Contend for the Faith

My July magazine article. It seems an important topic at the moment and I expect a lot of us feel like Jude, wishing we could talk about the salvation we share.


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.
(Jude 1:3 NIV)

Being a Christian in 21st Century Britain can be disconcerting. We live in a country that, on the one hand has a significant Christian heritage, but on the other has largely moved away from Christianity itself. Increasingly, Christian beliefs, attitudes and actions are misunderstood, attacked and mocked.

For example, there are atheists who seek to mock Christians who believe in miracles, the resurrection and for that matter the existence of God, because you can't use science to prove these things. Another example is in the area of ethics or morals. For decades now, biblical belief has been attacked on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, marriage and divorce, sex, gender and sexuality. In many cases a biblical moral position is now at best thought to be odd and a worst thought to be wicked.

In that light, it is not unusual for many in the church to want to cave in under the pressure of the society around. In fact, we shouldn't be surprised to find those in the church who are at least as antagonistic to the standards of God as the society around. Jude writes:

For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 1:4 NIV)

What should we do as Christians? Jude tells us: contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God's holy people.

Let me note three things here. First, there is a fixed faith (a fixed set of beliefs). It was given once for all. This is the faith revealed to us by God in Jesus. It was taught by the prophets and apostles and is written down for us in the Bible. In a society where everything is changing, it is important to hear that the Christian faith does not change and must not be changed.

Second, we are to contend for this faith. Jude is writing into a messy church situation where ungodly individuals have slipped in and are trying to change the faith. That can happen at all sorts of levels today – from the local church to the national denomination. Our response should not be to ignore it or to accept it, however much our natural inclinations are to live and let live. It's not enough even to stand firm in our faith, if we do it quietly. Jude is calling us to speak up and speak out against changes to the faith and to seek to prevent those changes in the church. We may find it uncomfortable, but we are to contend.

Third, we should not fear the battle, because those who want to change the faith face condemnation, as Jude writes. This is important to hear when we feel small or powerless in the face of a changing culture and those who want to change the faith because of that culture. We can contend with confidence, because the battle has already been won.

Let me finish with a couple of things for you to think about this month.

1. What areas are you most likely to follow the culture rather than the faith?

 2. How can you help contend for the faith at the moment?


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