by assuring believers that God exerts his omnipotence to keep them from falling away from the faith.

So what should you answer when someone questions how you can be so sure you will keep the faith to the end and so be saved at the judgment is? You should say something like this: "God has called me out of unbelief. Therefore I know that he loves me with a particular electing love. Therefore I know that he will keep me from falling. He will work in me that which is pleasing in his sight (Hebrews 13:21), and present me with rejoicing before the throne of his glory."

That's the way Jude begins and ends his letter. But in the middle his concern is different. It is not to help believers feel content, but to help them feel vigilant. Having shown them the electing love of God and the unsurpassed power of God (v. 2-5) to keep them safe, Jude now shows them the danger that surrounds them. And he tells them to fight for the faith.

Verse 3: "Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." In other words the assured victory of the believing church does not mean that we don't have to fight to win.

Just because the brilliant Commander in Chief promises victory on the beaches doesn't mean the troops can throw their weapons overboard. The promise of victory assumes valor in battle. When God promises that his church will be kept from defeat, his purpose is not that we lay down our sword and go to lunch, but that we pick up the sword of the Spirit and look confidently to God for the strength to fight and win. Wherever the promised security of God is used to justify going "AWOL" we may suspect there is a traitor in the ranks.
So God's way as we see it in Jude is to give his people confidence that their faith will be victorious in the end (in verses 1 and 24) and then to send them out to fight for it.

The main point of this little book of Jude is verse 3. And so I want to make it the main point of my message, namely, it is the duty of every genuine believer to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. I will try to unfold the meaning of this doctrine under four headings.

There is a faith once for all delivered to the saints.
This faith is worth contending for.
This faith is repeatedly threatened from within the church.
Every genuine believer should contend for the faith.1. There is a faith once for all delivered to the saints.

Sometimes the word faith is used for the feeling of trust in Christ. Other times, as here, it is used for the truths we believe about the one we trust.

Sometimes it is necessary to stress that Christianity is primarily a relationship with Jesus rather than a set of ideas about Jesus. The reason we do this is because no one is saved by believing a set of ideas. The devil believes most of the truths of Christianity. We need to stress that unless a person has a living trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, all the orthodoxy in the world will not get him into heaven.
But! If our stress on the personal relationship with Jesus leads us to deny that there is a set of truths essential to Christianity, we make a grave mistake. There are truths about God and Christ and man and the church and the world which are essential to the life of Christianity. If they are lost or distorted the result will not be merely wrong ideas but misplaced trust. The inner life of faith is not independent from the doctrinal statement of faith. When doctrine goes bad so do hearts. There is a body of doctrine which must be preserved.

The main evidence for this in verse 3 is that this faith is said to be "delivered to the saints." This means that it was passed down from the apostles. It was not thought up by the church. It was revealed by God to his apostles and their close associates and then taught to the churches as the "whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27) or the "standard of teaching" (Romans 6:17).

For us one of the most important phrases in verse 3 is "once for all". Here we are 2000 years after the faith was first delivered to the church, and we are surrounded with hundreds of people and sects and cults who claim to have a new word of revelation that now completes God's word to mankind. Mohammed offered his Koran. Joseph Smith his Book of Mormon. Sun Moon his Divine Principle. And you meet people every day who consider every contemporary intellectual trend as a suitable replacement for the Bible.

But please notice very carefully. Jude taught that the faith has been once for all delivered to the saints. God's revelation concerning the doctrinal content of our faith is finished. The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20). Anyone who comes along and claims to have a new word from God to add to the faith once for all delivered to the saints is against Scripture.
The reason we have a Bible is that the church of the third and fourth century recognized that God had spoken once for all in these writings. The canon was closed, and every other claim to truth is now measured by the standard of the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

One other thing before we leave this first point. When we say there is a faith once for all delivered to the saints, we mean faith and not faiths. Today it is fashionable to speak of many theologies in the New Testament. Scholars love to stress the diversity of viewpoints among the New Testament writers, and the difficulty of bringing them all into a single coherent understanding of reality.

Well, there is indeed some diversity from one inspired writer to another. But I would plead for a new generation of students to think long and hard about the implications of Jude 3: "the faith once for all delivered to the saints". Whatever diversity there is in the way we view this faith the emphasis here falls on unity. There is an apostolic faith. There is a body of doctrine that hangs together and is called the faith. We should not add to it or take from it. It has been once for all delivered to the saints.
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-KG

EBro
02-25-2015, 02:56 PM
Amen!!! This is worthy of a bump.

EgoVanEgo
02-25-2015, 05:27 PM
For a sec I was going to say welcome back BC