Contend For The Faith
Here’s a reminder of the prerequisite disclaimers for this series:
- Speaking primarily to those who proclaim Jesus Christ as lord and savior
- At the same time, may be helpful to those who have yet to make a decision
- Spoken as much to self as to the reader
- I am far from perfect on this one
In the first post, we discussed “faith” itself – primarily focusing on the varied ways in which it is defined. In summary, faith is:
- Complete trust or strong belief or confidence in someone or something.
- Belief in God or in the existence of God; belief in the doctrines or teachings of a religion; a system of religious beliefs.
- Allegiance to duty or a person; the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.
- Firm belief in something for which there is no proof.
Our anchor verse for the second post was Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
We established that real faith is more than believing in someone or something – it is action based on that belief. And the bottom line is that faith is not real if it does not produce results. God calls us to trust Him and step out on faith – and when we are obedient, He proves Himself faithful. His active presence in our lives provides ample evidence for us – supporting “belief without proof” – and allowing us to daily live in complete trust and confidence in Him.
In this final installment, we’ll look at contending for the faith.
“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
THE. A simple, singular word that results in a seismic change for the contemplation of “faith” and the application of the definitions. The writer of Jude doesn’t state “contend for faith” or “contend for a faith” or even “contend for your faith”. Very clearly: “contend for the faith”. Faith in Jesus as Lord and savior. Faith in His finished work on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Faith in assurance of being made righteous before the holy God by His Son’s shed blood making atonement for our sins. Faith in His eventual return to reconcile all true believers to the Father. These are things on which true believers base their faith, where we place complete trust and confidence and to which we must fulfill our obligation of allegiance and loyalty.
I dare say that, in general, those of us who profess Jesus as lord and savior simply do not place enough weight on the importance of real faith in our daily lives or in the overwhelming testimony that our lives provide to our lost and dying family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and fellow citizens. We get caught up in the rigors of self-gratification, self-preservation and self-esteem. We get lost in the delusional worth of busyness. We seek fulfillment and satisfaction in pleasure and sensation and experience. All the while, we neglect to recognize that countless people are observing our every moment. People, not only without real faith, but who are also without real hope. We show the world that our faith is placed in things other than God, including ourselves. And why? Because our faith isn’t real.
But I beat that drum enough in posts one and two. Let’s move on with the agreement that we have genuine desire for and are making intentional effort toward real faith that leads to action.
The faith is summarized in one word: Jesus. So, to “contend for the faith”, we are charged with having our very being founded in Him. Doing so provides a genuine glimpse into what it means to be a son or daughter adopted into the family of the most-high God. We must reach the point of living our lives in such a way that demands a Gospel explanation.
In order to “contend for the faith”, we must make it our faith. If our faith is to be seen as genuine to the lost around us, it has to be genuine to us.
In my professional life, I’ve worked with a significant number of individuals whose primary responsibility was to sell something – products, services, ideas, etc. While the attainment of success in their endeavors can be attributed to a variety of things, my conclusion is that the achievement of repeatable and enduring results is founded in their fundamental belief in what they’re selling. That when they have truly seen its worth and its value, their presentations shift from a proposal to a profession, from a tender to a testimonial. The motivation is no longer simply closing the deal because of the self-rewards that will follow. The focus moves to their customer and the betterment of their situation. The awareness that their customer will be richly improved by accepting what they have to offer is fueled by an acute understanding of the intrinsic value to be realized in the culmination of the transaction.
The same principle applies to contending for the faith. When we are fully surrendered to God, seeking His face, He becomes significantly more tangible in our daily lives. When we allow Him to work in us to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose (Philippians 2:13), He provides the opportunity to step out boldly with confidence. When we desire that He increase and we decrease (John 3:30), His presence can be immersing. He will provide substantial evidence in our every day, leading to undeniable proof of His existence, His majesty and His love. Proof upon which we can rest, placing our utmost confidence in Him. The faith becomes our faith, whereby we are most adequately equipped to contend for it.
Did you catch the last few words at the end of the passage? “…contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” Entrusted. The word means trusted, commended, delegated, assigned, delivered, handed over. We have been given our faith, by God, with a responsibility. We are not called to a flippant life after salvation. We are called to genuine faith resulting in action for Him and His kingdom. The text provides an inherent implication that the faith received carries with it certain requirements, both in terms of accountability in our personal conduct and in terms of evangelism (definition: the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness). It is most assuredly a mutually reliant equation: God provides the means by which we have faith in Him while also displaying faith in us to be trustworthy stewards of it. It is a beautifully reciprocal relationship in that the faith entrusted to us is the method by which He will continue to grow our faith in Him, as we strive to fulfill our allegiance with Him and our obligation of loyalty to Him.
Finally, it is imperative to ascertain the motivation for our actions. Contending for the faith on the basis of being right is simply wrong. We must explicitly comprehend that others have a desperate need for the same savior in whom we place our faith. We must clearly see that there is no hope without His saving grace. There is no other way. Praise God, we have been rescued, redeemed and restored. It is our solemn duty, in contending for the faith, to reach lovingly those whom He has called us to.
Dear brothers and sisters: have faith that God will provide both opportunities and means for you. Simply be a humble, willing vessel surrendered to Him. He has saved you, by His grace, through the faith He has given you (Ephesians 2:8). Contend for the faith and proclaim to the whole world the gift of God offered for all.
“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy 6:12