Why were those whom we remember this Memorial Day willing to sacrifice their lives in battle? Because they knew what they were fighting for. If you are going to stand firm for a cause, it makes all the difference in the world to know WHY you are taking a stand, to know WHAT is at stake. A man named Jude penned a book of the Bible, a short letter that urges Christians to "contend for the faith." (v3) Why? What is "the faith"? To sum it up, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6) Salvation is found in no one else, for Jesus died for sins, once for all, the Righteous One for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. (Acts 4:12, I Peter 3:18) This is the Gospel, the good news that God wants all to be saved and has provided a Savior for us all. In an age where 'faith' is whatever you want it to be, "the faith" that is centered on Christ alone is worth contending for, standing firm against every distortion.
So Jude writes "to those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father, and kept by Jesus Christ." (v1) "Called" reminds us that God comes to us who are by nature enemies toward Him and dead in sin. None of us 'found God,' but He sought us out through the Gospel. This is the grace of God! "Loved" tells us why God would do such a thing; behind the call of God is the love of God. It is sinful pride and a fruitless search to look within us for a reason that God would love us. Look only to the cross. Nowhere else will you find a love more personal and passionate, the love of God to forgive your sins through the punishment of His Son. This is the grace of God! "Kept" reminds us that we remain in the faith not by our own strength but by His grace; it is He who keeps us in the faith through the Gospel. This is the grace of God! Contend for the faith which proclaims that YOU ARE CALLED, LOVED, AND KEPT BY GOD’S GRACE.
Just as parents feed and nurture their children so that they will grow, GOD WANTS YOU TO GROW. He wants you to have a healthy appetite for His Word with which He feeds and nurtures you. And just as parents warn their children about dangers to their health and life, God warns you. "Rid yourselves of all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind." Sin is deadly and must be dealt with as the poison that it is. So He says bluntly, "Get rid of it." Address it. Confess it. Repent of it. Turn away from it. God tells you this because you matter to Him. Your spiritual health matters to Him.
So He continues: "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." (I Peter 2:1-3) The more you feed on God’s Word, the more you see, know, and understand the goodness of God. Taste His goodness in the life Jesus lived for you, the death He died for you, and the victory over death He gives you. That is the taste of salvation, the forgiveness of your sins! Does it seem simplistic to stress these facts of salvation again and again? Your physical nourishment is built on the same basic elements day by day; you cannot live without them. But as you feed on them, you live, you grow…you flourish! Feed on God’s Word and taste and see for yourself how He equips, guides, and guards you through whatever you face in life. And most importantly, He will keep you focused on what matters most, your salvation in Christ. For this very reason, GOD WANTS YOU TO GROW.
God wants you to see what a miracle faith is. Peter describes it this way: "You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God." (I Peter 1:23) Faith in Jesus is not the work of any man. No pastor causes this rebirth, nor do you make it happen. Like dirt in the field, you need to have life planted in you. In the preaching of His Word, God comes to you who are as dead and lifeless as dirt, and He plants His Word in your heart. God’s Spirit graciously and powerfully works through His Word to create life in you – faith that sees, knows, and believes that Jesus is your Savior from sin and death. Look at the qualities of this Word He plants in you: It is imperishable. It is living. It is enduring. Do you see what this means for you? As God’s Word is living and enduring, so is your faith as it grows from His Word. What a miracle and gift faith is!
But perhaps you are reading this and wondering, 'What if I don’t have faith?,' or 'I’m not sure I have faith,' or 'My faith is weak.' After Peter assures you that "the Word of the Lord stands forever," He then adds, "And this is the Word that was preached to you." (I Peter 1:25) Those words "to you" emphasize that this message of repentance and forgiveness in Jesus is meant FOR YOU, and that God wants to plant and nourish this message of new life IN YOU. So look to God’s Word, where He begins this enduring life in you, and come with those who gather around God’s Word, where He continues His miraculous work in you, all the way to life everlasting. God’s Word is preached to you for this very reason – that you may know that YOU HAVE LIFE THROUGH THE LIVING AND ENDURING WORD OF GOD.
Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
Daniel is the Staff Minister at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, El Paso TX.