EARNESTLY CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)
1. As we begin this lesson we want you to remember the words
a. how he said, “And take heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18),
b. and again, “Take heed what you hear...For unto you that hear shall more be given”
c. Those who are truly hungering and thirsting for righteousness shall be filled (Mat. 5:6).
2. Please turn in your Bibles to the little one chapter letter of Jude,
a. which is found right before the last book in the Bible, the book of Revelation.
b. The Epistle of Jude was written to meet the need of the hour in which it was produced,
c. and this circumstance determined its form and content.
3. In a secondary sense we may be sure
a. that it was the design of the Holy Spirit
b. to reveal a portion of God’s word which would have universal appeal,
1. and be utilized by Christians in all ages and places,
2. though it obviously was written to meet a local need.
4. It appears to have originally been the intention of the author
a. to write on the theme of the "common salvation,"
b. but an emergency suddenly arose which prompted him to revise his plan.
1. He accordingly suspended his proposed message
2. and wrote without delay to exhort his brethren "to earnestly contend for the
faith which was once for all time delivered to the saints (Read Jude 1-3).
5. That which prompted a change in the writer's plans
a. was news that false teachers, deceitful workers
b. had appeared on the scene to seduce the saints
c. and corrupt the people of God, thus leading them astray.
6. The Lord's church generally, both in Palestine and in Asia Minor,
a. was constantly beset with false teachers during the apostolic age,
b. and much of the New Testament was written to refute the various heresies
c. which arose from time to time.
1. These false teachers are particularly described later in the Epistle of Jude,
2. and their doctrines revealed.
7. Jude's object was to stir his readers to immediate resistance;
a. to impel them to reject all these false teachers and repudiate their teaching,
b. and to defend with all their might the faith which had been delivered them.
8. Our lesson this morning has the same objectives in mind.
a. We want to impel you to reject all the false teachers around and about us.
b. We want to impel you to defend with all your might
c. the faith which has been once for all time delivered unto us.
I. God Has All Authority
Now it is a fact, that all authority in religious matters
a. must forever rest with God (Quote Matthew 28:18).
b. By "authority" we mean that power or right to bind commandments
c. and execute judgment upon violators.
2. The Holy Spirit said (Quote Col. 3:17).
a. Through His divine power God "has given us all things that pertain unto life and
godliness, through the knowledge of him" (2 Pet 1:3).
b. Some men, however, have sought to lay claim to this authority,
1. but men do not have authority to reveal or originate religious truth
2. or to make up religious commandments.
3. Those who vary from the Word of God in their teaching
a. do not have "authority," they are merely "usurpers"
b. claimers of the authority that belongs to God.
4. In divine religion, God speaks and man believes;
a. God commands and man obeys; God offers and man accepts;
b. man comes and God receives; man submits and God pardons.
1. One can diligently search the Bible from cover to cover,
2. and he will not find a single violation of these principles.
5. From the very beginning of mankind,
a. it was God's part to command and man's to obey.
b. God told Adam what trees he could eat of,
c. and of which he should not (Gen 2:16-17).
6. Adam's transgression of this law of God's was "sin" (1 John 3:4).
a. If man has the authority to make up his own plan of obedience,
b. then he does not have to obey God at all.
c. He merely can teach and do what he wants to.
7. That's why denominational preachers like Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, and Oral Roberts
a. are teaching millions that all one has to do to be saved is believe on Jesus
b. and accept him into their heart by saying some so called "sinner's prayer."
c. But the Bible still says (Quote Mark 16:16).
8. Another sad example of men going their own way is found in Israelite history.
a. We read in Judges 21:25, "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that
which was right in his own eyes."
b. From the time of Moses onward,
1. God revealed His will for men through chosen agents
2. whom He empowered and credentialed for speaking His will (2 Pet. 1:20-21).
9. In olden times, God spake through prophets (Heb 1:1);
a. later He sent His Son to be the mediator of the new covenant (Heb 1:2; 9:15).
b. Because it was necessary for Christ to be seated at the right hand of God
1. throughout the dispensation of grace,
2. which is this present dispensation we are living in,
c. Christ chose certain men whom He named "apostles" (1 Cor. 2:10-12).
10. Jesus gave them the message of God (John 17:8), and upon His departure,
a. instructed them to teach all things He had commanded them (Matt 28:20).
b. He sent the Holy Spirit to empower and credential the apostles and NT prophets
c. for this holy work (John 14:26; Acts 1:8).
11. These men did not need, nor do they have any modern day successors,
a. for they were guided into "all truth" pertaining to religion and salvation (John 16:13).
b. What we must humbly understand is that there is no religious truth
c. that has not already been revealed through God's chosen disciples.
1. GIVE EXAMPLE of the Mormons and their prejudice against blacks
2. until a latter day revelation (cf. Acts 10:34-35).
12. The faith delivered through God’s chosen disciples
a. has been delivered once for all time (Jude 3).
b. And only by obeying God's will as delivered through these messengers
c. can we worship God acceptably.
13. Those who rebelled against God's authority have been punished
a. (such as Korah, Dathan, and Abiram - Num. 16).
b. Those who are disobedient to God today will also perish (Quote 2 Thess. 1:7-9).
14. Those who preach "another Gospel" are to be accursed (Gal 1:6-9).
a. Those who twist and wrest God's message
b. do so to their own destruction (2 Pet 3:16).
1. Those who "add to" or "take away from" God's Word
2. are under a divine curse (Rev 22:18-19).
II. There Is Only One Faith
Jude said to earnestly contend for "the faith" (Jude 3).
a. We might ask, "Which faith?"
b. Since Jude who gave this exhortation was an inspired NT prophet,
1. we can expect to find in the Bible something about
2. “the faith” for which he exhorted us to contend.
2. Well, the Bible teaches that there is but "one faith" (Eph 4:5).
a. Contrast this with the prevailing trend that says,
b. "One faith is as good as another.”
3. The faith for which Jude's readers were thus earnestly to contend is the Gospel...
a. God’s wonderful Word.
b. The Gospel is the sum of all which Christians are to believe and obey.
4. The Gospel has facts to believe (1 Cor. 15:1-4),
a. commands to obey (Acts 15:7; Acts 2:38),
b. and promises to enjoy (Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 5:11).
5. The term "the Faith” is a part being used for the whole Christian system.
a. Our belief or faith is basic to the system of Christianity,
b. the proper exercise of which determines the salvation of those who embrace it.
6. A careful examination of the Scriptures will show that
a. wherever matters of true and divine doctrine are involved
b. the language used is always in the singular.
1. Not even once does the Scripture contradict the teaching
2. that there is only "one faith."
7. Notice the use of the singular term "the faith" in these passages:
a. "Till we all come in the unity of the faith" (Eph 4:13);
b. Paul "now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed (Gal 1:23);
c. "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith" (2 Cor 13:5);
d. "The priests were obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7);
e. "So were the churches established in the faith" (Acts 16:5);
f. "Some shall depart from the faith" (1 Tim 4:1).
8. Similar terms such as "doctrine" and "Gospel" also are spoken of in the singular
a. when referring to God’s system of Christianity.
b. A few examples:
1. "The apostles doctrine" (Acts 2:42);
2. "The doctrine of Christ" (2 John 9-10);
3. "Some would pervert the gospel of Christ" (Gal 1:6-9)
c. Contrast these uses of the singular
d. with the plural use of “the doctrines of men” (cf. Matt. 15:8-9; 1 Tim. 4:1).
9. It is essentially true that the very nature of the Christian system
a. demands that there be but one faith.
b. Since there is "one Lord" (Eph 4:5),
1. in whom is vested all authority in Heaven and earth (Matt 28:18),
2. we know that there is but one faith emanating from Him.
10. Since the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe (Rom 1:16),
a. are we to say that another message which is not the Gospel of Christ
b. could be just as good? Certainly not!
11. The purpose, harmony and plan of the Christian system
a. demand the oneness of faith - the oneness of system.
b. In the Christian system, every man is to be of the same mind and judgment,
c. speaking the same thing (1 Cor 1:10; 1 Pet. 4:11).
III. Christ And The Church Are In A Battle With Falsehood
1. Now we are not talking about a man made church.
a. We are talking about the church which originated from Heaven.
b. When we speak about the church,
1. the word "church" comes from the Greek ekklesia,
2. meaning "assembly," coming from two root words meaning "called out."
c. We are called out of the world by the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14).
2. All saved people are added to the church (Acts 2:47).
a. The church or body is made up of all the saved (Eph. 5:23).
b. And there is only one body (Eph. 4:4).
3. The head of the church is Christ.
a. Christ is head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:22-23).
b. Christ is the head of the body (Col. 1:18).
1. We are to hear Christ instead of Moses and the prophets (Matt. 17:5)
2. Christ is the only lawgiver and judge (James 4:12).
4. The church of the New Testament is a unity, not divided into denominations.
a. Christ promised to build only one church (Matt. 16:18).
b. Christ prayed for the unity of his followers (John 17:20-21).
1. The early church was united (Acts 4:32).
2. Paul taught that the church should be united (1 Cor. 1:10; 12:20; 12:13).
5. The church sustains special relationships.
a. To God.
1. It is the family or house of God (Eph. 3:15; 1 Tim. 3:14-15).
2. Its members are children of God (Rom. 8:16; Gal. 3:26).
b. To the world.
1. Keep unspotted from the world (James 1:27).
2. Love not the world (1 John 2:15-17).
6. The church is Christ's.
a. He promised to build his church (Matt. 16:18).
b. He purchased it with his blood (Acts 20:28).
c. It is called by his name (Rom. 16:16; Gal. 1:22).
7. The church has a glorious heritage.
a. An eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15).
b. Pictured as the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-27).
8. But remember, Christ and the church are in a battle with falsehood.
9. Listen to me now, if you ask the average religious man if he obeys the will of God,
a. he will probability say he does.
b. The average denominational visitor to our services on Sunday or Wednesday
c. believes he has obeyed the will of God.
10. And yet, truthfully speaking,
a. the average man believes things that he is taught,
b. and does things that he hears from religious leaders
1. without consulting God's authoritative Word
2. to see whether those things are true or not (cf. Acts 17:11).
11. And time upon time, his "religion"
a. does not conform with the Bible religion (James 1:26-27).
b. Really it is a case of the "blind leading the blind."
c. And Jesus says they "both shall fall into the ditch" (Matt. 15:14).
12. We are living in an age when self-appointed men
a. have no dread in assuming divine prerogatives.
b. Men seem to have no fear in rising up,
1. saying that they are sent of God,
2. while they in many instances deny the very things
3. that God has said in His Word.
4. And many follow their pernicious ways (2 Pet. 2:1-3).
13. Any man who claims to have a new message,
a. a special revelation from God, or authority to speak for God
b. separate and apart from the Word of God
c. is an individual who is definitely a FALSE TEACHER.
14. If there were no false teaching,
a. there would be no call to contend for the faith.
b. If all men recognized the one faith,
c. there would be no occasion to contend for the faith.
15. But, whenever false doctrine is taught,
a. wherever false human religious systems are in existence,
b. there is the divine call to contend for the faith.
16. False doctrine must be exposed that men's souls be not lost (Tit. 1:10-11).
a. Surely every sane person who beholds the many cults,
b. denominations, and contradicting doctrines of the day
c. recognizes that they cannot all be true and right.
17. False teaching is all about us.
a. Peter said, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be
false teachers among you...” (2 Pet. 2:1).
b. And because there is false teaching, there must be contending
IV. Seven Examples Of False Teaching
1. Let’s look at one specific and six general examples
a. of how men are usurping the authority of God with their false
b. First specifically, there’s the Roman Catholic system,
1. with her claims that she is the sole authoritative interpreter of the Bible
2. and her supposed infallible Pope.
2. Next, we have the church councils and creeds
a. which claim to speak with authority upon various religious doctrines.
b. Then, so-called modernism or humanism
1. denies the unique inspiration and authority of God's Word,
2. and exalts the individual in its place.
3. Fourth, there are those who respect their church customs, habits, or traditions
a. even though they differ from the Scriptures.
b. Fifth, there is an increasingly large “New Age Group”
1. who give heed to their human inclinations or opinions,
2. saying that the Spirit "told them such and such,
3. or that they have received a special "inner light."
4. Sixth, many people accept whatever their preacher,
a. their professor, their quarterly, or their church says
b. in place of what the Bible says.
5. And seventh, there are those who plainly teach false doctrine (1 Tim. 4:1).
6. Whatever or whoever the human usurper may be,
a. let us all always remember that
b. "we ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
V. Why Should We Contend For The Faith?
1. Let us notice four reasons.
We should contend for the faith because it is plainly taught in the
a. The exhortation of Jude 3 is unmistakably clear.
b. The Greek word from which "earnestly contend" has been translated
1. means "to contend strenuously in defense of; to wrestle,"
2. and as here figuratively used, denotes the extreme efforts
c. which are to characterize the faithful in their defense of the truth,
d. however formidable and numerous its enemies may be.
3. When Paul left Timothy at Ephesus,
a. Timothy was to combat false teachers (1 Tim. 1:3).
b. The Philippians were to "stand fast with one mind striving together for the faith of the
gospel" (Phil. 1:27).
4. Faithful elders are to likewise combat false teachers (Tit. 1:9-11).
a. Paul commanded Titus to rebuke the Cretians sharply
b. that they might be sound in the faith (Tit. 1:12-13).
5. These combat efforts are of a moral and persuasive nature only;
a. all force of a physical nature is expressly forbidden for the faithful...
b. “for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Cor. 10:4).
6. When Peter sought to defend the Lord with a sword he was rebuked for his pains;
a. and when Jesus made him put the sword up
b. He forevermore made it clear that His followers
c. are not to fight with carnal weapons in His behalf (Matt. 26:50-54).
7. Again, Jesus said (Read John 18:36).
8. Second, we should contend for the faith in order to purify the church.
a. The church is purified by obeying the truth (1 Pet. 1:22).
b. God is not pleased with false teaching in the church.
1. Christ held it against the church in Thyatira because they permitted Jezebel,
2. a woman who called herself a prophetess, to teach (Rev. 2:20).
9. If faithful Christians refuse to contend for the faith,
a. false teachings and practices will flourish
b. and multiply in the church (1 John 4:1; 1 Thess. 5:21).
10. Third, we should contend for the faith to scatter the fog for the truth seeker.
a. To the ordinary man, the religious divisions of the day are nothing but confusing.
b. With his small amount of denominational teaching,
c. he is unable to know just what is right.
1. He gropes in darkness until somebody comes to free him
2. by teaching him the truth (John 8:32).
11. Not until he understands the truth is he able to detect just wherein error lies.
a. To aid this great class, we must teach the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9)
b. and point out the erroneous teachings of men (Rom. 16:17).
12. Fourth, we should contend for the faith in order to save people
a. who need to come out of false teachings and false religious systems.
b. As we have seen, false teaching is sin (1 John 5:17).
1. It causes men to worship in vain (Matt. 15:9).
2. It damns both the leader and the follower (Matt. 15:14).
13. But, generally, men entangled therein do not realize that such teachings are wrong.
a. Jesus said (Quote Matthew 7:21-23).
b. In order, therefore, that they might be converted
1. from heretical teaching and saved in Christ Jesus,
2. they must be taught the way of the Lord.
14. God calls and commands concerning Babylon with her false religion (Read Rev 18:4).
a. But how will they be persuaded to come out
b. unless we go forth and press the wonderful Word of God to their hearts?
15. As Christians, and as preachers and teachers
a. we must be set for the defense of the Gospel.
b. We must combat false teaching.
1. We must contend for the faith.
2. And this contending must be done "Earnestly,"
3. not hesitantly, not shamefully, not half-heartedly.
1. What a warrior for divine truth was the apostle Paul!
a. Wherever he went, he reasoned, he disputed,
b. he contended with those bound in error.
2. It seems he was constantly in a fight for the Lord.
a. With truth, he could utter in his last days,
"I have fought a good fight...I have kept the faith" (2 Tim 4:7).
b. Paul refused to compromise the faith,
c. but stood solidly against false teaching and false teachers.
3. If we contrast Paul's preaching with the average preaching today,
a. we wonder how many congregations
b. would let a preacher like Paul preach for them?
4. Isn't it still right to contend for the faith as Paul did?
5. In this lesson, we’ve rebuked the deceitful workers
a. threatening the peace and security of the church;
b. we've condemned those who have corrupted the faith
c. and seek to lead the saints astray;
1. and now we commit each of you, under the sound of our pen,
2. to the Source of all Good (Read Jude 24-25).
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