Contend For The Faith

April 16, 2023

David Sorn

False teachers are spreading lies that God’s grace gives a license to do whatever we want. It’s time to contend for the faith!

Contend For The Faith

April 16, 2023

David Sorn

False teachers are spreading lies that God’s grace gives a license to do whatever we want. It’s time to contend for the faith!



(Series Slide)

Good morning everybody. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here.

Let me start with a question: What in your life would you defend?

Certainly your family.

Maybe your home, your possessions.

But what about your principles?

What is it that you would stand up? Contend for?

We all have a line somewhere.

What, in your mind, is worth standing up for?

We’re going to talk about that as we start a brand-new teaching series this morning!

For the next 6 weeks, we will be teaching through and studying the Letter of Jude in the Bible

Let me just say from the outset that this is not a letter that is typically taught on in churches these days

Many scholars have said that Jude is actually the most neglected book in the entire New Testament .

Jude is a very short letter (just one chapter), but it makes up for its brevity with its intensity.

It is a very challenging letter, which is why it’s often skipped over.

And so at times, this will be a challenging series.

But as I say to you often, if we just skip over the challenging stuff, we never learn the real Christianity.

All right, so everybody grab a Bible

Jude 1-4

Page 836

While you’re finding your spot, let me tell you that most scholars believe the letter of Jude was written by Jesus’ half-brother.

In other words, Jude was born to Mary, but his father was Joseph.

And here’s the interesting thing about Jude that you may not know even for those of you that grew up in church.

Jude’s name is actually Judas.

If you read the Greek, it very clearly says, “Judas.”

But even going back to the King James Version, English translators nicknamed him Jude, because they were worried people would get confused with Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.

And they thought, “No one is ever going to read the Letter of Judas,” and so thus, the nickname, Jude.


Okay, let’s read our 4 verses for today

(Jude 1-4) – NIV

1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,

To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.

4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

(Title slide)

Okay, so Jude starts with a typical introduction for ancient letters, and then we see in verse 3…

…that he wanted to write about the salvation we share as Christians.

He wanted to write something nice about God’s mercy and love. Something happy.

But Jude then felt compelled by the Spirit to write on something else.

Something not quite as happy and nice, but something still incredibly important.

And so Jude writes this fairly fiery letter about false believers who want to reshape God to fit their own desires.

And then Jude challenges Christian believers to DO SOMETHING about that.

Specifically, Jude says in the middle of verse 3…. (and don’t miss this because this is the central point of the entire letter)

It’s the name of our series, and also the name of this message…the title track if you will.

He says, “I felt compelled to write and urge you to CONTEND FOR THE FAITH.

But what does that mean, “Contend for the faith”

The word contend comes from the athletic world.

Specially from the wrestling world.

It means to use “intense effort to win”

If you need to get ringworm along the way… 😊

What Jude is saying is that if our Christian faith is true, then we should strive intensely to defend its truth against those who would attempt to reshape it.

And we contend for the truth of our faith because it’s valuable.

Biblical Commentator David Guzik says, “If you walk into an art gallery and there are no guards or no sort of security system, you must draw one conclusion: there is nothing very valuable in that art gallery.”

If something is valuable to you, you protect it, you defend it.

And so we need to contend (not physically, but verbally) for the truth of our faith.

Now, some of you are hearing this incorrectly.

You’re already thinking about some hard truth you’re going to drop at your next family gathering…others of you are already drafting up in your head a fiery post for social media about sinners in this world!

If you read the entire letter of Jude (and even verses 3 & 4), you’ll see that Jude is contextually talking about contending for the faith against people that are within the church.

Not those outside of it.

Not that there isn’t a place for cultural engagement and bringing truth to the broader culture, but that isn’t what THIS passage is about.

And I would argue that Christians over the last decade have been too contentious with the secular world around us, and not contentious enough with false teachers within the Christian world.

Jesus himself is a good example for us here.

His grace and patience with nonbelievers seems to be almost inexhaustible , but to the false spiritual teachers (like the Pharisees), he was incredibly bold and stern…contending for the truth of the faith…so that people wouldn’t be led astray.

And by the way, when Jude writes, “Contend for the faith,” in Greek, that doesn’t mean “be a jerk”

Jude means, stand up for truth…in the manner of Christ

And multiple times the Bible tells us to do that with wisdom, and gentleness and respect (Colossians 4, 1 Peter 3)

Look at the second half of verse 3 again.

Jude says I urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.

We contend for this truth because this truth was not invented by us, or discovered by us, but it was delivered by God himself… ‘

“once for all”

Meaning it doesn’t change over time.

And Jude says we (you and I!) have been ENTRUSTED by God to contend for what this really says.

Not to twist it and make it more palatable for our friends that would prefer it didn’t talk about their sin

Not to avoid the parts about judgement or hell with our family members.

Because notice, verses 2 & 3: Jude is not writing this letter just to pastors…saying “Pastors, make sure you contend!”

What does it say?

He’s writing to those who have been called (Christians)…

3 times in Jude, he addresses his readers as, “Dear friends”

This is a letter to all of us as Christ-followers.

Jude is urging us to contend for the faith not just from the pulpits of our churches, but also from the circles of our small groups.

Like when someone says in group, “I don’t believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven.”

Jude would say, “Contend for the Faith!”

Don’t shrug your shoulders in MN Niceness, contend for the faith!

When you’re at lunch at work, and a co-worker says, “You know I go to church some, but I don’t talk about the Bible like you do. You don’t seriously believe what it says, do you?”

Contend for the faith!

When a relative tells you at a family gathering to stop posting about Jesus on social media because Christianity is outdated and oppressive, and we need to reimagine what Christianity looks like...

Contend for the faith!

Be bold in those situations to say:

“Actually, let me respectfully tell you why I believe this is true. Let me tell you how this changed my life. Let me tell you why I believe in the unchanging truth of God’s Word against a culture that never stops changing.


We want to contend for the faith.

And Jude specifically warns us to contend with one particular attack on the truth.

Look again to verse 4:

(Jude 4) – NIV

4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Jude is warning here about people who call themselves Christians, but they are actually condemned by God.

They’re truthfully non-believers; in fact, he says they are ungodly.

And Jude wants us to contend with these people on a specific subject

He says that these false believers are taking God’s grace (his forgiveness), and they’ve perverted it, and turned it into a license of immorality (for sin).

These ungodly people are teaching, “God is just love. And because God loves you so much…He just wants you to be who you are and be happy and live your truth however you want.”

But that’s a perversion, a twisting, of God’s grace.

God says He has grace and forgiveness for all who would accept it, but when they do, He wants them to come under his leadership, and to walk in His ways so He can conform them into the image of His Son

But for centuries now, people have twisted, they’ve perverted God’s Amazing Grace …and like Jude warned, they turn it into a license for immorality…

And that phrase in the Bible typically refers to the sexual arena.

Now, we are going to as a church do a detailed series on sex, sexuality, and gender, and identity sometime within the year here.

And when we do that, we’re going to go really deep into this subject.

But for now, in just general terms, we can say that Jude is talking about people who feel like they now have a license (a permission…a freedom) to live however they want...especially sexually…

And Jude could’ve written this yesterday, right?

This is our culture.

Starting from the Sexual Revolution of the late 1960’s, we have thrown off all restraint, and modesty, the boundaries of marriage, sexuality, gender, you name it.

Everything now is just one big blur with no boundary lines in sight.

Now listen, sinful nature was just as real before the sexual revolution, but when people engaged in sexual sin (and they did), in those days, it was generally in hiding, and people felt at least a measure of guilt for their hook ups, their adultery, their experimentation or whatever it was.

But now, we’re living in the world that Jude warned of: Where people feel they have a “license for immorality”

And so sin, therefore, is now out in the open in a way it wasn’t previously.

But let’s back up a bit.

Because what happens first in history (every time), before any culture with a Christian background deteriorates to this stage where they more fully and openly embrace sin…

…false teachers come in FIRST, and twist the words of God.

Because remember, Jude isn’t talking about atheists or just secular people here, but he’s talking about people who claim the name of Christ.

See, moral decline starts when people begin to question the Bible and its teachings…especially on morality

By the way, this is literally the oldest trick in the book.

In the garden, Satan said to Eve, “Did God really say?”

He didn’t say, “Does God really exist?”

He said, “Did God really say?”

And it’s right here, when people attempt to reshape what God really said…that we must contend for the faith.

When people say, “Did God really say?”

We say, “YES! Yes, he did! And He is God! Who are you?!”

Because, my brothers & sisters, if we don’t contend with those who label themselves Christians but deny him as their “Sovereign and Lord” by how they live

…if we don’t contend with them, then multitudes will be led astray…in the name of God!

And not only will they be led into error about who God is, but let into a life of pain and regret and bondage, and most seriously, many to everlasting torment in hell.

We must contend for truth.

From our churches, to our couches, to our cubicles. We contend.


Because hear me (as someone who loves history), Christianity reinvented never works.

And I’m not talking about contextualizing Christianity with different music or dress or art or styles to bring the Gospel to different ages or cultures

No, no, no. That’s just good ministry. That’s what the Apostle Paul did!

I’m talking about how every generation seems to have a set of people who want to redefine the teachings of Christianity to its own cultural appetites and tastes.

And that never works.

In America, throughout the middle of the 20th century, most of the mainline protestant churches decided to let go of many of the important doctrines of faith about salvation, the deity of Christ (Jesus is God), the inerrancy of Scripture (the Bible is true)

And they decided that they would give people a license to live however they want, and that their churches would just focus on doing good works in the community

And at first people were attracted to it

No more sermons on sin, or how I’m wrong, or judgment…

But after a while, they said, “What’s the point? Why am I coming every week to listen to a reading from a book I don’t even believe in.

“And I can hear the same exact message at my local political rally.”

And these mainline churches in America, not exaggerating, have literally lost tens of millions of adherents in the past 50 years.

Because in history, reshaping the teachings of Christianity to fit the tastes of your current culture, never works. Ever. .

And yet again in our day, there are churches still trying to do this.

What happens is, even at good Biblical churches, someone rises up from within the church, and they bring in a worldly version of Christianity…one that compromises the doctrines and the teachings of this Book.

And not enough people (or not enough people in leadership) stand up to contend and say, “No. not here! The Christian faith has been entrusted to us. Not here. Be gone!”

Our churches are hesitating to speak like that, to contend like that, but that’s exactly how Jesus, Peter, and Paul tell us to treat wolves in the church.

We need to contend for the faith.

What I want you to understand about this sort of reinvented Christianity is that it is almost always just a bridge to agonisticism and atheism

People think they’re getting on a bridge that leads to a new way of walking with Jesus, but almost always, the bridge leads them a place where they ditch Jesus in the end.

That’s why Charles Spurgeon once said:

The new views are not old truth in better dress, but deadly errors with which we can have no fellowship” – Charles Spurgeon

And not just because they’re wrong, but also because they hurt people.

One of the most heartbreaking videos I’ve ever seen was of a man who was street preaching about Jesus in a big city

And he interviews this man who was engaged in all sorts of deviant sexual sin.

I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say, it would be enough to make any of us blush.

And as the preacher shared about forgiveness and repentance and coming to Christ, the man stopped him and said, “oh, I don’t need that. I’ve visited church, and they told me God loves me no matter what I do, and that I can just keep doing what I do. That’s God’s love!!”

And my heart just broke in half as I heard that.

This man probably wants to know God and walk with God.

He went to church!

But they lied to Him.

In the name of Jesus, they lied to Him.

And unless someone gets through to Him, He’s going to go to hell in part because of that lie.

(Title slide)

This is why the New Testament talks about false teachers SO often!

SO often!

This is why Jude says “contend for the faith”

Because people’s eternities are resting on it.

Listen to me, God’s gospel truth is worth staking your life on.

It’s worth telling people about

It’s worth contending for.

Is there a better message out there that you’re willing to sit by and carry the day? Because if we don’t contend, realize that everybody else is contending.

Is the secular message better?

The message that we are all a result of a random chance…that amino acids bumped together and accidentally started life on earth…

…and therefore life has no meaning, or morality, and no afterlife.

Should we stay silent and let that message carry the day?

Is the message that Christianity is nothing but a political movement better?

Because I hear plenty of people talk like that nowadays.

That Christians supposedly only care about getting the right people elected and laws enacted, and that’s it!

Should we stay silent and let that message carry the day? That that’s who God is?!

Or do we let the culture’s twisted version of grace win out?

That we have a license to sin …that you can do whatever you want, and in the end, because God is love, He bring you to heaven…

Boy that sounds really good…

But it’s not true.

And I believe that many people know that sin is wrong in their hearts.

And that they can feel the conviction of sin, but then they try and bury it with more sex, or more drugs, or more alcohol.

And when we as Christians, stand on the sidelines in silence, never contending for truth, never pointing them to the Gospel…

…we condemn them to a life of pain and heartache…

And ultimately, many of them, to an eternity in hell.

No, the message…the one I want to contend for…is the Gospel.

It’s the Biblical TRUTH…given from God…entrusted to God’s Holy people…. that we ARE sinners…and we are messed up.

And yet God loves us and is willing to forgive us if we would accept Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, and invite him in as Lord.

And please hear this Biblical truth clearly: God loves you the way that you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.

Let’s talk about love…

If I see a drug addict sitting on the streets of St. Paul in misery and pain, and I say, “I love you the way that you are. Even though you smell and are messy, and your life is a wreck. I love you. So you do you…and keep doing what you want to do. Have a nice day”

Is that really love?

Is all love is just license to do what you want?

Is that how you show love to your kids?

I prove my love to you by letting you do whatever you want?

Because that’s exactly how the false teachers are describing the love of our God!

Is it not a greater love if I say to the addict on the street, “I see you, and I love you in your mess, now get up and follow me, and I’m going to help you get out of this mess.”

That’s real love!

That’s why Jude says, “CONTEND! CONTEND!

This world’s version of love is just a mirage that leads to bondage.


Say to your friends, “No, they’re lying to you. It’s a mirage!”

“Come over here, the Living Water is over here!”

“Jesus will give you a water where you never thirst again!”

“And He will give you, not only life, but eternal life”

And my friends, if there is anything worth contending for…it’s that!

Let me pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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