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.
This has always been a favorite verse of mine. I feel the passion and the heart of Jude, as he reaches out to his fellow believers. And, I really love the expanded Greek translation of this verse:
"Divinely loved ones, when giving every diligence to be writing to you concerning the salvation possessed in common by all of us, I had constraint laid upon me to write to you, beseeching you to contend with intensity and determination for the Faith once for all entrusted into the safe-keeping of the saints." Don't you love that?
I definitely get the sense that the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, wanted Jude to instruct and encourage the believers... instruct them because He knew that His Truth would need to be protected and defended; and to encourage them that they would have to fight to preserve that very Truth. And I actually noticed something for the first time when contemplating this Scripture. Jude is actually writing about two separate thoughts in this passage.
To begin, he reveals that it was his first intention to write to them about the salvation that was common among them. Perhaps there was already in-fighting over doctrine at the different churches springing up throughout the region. By agreeing that there is a spiritual and eternal deliverance granted immediately by God to those who accept His conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus, in whom alone that deliverance is to be obtained, they could find common ground in their mutual salvation. Jude was just reminding them that they shared this inheritance.
Secondly, he relates that he found it "necessary" -- or as I prefer, "I had constraint laid upon me" (in the Greek) -- to beseech them to contend for the Faith. To me, the constraint laid upon him came from the Holy Spirit; he was given a Divine assignment.... tell them they would have to contend for the Faith. What does that mean? The definition of contend is "to fight; to struggle to surmount (a difficulty or danger); to engage in a campaign in order to achieve something." The Greek root for the word "contend" means "to fight" or "to stand for." Again, what was Jude exhorting them to contend for ... the Faith.
According to Strong's Concordance, Faith is the conviction respecting man's relationship to God, and trusting and joining with God in the knowledge that He is the Creator and Ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ; it is through belief in Jesus as our Savior that we obtain this eternal salvation in the kingdom of God. And note that he makes a point of saying that the Faith was "once for all" delivered to the saints. In other words, there is to be no new definitions of what Faith was; it wouldn't change with the times; it would always be based on trust and confidence in the redeeming work of Christ on the Cross. But also notice that in the Greek translation, Jude was telling his fellow believers to contend (or fight) for their Faith with intensity and determination. That tells me he knew it was going to be a battle to maintain God's Truth about Faith and Salvation.
When you read the entire book of Jude -- all 25 verses of it -- you know that the Truth of God was already being attacked. False teachers had already crept into the fledgling Church, turning God's grace into unbounded license to do as they please. The work of Christ was being diminished and there was a very real danger that the Church could follow the ways of unbelieving Israel. Jude is exhorting the believers to stay spiritually "in shape", to guard against apostasy and to fight for the faith.
It is no different today. There is a real battle for God's Truth regarding the place of salvation and faith in the Church. The Body of Christ is in real danger of disregarding the Truth of the Word as to who God and Jesus are; what they are capable of doing in the life of a believer; and the power and authority they have given us to contend for the faith. I see far too many Christians who are being pummeled by the Enemy because they are not "in shape" for this spiritual battle, and do not even know the weapons they possess. The false teachers have infiltrated the Church and convinced many that they are defenseless against the wiles and schemes of the devil; that they are just to wait for Christ to return and swoop them to heaven. And the result is that many Christians live in fear and ineffectiveness, and never produce fruit for the Kingdom.
As far as I'm concerned, here is the reality: We have been given victory by Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. That is our inheritance here on earth. But we're not living as if we are victorious. That's part of the Salvation and Faith that Jude is telling us was delivered "once and for all" to all the saints! That includes us! We've let men, who crept in unawares, convince us that we do not have the power and authority that Christ left us when He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us. Oh, we can comprehend the idea of our salvation, but when the lies of Satan descend upon us, and we question if that salvation is real, we don't even know to call upon the power, in Jesus's Name!
So, I have to ask you this ... Do you believe your salvation and your faith are worth fighting for? Do you even believe what the Bible tells us about the power of the Spirit? And if you do, then will you get in the fight with me, and let that Truth be revealed through your life? Let's show the Enemy that we know the meaning of the word CONTEND, and let's fight as if we know we are already victorious!