Contend for the Faith

Those responsible for spiritual leadership must take care to know and teach the truth as they contend for the faith.

Today’s reading: Hosea 1-4; Jude 1

6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.                                                                    Hosea 4:6

3 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. 4 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.                                    Jude 1:3-4

In both readings today, we see God indicting those who have forsaken the truth and misled those who looked to them for guidance.

Hosea, like other prophets, had a message of warning for Israel and Judah. He was also called to demonstrate God’s wrath against His people by taking a prostitute for his wife, showing the mercy and grace of God toward sinful, unworthy people. God told them they were destroyed for lack of knowledge. The nation had not been taught God’s law faithfully. The priests had facilitated national sin.

In a similar way, believers in Jude’s day were called to contend for the faith, that is, the doctrine given by God through the Apostles and Prophets, which was under attack by false and wicked teachers. These were deceitful and treacherous. They misused God’s grace as an excuse for sensuality. They denied the Lord Jesus Christ. Among other vices, they relied on their dreams. They got their own truth by direct revelation, a practice Paul also condemned (Colossians 2:18). [1]

Truth matters. It matters what we believe, and, if we are in the position of teachers, it matters to all whom we influence for good or bad. Be sure you know the truth of God’s word and that those you learn from contend for the faith and are not relying on their own dreams.

[1] The Reformation Study Bible, Sanford, FL, Reformation Trust, 2015, p. 2292. See note on verse 8

Perception above Substance; Reputation above Reality

Today’s reading: Jude 1-Revelation 3:13

My selection: Revelation 3: 1-2

 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

“ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.

My reflections: In these letters to the churches, there are several references to false teachings and teachers, sexual immorality, and lack of good works, problems that continue to plague the Church today.

Sardis shows a failure in the area of their works, but their problem is masked by the fact that they are known for being an alive, vibrant church.  The perception is that they are zealous and active.  The Lord tells them they are asleep and they are about to lose what they have. Judgment is imminent but they are resting on their laurels, on their press releases.

My challenge: It is commonly held in our society that perception is more important than substance, that as long as your reputation is good there is no need to back that up with reality.  This is not God’s view.

In your personal life and character, are you concerned more with impressing others or with walking with integrity before God?  God has called a people for Himself who are zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:14).  Be fervent in doctrine and practice seeking to please God whether or not those around you are impressed.  Beware of the praise of men.

Tomorrow’s reading: Revelation 3:14-8:5

Being Certain of Eternal Life

Today’s reading:1 John 3:11-3 John 15

My selection: I John 5:11-12

11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

My reflections: Death is the great universal problem of mankind.  No one escapes death, although most people long for life that is unending, full of love, peace, and joy (Romans 5:12).

But there is one way out, through Jesus Christ, the Word of God Who became flesh, dwelt among us, and in Whom is life (John 1:1-4,14-18).  The New Testament describes this salvation from death through Christ as being in Christ (Romans 8:1; I Corinthians 1:30; 15:22)  or, as John terms it here, having Christ. He is essential to salvation.

So we may say, the saved, those who have eternal life, are in Christ or have Christ.  These are not the only metaphors used to describe this relationship, but the conclusion is always that the relationship with Christ saves and without Him there is no salvation.

My challenge: Do you trust in Christ for your salvation?  Do you rejoice in the certainty of eternal life that is promised to you in Him?  Resist the temptation to rely on any other thing, such as your accomplishments, your church affiliation, your theological knowledge, for your certainty of eternal life.  As Augustus Toplady’s great hymn, “Rock of Ages”, says it:

Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to Thy cross I cling;

Naked, come to Thee for dress;

Helpless, look to Thee for grace;

Foul, I to the fountain fly;

Wash me, Savior, or I die.

Tomorrow’s reading:  Jude 1-Revelation 3:13