Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3, ESV)
What a delight it is to talk about our salvation in Jesus Christ. It is a place of rest, a pleasant exercise, and an act of worship. We desire to declare it in our preaching, and in our mutual teaching and admonition. We enjoy discussing the intricacies of God’s wisdom, power, and grace. This is a salvation that we have in common through Christ, so we do not talk about how we are better than other believers, or boast about how much we have accomplished. We were all in trouble, and we have been rescued by one champion and made rich by the same benefactor. Jesus Christ has made this glorious life a reality for us, and we are eager to advance in our faith and service in the gospel.
However, not everyone shares our enthusiasm. Christ has many enemies, and we must contend for the faith that we love. Non-Christians criticize and ridicule our faith, and seek to turn men against it. But we are able to meet them with invincible arguments and the power of the Spirit. The gospel will achieve the effects that God has foreordained. The Bible also warns about those who would slip in among us. These are false teachers and false believers who present themselves as Christians, but whose doctrines and practices are subversive of the Lord Jesus. Some might distort God’s grace into a license for immorality. Others might corrupt the holiness of the gospel into a legalistic self-righteousness. The possibilities are endless, because the sinful desires of men are multi-faceted.
The Bible commands us to fight for the faith. We do this, first, by maintaining a clear vision of sound doctrine in our lives so that we may stand firm in it. Then we must follow the apostles’ example in denouncing the false teachers and their doctrines in the most clear and scathing terms. This is demonstrated in this same letter from Jude. And we must go further than this, because to contend for the faith means more than to argue for the faith, but it also means to enforce the faith. Thus we are to locate and excommunicate the offenders, publicly display their errors, cut them off from fellowship, and remove them from our gatherings.
All Christians must take up this cause and contend for the faith. It is not the responsibility of church leaders alone. The gospel has been delivered and entrusted to the saints. Even if you consider yourself an ordinary believer with no public ministry, you must contend for the faith. If you have benefited from this salvation that we share, then you have been called to fight for it as well, because God has entrusted the faith to you.