Four12 article image for 'Contending For The Faith' about correcting compromise within the church

Contending for the Faith, Today

‘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)

In this opening to his letter, Jude describes a tension we still face in the 21st Century church. It is so tempting to focus all of our attention on teaching the wonderful salvation that we share in Christ and neglect the assault that is coming against the true Gospel in the world of ideas. Naturally, most of us want to find common ground and avoid any prickly issues for fear of making people uncomfortable, but we are urged to do more than that. We are urged to contend for the faith.

‘Contend‘ means to defend, assert, claim, hold onto, plead for and affirm.

Jude initially wanted to write a generalised message about the salvation that we all share, but instead he was compelled, like Paul the apostle often was, to urge that the church fight for the true Gospel. ‘Contend‘ means to defend, assert, claim, hold onto, plead for and affirm. The word Jude uses for contend or defend is epagonizesthai, which contains the root of our English word ‘agony’. The defence of the faith may well be a costly thing, but that defence is a duty which falls on every generation of the Church.

Correcting Compromise

It is important to notice that Jude was not blaming Satan for the issues in the church, but the false teachers. He makes it clear that the job of speaking out about error belongs to the Church. He was well aware of his responsibilities as a ‘slave of Jesus’ (Jude was actually Jesus’ brother!) to protect the saints and the faith.

They were twisting the grace of God into a justification, even a reason, for sinning

Jesus Himself, in Revelation 2 and 3 with His letters to the seven churches, emphasises the same responsibility that we have to put things right: ‘Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first…’ (Revelation 2:5); ‘Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.’ (Revelation 3:3)

We should therefore not be surprised when there is a need to contend for the true Gospel in the church. It should perhaps be more concerning if we never hear corrective teaching or if we are never repenting at the realisation that we have got things wrong.

 

Two Distortions of The Truth

So, what error did Jude consider so dangerous and worth fighting against? He highlighted two important distortions of the truth that are actually still pertinent to the Church today: 

‘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 licence for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.’ Jude 1:4

  1. A Sentimental View of God

The Greek words used here describe a complete loss of any decency and awareness of sin. The basic implication is that the grace of God makes our sin unimportant, meaning that we can sin as we like without any consequence. In fact, we can be confident that the more we sin, the greater the grace of God, so why worry about sin? Grace was being perverted into a justification for sin. How can we recognise the subtle forms of this teaching today? It sometimes manifests in a distorted teaching of what God’s love is like. For example, sometimes it is in a gospel that centers around me instead of the glory of God and in serving others. Often it comes through in a watered-down Gospel message that portrays a nice, comfortable God who only wants us to be happy.

  1. A Compromised View of Jesus’ Lordship

The second error was denying the complete Lordship of Jesus. At times He was put on the same level as others, revealing a failure to recognise the manhood and uniqueness of Jesus. In Jude’s time, there was a group called Docetists who believed Jesus was just one of the many stages on the journey to the perfect God – something often heard today.

We can deny Jesus’ Lordship in more than one way, and this is a point sometimes missed in the Church.

  • He can be denied during times of persecution. In some of our Four12 churches, culture is pressing us to deny the Lordship of Jesus and compromise our Biblical beliefs in areas like relationships, family, sanctity of life and leadership.
  • We can also can deny His Lordship for the sake of convenience and develop false ideas about Him to suit changes in culture or situations we face.
  • Perhaps we allow compromise to use talented individuals in leadership, or give them a platform.
  • At other times we’re tempted to compromise on our teaching or doctrine to avoid controversy and attract a crowd. Ultimately this is denial of the Lordship of Christ for our convenience.
  • Lastly, we can deny Him with our lives and conduct. It’s not just our words but our lives that testify to the Lordship of Christ. ‘You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry…’ (2 Cor.3:2-3)

For it is only the true Gospel that has the power to set people free.

It is no surprise, then, that Jude was alarmed. He saw that this type of teaching had subtly infiltrated the church and, as Paul warned the Corinthians, ‘if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.’ (2 Cor.11:4). They were not alert and, as any good shepherd should, he needed to urgently warn and correct them. They were twisting the grace of God into a justification, even a reason, for sinning and denying the complete and uncompromising Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Jude’s letter still has much to teach us in our generation. May we to take up the cause to ‘contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.’ For it is only the true Gospel that has the power to set people free.

Chris leads the Douglas congregation of Living Hope on the Isle of Man. He is married to Carol and they have two married daughters. Chris was in the business world for 26 years before joining the church staff. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more.

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Delegating
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Social Gospel
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Worth
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Building Deep
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Ambition
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Jesus
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Mortality
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Home Group Leaders
Exhort
Sanctification
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Cross
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Find Forgiveness
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Messiah
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Self-Righteousness
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Commands
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Mothering
Women in Leadership
Halloween
Honesty
Testing
Crucifixion
Conversion
Guilt
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Equipping
Saints
Leadership Team
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Jehovah's Witnesses
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Paradoxes in the Bible
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Servant Heart
Living for Jesus
Covenantal Relationships
Division
Accusation
Flesh
Sexual Sin
Scripture
Customs
Provider
Living for God
Mothers
Female Leaders
Calling
Christian Fellowship
Backsliding
Easter
Witnessing
Infidelity
Biblical Culture
Merging Churches
Prophetic Equipping
Gift of Prophecy
Apostle
Priesthood of All Believers
Finance
Servanthood
Biblical Church
Praise
Atheists
Old Testament Prophet
Ambassadors
Truth in Tension
contradictions
Treasure Hunting
treasure
Church Planting
Community Leaders
God the Father
Leaders
Salvation
Women
Afterlife
Protection
Dating
Decisions
Eldership
Fleshly Desires
Shame
Truth
Traditions
Works
Morality
Wisdom
Women Leaders
Ordaining Elders
Christian Community
Backslidden
Resurrection
Testimony
Masturbation
Communal Culture
Partnering Churches
Prophesy
New Churches
Five Fold Gift
Trinity
Tithe
Relationship
Employment
Thanksgiving
Misotheists
New Testament Prophet
Work Values
Deacons
Culture
Good News
Maturity
Self-Control
Word of Knowledge
Bitterness
Self-Pity
Courting
Forgiving
Anger
Freedom
Submission
Gifts of the Spirit
Get Baptised
Works and Faith
Morals
Gift of Wisdom
Females in Leadership
Ordaining
Defence
Commitment
Hearing God
Consequences
Receive Forgiveness
Leadership Training
Living Hope
Zimbabwe
Start a Church
Prophet
New Believers
Being Generous
Study Scripture
Jobs
Entitlement
Misotheism
The Case for Christ
Kingdom Priorities
Biblical Contradictions
Movement
Family
Devotion
Goodness
Men
Serving
Word of Wisdom
Brokenness
Sickness
Courtship
Friendship
Church Plant
Hope
Trusting
Gifts
Baptized
Fasting
Overcomer
Words of Wisdom
Leadership
Encounter
Repenting
Challenges
Listening
Caring for Children
Four12 Partners
Training Leaders
St Johns
Relief Fund
Building Church
Evangelist
Dreams
Communion
Being Accountable
Occupation
Rejection
Hopelessness
Lee Strobel
Kingdom Living
Refining Fire
God's Glory
Love
Discernment
Gospel
Mercy
Shepherding
Work
Caring
Suicide
Desires
Lies
Fathering
Vulnerability
Accountable
The Apostolic
Kids
Intercession
Singleness
Fear
lead
Life
Repent
Anxiety
Obey
Child Care
Four12 Partner
Volunteer
Taiwan Church
Israel
Healthy Church
Teacher
Multi-site Church
Perseverance
Loving Others
Profession
Social Media
Christian Books
Christian Movies
Covenantal Love
Storms of Life
resilience
steadfastness
uncompromising
Four12 Conference
Marriage
Discipleship
Grace
Ministry
Sin
Worship
Confusion
Trials
Husbands
Offence
Humility
Idols
Pride
Evangelising
Obedient
Christian Leadership
Singles
Healing
Direction
Revelation
Conviction
Complacency
Recalibration
Guidance
Transformation
Volunteering
Taiwan Churches
Providence
New Testament Church
Pastor
Church Structure
Feminism
Apostolic Partnership
Vocations
Distractions
Christian Authors
Review
Husband
Isle of Man Conference
Accountability
Doctrine
Healing and Miracles
Money
Social Justice
Youth
Death
Tribulations
Partner
Overcoming
Humbleness
Immorality
Prophets
Fornication
Planting A Church
Christian Leaders
Debt
The Word
Discipline
Condemnation
Bear Fruit
Complacent
Recalibrating
Teaching Kids
Partners Relief Fund
Apostolic Partnering
Netherlands
Marriage Training
Church
Apostolic Field
Administration
Racism
Church Partnering
Christian Values
Cosmological Argument
Christian Literature
Old Testament
Romance
Apologetics
Elders
Heaven and Hell
Obedience
Spiritual Gifts
Caring for Others
Depression
Online Church
Spouse
Conflict
Meekness
Lust
Prophecy
The Gospel
Purgatory
Control
Finances
The Word of God
Modesty
Judgement
Bearing Fruit
Comfort
Divorce
Teaching Children
Four12 Partners Relief Fund
Pastors Training
The Poor
Letting Go
Values
Partnering
Heart of God
Justice
Church Partnership
Great Commission
Existence of God
Reading
Worldviews
God's Love
Apostles
Evangelism
Holiness
Partnership
Stewardship
Caring for People
Doubt
Church Involvement
Wife
Reconciliation
Overseers
Lying
Deception
Hell
Raising Children
Godliness
Miracles
Word of God
Ordained
Equality
Breakthrough
Defending My Faith
Covenant
Teenagers
Four12 Churches
Training Pastors
Needy
Rastafarian
Translations of the Bible
Preaching
Authentic Community
Relationship with God
Faith and Works
New Christian
Creation

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