Contend for the Faith
by Dr. Ken Matto
(Jude 1:3 KJV) Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

The word “contend” in the Greek carries with it the meaning of “struggle.” The word is also a cognate of famous word “agonizamai” which the Apostle Paul used in 1 Corinthians 9:25 and is translated “striveth.” Paul used in in context of contending in the gymnastic games in Greece. Isn’t it interesting that we are seeing the Olympics right now coming from Greece. As one watches the Olympic games, we see the athletes struggle and strive to bring home the gold medal for their country. That is where all the training and hard work has its culmination. An athlete cannot live on junk food and soda and expect his or her body to be in the best shape to compete. Even though these athletes have already attained the top spots as representatives for their countries, there is still much struggling and agony which must take place if even a Bronze Medal is to be won.

The Christian life is the same way. We are already saved and on our way to Heaven. Christ secures us so we can never lose that precious salvation which He purchased for His Elect on Calvary. Even though the believer is safe in Christ, yet we read in Jude 3 that we are to earnestly contend or strive for the faith. This contending is actually a fight for the maintained purity of the faith. This includes exposing and rebuffing false teachings and teachers, errors exposed, enacting discipline, obeying the Scriptures, living a Christian life, etc. Contending for the faith in this day and age is not a silent task. There are many attacks upon the true teachings of Scripture and when these surface, they must be faced and dealt with. This means that a verbal or written opposition must be enacted to reject any false encroachments on the truths of Christianity.

One of the main desires of false teachings is to divert the true Christian away from the truths of Scripture. If the false teacher can get the Christian to begin to view the Scriptures in a new way or a different way which is always skewed toward the belief system of the false teacher, then that Christian will either accept the false teachings or they will strive against it and expose it for what it is. Exposing false teachings and teachers is a must, simply because a person’s eternal soul is at stake. The true Christian will not lose their salvation but they must concern themselves with those who will come after them, who may only be hearing the false teachings for the first time and may not have enough discernment to know they are false. This is why Christians must remain in the battle or else false teachings will overrun even the true Christians.

It is unfortunate that many trade phony love for the impending doom of a soul. The Apostle Paul had no problem naming those who had opposed his ministry and who had caused him much consternation. Many do not like the practice of naming names but it must be done so others can be warned of spiritual treachery on the part of the false teacher. God does not endorse anyone who takes the true Gospel and tapers it to fit some type of thought process or system. As God gave us the Bible, we are to teach that very book and without adding our own ideas and presuppositions.

It is a shame that too many believe the Christian life is nothing more than going to church and listening to sermons. The Christian life is described in Scripture as equal to that of a soldier. A soldier is not preparing himself to take a life of ease but he is preparing himself for a life of war. Spiritual warfare is at an all time high in these last days and we seem to be bombarded with new challenges to biblical truth every day. This is why the Bible challenges us to stay sober in our biblical thinking. If we continue to stay spiritually astute, we will have the ability to spot a false teaching instantly.

The great sin that ancient Israel and Judah did was they walked away from God by engaging themselves in the false religions of the surrounding countries. God had to chastise them by sending them into captivity. Instead of these two nations listening to their prophets and return to the Lord when God sent them to warn them, they instead rebuffed the prophets and did their own thing. We see this in Christianity today. Christians are being warned about bible versions, rock music, the church growth movement, ecumenicalism, equating religion with true Christianity, etc. Yet, they do not listen and continue to rebuff the truth. So God has no recourse but to send a judgment upon those who refuse to listen to the truth. In Amos 8:11 we read:

(Amos 8:11 KJV) Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

Even with all the millions of bibles we have in circulation, there seems to be a dearth of the word of God and that is because man’s teachings are replacing the word of God in the churches and the lives of individual believers. How many run to James Dobson or some other psycho-babbler for advice before they check the Scriptures. The psycho-babbler will tell the Christian that their sin is someone else’s fault but the Bible will hold us responsible for our sin. This is why with every new version coming out, they become more and more like pabulum for babies instead of meat for adults.

As we race toward the last day, we are going to see an increase in false teachings which will have the allurement of being true, when they are, in essence a false gospel. The thing that will be most striking is that these teachings may come from teachers we thought were really solid but are now being diverted into some type of esoteric teachings. It is this sensationalism that we are to watch. Some teachings are blatantly heretical and we rebuke them on sight but some are very subtle with all the embellishments of looking Christian and it is here where we must have astute discernment, not only for our spiritual well-being but for the well-being of others. This is why we must stay in the Scriptures and learn the Grand ole’ Gospel so we can never be duped with false teachings.  (8/27/04)