The Faith Delivered to the Saints
December 4th, 1960 @ 7:30 PM
THE FAITH DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-4-60 7:30 p.m.
Now will we turn to Jude, the little one chapter book before the climactic Revelation. The general epistle of Jude, we will read together the first six verses, then start at verse 21 and read to the end of the chapter. The general epistle of Jude, the brother of our Lord, the brother of James, the son of Mary and Joseph, the half brother of Jesus, almost at the end of your Bible, Jude, reading the first six verses:
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
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.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
And now verse 21, reading to the end; verse 21:
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference:
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Now the text is one of the finest sentences to be found in the whole Word of God: "I exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints" [Jude 1:3].
I don’t suppose that in the Bible there is a more strongly worded sentence than that. "Exhorting you, epiagonizomai," you’ve got an English word like that, "agonizing"; and that epi prefix just intensifies it. Language cannot say a more intense word than that epiagonizomai. Then the faith, the way he writes it the once for all delivered to the saints faith," and the emphasis is upon the article the faith; "earnestly contending for the once for all delivered unto the saints faith" [Jude 1:3]. As in Jude’s day, like our day, there were many religions; all kinds of religion. You could find it down every street, almost on every corner, gods plentiful, gods’ many temples, many temples plentiful, faiths everywhere. But he uses that article with a pointed difference: "contending earnestly for the faith"; not "a" faith, not "any" faith, but the one and only faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.
You know, there need never have been any martyrs among the Christian religionists, never any trouble. When those first emissaries came preaching the Lord Jesus Christ, all other religionists in Rome and all of the religionists in Greece, said, "Here, we have a beautiful Pantheon," that’s a good Greek word pan, pan means "every kind," and theos, theon means "god," so those great temples they called the Pantheon, and the most perfectly preserved of all of the buildings of antiquity is the Pantheon built by Agrippa years and years and years before Christ in the city of Rome.
And if you ever go to Rome, or if you’ve been to Rome, you’ve seen it. If you go there, you ought to look at it. It is a magnificent building, and the ceiling in that building is copied by uncounted thousands of magnificent public buildings over the earth. That’s the Pantheon. And pantheon means "all the gods."
And when those first emissaries from Jerusalem came preaching the Lord Jesus Christ, why, those Pantheon keepers said, "Glad to hear of a new god. There’s a niche for Him there. Or if you prefer, we’ll put Him in a niche over there." And when you went into the Pantheon, you could worship any kind of a god that you pleased. Bowed down before Jupiter over here, that’s his niche. Bow down before Juno, that’s her niche. Bow down before Aphrodite, that’s her niche, or Mercury, or Demeter, or Poseidon, or Neptune, gods many. And when they came preaching the Lord Jesus Christ, the keepers of the Pantheon said, "Glad to have another god; just pick out the niche in which you’d like to have the Lord Jesus Christ, and in this Pantheon of all religions, anybody wants to bow down before Him, welcome!"
But what got the Christians in trouble was this: they said, "Our God is not just another god; He is the one and true and only God, and there’s no such a thing as bowing down before this god and bowing down before that god and then also bowing down before our God. There is one God and one Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus [1 Timothy 2:5]. And He alone represents the true and the only faith, the faith, once for all delivered unto the saints" [Jude 1:3]. And because they refused to put Jesus in their Pantheon, they burned them at the stake. They put them in boiling cauldrons of oil. They sawed them asunder. They crucified them. They exiled them. They slew them. They cut their heads off with the sword. They drove them down into the dens, and dives, and caves of the earth. They rotted in filthy dungeons for the faith! [Hebrews 11:36-38]. "Contending earnestly for the once for all delivered to the saints faith" [Jude 1:3].
Now that word the faith refers to a body of truth; it refers to something Paul in 2 Timothy 1:12 calls it "a deposit." It refers to a body of truth. It refers to you might call it a creed. A creed is something believed. You might call it a confession. A confession is something declared. When you speak in the Bible of Abraham’s faith, that doesn’t refer to this; the faith of Abraham is something that Abraham exercised toward God in his heart [Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:6]. Your faith is something by which you believe on God in your heart; a man’s faith, Abraham’s faith. This doesn’t refer to that. This refers to that body of truth that God gave to us in the revelation in Christ Jesus [Jude 1:3].
And you find that body of truth referred to over and over again in the Holy Scriptures. For example, in the first Corinthian letter and the fifteenth chapter, Paul says, "For I make known unto you, brethren, that gospel that I preached unto you, wherein you stand, wherein you were saved. For I delivered unto you that which also I received; I delivered unto you" [1 Corinthians 15:1-3]. There is a body of truth that Paul gained from God by direct revelation, the faith! [Galatians 1:12].
Now he refers to that again in the eleventh chapter of the first Corinthian letter, in the observance of this supper. We’ll read it: "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you" [1 Corinthians 11:23], that is, Paul received a body of truth by direct revelation from God, and he delivered that to the people. And that body of truth is called the faith. When Paul received it, he went into Arabia and there let that revelation of God burn in his soul [Galatians 1:11-12, 16-17]. And throughout the years of his ministry, he never added to it, and he never took away from it. And when he came to the day of his martyrdom, he said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" [2 Timothy 4:7], that body of truth that was revealed unto him by direct revelation from God [Galatians 1:11-12]. He never invented his message. He never added to it. He never took away from it. He received it from God, and delivered it, and declared it to God’s people. "I have kept the faith" [2 Timothy 4:7].
I haven’t time here tonight, though I’d like to take it, I haven’t time here tonight to go through these illustrations of the creed, of the faith that God has delivered once for all to the saints [Jude 1:3]. But I want to point out one or two of them. One of them is in the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew:
And He said, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the anointed of God, the Son of the living God . . . And Jesus said, And I say unto thee, Peter, that upon this confession, upon this petra, this rock, upon this great stratum, upon this confession of faith, upon this creed, that Jesus Christ is the divine holy Son of God, I will build My church!
That is this faith, the body of truth that God has delivered once for all to the saints [Jude 1:3]. I haven’t time to speak. Every time a man is baptized, he confesses the faith [Romans 6:3-5], baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the triune yet one God [Matthew 28:19]. And every time a man partakes of the Lord’s Supper, he declares that truth, the faith, that great creed [Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26]. Jesus was manifest in the flesh [1 Timothy 3:16], died for our souls [1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21], was raised from the dead [Matthew 28:3-5], ascended into glory [Acts 1:9-10], and someday is coming again! [Matthew 24:30; Acts 1:11]. This is the faith!
May I point out just one other to you briefly? In the first letter to Timothy, in the third chapter, and the last, the sixteenth verse, you will find an expression of that creed again: "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness." And he has six points in the creed here: "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the nations, believed on in the world, received up into glory" [1 Timothy 3:16]. This is the faith!
Our faith is never inarticulate. It is never nebulous like a spray of stardust in the sky. It is never without form such as the changing shadows of the fleeting clouds above us. And it is never trackless like the path of a serpent across the rocks or like an eagle flying through the sky. But it is very articulate! It is very substantial and tangible! It is something that a man can see and something that a man can grasp. It has the mystery in it: there’s no man that could explain all of it, understand all of it; but it is not nebulous, and intangible, and ethereal, and ephemeral. It is something a man can see, and it’s something God has delivered into our hands.
And here’s a typical instance of it, the mystery of godliness, the faith: "God was manifest in the flesh" [1 Timothy 3:16]. What condescension that God should have become a man! [Hebrews 10:5-14]. "He was justified in the Spirit," vindicated by the Spirit in His baptism [Matthew 3:16-17], and His great ministry, in the power of the Lord upon Him [Matthew 12:28]; the Spirit by which He offered Himself as a sacrifice unto God [Hebrews 9:14]; and the Holy Spirit that raised Him from the dead [Romans 8:11], that marked Him out from among the dead, as the living Son of God [Romans 1:4]. "Justified in the Spirit, seen of angels" [1 Timothy 3:16]. His flesh veiled His deity, but He was recognized by the angels [1 Timothy 3:16]. The world might not have recognized Him, but the angels knew Him. They saw Him in glory. They saw Him incarnate. They sang at Bethlehem when He became a man [Luke 2:9-13], and they welcomed Him back to glory when He was raised from the dead! "Seen of angels, preached unto the nations" [1 Timothy 3:16]. No power is able to stop this floodtide of life in the preaching of the gospel of the Son of God. "Believed on in the world" [1 Timothy 3:16], what an amazing thing; and that’s the part of the creed itself, a part of the faith itself, that Jesus should be believed on in the world!
A fellow who was an infidel challenged a Christian preacher in London to a debate. And the preacher said, "Fine, I’ll be there. And we’ll do this. When I come to debate, I’m going to bring one hundred witnesses, men who were lost and sinners who’ve been saved by the loving grace of the Son of God. And when I come to the debate, I want you to bring a hundred witnesses, a hundred men who’ve been saved by believing the gospel of infidelity." It was never held; the debate never came off. "Believed on in the world" [1 Timothy 3:16]; that’s an amazing thing, the power of the Son of God to save from sins [Matthew 1:21]; "and received up into glory" [1 Timothy 3:16], where He reigns in session at the right hand of God [Hebrews 1:3], until His enemies be made His footstool [Hebrews 1:13], and till He comes again in power and in glory [Matthew 24:30]: the faith!
He uses a remarkable word here. He says, "te hapax," you have it translated in the King James Version "once delivered, once" [Jude 1:3]; that’s an adverb and it means "once forever, once for all." God has given to us this truth in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it’s not to be added to, it’s not to be taken from; it is a finished revelation! [1 Corinthians 13:10]. Paul, in the first chapter of Galatians in the eighth verse, said, "Though we, though we, or though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which ye have heard, let him be accursed!" [Galatians 1:8]. There is one gospel; and that’s the gospel found in this Book, the gospel of the Son of God. In the last chapter of the Revelation, it says:
And whosoever shall add to the words of this book, to him shall be added the plagues that are written in this volume. And whosoever shall take away from the words of the prophecy of the book, God shall take away his part out of the city of life, and out of the Book of Life, and out of the things that are written in this book.
This is a sealed revelation! And all that a preacher is, is just an echo. He doesn’t invent his message. He doesn’t initiate his sermon. He doesn’t think it up. He just stands there and declares to the people what he reads in the revelation of Almighty God. This is it, "Thus saith the Lord!" And it’s not to be added to, not to be taken from; it’s just to be delivered, as we have received it from the mouth of the apostles who received it from God Himself. Isn’t that a marvelous thing?
You know, I read the Christian Century every week, just to keep up with what the infidels are a-doin’ and are a-thinkin’. And every year they have in that magazine, they have a series of articles entitled "How My Mind Has Changed in the Last Ten Years." Well, it’s an amazing thing to listen to those fellows as they write, "How My Mind Has Changed in the Last Ten Years." Once in a great while, not very often, but once in a great while, they’ll have a man of God, a true preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ to write in the article. And when he writes, he’ll always write like Spurgeon said, "I gave my heart to Jesus, I preached the gospel when I first stood up when I was seventeen years of age, and I haven’t changed it since! Still preaching the gospel of the Son of God."
Every once in a while, they’ll have a man of God, a true preacher, to write a series, to write in one of those series; and he’ll always say, "And the gospel that I learned from my mother, and the gospel I learned from my pastor, and the gospel that I learned in the Book is the gospel that I preach today after the years and the years." But practically all of the rest of the authors and the preachers who write in that series are modernists, they are liberals. And law me, their gospel changes every day! It’s like a chameleon. Sometimes it’s red, and sometimes it’s pink, and sometimes it’s purple, and sometimes it’s a conglomerate like a spilled out paint pot. You don’t know what to think. They’re in a fog and a mist, trying to add to, trying to take away from, trying to extenuate and explain out of existence. That’s not the calling of a true minister of God. A true preacher of Christ is to stand in his pulpit and preach the once for all and forever delivered gospel to the saints [Jude 1:3].
You know I read this week a very shrewd thing said by a penetrating businessman. He said to his preacher, he said, "You know, if the time ever comes, if the time ever comes when we need to change anything about God’s Word and about revelation," he said, "if that time ever comes, when we need to change it, to adapt it to our modern day and our modern generation," he said, "how do you know that the time will come, when in the age of advancing enlightenment, we shall ultimately outgrow it all, and have to change it all? And that’s the Lord’s truth: if we’ve outgrown some of God’s revelation now, and if we’ve got to change God’s Word now, some of it, the day may come when we have to change it all, and we outgrow it all. That will never come to pass. Why? Because the Author of that revelation, the faith, is God Himself [2 Timothy 3:16]; it’s Jesus Christ who stood on the pinnacle of His deity and saw the end from the beginning, both termini of all history and all destiny. And Simon Peter looked to the end [2 Peter 3:10]; and John looked to the end, and wrote of it in the Revelation [Revelation 4:1]; and the apostle Paul looked to the end [Titus 2:13]. And the message that we have from those men two thousand years ago is God’s message for us today, just the same as it was two thousand years ago to the men who heard the apostles preach! "For I have received from the Lord Jesus that which also I delivered unto you" [1 Corinthians 15:3], the once for all and forever delivered message to the saints! [Jude 1:3].
Now may I speak a word about this epiagonizomai? Epiagonizomai : I have told you that word epi is just a prefix to intensify the word agonizomai. Agonizomai is the infinitive of the word. "Agony," "agonize"; and that word agonizomai was the Greek word to describe the wrestler as he put forth his greatest strength in the ring, or the racer, the runner, as he sped with utmost contortion and strength toward the mark of the prize, or the discus thrower, or the javelin thrower, or the charioteer. It was a word taken out of the Greek amphitheater and the Roman hippodrome: agonizomai as they strained every muscle toward that great and final and coveted victory. Now that’s the word that he uses here, and he intensifies it, epiagonizomai, "as we agonize for the faith" [Jude 1:3].
There’s no quota given, not in this battle. There’s no compromise considered. It is a fight to the finish! It’s not a cold war, it’s an Armageddon. Here we stand, so help us God, to live or to die: "Contending earnestly, epiagononiseste, contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints" [Jude 1:3].
Do you see a remarkable thing here, an unusual thing? These apostles prophesied – and I haven’t got time to go through those prophecies, though I plan to do it tonight – these apostle prophesied that the day would come when God’s people and God’s church would depart from the faith, and with itching ears, they will listen to teachers, new thought, new theology, and they’d be swept away by every wind of doctrine. They prophesied that [Ephesians 4:14; 1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 4:3-4].
And I want you to know that in the days of the men who had heard those apostles; those prophecies began to come to pass. In the generation of men who were converted by the apostles, the Christian faith was assailed intellectually, it was assailed philosophically, it was assailed politically, it was assailed sociologically and socially, it was assailed by every kind of an "ism" that you could imagine, on every side. And when Jude picked up his pen to write, he said, "Beloved, I wanted to write unto you of our common salvation, the hope of our souls and the hope of all men. But," he said, "because of the dire exigency that has come upon us, I have turned aside from that happy privilege of writing to you of our common salvation in order that I might write to you of that faith for which you are to agonize, contending for unto death" [Jude 1:3]. Then he speaks of these "ungodly men who have crept in unawares" [Jude 1:4]. And he says, "These apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ have told you that there would be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own lust, and teach you all of these strange esoteric doctrines [Jude 1:17-19]. Don’t you listen," he says, "you stay with the Book; you stay with the Bible, and you stay with the revelation of God, the faith [Jude 1:20-21], the faith, once for all delivered unto the saints faith" [Jude 1:3].
Would you bear with me as I give you in closing these general epistles? I want to give you one illustration of how the faith is subverted and how the doctrine is changed. For example, in the second epistle of John, John writes, "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus is come in the flesh" [2 John 1:7] Now that word translated "is come," erchomai; the word for "come" is erchomai. Erchomenon is a participial form. "There are many deceivers who have come into this world already, even while aged John was still alive, who confess not, but who deny Jesus Christ erchomenon in the flesh" [2 John 1:7].
Now there are three ways that you can use that word erchomenon, that participial present form. There were those who denied that God was ever made a man; they denied that God was ever flesh! "There’s no such a thing," they say, "as the gospel of Jesus Christ, that God came down in the form of a man, and in the fashion of a man, and was a man with flesh and blood. Why, that’s gross idiocy and inanity," they say. Did you know in this very church, in this very pulpit, when in my preaching through the Bible, when I got to the twenty-fourth chapter, the last chapter of the Book of Luke,do you remember the story of the last chapter of the Book of Luke? The Lord Jesus appears suddenly in their midst, and they cannot believe it [Luke 24:36-37]. And He says, "Come here and handle Me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and blood as you see Me have." And He said to them, "You come here and put your hand in the scar in My side, and come here and put your finger in the scars of the nail prints in My hands, and see that it is I Myself! And when they could not believe for joy, why, He said, Have ye here anything to eat? And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and of an honeycomb" [Luke 24:39-42].
It was the risen Man, the Man Christ Jesus; God in the flesh that appeared there before them. Well, I preached that just like it’s written in the Book, just like it’s written in the Book. I want you to know that morning there was a famous Christian Scientist woman in this city of Dallas who was visiting in our services this morning, and when I got through preaching the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Luke, she went out of this church and said, "That was the crudest and the most grossly physical of any sermon I ever heard in my life. I can’t conceive," she said, "of people believing such stuff and things as that; that God should have been flesh and blood, and that God should have been a man, and that God should have come in the flesh, and that when He was raised from the dead" – they don’t even believe in the resurrection – "that He should still have flesh and bones!" They deny it. That’s what the Book says they will do. They will deny that Jesus is come in the flesh; that God was made a man [2 John 1:7].
Then the second thing that that word erchomenon refers to, it refers to the continuing incarnation of Jesus Christ: there’s a Man at the right hand of the throne of the,a Man! [Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 12:2]. He was flesh and blood in His ministry, in the days of His flesh, in His life in the earth [Matthew 1:23-25; John 1:14]. And He is flesh and bone in heaven, a Man! The Man Christ Jesus, the God of this earth, the Lord of this earth, the coming reigning Lord of glory is a Man! [Daniel 7:13]. Our elder brother, the Christ Jesus, the continuing incarnation of the Son of God; He has changed His glory, but He hasn’t changed His heart, and He hasn’t changed His body except as it is immortalized and glorified [Matthew 24:30]. He is still the Man Christ Jesus in the flesh [1 Timothy 2:5]. And that word erchomenon is translated "and He comes in the flesh" [Acts 1:10-11; Revelation 1:7]. He is coming in the flesh! He went away a Man, with flesh and bones, and ascended up into glory [Acts 1:9-10].
And it is as a Man with flesh and blood, with flesh and bones that He is coming back again. He went away visibly and tangibly [Acts 1:9-10], and He is coming back in the same way that He went away [Acts 1:11]. He is coming visibly and tangibly [Revelation 1:7]. We’re going to see Him face to face someday, the Man Christ Jesus [Revelation 22:3-5]. Why, bless your heart, bless your heart, why man, just as there is no such thing as a Jesus Christ who was not born of the virgin Mary, just as there’s no such thing as a Jesus Christ who was not physically raised from the dead, so there is no such thing as a Jesus Christ who is not coming back in the flesh. And when we take away the historical Jesus, the Man Christ Jesus, we take away the only Jesus, and we remake the Christian gospel, and we redefine and destroy the faith itself. Jesus coming, came, is in the flesh. That’s what he means when he says, "Earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints" [Jude 1:3].
I must close, and I do with just one thing. There was provision made in the inspiration and direction of God, there was a provision made for the handing down of this faith, this body of truth once for all delivered to the saints. There was a provision made for the handing down of this truth through the generations that come and go. Now listen to Paul as he writes to his son Timothy: "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" [2 Timothy 2:2]. And then Simon Peter writes, "Shortly I must put off this tabernacle, even as the Lord Jesus has showed me. But I will endeavor before my decease that ye may be able to have in remembrance all of these things" [2 Peter 1:14-15]. And they’re written down in the Book, in the Book. "Before I die," says Simon Peter, "according as the Lord has showed me"; the Lord showed him he was going to be crucified; he was going to die with the outstretching of the arm [John 21:18]; "Before I die, I will have all of these things written down so that you can have them in remembrance" [2 Peter 1:14-15]. And I have that faith, that creed, that confession, that body of truth, that revelation that Paul received direct from heaven [Galatians 1:12], I have it here in the Book, written down syllable by syllable, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter. And I can read it and my soul be encouraged, and saved, and hallowed, and blessed until I see Him face to face [Revelation 22:3-5].
I was reading this week from B. H. Carroll. And out of a sermon that he preached – and you can tell by the wording of the language that it wasn’t written, it’s just a sermon that he preached – I want to close with this excerpt that I copied out of this sermon by B. H. Carroll, preached down there where he was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Waco. Listen to it; I quote from him:
I heard Dr. Broadus, Dr. Broadus was our greatest scholar; he was head of the New Testament department at the Louisville Seminary years and years ago, and died as president of the Louisville Seminary. I heard Dr. Broadus once say, looking, it seemed to me, more solemn than I ever saw him at any other time . . .
then he quotes from Broadus, "Brethren, we must preach the doctrines. We must emphasize the doctrines. We must get back to the doctrines. I fear," said the old man, "that the new generation does not know the doctrines as our fathers knew them"; end quote, as Carroll quoted Dr. Broadus. Then Carroll continued:
It made a marvelous impression upon my mind, listening to Broadus say that. The only thing that feeds people is the Word of God. Other things may entertain, but that alone feeds, nourishes, and makes stalwart men and women in Christ Jesus. What is the most attractive preaching in the world? It may not seem so right at the start, but you just watch the crowd that used to gather around Moody, who was an intensely biblical preacher. Just notice the thousands that crowded around that man, and looked right in his eye as he opened his Bible and turned from threat to promise, line upon line, and precept upon precept of that Word of God which is sharper than a two-edged sword, which is the means by which regeneration is effected, and which when left out makes our services as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal in the house of the Lord.
And I would like to think that B. H. Carroll, that great Baptist leader of Texas, could look down upon the services of the First Baptist Church in this city – you don’t have a great and a gifted preacher, he stammers and stutters; he has a one talent, if that one – but in the years and the years, now seventeen of them, been preaching that Book, opening the Book, and preaching the Book, Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice, "Reader if you seek a monument, look around you."
On a rainy night, thousands here in this holy place; there’s not a soul come here tonight expecting anything spectacular, no circus antics, no unusual and sensational advertisements, just somebody said to somebody else, "They preach the Book down there at that church. It’s eighteen miles I know, but it’s worth it. Clear across on the other side of town, I know; but it’s worth it. Let’s go. Let’s go. Bring a Bible with you, and read with the preacher, and listen to him as he talks to us out of the Word of God."
"I exhort you, epagonizesthai, contend earnestly for the once for all delivered unto the saints faith" [Jude 1:3]. Aren’t you glad that it doesn’t change?
Why, I like that old song they make fun of; it’s the old time religion: "It was good for Paul and Silas, and it’s good enough for me." It’s the old time religion, and it’ll take us all to heaven; the old time religion; the once for all delivered unto the saints faith, the faith [Jude 1:3].
Now while we sing this song of appeal and while the pastor stands down here at the front, somebody you give his heart to Jesus, would you come and give me your hand? "Pastor, I believe in the revelation, I believe in the deliverance, I believe in the creed, I believe in the confession, I believe in the faith; and on it I base my soul and my life, and here I come, and here I am." Would you do it tonight? Is there a family to put your life with us in the church? Or just one somebody you? As the Spirit of God shall lead, in this balcony round, coming down one of these stairways; or in the aisles and down to the front, as God shall say the word, would you make it tonight? While we stand and while we sing.
THE FAITH DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The once-for-all-delivered-to-the-saints faith
A. Not merely a faith, but thefaith(1 Timothy 2:5)
B. Refers to a system, a deposit of truth, a theology
1. Not from philosophizing, speculating, but from God Himself(1 Corinthians 11:23, 15:1-4, 2 Timothy 1:12, 4:6-7, Galatians 1:12)
2. Illustrations of the creed, the faith God has delivered to the saints (Matthew 16:13-18, 1 Timothy 3:16)
C. The faith is substantial, verbalized, articulate(1 Timothy 3:16)
1. Manifest in the flesh(Philippians 2:6-8)
2. Justified in the Spirit(Romans 1:4)
3. Recognized by angels
4. Preached unto the nations
5. Believed on in the world
6. Received up into glory
II. Hapax – once for all
A. Never to be added to, taken away from, diluted, compromised
B. It is final and complete revelation (Galatians 1:8-9, Hebrews 1:1-3, Revelation 22:18-19, 1 Corinthians 2:9)
C. Shrewd critic – how is it possible a final revelation written two thousand years ago?
1. The Lord spoke in the light of eternity, seeing end from beginning
III. Epagonizomai – contend earnestly
A. Word applies to the energy, force put forth in wrestling, running a race, combat in the arena
B. Striving because time is coming when men will deny the faith(Luke 18:8, 2 Timothy 3:1, 4:3-4, 2 Peter 3:3-4, Jude 4)
1. Even in that time there were those denying the gospel(2 John 7)
a. Denying God was ever made a man, in the flesh(Luke 24:38-43)
b. The continuing incarnation of Christ(Acts 1:11)