I felt I had to write to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints, (Jude 3).
The more I read the history of the early church, the more I am convinced that God used the processes of history to preserve the truths he communicated through the Apostles and Prophets in the book we call the Bible. The message he gave through them was constantly under attack then, as it is in our time. In the case of today’s text, Jude was combating an early form of what became known as Gnosticism. It was a constant problem in the life of the early church.
In the little letter written by this half-brother of Jesus, Jude identifies the problem as coming from “godless” teachers who were twisting the concept of grace into an excuse for immorality, and who were denying Jesus. In all probability, what they were denying was either his humanity, or on the other extreme, his deity. Both were being taught by different groups of false teachers during Jude’s day.
You can always tell when someone has been deceived or charmed into a message that diverges from the Bible (which did not exist yet as Jude wrote) when either something is taken away from the message Jesus and the disciples taught, or something is added that contradicts what Jesus and the disciples taught. Jude indicates that God’s message had a sense of finality to it. He calls it the faith that was “once for all” entrusted to the saints.
We live in a time that is characterized by spiritual chaos and confusion. The great need of the moment is clarity. Clarity requires a decision on our part whether the Bible as we have it is God’s final word on faith, or whether new revelation that changes the Bible is valid. Having carefully studied both the messages of the first through third century claims of special revelation, and modern claims that look much like these ancient ones, I have come to the conviction that I need to contend for the truth contained in the Bible. I believe God still speaks to us. I believe the Holy Spirit leads us into truth today. But I believe he will never lead us, or speak to us, in ways that contradict his written Word. How about you?