Saturday, November 10, 2012

How to Guard Your Passion for God

Jude 3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Guarding your Passion for God requires a pro-active faith
Jude had been desiring for quite some time to write a letter that dealt with the grand themes of salvation.  Paul had written Romans and Peter had just penned 1 and 2 Peter.  Would it be that perhaps the Holy Spirit would guide him to write a similar book?  As he put his pen to the scroll, the Holy Ghost came upon Him and like wind in a sail, began to influence Him in a different direction.  The Book of Jude is all about teaching us how to contend for the faith.  It is about urging the Christian on how to be "pro-active", rather than "re-active" in their faith-life.  By being proactive in contending for "the faith" once for delivered for the saints, Jude is urging us to guard our passion for God.

Its important to be passionate, not passive, in your faith-walk
So often when I find myself waning in my passion for God, it is due to two primary issues - either I have compromised or have simply been careless.  The word "passion" literally comes from a  Greek word "pathos" which has to do with convictions gained as a result of suffering or intense emotional experience.  Thus we refer to Christ's suffering and death on the cross for sinners as His "Passion".  If we are to be passionate for God, we must do as Jude exhorts throughout His letter: Contend earnestly for the faith. 

Guarding your passion for God requires you to contend for God's Words
As you look at what Jude writes, he states: "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." This phrase is worth unpacking, since it gives us what we need to guard our passion for God in the realm of God's word:

1. Contend earnestly.
The two English words here are translations of one Greek word that has to to with "intense agony or wrestling".  We so often approach God and His word in a flippant manner.  Do we view our Bibles and retaining of their contents in our hearts as a matter of spiritual survival?  Jude uses the most intense word to describe the ferocity of intensity we must have in battling the three common enemies of love for God's word: the world, the flesh and the devil. (compare 1 John 2:17-16).

2. Contend earnestly for "The Faith"
The word "faith" in the Bible is used in at least three different ways.  There is the gifting of faith, whereby and wherein I am persuaded to believe and follow Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23).  The second use is in reference to the believer's own actual act of believing the Gospel.  I refer to this as my "small 'f'" faith, meaning my own personal faith in Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 1:12)  The third use refers to the Christian faith itself, or what I call "capital 'F'" faith.  This third use is mainly with reference to the scriptures and the chief doctrines and core contents of the Christian faith believed upon by every Christian.  My "small-f " faith resides in and is based upon "capital - F " Faith which is authored and completed by Jesus Christ through His Word. (Hebrews 12:2)

3. Contend earnestly for the "Faith" which was once for all handed down to the saints
So in guarding your passion for God, you need to be "contending earnestly for "The Faith" that was handed down "once and for all".  This little phrase "handed down" or "delivered to" is used elsewhere to describe the scriptures.  1 Corinthians 15:3 "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." 2 Peter 2:21 "For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them."

The Bible is the photographic negative of the mind of God and Christ as revealed by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:16).  It has been handed down "once for all", meaning that there is no more scripture being written today.  We must proclaim it, obey it, cherish it and pass it on to the next generation.

The fact that it is handed down "to the saints" tells us that the saints "small -f " faith is fed by and nourished by the "capital - F " Faith handed down - that is, God's Word.

Only when you and I contend for God's Written Word, as prescribed by Jude, can we have a pro-active faith that will guard the passion needed to live for God.