Contend for the Only True Faith!
Jude 1:3 and Ephesians 2:1-10
3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.
Well, in this short letter, obviously Jude is not going to define what he means by “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” But we need to be able to do this in order to understand what he is referencing later on. To say that the faith was once for all entrusted is to say that the faith entrusted to these folks has not changed! So to have people come in and add to or take away or change what Jesus means or what God wants from people is not appropriate!
When you are talking about the gospel that does not change, you have to start by talking about Jesus. What is the significance of Jesus to all believers? Who is He? What has He done for believers and how does what He did get applied to our lives?
- Significance of Jesus to All Believers
Now, when we study the gospels, there are two main points that need to be resolved:
- Who is Jesus? and looking ahead to verse 4 we see that the false teachers Jude is confronting deny Jesus Christ as “our only sovereign and Lord.” They deny the authority of Jesus to direct our lives and bring us salvation. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me!”
Col 1: 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
- What did Jesus come to do?
What this really means is, what is the significance of Jesus’ ministry?
Speaking to people who are extremely moral, religious and very similar to the Apostles in their understanding of God and the way that the world works, Peter says:
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
And what is the way that that significance is applied to us? The significance of Jesus’ ministry is that He dies to reconcile people to God and He sends the Holy Spirit to empower us to follow Him.
- How does Jesus’ ministry get applied to our lives? We are called to turn from living like the world does, to demonstrate our trust in Christ by following His teaching and example as our pattern for living. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. Faith and obedience are two sides of the same coin.
Romans 10:9-10 Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
To one living in Rome, they are familiar with the requirement to confess that Caesar is lord. If they don’t then they will be persecuted, perhaps to the death. Instead, they are to confess that Jesus is Lord!
John 3: 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Just like Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, Jesus was lifted up on the cross. If we look to Jesus lifted up on the Cross, we will be saved. What does this mean? This means that we persist in believing that Jesus is the Son of God even though He was killed by the Roman and Jewish authorities. This means that we recognize our need for Him to die, which is why He was there in the first place. And it means that we look to Him to give us life. And more specifically, we accept our cross and follow Him.
If you were a Muslim living in the conservative Muslim world today and you confessed that you believed that Jesus was the unique Son of God, that confession would be costly to you. This is what it means to believe.
When I hear the phrase: The faith that was once for all entrusted, I think about the gospel and the way that it is communicated. The clearest communication of the gospel to me is found in Ephesians 2:1-10. In these ten verses we have the most succinct and compact explanation of the good news about Jesus given to us in Scripture.
- The Clearest Gospel Presentation
Ephesians 2: 1-10 All of Ephesians 1 is introduction. Ephesians 2:1-10 is a presentation of the gospel by Paul.
1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
- Understanding your great need for Christ
There is a reason that Jesus had to die for our sins!
- You were dead in your sin v.1
- You followed the ways of this world v.2
- Which means you actually followed the spiritual forces of evil that are at work in all who are disobedient to God. The serpent in Eden! V.3
- Everyone is found at this place before they are saved. v.3
- This way of living is just doing what makes us feel good. Maximize pleasure, minimize pain. Eat, drink and be merry…
- We are objects of God’s wrath in this state. V.3
- Understand God’s great salvation
- It is founded on God’s great love and mercy. They endure forever! V.4
- God has Resurrected those who are dead in their sin! V.5
- God has already placed us in heaven with Christ! V.6
- God has saved us so that He might express: v.7
- His incredible grace to us in Christ.
- The incredible riches of that grace. There is a super abundant supply.
- His kindness toward us throughout all of our future life as an evidence of that super abundant grace!
- How do I gain so great a salvation? V.8-10
- It is totally a gift of God’s grace to me
- So, I receive the gift by faith in Jesus Christ. Faith means I follow Him. But I don’t follow Jesus to earn salvation! Instead…
- I recognize that I am created by God to do good works. And those good works are prepared in advance for me. This means I have returned to my created purpose.
III. Contend for the Faith!
- Fatal errors about mankind’s need
Sin won’t end in death. (You won’t surely die.)
Greed, pride and sensuality aren’t sin.
God will judge on a curve. (You are doing fine, look at other people!)
The cross confronts all those errors!!
- Fatal errors about Jesus’ person and work
v.4 of Jude: They deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord
If you deny Who Jesus is, then His saving work is changed. Who HE is and what He did are completely connected.
- Fatal errors about faith and works
We are created for good works that God prepared in advance. Meditate on that statement and tell me it doesn’t matter what you do with your life after you are “saved.”
Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the conviction of what you do not see.
Hebrews 11:6 You cannot please God without faith, because it is by faith, not sight that you believe that He exists. And it is by faith and not sight that you diligently seek Him. God does not work in as simple a manner as we would like. The resolution to that is His call for people to trust Him.
My faith isn’t perfect. That is correct. Faith acts like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.
Faith of the grain of mustard seed.
“Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”
When you are struggling with sin, talk to Jesus about it. Tell Him you are struggling. Ask Him for help. And fight the battles in you that He leads you to fight.
Peter wasn’t perfect, Paul wasn’t perfect, the heroes of the Bible are all just men. But as they follow Jesus their lives become a conduit for the kingdom of God.