Several years ago Christianity Today featured a story about Rob and Kristen Bell, who founded a church in Grand Rapids, identified with a movement known as the “Emerging Church.”
The article relates the Bells increasing discomfort with their faith and the church. “Life in the church had become so small,” Kristen says. “It had worked for me for a long time. Then it stopped working.”
Furthermore, they questioned their assumptions about the Bible itself– “discovering the Bible as a human product,” as Rob puts it, rather than the “product of divine fiat.”
Kristen said they used to look at things in “black and white.” But “now it’s in color.”
Since that interview, Rob wrote a book questioning the Bible teaching regarding Hell and another defending homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Finally, they walked away from the church they founded and move to California.
Today, among producing podcasts and TV shows on religion and spirituality, Bell speaks at various functions delivering what one writer called “a combination of a TED Talk, standup routine and confessional sermon.”
This is what happens when people begin questioning the Bible and straying away from the faith.
Back in 2007 John MacArthur who a book entitled, “Truth War.” In the beginning, he asked, “Who would have thought that people claiming to be Christians—even pastors—would attack the very notion of truth?”
While we expect Truth to be questioned by unbelievers, it is disconcerting to see it attacked by so-called believers.
In recent years, we’ve witnessed many young people looking for something different. New. Exciting. Innovative. Something to challenge their imagination. Something that aligns more closely with their subjective feelings of faith, God, and the Bible. Of course, people usually find what they’re looking for.
All of this reminds us of the challenge and call to contend for the faith. In his little letter, Jude wrote:
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Three important Truths are enunciated in this text.
#1 The Faith was Divinely delivered to us.
The word “faith” is used in two ways in the Bible. It refers to our trust, confidence, and allegiance. It is defined in this way in Hebrews 11:1. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
“Faith” is also used to identify the system of faith. 39 times the New Testament uses the expression “the faith” to speak of the gospel, the revealed Word of God.
“The faith” was not discovered by human exploration, subjective examination, or an expedient into a quiet place waiting to hear the voice of God.
“The faith” was revealed by the Holy Spirit to the apostles and recorded so we could read and understand it (Eph. 3:3-5).
#2 The faith was “once delivered to all the saints.”
This means for one time. For all time. And for all people. God’s word is unchangeable. Unalterable. And immutable.
There is no continuing revelation. God is not speaking to me in some special way. The only way for you and I to “discover” Truth is to read the Bible. Study its contents. And apply its commandments.
Pronouncements that begin with “I feel that God is leading me to…” often lead us away from what the Bible actually teaches.
#3 We must “contend for the faith.”
“The faith” must be defended. And Christians are called to be its defenders.
The expression “earnestly contend for the faith” writes Kenneth Wuest in his Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, is a verb ‘used of athletes contending in athletic events. The word speaks of a vigorous, intense, determined struggle to defeat the opposition.” From this word we get our English word “agonize.”
Like Jude, I would rather write and speak about “the common salvation.” Love, grace, mercy, peace, and joy are more positive topics. Yet, we’re called to contend. To vigorously, ardently, and decisively denounce and defeat the devil’s devious and deadly doctrines. Progressive revelation is a pernicious and perilous error that we must expose.
Charles Spurgeon’s observation in the 19th century is often true in the 21st century. “The new views are not the old truth in a better dress, but deadly errors with which we can have no fellowship.”
False teachers like Rob and Kristen Bell will come and go, espousing their opinions and diverting unsuspecting souls away from the Truth.
However “the faith once delivered to all the saints,” still stands–Pointing sinners to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Preaching His gospel. And unashamedly, unfalteringly, proclaiming the “one faith” (Eph. 4:4).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman