"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints." - Jude 3
When you or someone you know says, "Have faith; everything will work out!" what does that mean? What IS "faith?" Where do you GET "faith?" Is some "faith" better than other "faith?" I hear pastors and Christians and leaders of other religions all talking about "faith" and using the same word and I know that many people are totally confused as to what this word means! And because they are confused, many "lose their faith" and crumble when faced with trials and suffering. They are easy prey for false teachers who tell them that they can control their emotions by putting "faith" into action.
I want to remind you that Satan likes to deceive people. He even uses the same words the Bible uses - in fact, he is not opposed to quoting the Bible ... out of context, so long as it leads people AWAY from the truth that faith in Jesus Christ is the ONLY "faith" that is able to bring lasting and certain hope, peace and joy. There is a lot of "counterfeit faith" being dispensed today that ultimately leaves people questioning the "god" they have been led to believe in. Exercising "faith" is supposed to "work," it is supposed to get me out of the jam I'm in and get rid of my problems!!
But you see, the "faith" the Bible talks about is not the same "faith" that is being peddled by so many today. FAITH must have an object. You must have faith "IN" something or someone. Just having "faith" might just mean being an optimist. "I have faith that things will work out," someone might say. Good for you; now can you explain what you mean by "working out?" Would that be working out according to YOUR plan or some mysterious "bigger plan?" You see what I mean? People use these words and don't have a clue what they are saying most of the time! So when religious leaders or others talk about "faith," don't assume they are talking about biblical "faith."
According to the Bible, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). In other places "faith" is described as the instrument by which we are saved from the deceitfulness of sin and evil. As such, "faith" must be and is always based on TRUTH! Faith must have as its object, knowledge, and that knowledge must be absolute ... it must be unequivocally, totally, completely true at all times and for all people - whether they accept it or not. According to the Bible, "faith" begins with knowledge and ends with TRUST, thus leading to a sure and certain hope.
Too many people today base their hope on how they are FEELING. I might have hope and the assurance that God is with me today, but lose that "feeling" tomorrow because of the changing circumstances of my life and the world around me. But true "faith" does not waver because the knowledge it is based upon never changes. God's Word is truth and it tells me who God is, what He has done in Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for my sin and to reconcile me to Him, to give me eternal life in His presence and to give me strength and purpose for today. "True faith" knows these things, accepts these things, believes these things, embraces these things and therefore TRUSTS GOD ... no matter what!
This is the "faith" the early believers had and this is how they weathered the storms of trials, suffering and persecution. Read Hebrews 11. I love the verse of the old hymn, "Faith of Our Fathers," when it says, "Faith of our fathers, living still ... in spite of dungeon, fire and sword; o how our hearts beat high with joy, whene'er we hear Thy glorious Word" ... and "How sweet would be their children's fate, if we like them, should die for Thee!" Paul wrote to the Romans that "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). There is no "faith," no certain knowledge and therefore nothing to trust in, without the Word of God.
A "code word" for those today who want to act "spiritual" and claim to be followers of Jesus is "mystery." They present what we believe in by faith as a mystery, something that cannot be understood, but which must be embraced and felt. They say that those of us who think that there is absolute truth upon which to base our "faith" are too "dogmatic," too narrow-minded, too "rigid" and so, too intolerant. Of course, what they don't realize is that they are being tolerant of everything BUT truth! To these, I say that their supposed "faith" is a farce ... in fact, that it is irrational. To say that there is no absolute truth is to claim that the only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth. Therefore, by that definition, what you have just said, "There is no absolute truth," might be wrong. Do you see the absurdity of that statement??!!!
The "faith" that Jude told the believers, the "saints" (those declared to be holy in God's sight through FAITH in Jesus Christ - Hebrews 10:14), in Jude 3 to defend, to fight for, was and is the one true Gospel, the good news that Jesus Christ paid our debt on the cross and that all who confess Him as Savior and Lord, being born again by His Spirit, are forgiven and receive, as a gift, eternal life. If there is no true knowledge of who Jesus is and what He did on the cross, there is no true faith ... period.
As I hear people talking about the "Catholic faith" or the "Reformed faith" or the "Lutheran faith," I cringe. What are they saying? Ephesians 4:5 says there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism ..." We read in I Corinthians 12:13 that all believers "were baptized by one Spirit into one body." There is ONE "faith" that has once for all been entrusted to the saints to proclaim, and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All who believe are "saints," ... "holy ones" ... in God's sight. We are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that 'we' may declare the praises of Him who called 'us' out of darkness into His wonderful light" (I Peter 2:9).
To the Corinthians Paul wrote, "Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (II Corinthians 4:3-6).
Do not let anyone deceive you because they use the word "faith" and encourage you to believe "something" ... "anything" ... "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). To you who believe, contend earnestly for THIS Gospel, because it is being perverted and attacked by many even within the visible church today who in the name of "tolerance" and "unity" proclaim a different gospel, that is really no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-8). With the Apostle Paul, declare that you are "not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes!" (Romans 1:16).