Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 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.
As Jude sat down to write a Pastoral Letter to a group of fellow believers his great desire was to focus on the common salvation that they all shared. That is surely totally understandable for there is nothing more wonderful than sharing with one another the work that Christ has done for us in his death, resurrection and ascension, which observation causes me to wonder if we actually do this often enough.
When we meet on Sunday morning and evening to worship together, when we visit another fellow believer, when we meet out and about, do our thoughts turn instinctively to speaking about the wonders of our common faith and all that we have ‘in Christ’ ? It is a humbling question to ask is it not?
Returning to Jude sitting at his desk, that was his desire, but something more pressing presented itself which undoubtedly arose from his eagerness to speak and share that common salvation – the needs of the churches to which his readers belonged and the state of the world in which they lived.
So he switched emphasis to the need for them ‘to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.’ You see this faith is non-negotiable for it is ‘once for all delivered’ and it directly impacts us for it was ‘delivered to the saints’ for them and us to pass on. If we are partakers together of this ‘common salvation’ then together we are called to ‘contend for’ the faith which is the vehicle that brings it to the world.
We are living in an age when this contending is more needed than at any time in the last 50 years or so. A recent survey indicated that Wales is the least Christian nation within the UK and that there is a greater percentage of those who say that have no religion at all in the country. Further to that the Church in Wales is striding inexorably (unless God steps in in a miraculous way) towards legalising Same Sex Marriage. Thus God’s Word is side-lined and ignored and as a result the opportunities to hear the good news of the Gospel become fewer and fewer.
We thus have two challenges before us.
- As believers we must be equipped to contend for the faith and support each other as we do so and
- We must ensure that God’s truth, revealed once of all in his word, is always at the centre of our lives as individuals and as a church.
There is a constant pressure for drift in the second of these. Many argue that in order to appeal to secular people we have to adapt or tone down the plain truths of God’s Word and the state of the Church across the UK and indeed across the West is far far removed from what it should be.
Let us resolve to ‘put the gospel first’ in all our dealings and think like Jude as we interact with those among whom God has placed us as his ambassadors.