Contending for the Faith of the Gospel

Jude 1:3-4 ESV

“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. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

What is Our Common Salvation?

There are many different ideas these days on what constitutes salvation from sin and what doesn’t. Who is right and who is wrong? Well, the Scriptures are right, but they must be taught in the whole context, for many false doctrines have stemmed from removing Scriptures from their context and twisting them to say whatever someone prefers to hear other than the truth. But we can’t “cherry-pick” the Scriptures we think say what we want to hear while we ignore the rest of the Scriptures which teach differently.

When I was a young woman back in the late 60s and 70s we were taught a formula gospel which quoted multiple Scriptures out of their context to build a particular doctrine of salvation which we were encouraged to share with others. It is what we were taught in our church gatherings, and so that is what we followed. I think it might have been called “The Four Spiritual Laws,” but I also think there were other such gospel tracts going around, too. We were to use this formula to lead people to faith in Jesus Christ.

But as I matured in my walk of faith in the Lord Jesus, and as I began to study the Scriptures on my own, I began finding discrepancies between what I had been taught early on and what the Scriptures actually teach. And I began to realize that I had been taught many Scriptures outside their context and that I had been taught them wrongly. So began my search for truth, for I wanted to believe what the Scriptures taught, not what someone else told me they taught.

And what I learned is that our salvation is not going through some formula for how to get saved and to have eternal life with God and then we are good to go until Jesus returns. What I learned is that our salvation has a beginning when we first believe in Jesus, if our faith is genuine, but that it continues all throughout our lives until Jesus comes to take us home… but provided that we do not continue in deliberate and habitual sin and provided that we now walk in obedience to our Lord and provided that we continue in that walk of faith steadfast until the very end, or we don’t have salvation.

[Jn 8:31-32,51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 11:17-24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; Col 1:21-23; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 5:9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:1-5; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Jas 1:21-25; Eph 4:17-24]

The Faith Delivered to the Saints

So, what is this faith delivered to the saints? Well, we learn in the Scriptures that not one of us can come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to Christ, i.e. unless God the Father persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness and of our sinfulness and of our need to be turned from darkness to light and to now walk in his holiness and righteousness. Also, Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith, so that faith is going to align itself with God’s holiness and righteousness.

We also learn that this faith is something that must be put into practice in our daily lives and that it involves walks of obedience to our Lord and to his word and it involves daily dying to sin and to self and walking in holiness and righteousness. For if we say we have fellowship with God but we walk (in conduct, in practice) in deliberate and habitual sin, we are liars and the truth is not in us. And if we say that we know God/Christ but we do not obey his commands, in practice, then we are liars who do not live by the truth.

And then we learn that a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ is not enough to secure us forgiveness of sins, salvation from sins, and eternal life with God. We must no longer walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, for if we walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the flesh it ends in death not in life in eternal with God. And if we keep on in deliberate and habitual sin, we will not enter into God’s heavenly kingdom no matter what we profess with our lips or think we have believed in our hearts.

[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-11; Jn 14:23-24; Heb 10:26-31; Matt 7:21-23; Jn 15:1-11; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Those Who Pervert God’s Grace

We read in Titus 2:11-14 that God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs (trains, teaches) us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly and worldly lusts and passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we await our Lord’s soon return, which is when our salvation will be complete, provided that we continue in such walks of faith. For Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

But those who pervert the grace of God into sensuality teach a diluted and altered gospel message which makes no requirements for putting sin to death in our lives nor for walking in obedience to our Lord in holiness and righteousness. They teach that we can just “believe” in Jesus, although most do not teach what it means biblically to believe in Jesus. And then they tell them that God has forgiven all their sins and now heaven is guaranteed them when they die and that nothing can take that away from them.

And so we have many people professing faith in Jesus Christ, at least here in America, whose lives did not change, or only slightly. For they are still living in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord convinced that their sins are forgiven them and that they are on their way to heaven based on a one-time decision they made in their lives to “believe” in Jesus. But it is not biblical faith. It is man-created faith which does not conform to the Scriptures and which does not submit to Christ as Lord (Owner-Master) of our lives.

So, we need to be those who know the truth of the gospel, who are applying the truth of the gospel to our every day lives, by God’s grace and in his power, who are no longer walking in sin but now in holiness and righteousness in obedience to our Lord to the glory of God. And then we need to be spreading the truth of the gospel to as many as possible, for far too many people are believing the lies which are sending them to hell on the promise of heaven when they die. So, please tell them the truth.

Send the Light

By Charles H. Gabriel, pub. 1888

There’s a call comes ringing o’er the restless wave,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save,
Send the light! Send the light!

We have heard the Macedonian call today,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
And a golden off’ring at the cross we lay,
Send the light! Send the light!

Let us pray that grace may everywhere abound,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
And a Christlike spirit everywhere be found,
Send the light! Send the light!

Let us not grow weary in the work of love,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
Let us gather jewels for a crown above,
Send the light! Send the light!

Send the light, the blessed Gospel light;
Let it shine from shore to shore!
Send the light, and let its radiant beams
Light the world forevermore!

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