The Faith Once Delivered
This is the text transcription of the audio
message by the same title found here:
This is the text transcription of the audio message by the same title found here: 660-mp3
By David A. DePra
I want to begin today by turning to the epistle of Jude – there is only one chapter in this epistle. The next couple of weeks I'm going to be talking about the epistle of Jude -- which is basically a warning to Christians, “to contend for the faith which was once delivered.” That is going to the title for today – in this first message: “The faith Once Delivered.”
Starting in verse 1:
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.
Now, that tells us that he's talking to Christians.
Mercy unto you. and peace, and love be multiplied. Beloved when I gave all diligence to write unto you our common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation -- ungodly men -- turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
In a very real sense, as I've already noted, these first 4 verses stand as the theme of the entire epistle -- which isn't a very long epistle. So let's get into this. I'm going to start the discussion with verse 3.
A Spiritual Battle
The first thing I want to do, as I usually like to do, is to get into some words here – into some meanings -- because there are some significant word meanings in the Greek that will help us to more profoundly understand what were being told. First of all, let's note this two word phrase, “earnestly contend.” The Greek words, they are the same kind of words that are used in an athletic contest -- it means, “to strive for; “it means to battle for.” Now, the fact that these words are the same words that are used in an athletic contest, of course, doesn't mean that our striving and the contending is the same -- because we are told that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty through GOD. And we are told that our enemies are not flesh and blood. And so whatever is being said here -- and it is it mentioned that ungodly MEN have come into the church -- that aside, the real battle is SPIRITUAL here.
How many understand that false teachers, whether they are even conscious of it or not, have evil spirits behind them? Satan is, “the father of lies.” Jesus Christ Himself said that -- and so if you have false teachers in the church today -- and false teachers are those who try to pass off lies as the Truth -- even if they themselves are deceived by those lies -- well, the source of all of that is Satan the devil. I’m not talking about demon possession, or anything like that, but evil spirits and false spirits that appear as, “angels of light,” work THROUGH men. Just as the spirit of God does. And so the weapons of our warfare are NOT carnal -- Paul tells us -- and our enemies are NOT flesh and blood. We need to keep that in mind.
And so when we read these words, “earnestly contend,” we are not talking -- in the first meaning – about going out and arguing with PEOPLE. We are not talking about going around debating everybody, and trying to win arguments. We ARE talking about recognizing the real enemy here -- and the real battlefield. Contending with, and dealing with, flesh and blood human beings -- once we get the spiritual issues settled and understood -- then can follow. But we must understand that we are not battling against flesh and blood.
Contending FOR, Not AGAINST
Now, he says, “earnestly contend.” One thing I do want to point out -- and I just mentioned it briefly here -- is that primarily the warfare for a Christian is a contending FOR Jesus Christ, and FOR the Truth -- rather than having the focus always being AGAINST error and against heresy. Now, by definition, if you are FOR Christ, and FOR Truth, you are going to BE against heresy; you are going to BE against error. You just will be. But I'm talking about is the focus and the attitude that's in our heart. The reason that we are to earnestly contend for the Truth is because we love the Truth, and because we want Jesus Christ, and we want others to have Him.
How many understand that it is entirely possible -- and there's a lot of people like this around today in the body of Christ, I'm sorry to say – but it's entirely possible to be defined, as a Christian person, by what you are AGAINST, rather than by what you are FOR. It's entirely possible to have an apologetic ministry, for example, to be a pastor; to even be a regular member of the body of Christ -- if there is such a thing -- to always be griping; to always be AGAINST; always be arguing; always been contending AGAINST something that you think is imperfect; that you don't like; that you think ought to be conformed to your opinion and your way. It's possible to have that kind of an attitude. It's actually possible to have that kind of an attitude and to be more or less THEOLOGICALLY correct. I can go around, for example, demanding that, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” That's theologically correct. But I could do so in a terrible spirit. We are supposed to, “speak the Truth in love.”
Now, I have to say that if we have received the Truth -- if we at least have a relationship with Jesus Christ -- then this other attitude of always contending AGAINST what we don't like is NOT going to be there to that degree. We are going to be growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus; we are going to be growing in our love for the Truth -- and what is going to come out of that is a cessation; a breaking of the spirit of contention – which is a negative wrong kind of a way, and we are more and more and more going to be earnestly contending FOR Jesus and FOR the Truth -- in a spirit of love; in a spirit of grace. You receive Christ, and begin to know Him, and THAT (attitude of grace) is what is going to pop out.
What is, “The Faith”
This brings us to something that is very important -- in fact, central to understand – here in verse 3. Jude says that he is exhorting us that we, “should earnestly contend for the faith which was once” -- and the Greek says, “once for all” – “delivered unto the saints.” What is he talking about? What IS, “the faith once delivered,” and how do we earnestly contend for it? This is really the central theme of this passage, and of the whole book. And so we need to center in on this.
Well, “the faith,” is not a list of doctrines. Yes, we are going to have our lists -- and we do need to be theologically and biblically correct. I trust we understand that. But, “the faith once delivered,” isn't a list. Jesus did not. on the Mount of Olives before He ascended to heaven, hand the disciples a big piece of parchment with a list of doctrines on it, and say them, “Here is what you need to go around teaching.” That is NOT what Jesus told them. Neither did He tell them to start a movement or start a church. He said, in fact, “Don't do anything. Tarry in Jerusalem until you RECEIVE.”
Now (what they received) is, “the faith that was once delivered.” How many understand they received something? They received this, “faith once delivered.” Yes, on the heels of all the teaching that Jesus had given them. But it was at that point that they received CHRIST in that upper room. In this we see what IS, “the faith once delivered:” It is the entirety of the revelation of Jesus Christ – given to us in the Person of Christ, in an inward way.
In Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost, that was the first time in the history of God's dealings with man that Jesus Christ -- by the spirit of God -- ever came down to dwell within human beings. Now, I'm not going to turn today's message into proving that it was the first time -- that's not what this message is about. I’ve done that in other messages. I will simply point out that just shortly before Jesus died, and was raised, and ascended, He told His disciples, “Unless I go to the Father, the Spirit cannot COME.” And if you read those passages, in the Gospel of John, chapters 14, 15, and 16, you will see very clearly that He means that HE WILL COME back and dwell IN His disciples BY the spirit.
How many understand that Jesus Christ dwells in us BY the spirit? We do not have TWO indwellings; we do not have TWO experiences. Jesus Christ dwells in you and I BY the spirit. In fact, I Corinthians 6:17 says, “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him” -- the human spirit joined to Jesus through the spirit of God.
And so Jesus said, “Unless I go, I can't come back and do that -- I can’t come back and join you to Myself.” And he also said to them, “The spirit of God has been WITH you, but the spirit of God shall be IN you.” This again is, “Christ in us, the hope of glory” -- by the means of the spirit of God. “The spirit of God has been WITH you, but the spirit of God shall be IN you” -- and He said that before He went to the cross. He was pointing forward to the day when the spirit would be poured out, and given in Acts 2.
So in Acts 2 was the day, that for the first time in all of history, Jesus by the means of the spirit of God would be IN people. That is the day that, “Christ in us, the hope of glory” -- the great mystery that Paul says in Colossians 1 had NOT been revealed to ages and generations past, but Paul says is NOW revealed – “Christ in you, the hope of glory” – that is what happened, and began in Acts 2. That's why the church began there. That's why the new covenant began there. For the first time, in Acts 2, people were born again; people had Christ in them -- the hope of glory. That's what they received. That is what was delivered – and if you look at this, they received CHRIST by the spirit. So Jesus Christ -- and all that is in Him; that entire revelation; that entire reality of Jesus Christ, received from above by the spirit of God – IS, “the faith once delivered.”
Isn't He the object of our faith? Does not what emerges from the living Christ -- the knowledge of God; the knowledge of the ways of God; and so forth? Do not all of those things constitute, what we could, in a more general term, say is THE FAITH? So THE FAITH is the entirety of the life and the revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ -- that we receive -- not on paper – but that we receive IN US. We are joined to the Lord and become one spirit with Him -- and that is how we receive Christ. That is how we receive THE FAITH.
A Personal Contending for The Faith
Now Jude is saying that we should earnestly contend for this tremendous reality -- for this tremendous revelation -- that we should live in it; stand in it; that Christ ought to BE OUR LIFE; that Christ ought to be our Truth; that Christ -- as Paul says in I Corinthians 1:30 -- ought to be our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. He IS the personification of, “THE FAITH.” Well, He is the object of our faith, and so He is the personification of what can be termed, “The Faith.” And we are to earnestly contend and stand in the Truth of Jesus Christ.
Now something else that we need to see here -- and this is just as important to realizing what, “The Faith,” is -- is that when Jude tells us to, “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered” -- how many see that anything we do along that line isn't going to amount to very much unless we do this personally and individually? In other words, this isn't about you and I getting a committee together, establishing a statement of faith, pounding our fist on the table and saying, “We stand by this at all costs!” That is not going to get us far. This is about you and I -- against all trials; against all odds; against all challenges -- in our personal and individual lives -- this is about you and I standing by faith in the life and in the reality of the Person of Jesus Christ, who dwells in us. In other words, we must personally and individually, “contend for the faith,” which we have received personally and individually -- before we can do it together.
I don't know about you, but when I think of a bunch of Christian people getting together, and doing what they would call, “standing for the truth” -- and arguing and debating and beating over the head others who would disagree with them -- when I think about Christian people who would do that, and say that they are standing for the Truth – but who don't have the reality of Christ in them – who don't walk by faith against all the enemies -- in Christ for themselves -- I think that's very shallow. And of course in that there would be no power whatsoever.
Now these two things, especially, I want us to see: I want us to see that THE FAITH is the entirety of the life and revelation of Jesus Christ that we have been given. He is the personification of Truth. He is the personification of THE FAITH. He is OUR Faith. That's the one thing. And the other thing that I especially want us to see is that this is a personal application -- before it is anything else. If it is not personally (experienced), it is not going to get us very far. It's not about religion. It's not about having the right religion; having the right doctrines – I’m all for that – but it is about living personally in the reality of Jesus Christ.
God is Speaking Son-Wise
Now, to follow up what I just said here about Jesus Christ being the personification and the reality of THE FAITH once delivered – I want to look at a couple of verses to back up that statement. I want to turn to Hebrews, chapter 1 -- because at the beginning of Hebrews is a statement by the writer of Hebrews -- who I believe was Paul; it's debatable, but that's my personal opinion -- Paul makes a statement here that relates to what were talking about – i.e. contending for the personal faith once delivered, and then as a church. In Hebrews 1:1-2, he makes the following statement: “God, who at sundry times” -- different times, in other words – “and in different manners…” So, note that before I read on: He is talking about God, at different TIMES during history, but also WITHIN those times in history -- in different manners – he says, “God, who in different times, in different manners, SPOKE, in times past, unto the fathers by the prophets.” And of course the Old Testament certainly testifies and gives witness to this statement. God spoke all the way back in the garden to Adam. He spoke to Abraham. Sometimes it was through an angel. Sometimes it was through another vehicle. Look at all the ways that God spoke to Moses. And you have all the examples of God speaking through the prophets. He spoke through signs and wonders in those days, did he not? You can just list them out: Prophets, patriarchs, signs, wonders -- whatever -- and, of course, He began to issue forth a written word that took centuries to compile.
But all that being said, that's what's being mentioned in verse one: That, “God, who at different times, and in a different manners, throughout history, spoke in those TIMES PAST unto the fathers by the prophets.” But now in verse 2 -- this is clearly a contrast that the writer of Hebrews is giving to what he just said in verse 1: God USED to speak this way; in these manners; in these different manners; through the prophets, and through signs and wonders – that is how God USED to speak in TIMES PAST. BUT -- verse 2 is stating – NOW -- “God has in THESE LAST DAYS spoken unto us IN A SON.”
This Greek here in verse 2 -- that phrase, “in a Son,” is really interesting and very profound. It really, and in the most literal sense, is saying that, “God has spoken to us SON WISE." (This is the exact Greek) And what you can see in this is that we are being told -- if I can put it this way – the “language” in which God is speaking today to reveal Himself, and to reveal His will, is a Person: Jesus Christ. God is speaking to you and I through an inward, personal revelation of Jesus Christ. That's how God is speaking today – primarily.
Am I saying that there could never be a time when God would speak in some other manner? No. If we would need that -- God would do that. But we must never make the other manners (of God speaking to us) the norm. We must never take the possibility that God could speak to us in some way that, we might say, is a sign or a wonder -- we must never take that and set that up as the norm; seek after that; and think that that's what God is doing today. It is telling us right here that HE IS NOT -- and we need to read these things and take them seriously. In times PAST, God USED to speak that way. But TODAY – primarily - He is speaking through an inward, personal, ongoing revelation of Jesus Christ.
How many see that this relates to the fact that you and I have received, “the faith once delivered,” personally? When you and I were saved Jesus Christ joined us to Himself -- and as I noted from I Corinthians 6:17 -- we became one spirit with Him. That is HOW Christ dwells in us. That is HOW, “Christ is in us, the hope of glory” -- which I've said many times is the best definition of Christianity you can find in the Bible in one sentence. The whole Christian life emerges from, “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” But that's a great definition of the core of it all: “Christ in us.” Well, when Christ joins us to Himself, and we become one spirit with Him – which is what happened in Acts 2 for the first time -- when that happens NOW in Christian people personally -- from that point (of being joined to the Lord) what God wants to do is REVEAL CHRIST IN US. As Paul says in Galatians: “It pleased God to reveal His Son IN ME.” Here's another way of saying the same thing: God wants, “to form Christ in us.” (Gal. 4:19) And that word, “formed” -- in Galatians 4:19 – means, “to inwardly realize and express.” God Almighty -- once Christ is in us -- wants to bring us into a growing inward realization of His Son, that will renew our minds, set us free, and bring us on in His purpose. Now – this inward realization; that forming of Christ within; this revealing of Christ in us – that is HOW God is speaking to us today – He is speaking to us, “SON WISE.” And if I will commit to unconditionally allowing God to do this -- that's how I earnestly contend for the faith once delivered. That's how I allow God to make this real in me -- by allowing Him to make Christ real in me.
Picking Up the Cross
Within the context of God speaking to us in His Son – this (revelation of Jesus) can take shape and have different forms. But it all has to come back to the realization of, and to the forming of, Christ in the person. I could even put it this way: God is speaking to us in His Son. And if we hear -- and if we listen -- that's how Christ is formed in us.
And so you and I have personally received, “the faith once delivered” -- it's all wrapped up in the Person of Jesus Christ -- Who we have received an inward way -- and Who God is forming in us.
If we go back to Jude here -- Jude is telling us that we need to earnestly strive and contend for this faith that is once delivered unto the saints -- and the first application of that is to us PERSONALLY.
But HOW do we earnestly contend for the faith once delivered? And again, as I noted at the outset here today, we are to contend FOR the faith, not just AGAINST those things that would oppose the faith – that WILL happen, naturally. If you stand in Christ, you are going to HAVE to be against everything else. But don't be against everything else and forget about Jesus -- if you know what I'm saying.
But how do we do this? Well, a lot of places in the Bible give examples of this -- but I think one of the best places is Romans chapter 12 -- and I'm going to read there starting in verse 1. This is one of the best places that describes how you and I personally can contend for the faith once delivered -- TO US personally. Paul writes: “I beseech you, therefore, brethren” -- and I’m going to read it the way it reads in the Greek:
I beseech you, therefore, brethren, BECAUSE of the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice.
Now let me just stop there for a second. I don't want to get too sidetracked -- but there are some significant words here -- and distinctions -- that I think would be edifying to point out. First of all, we are being told – and obviously it's a picture lesson -- to get on an altar. And of course, the altar always represents the CROSS of Jesus -- and by application -- our personal cross. Jesus told us, “If any man would come after Me, he needs to pick up his cross daily, and deny himself” -- deny self ownership -- is what He is saying – “he needs to pick up his cross daily, deny himself, and come after Me. For whosoever,” Jesus said, “would lose their life for My sake will find ME,“ -- is the teaching – “as their life.”
Jesus said, “will find his life” -- that's exactly what He said there Matthew 16 -- but how many understand that Jesus IS THE LIFE; is the ONLY life? And so when He says, “will find his life,” that (Jesus as our life) is what He is talking about. If you lose your life under the work the cross -- by picking up your cross -- you are going to more and more and more find the experience of, and the revelation of, and the reality, of Jesus Christ as your life. Like Paul said in Colossians 3: “Christ, Who IS our life.” He is the only life we have. We surrendered ours.
And so this is an altar here in Romans 12:1. It's referring to that same work of the cross. It's not only telling us HOW to contend for this faith once delivered, but is telling us how to lose our life to Jesus. And guess what? The two are equal. You and I contend for the faith once delivered by losing our life – so that we may find CHRIST as our life. He IS the personification of, “the faith once delivered.”
How many see that the dots are now beginning to be connected? We are talking about the same work of the cross unto the revelation of Christ in us.
By the Mercies of God
Now, you will note that in Romans 12:1 that Paul said that we are to do this – that we are to get on altar – but NOT because of the wrath of God; not because were afraid that if we don't that God is going to punish us, or be mad at us. Paul doesn't say, “I beseech you, therefore, by the WRATH of God, that you better get on that altar, because if you don't, you are going be in deep trouble!!!” Not at all. He says, “I beseech you, brethren, because of the MERCIES of God, that you get on this altar.” Why would he say that? Because it is on that altar that we find DELIVERANCE from all that hinders life. How many understand that when Jesus Christ said, “Whosoever would lose his life will find life in Me.” that He was talking about DELIVERANCE? -- because everything that is bad, and everything that is a problem for us, is a wrapped up IN that life that He tells us to LOSE? But all that is good -- all that God has for man is wrapped up in the Christ, Who will be our life, if we do lose that old life? So this is a picture of the MERCY of God; of the way in which He delivers you and I from the bondage; from the ignorance; from all of the things in our heart that hinder us from walking in Christ. It's the CROSS; the PERSONAL cross.
We know that we HAVE BEEN crucified in Christ -- planted together WITH HIM in the likeness of his death and resurrection -- and that's a once for all, forever finished work. But despite the fact that we receive all of that -- in reality in the person of Christ -- we nevertheless have to work it out. It has to be worked out in us -- as Christ is revealed. And so he saying, “Get on this altar and it will be worked out.”
A Living Sacrifice
Now, you will note that he says that YOU present your bodies as a LIVING sacrifice. So this is voluntary – just as picking up the cross is voluntary. God can't force you to pick up a cross; He can't force you to get on the altar. If He did that, He would not get IN MAN what He wants. God wants a voluntary worship.
Now -- we can't do ANYTHING. We can’t do the work. We can’t create ourselves in Christ Jesus. God has to do all of that. But there is ONE thing that we can do – it is what we are told to do right here in Romans 12:1 -- and it's what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 16 -- when he told us to pick up the cross: We CAN surrender ourselves to God.
How many understand that not only do you have a self, and a free will, but you were born OWNING it. That's what AILS you and I. So therefore the one thing we CAN do is to take that self that we own and surrender it to Christ. If you and I have a free will then, by definition, we have a self -- and therefore that makes it possible that we can either put self before God, or are God before self. Really – there you have the two trees in the garden right there. So we can put God before self -- and if we do -- we have to surrender that self to Him -- and we have to do it in a voluntary way.
This (voluntary surrender) does NOT mean we are going to like it. It doesn't mean that we are going to be happy about what happens. It doesn't mean that we are not going to have our failures and our hurts and our doubts. There are tremendous times of suffering and trials of faith. BUT -- we CAN get on this altar; we CAN present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Paul says if we do that the ACT of doing so is wholly acceptable unto God – it is our, “reasonable service,” or, “spiritual worship” -- some translations render.
And so what we are being told here is that, “a holy and acceptable,” ACT -- in the eyes of God -- is that we LOSE ourselves to Him. And really – that is HOW we, “earnestly contend for the faith” – personally. That is HOW we tell God to do, “whatever it takes,” to bring the revelation and reality of Christ -- in fullness -- alive in us.
Whatever It Takes
I have a way of saying this, which I think is a little more practical. Maybe. Maybe it will help some people. I’ve said it many times. I think it's really one of the themes of God's dealings with man. It's here in Romans 12:1. It is in Matthew 16, as I’ve quoted. What God is describing here -- that we need to do -- is that when we get on the altar we need to say to God, “Lord, I'm taking my hands off of myself, and I am asking You to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to bring me into the fullness of Your will in Jesus Christ.”
I used to call that, “the scary prayer." It is really only, “scary,” if we don't know Him. It is only scary to the flesh. It's really -- as I noted – deliverance. What would BE, “scary,” is to NOT do this. But to our flesh, and to our frail humanity, to surrender ourselves into the hands of God's can seem scary -- because we do not know what the outcome of that is going to be, specifically -- we know that the outcome (generally) is going to be life and Truth, and so forth -- I hope we know that. But in order to do this work in us, we may have to go into some tremendous trials.
I think a lot of us think that if we surrender ourselves to God then somehow God has promised that this will be a, “gravy train;” that from that point everything is going to be easy – that we are going to have one blessing after another. And usually, of course, we interpret that to be physical and material blessings. A lot of us think that. We think, “Lord, I gave You my life. I gave You everything I am; everything I own, and of course, I have a right to expect that You are going to enhance all of that, and give me all the more to have. What happens very often, however -- not all the time -- God has His purposes and His ways individually with us -- but what happens very often is that right after you surrender yourself to God -- very often things get worse, not better. That's because you fallen into the hands of the living God. And the issue (once you are in His hands) is not your circumstances. We think we need better circumstances -- and that this is what God has promised to do. We think that if we hand God our lot in life, or our environment, or our circumstances – that He will change THEM -- so that we can be happy. But what God really is doing is CHANGING US -- usually WITHOUT changing the circumstances at all. And sometimes, as I noted, they will get worse -- because He wants to take us up on our commitment. We are telling God, “Lord, do whatever it takes to bring me in the fullness of Christ?” He says to us, “THIS is what it takes. You have to die a death.” When you got on the altar, what did you expect was to happen? That you were going to have a party?
Of course all of this can seem so very morbid and scary -- but again -- this is DELIVERANCE. And I have to say this: If you want to walk with Jesus, this is the ONLY way to do so. Jesus said, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, and pick up the cross -- if any man would come after Me, he must get on this altar.”
Well, what I'm getting at here is that if you and I want to, “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered,” the way in which we do that -- personally, between us and the Lord -- is by letting God speak to us IN HIS SON; by letting God reveal Christ in us; by allowing God to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to make, “the faith” -- to make that reality – REAL IN US.
How many understand that (this surrender) is really our way of, “earnestly contending?” -- to allow God to do all of that? Because by the time He is done -- if we will go on with Him -- we will become more established in Jesus Christ, and we will know Him, and we will be solid in, “the faith.” And that is earnestly contending – again, a personal or real, “stand by faith” -- in handing yourself over to God for, “whatever it takes,” for Him to do that work in us.
Let's read on here because there is a lot more that brought in. Paul says, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice -- the act of doing so IS a holy and acceptable ACT unto God” – it is the holy, acceptable thing to do, according to God. “And this is your reasonable service.”
Now note verse 2: “And be not conformed to this world.” But before I go on notice what it would mean, “to be conformed to the world:” We would probably think that this means that we go out and listen to rock music, or are dressed inappropriately, or we smoke, or we go to bars, and all those kinds of things -- and doing those things certainly would constitute, “being conformed to the world” -- don't get me wrong. But there is more to, “being conformed to the world,” than just those kinds of things. “To be conformed to the world,” is really a matter of letting the SPIRIT of the world get inside of you -- to where it comes to govern you. It governs your thinking, and in some cases it may even govern – and this is an ironic thing to say -- it may even come to govern your relationship with God.
How many know that, “earthly Christianity,” is the product of Christian people being conformed to the earthly? -- of being conformed to the world? – this is an earthly Christianity where Christian people try to do for themselves what only Christ can do; where Christian people live for this life, rather than for the next; an earthly Christianity where the things of Jesus Christ are all dragged down into the earthly realm, and turned into a religion -- instead of being left as the life, and the Truth, and the relationship by faith, in God would have with us. That is what it means, “to be conformed to this world.” It means to become earthly -- even as a Christian.
He says, “Don't do that -- but be transformed.” The word (transformed) in the Greek speaks of an INTERNAL transformation. “Be transformed by the renewing of your MIND.” Well, how does that happen? It happens by getting on the altar. That's what he's talking about. That's what the context is – “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” -- through a knowledge of Jesus Christ. How many understand that if we grow to know Jesus, that our minds are going to be transformed?”
We talk about being, “joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him” (I Cor. 6:17) -- the effect of this (spiritual union with Christ) is going to be that our minds are going to be renewed according to the Truth. The effect of it is going to be that we will be governed by a knowledge -- of a growing knowledge -- of the Christ -- with Whom we are joined in spirit.
Notice how Paul says that all of this is UNTO something -- and he states what it is UNTO at the end of verse 2: He says, “So that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
So how do you come into a knowledge of the will of God? According to this passage of Romans 12:1-2, you get on the altar and present yourself a living sacrifice. In other words, you LOSE your life to Jesus, and tell him to do, “whatever it takes” -- NOT simply to tell you what the will of God IS -- in the form of information. No. You get on the altar and you ask God to do whatever it takes to bring you into a knowledge of His Son. How many know that if you come into a knowledge of the Person of Jesus Christ -- and that is REAL in you – that you are going to know the will of God? -- because Jesus Christ is the Truth. How many know that if God is speaking to you in His Son, and you are listening, that you are going to discover – IN CHRIST -- the will of God?
So you get on the altar; you present yourself a living sacrifice; you tell God do whatever it takes; you settle for nothing less than the Truth -- in other words, you, “contend earnestly for the faith” -- and in doing so, you refuse to be conformed to the earthly. And the result is that your mind -- because now you are coming into a knowledge of Jesus -- your mind will be transformed; will be renewed according to the Truth -- and in that process – if we could say it this way -- as part of the, “package” of what God is doing -- the will and purpose of God for your life is going to be revealed; is going to be proven in you -- because CHRIST is being revealed in you.
Revelation, Not Information
Now, in the Christian church, you don't often hear that the way in which we are supposed to discover the will of God is by a revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ in us. We are not often told that the way in which we come into a knowledge of the Truth goes all the way back to where we have to lose our life. We are not told that. No. Rather, we are usually told that the way that we discover the will of God is through various, “leadings.”
It's almost as if God is sitting up in heaven giving us a marching orders to go here, and go there, or that God is constantly feeding us information about our lives, and about what we ought to do next. And that is the notion that a lot of Christian people have of how we come to know the will of God. There are teachings regarding this everywhere today: “God led me here; God spoke to me in my heart; He moved me; He prompted me” -- and all these sort of things that Christian people say – and listen, I'm not saying that this sort of thing cannot happen; I'm not saying that God can't lead you and I; I am not saying that God won't speak to you and I. BUT in the final analysis, the norm -- the regular way in which God does speak is IN HIS SON. The normal way in which God does reveal to us His will is by revealing IN us CHRIST -- and then out of the knowledge of Christ emerges his will.
That's the normal way in which God does this. That is taught everywhere in scripture. “All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ.” (Col. 2:3) How many understand that WITHIN that is going to be our discovery of the will of God?
Do you want to know why, when you go to God -- whether it be specifically or generally -- and cry out to Him, “Lord, reveal to me Your will for my life!” -- do you want to know why often that cry and that prayer is met by silence? (and often it is) It is because God is saying to us, “I want to reveal My will to You, but My will is wrapped up in My Son. I can't give you -- I can't reveal My will to you -- as a separate THING from My Son. ‘Christ in you,’ IS My will -- and it is only as HE is unfolded, that you can discover, and come into the knowledge -- and really, it is only as we experience Christ, and are set free, and have our minds renewed, that we can understand it. Then we will be able to receive it in the way God intends it.
How many understand that if God simply fed us INFORMATION about what to do next, and what His will was for us – if that were the normal way that God worked -- that first of all, we would not have in us a knowledge of Jesus Christ that would enable us to understand it the way God means it -- and we certainly wouldn't have a knowledge of Jesus that would enable us to live in it. In other words, we would take what God says, and we would drag it down into the earthly, and we would try to make all of it come to pass THERE. There are many examples in the Old Testament God has given us of saints who did that.
No. The teaching here is clear: Get on the altar and lose your entire self to Jesus Christ, for whatever it takes to bring you into the fullness of His purpose for you. That is, “earnestly contending for the faith” -- for your faith and for mine; for what God wants to do in our lives. Do that -- lose your life and you will find Christ as your life. But it won't be a life is conformed to this world -- it will be a life that transforms you by the renewing of your mind, so that you will prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
Gather it all up, and what you see here is: Lose your life to find Christ as your life, and IN HIM AS YOUR LIFE will be LIGHT. How many understand we are NOT talking here about theology? We are talking here about a Person IN whom there is all life and light. You come into the fullness of Jesus, and you will have HIS life as yours -- and since He is the Person Who is also The Light – you are going to KNOW. Come to know CHRIST and you will know the will of God. Come to know Jesus and you will be in the process of, “earnestly contending for the faith once delivered.”
False Teachers and Apostasy
Now let's turn back to Jude because there's a bit more here that I will talk about before we are done for today. Jude says there that he exhorts, “that we should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” He's talking about that personally for us to do -- but of course there is a more general application to it, which is the ministry of the body.
Now in verse 4 he's going start to get into that. I’m not going to have time today to talk about this on the level of how the church, as a body, must earnestly contend. That will be next week. But I want to get into it slightly -- because there are some personal applications in verse 4 as well.
He says that we need, “to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered -- BECAUSE there are certain men who have crept in unawares…” Now notice the phrase here -- and let's again a look at the Greek words that are used. The Greek words here that are translated, “crept in unawares,” mean, in the original language, “to enter in secretly by a side entrance.” Boy, isn't that a picture? These are people, in other words, who enter into the body of Christ by, “a side entrance” -- and they do this secretly -- and of course, take up positions in the body of Christ where they can spread heresy and false teaching.
Now this would certainly suggest that they have not entered in by The Door, Jesus Christ. We can even make a case that they are not born-again at all. I also believe that there's an application here to those who may, in fact, BE saved -- but who have backslid so badly that they are now heretics. Either way, these are people that have crept into the body of Christ -- who look like Christians; talk like Christians; mingle with other Christians; have positions of authority, perhaps, or maybe not. It doesn't matter. But having said that, they are those who are not of God -- who are not contending for the faith once delivered – but, in fact, are the reason why the faith once delivered been, “departed from.” So now true Christians must get back to contending for the faith once delivered -- because of the damage these people have done.
Look at what Jude is saying: He is saying that you need to contend for the faith once delivered BECAUSE these certain men have come in -- and they have done their damage -- and you need to earnestly contend for the Truth because they have brought in heresy.
Boy, is this applicable to this day and age. The Christian church today -- because people have allowed heretics, false Christians, and the spirit of the enemy, to come into the church and literally take charge and govern it -- the call upon us is that we need to come out from that and earnestly contend for the faith once delivered -- in our own personal lives, and then for the body of Christ.
Now, some people don't like to hear this because they have their favorite gurus, and TV evangelists, and they like to hear that all is well, and that the church really isn’t that bad. But the church today IS that bad. It is in apostasy – and I’m not saying everyplace or everywhere. I'm not saying everybody is a heretic. I'm simply saying that, generally speaking, the church is in apostasy.
Look at the Christian airwaves. Look at Christian television. It is governed by error; it is governed by heresy. And a lot of this is being practiced in local churches. Local churches, by and large, are at best off the track -- but at worst -- pockets of heresy. Where do you hear today, “Jesus Christ, the hope of glory;” “Christ in you, the hope of glory -- preached and taught? Where do you hear the CROSS taught? Where do you hear the Truth earnestly contended for? Not in very many places. Thank God there are some. But I'm telling the Truth: The church generally is in apostasy. It is not a COMING apostasy -- we are IN IT. And God is saying that we need to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered.
Now, just a clue as to how these heresies, and so forth, manifest themselves. Jude says, “For certain man have crept in unawares, who were before ordained of God to this condemnation -- ungodly men -- turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now when we hear that term, “lasciviousness,” it is easy to think of immorality -- and certainly immorality would be included in it. The word in the root in the original language means, “without restraint.” And so, in other words, this is a, “christianity,” that is offered that is without any restraints. It's an, “anything goes,” kind of, “christianity.” Now, within that – again, as I noted -- would be immorality, but there is another application of this that I don't think that most of us have thought of: This is talking also about a, “christianity,” in which there is no Truth. In other words, “anything goes,” with regard to what we believe is the Truth. That's everywhere today: “Truth doesn't matter. We don't want to get all sidetracked about doctrine, because God loves everybody, and we can just sail along, and as long as were doing the best we can, well, Jesus loves us.”
Now that sounds wonderful, doesn't it? In fact, it even sounds like GRACE. You have people on television today preaching that kind of grace – a grace where ANYTHING GOES; a grace where there is no real Truth. That also is lasciviousness. And you can see the warning here that if that is the kind of gospel I preach -- where there is no holiness and there is no Truth -- then according to the apostle Jude, I am denying the only Lord God, and denying the Lord Jesus Christ. How so? Well, I'm denying that they are MY Lord; I am denying that we must be governed by Jesus as Lord -- and (denying that) built into that will be holiness and will be Truth.
How many understand that if you are contending for the faith once delivered, that in the final analysis, that is going to bring you and I right back to Jesus Christ as our personal Lord? And it will not merely be something we SAY -- it is going to be something that governs us. His life will govern us; the knowledge of Christ will govern us. That's how Jesus as Lord is practically lived out. And so any gospel that would say, “anything goes;” there is no Truth; there is no way to live” -- that's not the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you get born-again, and if you walk with Jesus Christ, the result is not only going to be holiness, and a reverence for God – and a life that is lived will reflects it – absolutely – but you will know the Truth, and you are going to do whatever it takes, by the grace of God, to live in it. And you are going to stand in it and earnestly contend for it. You WILL because you have come into a knowledge of Jesus. You have repented of sin and you have been delivered, and you want the will of God no matter what it takes.
That's all I have time for today. Jude exhorts us to, “earnestly contend for THE FAITH” -- that FAITH is the fullness of the revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ. We are to earnestly contend for that; stand in it; and most of all to allow God -- no matter what it costs us -- to do a work in us, whereby Christ -- who is the embodiment of THE FAITH can be revealed in us. If we do that, then we will be able to stand in the Truth, and earnestly contend on all levels.
Back to the Goodnews