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General Essays > The Faith Once Delivered


“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ”(Jude 1:3-4).

        A wise man once said, “The more things change the more they remain the same.” The only reason most people believe things are changing so drastically is that they have not read history. For some people this may come as a shock, but there was history before your birthday. I have met some with the attitude that if they cannot remember something it did not happen. Oh, for that kind of memory.

        I think I could be safe in saying that the culture in postmodern America today is fast approaching the culture the early church faced in the first century. That being the case, the faith that sustained the early church is the faith that will sustain us today.

        The faith that has stood the test of time is the only faith for our times.

        Nothing has changed in the last 2000 years to invalidate this faith in any fashion. If you study the history of the last 2000 years, you will make one alarming discovery. Regardless of the culture, regardless of the government, regardless of moral vicissitudes, Christianity has gone forward on the faith once delivered.

        Dr. A. W. Tozer makes the observation, “If it’s new it’s not of God and if it is of God it’s not new.”

        King Solomon in his wisdom made the same observation. “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

        Jude, in his little but powerful epistle, deals with this matter. Although he had intended to write a very encouraging exhortation, the condition of the church overwhelmed him and he wrote something entirely different. His concern was what he saw happening to the church of his day. Allow me to break it down into three areas.

        THE ROOTS OF OUR FAITH

        Nothing is more important than understanding the roots of our faith. Great danger surrounds the person or persons who do not understand the roots of their faith.

        Jude emphasizes this by calling their attention to the faith“which was once delivered unto the saints.” By this, he is reminding them that faith is not an evolutionary thing. Oh how we like the word “evolution.” We try to sneak it in every time we can. Of course, some things evolve in the Christian life. I believe we can safely say that our Christian growth has evolved into more and more of what God wants us to be like. However, when we come to the faith once delivered, this does not apply.

        The faith of the early church was a mature faith enabling them to be the church of that generation. The same faith will do the same thing for this generation of Christians. Why we look to the culture for our inspiration and direction is something I do not think even the apostle Paul could explain.

        The faith I need today to be everything God wants me to be in this generation is the same faith the early church used for the same purpose.

        THE CHALLENGE TO OUR FAITH

        The thing disturbing Jude was the fact that this faith was being challenged. He noticed, “certain men crept in unawares.” He warned the Christians about this challenge and the effect it would have upon them.

        That Nothing has changed. We also have in the church today“certain men crept in unawares” challenging the faith once delivered. The platform of these men is much more extensive than the first century, I will grant you, which makes them even more dangerous today.

        The challenge to our faith is to make it something other than what God intended it to be. Sometimes in order to understand something you have to go back to the very beginning. Back to the roots. Because of the disinclination of people to do this, these men get away with challenging the faith once delivered unto the saints.

        THE BUILDING OF OUR FAITH

        This is the solution to the challenge of our faith that Jude presents to the church of his generation and all generations to follow.

        “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,” (Jude 1:20).

        In reading through the history of Israel in the Old Testament, I cannot help but notice that almost every third-generation had to clean away the trash that had accumulated over the years and get back to the roots of their faith. I think this needs done in the church periodically. There have been revivals, awakenings and great movements of God throughout history. This has been a way of clearing away the built up nonsense and religious trash and getting back to the essential roots of our faith.

        This building of our faith is our personal responsibility. Nobody will do this for us, which is the reason many people fall prey to the heresies and false teachers of our day. They expect others to do for them what only they can do.

        If we are going to go forward in this generation and accomplish what God has called us to do, we need to go back to the roots of our faith and build ourselves up in our most holy faith.