Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith
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.
We are engaged in a bloody war. It’s a war taken to us, laid on our doorsteps— a war we cannot afford to lose. To the victor goes the heart and mind of the church.
In the past, Satan has attacked the church both outwardly and inwardly with mixed results. In Acts, for example, the external attacks from the religious establishment were countered by the church speaking “the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). And the internal attacks only led to “great fear came upon all the church” (Acts 5:11) and increased ministry to others (Acts 6:7).
In each of these, the church only grew stronger.
A Single Voice
In its early history, the church would meet in authoritative councils to define truth or orthodoxy and address heresy. When a falsehood would arise that became popular among the people and threatened to lead them away from the truth of the gospel, church leaders from all over the world would gather to examine the heresy, compare it to Scripture, and issue a binding statement that would define Christian belief for the church at large. These binding statements became known as creeds. Some of them, the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed for example, codified for us the doctrines we often take for granted.
But today it’s different.
There’s no authoritative voice for the church and little accountability. With the internet, pretty much anything goes. And with most Bible-believing Christians not believing the Bible, the spread of heresy and false doctrine is rampant.
We have heresies today that are promoted by popular ex-pastors, such as Rob Bell, that deny God’s sovereignty in salvation, the reality of hell and the punishment for sin, the atonement of Christ, sanctification, and the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture. This is repackaged paganism. Or Paganism 2.0.
Then there’s the growing Prosperity Gospel and the Word of Faith Movement. This heresy, at its core, claims that mere man has the power to bind our sovereign God by the words we speak and demand He does our bidding even if it’s against His will. That’s witchcraft with a fresh veneer. They “claim” and “agree” that God has to bless them with material or financial blessings and He, like their pet genie-in-a-bottle, must give what they demand.
“I mean, doesn’t everyone deserve health, wealth, and prosperity? Isn’t the purpose of our faith to reward us with money and long life and straight teeth? Didn’t God secure for us, through the death of His Son, Your Best Life Now?”1
No. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
In Hebrews 11, we have what is known as the roll call of faith. It lists great men and women of faith and how their faith was rewarded. Look how the chapter closes. This is not exactly what the prosperity preachers promise as a reward for faith.
Hebrews 11:37-38 – They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
Do we believe the saints listed in Hebrews— Moses, Joseph, David, Samuel, and the rest— were less spiritual than those in the church today? They received anything but health, wealth, and prosperity as the supposed rewards of their faith. Yet Scripture says they were “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:37). This is the type of heresy only an opulent, self-satisfied, and narcissistic church could invent. And that’s what we are.
Once For All
But this is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it’s certainly not the faith that was once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). Our faith (pístis), as defined by Hebrews, is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). It’s the “basis, the underpinning, the foundation of what we confidently expect; and the proof, the assurance of things we cannot see with our own eyes.”2
But in practical terms, faith means trust. To have faith is to surrender to the Lordship of Christ (Rom. 10:9) and to give life allegiance to the kingdom of God (John 3:3). And it’s the King of this kingdom that “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). It’s the kingdom in which we live and the kingdom of which Christ preached (Mark 1:15). And it’s faith, or trust, in this kingdom, and its King, that was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Our faith is not open to interpretation or change. It’s a finite, secure, immutable faith.
To Contend for the Faith
To contend or fight earnestly for the faith does not always take place between believers and the world. More often than not, our striving for truth is against those who have infiltrated the church and seek to draw it away into perversion and heresy. As politically correct, tolerant Westerners, we’ve opened the big tent and invited every form of sin and deviant teaching into the church. And it’s only by their fruits, or lack thereof, that we can tell the difference between those who belong to Christ and those who don’t (Matt. 7:15-20).
So it’s our duty and calling to willfully contend for that faith given us at such a precious cost— the blood of our Savior and the blood of His saints. And it’s our mandate to stand for truth, especially within the walls of the church. Are you ready? Are you able to discern the real from the counterfeit? Do you know the difference between the “broad way that leads to destruction” and the “narrow” gate that “leads to life”? (Matt. 7:13-14).
You need to know. That knowledge begins with a deep fervency for His Word (Ps. 1:2), a committed life of prayer (1 Thess. 5:17), and fully embracing all the Holy Spirit wants to show you (1 Cor. 2:9-12).
Will you join with me as we put on our spiritual armor and prepare to contend for the faith? (Eph. 6:13). Will you take your stand with me, first within the walls of the church, and then against the gates of hell? (Matt. 16:18). Will you choose to shine as “the light of the world”? (Matt. 5:14). After all, our Lord said:
John 3:19-21 – “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
Be encouraged. Christ has already defeated the enemy and overcome the world (John 16:33). And we are secure — our “life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).
It doesn’t get much better than that.
1. Yes, this does refer to Joel Osteen’s bestselling book, Your Best Life Now!
2. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (pp. 1163-1165). Chattanooga,