“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Let me begin with this question: Why is it important for you to study the Bible? Now, I don’t mean read it, and I don’t mean be taught it. I mean, for you, by yourself to study and understand the content of scripture?
1. Contending for the Faith is Urgent: He was going to write about our common salvation, but wrote to appeal to contend. This is not an optional thing we have been suggested that we do. If we are in Christ we are being urged, beseeched, encouraged, prodded, begged to take up this work and contend for the Faith once delivered… the times when I have been the most passionate to study scripture are when I have been challenged by someone in the church…
2.Contending for the faith is inside and outside. Many times in church, we see that the threat to our existence will come only from outside the body. While it is try that threats come from outside the body, there are many warnings in the New Testament to be on guard against people within the body. People who Jude says have crept in and are destined for condemnation. They are on the inside. Theses are people who don’t teach against the grace of God, instead they pervert, twist, and distort it. They will only give part of the story, and leave out key details, or ignore them to pursue their own agenda. They will become licentious in their understanding of grace, and revel in their defiance of God’s commands. There are times in Paul’s letters where he calls people out by name for all to read for all time. Galatians 5:7-13
License- There are people who in their head understanding of the Gospel see that when someone os in Christ, there is nothing that can separate them, specifically sin. Look at Romans 6:1: So even as early as the Roman times, there were people who “sinned so that Grace would abound” and Paul says, “By No Means!” Essentially saying if you purposely sin because you know there is grace for you, you are not actually saved. You have a head knowledge, but not regeneration.
Legalism- It is important to note that in other areas of scripture Paul attacks, and calls out those who add to the message of the Gospel. My favorite example of this is the letter to the Galatians, where is Galatians 3 he is speaking of the Judeizers who wanted Gentile converts to be circumcized and follow the Jewish law, he said he wished they would emasculate themselves. Now, if your wondering what Paul means when he says that, you are right, he means what he says. So for Paul, to add to the message of the Gospel was a huge deal, and many times that would happen
3. Contending for the Faith is life or death: We are going to see in the next section of this letter that these are not fellow believers who have gotten confused, these are people who are facing condemnation, eternal judgment, and separation from God. Furthermore, this is as much about your own life or death. Here is why, if you are not secure in the word, and in the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints, you may be an impostor. It does not say that these people are doing these things on purpose. it only says that they do them.
Now, I don’t know about you, but the times I am driven to scripture, are when something I read or hear goes against what I thought I knew about God and the Bible. And as your pastor, I want to do that to you. so, in preparation for next week I want you to think for a minute about the phrase in verse 4. Talking about the people who have crept in he says in the ESV “who long ago were designated for this condemnation.” The pew Bibles say they were “long ago marked for this condemnation” and the NIV says there “condemnation was written about long ago’ with a note that says “or men were marked” My question for you is to search the scriptures and see if you can come to grips with what that means. Now, the first rule of herminudics is that scripture interprets scripture, so, dont go to commentaries first, go to other scriptures. I want to leave you with this other one too. Romans 9:10-24.
I share these verses with you not to try and confuse you, but to prepare you, because next week we are going to see just how serious God is taking these people who have crept into the church. So study up on that, I am not going t give you my take on those verses yet, I want you to look into them and see for yourself. If you do, you will be contending for th faith, training your mind and your spirit to understand the Word of God.