Contend Earnestly for the Faith

By Dylan Stewart | Alabama, USA

Jude 3 reads, ” Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” The Greek word used here translated as “contend” means to “fight or to contend strenuously in defense of” something; It means to “contend about a thing, as a combatant” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words). In this case, “the faith” is what we are to contend for earnestly.  This faith has been delivered to all believers, not just leaders of the church, such as elders and deacons, meaning all Christians are called to defend the truth of Jesus Christ. How do we do this; how do we contend earnestly for the faith?

First, let’s establish that “the faith” is used singularly and in an objective sense. It is the sum of all that we are required to believe, obey, and practice. Consider Acts 6:7, which reads, “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Similarly, Paul, by inspiration, informed Timothy, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). We also are admonished in Philippians to “only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ . . . that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). Thus, we are to stand firmly in the one and only true faith presented in God’s Word. How do we do that?  

Since we know there is “one body and one Spirit . . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:4-6), and since we all must strive to “come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:13), we can contend earnestly for the faith by:

Examining ourselves to ensure we are living in accordance with the one faith: 

  • Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Ensuring we do not live outside the bounds of what is taught in the New Testament, urging others to do the same

  • Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father” (2 John 9, KJV). 
  • As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3).

Having book, chapter, and verse for everything we believe, teach, and practice: 

  • And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).

Always being prepared to defend the truth: 

  • But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
  • Knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:17b).

Testing what others say about God’s Word: 

  • Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). 
  • These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so“(Acts 17:11).

Holding fast to what we find to be true: 

  • Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

Avoiding and not yielding to false knowledge: 

  • O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20-21).

Defending the truth against attacks from false teachers: 

  • I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

Not teaching the commandments/traditions of men: 

  • Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (Matthew 15:7-9).

Not adding to or taking away from God’s Word: 

  • If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:19).

Debating the truth with others: 

  • And [Paul] went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8).
  • Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:17).

Insisting everyone follow the approved examples found in the New Testament: 

  • The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9; see also 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:9).

These are just a few ways we must contend for the faith. Remember, as Jude 3 explains, all saints who share in the common salvation of Jesus Christ have this great responsibility. Are we contending earnestly for the faith as we ought?

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