Study 11 DEFENDING THE FAITH IN DAYS OF DECLINE
HOLDING OUT THE WORD OF LIFE
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: The Letter of Jude)
When Jude began his letter he intended to write about the salvation we share as believers (verse 3), but then the Holy Spirit compelled him to appeal to his readers to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (verse 3). So we are at once reminded that it is our solemn duty as believers to defend the Faith in these days of decline.
Verse 1 tells us that as Christians we have been “called” and are “loved by God the Father”; but verse 3 tells us that we are not only to rejoice in the Faith and enjoy the blessings of the gospel, not only to spread the good news so that others may be saved, but we are to contend for it, defend it. This presupposes that the Faith is being attacked. This was the case in AD 66 when Jude was writing (verse 4), and it is certainly true today. In those days wolves had come into the fold in sheep’s clothing (Acts 20:29). Also today, although we should be concerned about evil forces at work outside the Church, we should be particularly concerned about those forces at work inside the Church where there are many false prophets doing the Enemy’s work (2 Corinthians 11:15). It is therefore the clear duty of every believer to defend the Faith.
1. What is it we are to defend?
We must defend the Faith “once for all entrusted to the saints” – that is, we are to defend the whole body of revealed truth contained in the whole of the inspired canon of Scripture, God’s Word. We are told four things about this precious truth:
- 1. It is divine in its origin. It was “once for all entrusted to the saints” – but by whom? By man? No – see 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21. God is the author of the Faith which He has “entrusted to the saints” by “men who spoke from God” – and it is this Faith which is divine in its origin that we are to defend.
- 2. It is unique in its content. There is no other Faith – this is the one and only perfect revelation of God. Jude carefully uses the definite article – it is “the faith that was once for all entrusted…” – compare Hebrews 1:1-3.
- 3. It is complete in its revelation. It is described as “the faith that was once for all (literally) entrusted…” That is, it is a complete and final revelation; it can never need any addition or any revision, for it is complete and will never change. With the closing of the canon of Scripture, God completed the revelation of His truth.
- 4. It is holy in its nature (verse 20). It was given by a holy God by the agency of the Holy Spirit, through holy men, and called the Holy Scriptures, for the purpose of producing holy living and leading men to the holy City – look up Revelation 21:10.
Significantly Jude mentions most of the fundamental articles of the Faith which we are to defend. Notice the following:-
- 1. God is the Father of all who believe – verse 1.
- 2. The glorious Person of our Lord Jesus Christ – verse 4.
- 3. The doctrine of the grace of God – verse 4.
- 4. The total depravity of man – verse 7.
- 5. The personality of the Holy Spirit – verse 19.
- 6. The existence of a personal Devil – verse 9.
- 7. The fact of judgment and Hell – verses 6, 7, 13.
- 8. The justification of the sinner by faith alone – verse 11.
- 9. The personal return of Christ – verse 14.
- 10.The eternal security of believers – verse 24.
- 11.The sovereignty and keeping power of God – verse 25.
- 12.The historical accuracy and the prophetic value of the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures – verses 5-19.
2. Why are we to defend the Faith?
Because the Faith is being attacked. Today every one of the fundamental, foundational truths of the Christian faith (outlined above) are being attacked and denied, not only by outsiders but by men inside the Church. The teaching in our schools and in the media about evolution is a direct denial of God’s truth as revealed in His Word, and this denial has percolated into most of our denominational colleges, many of our pulpits, and into much so-called Christian literature. Prophecy has been fulfilled (2 Timothy 3:1-8; 4:1-4). We must defend the faith; we must stand up for the truth. Why should we be silent when our precious faith is being attacked and when some ‘supposed’ spiritual leaders are trying to rob our faith of its supernatural origin, power and glory?
3. How are we to defend the Faith?
We must defend it “earnestly” (verse 3, KJV). There must be action. We are to defend the Faith “earnestly but not furiously” (Matthew Henry) – look up James 1:20 – but we must do it in three ways:-
- 1. By living it. There is no greater defence of the Faith than a life that proves the reality of the Faith by its beauty and Christ-likeness. Although we must speak the truth and stand up for it, we must do so in love (Ephesians 4:15). Let us beware of becoming hard, critical and uncharitable in our defence of the Faith – look up 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.
- 2. By proclaiming it. Preach the gospel, the positive certainties! This will kill error in the quickest possible way. By all means expose error but do so mainly by positive instruction in the truth. Do not become a heresy hunter!
- 3. By suffering for it. Rather than allowing the Faith to suffer, we must be willing to suffer, as many thousands are doing so today. Our forefathers died for the Faith. May God give us grace to follow their fine example and at all costs to stand up for the truth (Acts 7:54-60). Compare Acts 5:41-42.