Be a faithful steward of the Faith that was once for all entrusted
“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 verse 3.
Determine the author of the Book.
The title of this letter identified the author of the letter. His name is Jude. But the question is this – is he the disciple/apostle called Jude or half-brother of Jesus called Jude? The author introduces himself in verse 1 as the “brother of James” is an indication that the author of this letter is the half-brother of Jesus. The disciple or the apostle called Jude was the ‘son of James’ (Luke 6:16) not the ‘brother of James’. Gospels also say in Matthew 13:55 Jesus had two brothers–James and Judas. Jude is the short name of Judas and also this short name is apparently preferred because the other Judas ended up in betraying Jesus Christ.
We know that both James and Jude, two half-brothers of Jesus did not believe in Christ until after the death and resurrection of Christ. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ caused them to place their faith and trust in Christ as their savior. Bible also says both these half-brothers became the servants of Jesus Christ (Jude verse 1) and proclaimed the message of Salvation in the name of Jesus and apparently they both visited different places as evangelists and missionaries according to 1 Corinthians 9:5.
‘Eager’ to write about one topic but ‘compelled’ to write about another.
Jude writes in verse 3 that although he was very eager to write about the salvation we share in Jesus Christ, he felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. Did you read he said ‘he felt compelled’. He was thinking about or getting ready to write about the topic of salvation, he felt the urgent need to write about something else. The Holy Spirit compelled him to write about the need to contend for ‘the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people’. Why? The reason for this urgency is because certain individuals who are ungodly people secretly slipped in among them even in the first century itself. He mentions the characteristics of such ungodly people who slipped among them. Read this carefully- these individuals who slipped in among the true believers – pervert the grace of our God (1) into a license for immoral life and (2) deny Jesus Christ our only savior and Lord.
It is highly important for a true Christian to contend for ‘the faith that was once for all entrusted’ to them. Two points I want to bring this passage cited above.
1. An urge to contend for the faith
2. The peculiarity of this faith is described as “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s Holy people.”
3. The urgency to seriously consider the above two points are because of ungodly individual secretly slipped in among the believers
4. The characteristics of these intruders are – perverting the grace of our God into licentious immoral life and denial of Jesus Christ as the only savior and Lord.
Both faith in Christ and faith in the body of truth as revealed in the Bible goes hand in hand.
What is the faith in this context? Faith in Christ as the only savior and the Lord of our life. Along with this faith and trust in Christ as our savior, we have faith in all the truth that God had revealed to us in the pages of the Scripture. Therefore, first of all, our faith is placed in the Lord Jesus Christ as our savior – because upon believing in the name of Jesus we have the forgiveness of all our sins because Jesus died, buried and resurrected for people’s sin ‘according to the scripture’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4-referring to the Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled in Christ). He is the savior who delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of God.
Secondly, the Lord has given us His teachings – a body of truth or a list of truth- about God, creation account, Satan, man, how humanity fell in to sin and estranged from God, promise of Messiah or savior who will save people from their sins, how this promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ, virgin birth of Christ, salvation of man, Jesus-the only savior of the world, church, warnings of false teachers and God’s perfect plan laid for the future that includes rapture, physical resurrection of believers, tribulation period, millennium and eternity.
These basic teachings or truths which are called the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people can not be divorced from our faith and trust in Christ Jesus. Both go hand in hand. In other words, if a person accepts Christ as his or her savior and denies the set of teachings or truths that are essential to our Christian living, then he or she makes a big error. Teachings of Christ or the set of teachings given to us once for all must be kept intact and we should contend for these truths. Remember the great commission Jesus gave us, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” A believer in Christ Jesus is commissioned to go and make disciples of all nations, not only to preach the good news in Christ and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but also commissioned to teach the new believers the body of teachings or the set of truths that is entrusted to us.
What was the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy People?
You see Jude is saying the faith that was once for all entrusted. Did you notice it said, “Once for all entrusted”? What is this means? You and I are coming across hundreds of cult movements and false teachers who try their best to distort and derail the set of truths or teachings that entrusted to us once for all in the Bible. They claim that they have new revelations. For example, Muslims, Mormons, New age movements, certain principles that grant enlightenment and the list goes on and on. Though Koran of Muslims and Mormon book of Joseph Smith came several hundreds of year after the birth of Christianity, there were false teachers who taught false doctrines even in the first century AD. Please make a clear understanding what Bible says about the true body of truths. Bible says in 2nd Peter 1:3 God had already given us everything we need for a godly life. It says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Whose divine power? Verse 1 and 2 says “through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” It says we received this faith, as precious faith, through our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Wonderful! It says we received this faith (in past tense when he wrote this letter in the 1st century). Our passage in Jude says, “ the faith that was once for all entrusted”. In other words, God’s revelation of truth concerning Him, man, sin, salvation, eternity, all are already completed and granted to us prior to the end of the 1st century AD when the Bible was completed in writing. The person who will save us from our sins ( Jesus as our savior) and all the truth, revelations and teachings we need for a godly life in Christ was once for all already given. God’s revelation of all his truth and teachings for our faith or all the doctrines that we need for our life is finished and already given to us. This is why the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation 22:18-19 gives this warning- “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” God says no one is allowed or authorized to add anything to the Bible and no one is allowed or authorized to take words away from it. It is sealed and completed – once and for all entrusted to us. No more tampering is allowed and no more new revelation people need other than what was already in the Scripture called the Bible.
Ephesians 2:20 says “God’s household has been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.” You see our faith (all doctrines of our faith- all the truths we should know to live a godly life) was already built on the foundation of apostles and prophets and the cornerstone of our faith is Christ Jesus, our savior.
The faith that is once for all delivered to us means there is unity and agreement in this body of truth written by the writers of the Bible whom God inspired to write the Holy Scripture. Four Gospel writers- Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John – wrote the epistles. Luke wrote the book of Acts. There are epistles and letters wrote by different authors like Peter, Paul, John, Jude. All these New Testament writers used their own individual styles and inspirations to write these books. But keep in mind there are common threads of truth and doctrines all these authors agreed and proclaimed and those are the body of faith once for all delivered to us. All these writers agreed on certain vital truths that God revealed in and through them by the work of His Holy Spirit.
The same is true about the Old Testament Scripture. God used different authors and used their writing skills and inspirations but God was the superintend who worked behind their skills and inspiration to record exactly what He wanted to write for our knowledge. All these writers had certain common themes and teachings. Basically, the Old Testament writers by the inspiration of God looked forward what is going to happen in and through the savior of the world- the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The New Testament writers have seen the fulfillment of all these prophecies in the incarnation of Christ and in His death, burial, and resurrection and they faithfully recorded those truths by the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit who inspired the Old Testament writers. When the same Holy Spirit inspired both the writers of the Old Testament and the New Testament who lived thousands of years apart, it became one single book – the one marvelous and wonderful book from heaven- God is the final author of all pages, all words, and all punctuations. Bible says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Bible also declares this about the Bible, “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.”
There may be minor diversities among true Christian denominations. However, let us stand for the “faith that is once for all entrusted to God’s holy ones.” These are the basic doctrines that Bible teach us and we are commissioned by Jesus to teach others. All apostles agreed on this truth in their writings and we as believers should contend for these true doctrines of the Bible. This is especially applicable in these days when we see major falling away from the truth of the Bible. Every single believer should contend for this faith that was once for all given to us. This is what Jude is urging us to do.
Entrusted to God’s holy People?
The passage also says the faith is entrusted to God’s holy people. God’s holy people doesn’t mean certain so called elite group of people like clergymen. Holy people means God set apart people who believed in Christ as His holy people. Apostle Paul in his epistles addressed all believers in Christ as ‘holy’ and ‘set apart’. 1 Peter 2:9-10 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” The believers in Christ are chosen people, all believers are royal priests. They are ‘set apart’ from others and are ‘sealed with the Holy Spirit; (Ephesians 1:13) for the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life in heaven with Him. Not based on any deeds or works they have done on their behalf. But because of their trust and faith in the shed bled of Christ, the only savior of the world, whose blood was poured out on the cross as a sacrifice offered for all their sins. Bible addresses all believers who put their faith and trust in Christ as ‘holy’ (set apart) and ‘chosen’ by God. They are positionally holy now in the sight of the holy God because of the representation of Christ in their life. Because their sins are accounted to Christ when they put their faith in Him and his death, burial and resurrection. Practically they may not be viewed by others are holy in their behavior and acts but the Holy Spirit who is granted to them to permanently indwell in them at the time of their faith in Christ is progressively making them more and more like Christ by making them more and more holy while they live in this world. They have God’s good Holy Spirit in them to help in this process of becoming more and more like Christ. Finally, at the time of their death, they will be fully sanctified and glorified and live in heaven with God for eternity. This is the plan of God in each believer in Christ who accepted Him as their savior and Lord.
Content/struggle for the once for all entrusted faith in the midst of the perversion of God’s grace
The church of Christ throughout history contended for this faith. It was not easy for the apostles. All disciples had to become martyrs (except John) when they contended for the faith entrusted to them. In the middle ages, many faithful believers who stood for the truth of the Scripture were tortured and even burned. They all stood for this faith once for all delivered to us. Even though many were burned alive the truth remained the same. One day people will be judged according to this truth that was once for all entrusted to us. Even recently many Coptic Christian’s heads were cut off because they were willing to give their lives for this faith that was once for all entrusted to them. See believers in Christ cannot divorce their salvation in Jesus Christ from the teachings and doctrines of the Bible. Both go hand in hand.
Apostle Paul warned to the Ephesian elders what is going to happen after his departure. It says, ” I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. ”
Peter warned about these false teachers in 2nd Peter 2:1-2, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned.”
Perversion of the grace of our God into immoral life and denial of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Lord.
Remember Jude said in his letter he was compelled to write about the faith once for all delivered to God’s holy people because of certain individuals who were ungodly crept into the church. They pervert the grace of our God. The marvelous grace of our God saved us from all our sins and delivered us from the power of Satan and darkness and granted His mercy and rich love through which He saved us from our lost estate and gave us eternal life with Him in heaven. But these people crept in, the ungodly people, pervert the grace and mercy of our God into immoral lifestyles. We can see such people in our days. They are ungodly and they abuse the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ to lead an immoral life. Only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire is their portion in future. (Hebrews 10:27). All cults and pagan teachings out there are associated with one or another form of immoral lifestyles and worship systems. Secondly, they pervert the grace of our God by denying Jesus Christ our only Savior and Lord. You see they are not true believers in Christ. They deny Jesus and they don’t accept Christ as the only savior and Lord.
Bible and faithful servants of the Lord loudly declare there is salvation in no one else. Bible declares the truth in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” There is only one savior and that is Christ Jesus who died for your sins, buried and resurrected for your salvation.
Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:3-6, God wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. What is that truth? There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Why Jesus? Because Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all. This is to be testified in due time.
“This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”
All the cults and false teachers out there in the world deny Jesus Christ as the savior and the Lord. In short, all the cults deny the truth about Christ Jesus. My friend, you will not enter heaven in this way. You may have heard people saying there are more than one way to go to heaven. That is not just true. There is only one way. God has dropped only one lifeline from heaven to get there. And that is Christ Jesus. God gave us His grace and mercy to us in the person and the work of Christ by offering forgiveness of our sins and eternal life in heaven with Him because Jesus died, buried and resurrected for your salvation. He paid all our debts that we owed to the Holy God. You can receive the forgiveness from all your sins and you can receive eternal life by repenting about your sins and asking Jesus to save you. Say to God, ” God, I come to you in prayer. I am sorry for all my sins. Please forgive me. I believe Christ died, buried and risen again for my sins. Please save me and grant me the eternal life.”
But they (the false teachers and their followers) pervert the grace and love of our God by leading an immoral life and denying Christ Jesus as the savior and the Lord. Immorality increased much during our life time now. Immoral life styles are seen even within the church. Even there are Christian churches today who approve certain immortal life styles even though they know the clear cut teachings of the Bible. They conveniently close their eyes to the truth of the Scripture and will be judged for not being a faithful steward of the faith once for all entrusted to them.
In this century we live in is no different from the 1st century. We have both of these above mentioned groups and hundreds of other cults in existence today.
Consider how much more we stand firm and content for the faith that was once for all entrusted to us? This is the compulsion of the Lord hanging on each one of us at this time of the history we live in, don’t you agree?