(Jud 1:3) Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Jude here was our Lord's brother, probably His youngest brother, although there is no proof of where he stood as a brother. However, this verse stands as one of the most important verse for those of us who are standing for the defense of the gospel in the evil days in which we live. The word defense as you can see is not used in this verse, but the word "contend" is used here. This word means to struggle as in to struggle unto life or death if necessary. Jude is saying that our stand for the gospel of Christ (His literal death and Resurrection) is one unto death if necessary. Certainly it is a task to be taken very seriously, by any elder in any New Testament church. What we are looking at here is the very necessary attribute for an elder at anytime in the New Testament churches history. The rest of these verses come entirely from the book of Philippians. There are five elements that are seen in this book that are attributed unto those who are set to defend the gospel.
I I. The enemies of the cross
III. The work of defending the faith
IV. The righteousness of Christ given to the defender of the faith.
V. Moderation even during trying times.
VI. The Defender and the judgment day.
I. The life walk of the defender of the faith.
Philippians 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
First of all those who are set to defending the gospel must have a walk that is blameless, this is getting harder to do in these days, but it is not impossible. Paul says that our walk or manner of living as seen elsewhere is to be in keeping with the gospel of Christ. In simple terms the believer is committed to apply the gospel into every area of his life, this goes even more so for those who would apply themselves to the work of the elder. Christ died for me on the cross, paid the price of my sin guilt, and nailed it to His Cross. He died in my place so that He could by His Resurrection apply His righteousness by faith to me forever. I may not be sinless it has been said, but I do sin less then I would have without Christ in my life. Since The Lord Jesus has done this for me then it behooves me to keep this in the back of my mind in everything that I do or say. Paul made it very clear here that he expected to find these believers in unity together for the furtherance of the gospel. The gospel here is more then just the death and Resurrection of our wonderful Lord, but is also all the doctrine that is wrapped up in the gospel. Doctrine is just another word for teaching; it is not a bad word, but a very important idea or concept to be digested. I talked above about the application of the resurrection of Christ to the believer this is called imputation a legal term that means His righteousness has been applied making me not guilty. Paul is saying that we need to strive and struggle together for the body of doctrines that we call the gospel.
Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Further we are not only to be mindful of the doctrine or beliefs that we believe, but to take it a step further. This is an attitude that we ridicule in Christians these days, but it is taught in the Bible and is a very serious matter. Everything that I have or have had I should count as a loss, because it is just so much wasted clutter in my life. The Lord Jesus Christ has bought me and gave me a new life and in so doing I have lost everything that counts in today's world, that means wealth, that means possessions. That means that new car or house that I want so badly. Paul says that I should count these worldly things as just so much manure. I have a goal in life to win Christ, give Him the glory and point others to the cross.
Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
In the process of living this way we are to point out those who claim to belong to Christ, by there walk. We are to be a brother or sister in Christ and by so doing emulate Christ in our lives. Paul asked them to walk the same walk that he did in Christ, then to pass it on to those who followed them. This could have a life changing effect on this world that is so very sin sick. We are told to be examples to each other of how Christ would have us to life.
Philippians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
The word conversation here means citizenship; he is saying here that our real citizenship as believers is as members of God's kingdom. This is why we also read this: "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (2Co 5:20) , but Paul did not say this just once, but repeated it in another book to another church, just maybe this is a concept we need to get down a lot better these days: "For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Eph 6:20) Paul was saying this at the same time that he was chained to a Roman soldier and was testifying before Caesar. How about that he was an ambassador for another country, one that is not on earth, before what was then a leader of a major world power. He carried his testimony to the highest authority of his day. We are afraid to carry it to the neighbors for fear of being seen as being a fanatic. Paul points us to be watchful for the second coming of our Lord, it maters not that 2,000 years have passed we are still to look for the soon return of Christ whether we are fanatics or not. Just exactly why is this so necessary?
Philippians3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
It is because we have been changed spiritually, but we have not been changed physically. We still walk around in earthen vessels that are subject to all of the ware and tare that we put them through. We are so very prone to be proud of our bodies in our youth, but after we get passed a certain age things begin to catch up with us. God has a return policy, after we die He is going to exchange this one for a brand new spiritual body, based on the sinless one that our Lord has. This side of death my body has a proclivity to want to sin no mater how hard I try to stop it. The Lord Jesus can and will subdue even this body, because he has the power to subdue all things unto HIMSELF. I so want to fall on my face before my wonderful Savior and acknowledge how glorious He is.
I I. The enemies of the cross
Philippians 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
In this parenthetical statement Paul tells the Philippians about the walk of many, the Syriac version added to this the word otherwise to make it better understood. Indeed he is talking about how different the walk of these enemies of the cross of Christ was. He was very serious about this to the point of tears that there were those whose walk was not in keeping with one who has the Lord Jesus as Savior. He is talking about Jewish people here that were influencing Christians, in the sense of making them to live like Jews. The Judaizers wanted Christians to live like they did, but they were the enemies of Christ. They thought nothing of the sinful lives they were living as being under the judgment of God. Those who will contend for the faith, must be on the look out for those whose lives are obvious signals that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.
Philippians 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
The rest of the parenthetical statement gives the motives of these enemies of the cross. There end is their own destruction. There appetite is their own undoing, this does not mean that steak you are eating or that fried chicken from last night. What is meant here is an appetite for unspiritual or even anti spiritual pursuits. There is nothing neutral in the pursuit of the Christian life and the struggle with the forces against the gospel of Christ. Even in our day there are many who claim to be good people, but see nothing wrong in glorifying an ungodly pursuit. There needs to be much sole searching by God's people in what they pursue in life. There is the pursuit of riches and worldly goods, the right job, the right spouse and even sometimes the right church. These all add up to nothing when compared to Christ.
III. The Work of defending the faith
Philippians 1:17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
Paul says that he was set in place for the very purpose of the defense of the gospel. This concerned not only the attacks from the governmental authorities, but religious authorities as well. There is another area of attack on the church that is also a concern here as well and that is in the area of social influence. We are influenced on how to live as Christians by what society dictates. This should not be even a consideration. Any kind of entertainment that dictates how I should live is an enemy of the cross of Christ. This is as true today as it was in the early church. They just lacked the technology that is a part of our society.
Philippians 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
The truth is we need to look for things to approve in our lives and it must be those areas that show the excellency of Christ in our lives. Our sincerity of faith, must be without any kind of reproach. There needs to be nothing in our lives that is offensive. As it is we seem these days to be offending people, by just being a Christian. However, there is no exception in this area, this means to avoid anything that is not excellent in our lives so that we can stand without offense. Standing up in defense of the gospel in our day will certainly get you accused of all kinds of things. What is being said here is to be sure that the things in your life are completely above reproach.
Philippians 1:7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace
The apostle Paul's life was filled up with the care for the churches and the defense of the gospel. Paul took the care of all the churches with him every where he went. This was seen in his prayer life and in his letters to churches. It is seen in the care he took in the nurturing of elders and deacons. There is the mention of his bonds, remember while writing this letter he was chained to a Roman soldier. His concern was in both the defense of the Christian faith and in its confirmation in the changed lives of believers.
IV. The righteousness of Christ.
Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Paul said that one of the most important issues in his own life was to be found in Christ as one who was not depending on his own righteousness, but on the righteousness of faith in Christ. His own personal righteousness was found in a set of rules or laws based on the law of Moses. Real righteousness is only found by faith in the gospel of Christ. Those Apostles, such as Paul, who was a defender of the gospel needed to have the assurance beyond a shadow of doubt that his personal righteousness is not found in adherence to the Old Testament law. What needs to be our sole support was the righteousness of Christ by faith.
Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
The power in Paul's life that leads him to be the first defender of the faith was in knowing Christ personally and a personal experience with the power of the Resurrection of Christ. There is another area that knowing Christ will lead a Paul or any of us and that is into the fellowship that goes with those who have been put thru suffering for the sake of the gospel. Paul's life and testimony brought him to the place that he would go even as far as dying for his faith in Christ, this is what is meant by being made conformable unto his death, it goes one step further and that is having put to death the things that do not lead to a godly life.
V. Moderation even during trying times.
Philippians 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
“…moderation lies not in exerting authority and power to the uttermost, at least with rigour, but in showing clemency and lenity; not dealing with men according to the severity of laws and strict justice, but according to equity, and with mildness and gentleness…(Gill, John, e-Sword). The point being here is to not hold human beings to strict justice, but for the man of God to show mercy. This is not to be interpreted to say that we believe that the offense against God’s Word no longer exists, but that we show kindness to those who are breakers of God’s Word. The man of God in defense of the truth is not to show meanness but kindness. We are not to rant on and on about an issue, but to say what we mean, then to show kindness in doing so. We should always keeping in mind of course that The Lord is watching us.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Our minds should always be set on these virtues, even when we are in the midst of defending the truths of God’s word. This is true now more so then at any other time in human history. There is so much going on around us that can distract us from that which is real in our Christian lives. Notice the first thing here is things that are true, no mater what truth has to have a preeminent place in the life of a man of God. All other attributes proceed from truth. When we examine movements today that are striking at the foundation of our Christian culture, we have to be careful that we keep our minds saturated with God’s Word, because it is the only source that is absolute truth. However, truth by itself can easily become the sole focus of our lives. We can become obsessed with truth to the exclusion of all other things. Perhaps this is what Paul was thinking, because Paul was definitely a defender of the truths of God’s Word, but rather then get bogged down it is important to be honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and finally seek out things that are really worthy of praise.
I do not think that Paul here is saying that we should look at things that are really at their very core evil or against God. We are really not trying to find something nice to say about something that is evil. However, we are seeking out things in our lives that meet with these characteristics and settle our minds there. There is not a better place to seek these attributes out then in God’s Word. Certainly many of those who have fought the battle before us sought there refuge in God’s Word. There actually is no pure truth and real lovely things to be found outside of God’s Word. I am not saying that a beautiful song, flower, or act of kindness is missing in these things, but that outside of the consideration of God’s Word these things are real pale.
VI. The Defender and the judgment day.
Philippians 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
Paul is saying that in any point in time every one should acknowledge Jesus, but that at the end of time every knee will bow to HIM “All things were made by HIM and without Him was not anything made that was made”, John 1:3. There is nothing whatsoever that does not bow to Jesus even now. At some point all human beings face the fact that Jesus is Lord. It can happen in this world and that is the best place of all to bow our knee to HIM, but if not it will occur at death. What we are trying to do is win people to HIM in this life so they can bow their knee to HIM willingly, before they are forced to do so at death. However, no mater what you will sooner or later bow to HIM, Jesus is the Lord and requires men to acknowledge HIM.
“Moreover, the words ought not to be rendered at, but "in the name of Jesus"; that is, in and by reason of the power, authority, and dignity of Jesus, as exalted at God's right hand, every creature is to be subject to him: add to this, that there are several creatures included in the following account, who, in a corporeal sense, have not knees to bow with, as angels, the souls of men departed, and devils; and therefore an external corporeal bowing of the knee cannot be meant.” (Gill, John)
This is just one more proof as to Who Jesus really is. Jesus Christ is Jehovah and we need to acknowledge that He is the only Real God, emphasis here, with which we have to personally deal. There is no other god anywhere, which means that the so called god of the Muslim does not exist, neither does the god of the Romanists exist, but Jesus Christ does exist and He is Lord.
Philippians 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Confession of His Lordship is required of all men, even if it does occur after death. Not only must men confess HIM, but angels must confess HIM as well. In defending the Christian faith, we must point men to HIM Who is Lord and lead them to confessing Jesus Christ as not only savior, but LORD as well. This is the only real point to defending the faith, because in a very real sense The Lord Jesus Christ is the faith, that is He is the object of our faith.