Dear Pastor Charles: I was reading my Bible in the Book of Jude and a word seemed to stick in my mind that has caused me to doubt some of the things my particular denomination stands for. The word is ‘contend’ and is found in Jude 1:3, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” My question is this: If we are to “contend for the faith” how can a denomination align itself with other religions who deny that Jesus is the Christ? Thanks for your opinion. Wondering.
Thank you for your question and I congratulate you for reading your Bible for yourself. It is not wise to automatically trust everything that you hear from the pulpit or read in the party lines of a denomination. I always encouraged my congregation to check what I said from the pulpit with their Bibles and to contend for the truth if what I said did not agree with the Word of God. When you read your Bible for yourself, God is in a position to directly communicate with you without the filters of denominational and personal viewpoints.
I don’t know if you realize how important your question is but there have always been many differing points of view about who God is and how Scripture should be interpreted and followed. That is why Jude wrote this passage. Today, there is a great ecumenical movement underway to reconcile, or at least offer acceptance, for differing ideologies concerning matters of faith. One can hear this ideology expressed frequently by people of other faiths who will try to explain away foundational differences with statements like this; “After all, we are all trying to get to the same place.” or “There is only one God, we just worship Him differently.”
May I kindly say to you that each and every person on the face of the earth has a perfect right to decide for themselves concerning matters of faith. However, we who believe the Scriptures to be God’s Holy, inspired and infallible Word cannot simply ignore these differences. While we must respect other viewpoints, the Bible teaches that there is only one way to God and that way is through His Son, Jesus Christ. There can be no compromise on this point. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Jude wrote his epistle to expose a problem then that is still present in the churches of today. Let’s take a look at the whole passage in order to better understand his meaning. Jude 1:3-4, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” As you can see, Jude was exhorting us; Jude 1:1, “…those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:”
He is saying that false teaching had entered the church concerning the grace of God and that they were to “contend for the faith.” The word ‘contend’ implies first that we have something worth fighting for, and that second, these battles will occur inside the church.
Bible believing Christians cannot afford the luxury of allowing false teaching concerning Jesus Christ to enter the church just for the sake of unity because that will allow our spiritual enemy, Satan, to have a stronghold in the very sanctuary where God is being sought. Perhaps, in God’s wisdom, that is precisely why He has allowed for the many different denominations that we have today. If one denomination is corrupted by false doctrine and false teaching, it will not as easily spread throughout all of Christendom.
So, it is so important for each Christian, and for each church that is aligned with a denomination, to closely monitor and participate in the greater decision making process. When we find that the grace of God is being “turned into a license for immorality” by our churches or our denominations, it is time to “contend for the faith.”
Always remember these words from Jesus in John 8:31-32, “…Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Truth is the most valuable possession that a child of God can own and it is worth contending for.
May God richly bless you as you continue to search the Scriptures which are “able to make you wise.”