Jude 3 – The Faith That Was Once for All
Contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.Jude 3b
What is faith? It doesn’t take long for a Christian to find his answer. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Of course, we’re expected to say this as Christians. But how many are able to say confidently that they have experienced this sort of assurance in their lives on a regular basis? Paul cautions us not to take a shortcut on this when he says in Romans 8:24, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?”
I’m reminded of an example that was used to explain the difference between simply believing something to be true and actually having faith. The example was of a man who walked on a tightrope across Niagara Falls, pushing a wheelbarrow with his friend in it. He asked the spectators after he had gone out and back whether they believed that he could do such a thing. They all said: “Of course we believe you can – we just saw you do it.” But then the tightrope walker asked: “Well, who is next?” Faith would be getting into that wheelbarrow!
You remember how our young children trusted us when we carried them down a flight of stairs. But it was quite different when we asked them to jump from the top of the stairs into our waiting arms. They had to learn to trust that when we said “Jump,” we would also be there to catch them!
So there are those “not seeing” moments of faith that need to translate into certainty. The child has to overcome his doubt by saying to himself: “My scary and uncontrolled leap through the air will end with my father catching me.” Also as Christians, our “not seeing” faith must come to the certainty that our heavenly Father is always there.
Many modern thinkers are sceptical of such a trusting faith. They imagine that it closes the mind to reason. Yet does their so-called scientific reasoning not require more “faith” in that they believe that something can come out of nothing?
Our faith starts with God. We believe that God is the one who created this world and who created us in it. Therefore it is reasonable to believe that He also continues to sustain us. The ideologies, philosophies, and religions of men, by emphasizing the importance of man’s individuality, seek to take away the safe and secure foundation set by our heavenly Father.
We affirm that a true faith is worked in those who believe through the life-altering influence of the Holy Spirit. His medium is Holy Scripture, the words which He inspired. As this Holy Scripture is preached, it works to bring to personal faith all those whom God calls.
But because it is God who works this faith in our hearts, He intends it to have a “once-for-all-entrusted” character. God is a God who unites the generations of his people in the truth of his Spirit. That is why when the believers in the early church were confronted by the ideologies of men under the influence of Satan, Jude urged them “to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”
Paul also identified the importance of hanging onto that once-for-all-faith when he said in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” What did Jude and Paul understand of the faith that made them speak as they did? Paul perhaps said it best in Ephesians 4:4-6,
There is one body and one Spirit … just as you were called to one hope when you were called ... one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Scripture teaches us in Psalm 46 that this God “is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” We believe that He is there for every occasion. Therefore we must contend for this same faith which kept secure those saints before us. For to know that they went forward in faith, trusting that God would be there “to catch them,” gives the reassurance that He will be there for us as well ... always.