Contend for the Faith
By Col. Scott McChrystal, Prophecy Investigators Contributor
“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.” Jude 1:3, NIV
I think you would agree with me that our country is experiencing a time of chaos and decline. There is little agreement on the best path forward. Pundits offer endless advice and solutions, but not much is changing. The overall mood in our nation is one of anxiety about the present and fear about the future. Some young adult women are choosing not to have children because they don’t want to subject their kids to conditions of this present world. How sad!
Circumstances for Christians during the first century A.D. were no better. Jude urged his readers to “contend for their faith.” The Greek word translated as “contend” was likely a reference to athletes in the Grecian games who fought to win the prize. Athletes competed with every fiber of their being, with their blood, sweat, and tears.
But what did Jude mean by exhorting readers “to contend for the faith”? It certainly was not a call to use physical force or violence. Jude was referring to a spiritual battle, one requiring spiritual weapons (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Jude exhorted followers of Christ to contend for the truth. As his letter explained, deceptive men were creeping into the church and perverting Christian doctrine with heresies that denied the truth.
False teachers existed in Jude’s day, and they exist now. The Apostle Peter gave stern warning to Christians about these teachers. “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute” (2 Peter 2:1-2).
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If false teachers are twisting the gospel message today, what kinds of doctrine are they using? They deny that Jesus came in the flesh. They claim His Resurrection never happened and that the Bible is not God’s authoritative truth. A frequently taught message says that there are many roads leading to heaven, contradicting Jesus’ words in John 14:6: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
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In today’s culture, how should we contend for the faith? I’ll share four ways:
You can contend, knowing that salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone. As Scripture tells us, salvation comes only one way—through faith in the saving work of Jesus at the Cross. Ephesians 2:8-9 says it plainly: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” There is no alternate path to heaven. Guard this truth. Don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise.
You can contend for the faith by being a lifelong student of God’s Word. Although going to heaven is the ultimate goal for every believer, God wants you to grow in your relationship with Jesus throughout life. Reading, studying, and obeying God’s Word is imperative for being effective in your Christian walk. The more you know and obey the Bible’s teachings, the better you will know God and understand His Will for your life. 2 Peter 1:5-8 expresses this beautifully: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
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You can contend for the faith by always being ready to tell others why you follow Jesus. One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Billions of lost people have never heard about Jesus. Among your friends and family, you can name some who have not given their hearts to Jesus. Remember, the only way to heaven is through Jesus. You don’t need to be rude or pushy, but look for every opportunity to tell others what the Lord has done for you.
You can contend for the faith by seeking unity with other Christians from a wide variety of traditions. It is true that followers of Christ have different traditions. However, remain steadfast in your quest for unity with Christians from other faith groups by focusing on the core tenets of Christianity. Don’t let worship styles, music, liturgy, or methods of baptism cause disunity. Nonbelievers need to see us loving God, each other, and people—not arguing over issues which aren’t essential for the Christian life and witness. First Corinthians 1:10 expresses the importance of unity in the Body of Christ: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
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Chaplain (Col.) Scott McChrystal, Ret.
Chaplain (Col.) Scott McChrystal was commissioned in 1970 and served 31 years on active duty, 10 as an infantry officer and the remainder as a United States Army chaplain. His line officer experience included a tour in Vietnam as an Infantry Platoon Leader and three assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His final assignment was as the senior chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He retired from active duty in 2005 and served as the Military/VA Representative and Endorser within the Chaplaincy Department for the General Council of the Assemblies of God from 2005-2019. His decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Award, the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, and the Army Ranger Tab. His education includes a Master of Business Administration Degree, a Master of Divinity Degree, a Doctor of Ministry Degree, and graduation from The United States Army War College. In recent years, he and his wife have written several Christian devotionals. In addition, Scott co-authored a Christian action-novel and served as the managing editor for the The Warrior’s Bible, an application Bible for the military community. He presently serves as the Executive Liaison for The Warrior’s Journey, a non-profit organization that supports the military community. He’s also a member of the Distinguished Advisory Board for Battle Ready Ministries. He and his wife, Judy, live in Springfield, Missouri, and have 4 children and 12 grandchildren.