Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Christians Should NOT be Mindless

Francis Asbury, a late 1700’s Methodist pioneer, once wrote, “If you can do but one, let your studies alone. I would throw by all the Libraries of the World rather than be guilty of the Loss of one Soul.”[1] Similarly, the dynamic baseball player turned preacher Billy Sunday commented, “If I had a million dollars, I’d give $999,999 to the church and $1 to education”.[2] Should we agree with these comments? Should we separate “studies” from “soul-winning”? Or is it true that solid Christian living is often equated to solid Christian doctrine? Verse 3 in Jude offers an answer:

“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.”

It appears that Jude was very anxious to write to his readers about their common salvation. Perhaps, he (like many other NT authors) wanted to encourage the church in their unity. But apparently there was something far more serious taking place—false teachers had infiltrated their ranks and Jude needed to encourage the church to “contend for the faith”. In order to understand this verse we must know what Jude means by “faith”. The word can mean to trust in, believe upon, etc. But it can also refer to a body of doctrine or a set of beliefs. And that is what the word here is referring to. We know this by how Jude qualifies it, “that was once for all delivered to the saints.” What Jude is talking about is the gospel message. That which Jesus gave to the apostles, the apostles gave to their followers, who in turn gave it to their followers, and so on and so forth. It is the same gospel message that you and I hear today. Jude is encouraging them to contend for this faith.

People such as Asbury and Sunday (along with many Christians today) fail to understand what Jude is saying here. Contending for the faith means that doctrine matters. What you believe is just as important as how you live and how you act. But this is no easy thing. Contending for the faith is not easy. As one commentator helps us to see, contending is, “to exert oneself without distraction to attain a goal. It means self-denial to overcome obstacles, to avoid perils, and if need be to accept martyrdom.”[3] Jude is concerned with preserving the truth. But in our ever increasingly ignorant American Christianity we must understand Jude is concerned with us working hard to preserve solid Christian doctrine.

Ask yourself today:

· Am I contending for the faith?
· What place does Christian doctrine have in my life?
· Am I as concerned that I believe the right thing as I am that I do the right thing?

Correct believing so often follows leads to correct living. For proof of this check out a recent article by John Piper: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2007/2312_Good_Doctrine_Makes_Better_Teenage_Saints/

[1] Quoted from Os Guiness, Fit Bodies Fat Minds, p29
[2] Ibid, p.32
[3] Hendriksen, William. Commentary on 1, 2 Peter and Jude. Taken from http://www.biblecentre.net

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