Friends: These are devotionals from a book I had published way back in 2002. DocDEVOS is out of print (although you can pick up a copy of it for a song on Amazon.com). I plan on reprinting these short articles on this blog. My dream is to produce a year-long DocDEVOS that covers all ten areas of Christian faith. And have publishers chase me down, throwing gobs of money at me (just kidding).
Section One: First Things First
“Everybody Lives by Faith!”
The term “faith” may refer to one’s confidence in God or, as we’ll see today, to the content of truth God has given by His grace.
Faith does not deny facts. It does not turn away from reality. But faith understands that beyond the realities of this world there is a greater Reality.” (John H. Stevens)
Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to. (Miracle on 34th Street)
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 3)
The Knowledge Nugget:
The term “faith” may be used to refer to one’s trust in God and His Word (Heb. 11:1). We encourage people to “have faith” or talk about someone “acting in faith.” Our confidence in life is not to be in ourselves or the things of this world, but in our Creator and Redeemer and in His communication to us through His Word, the Bible.
The term “faith” may also be used to refer to that specific content of truth which He has given to us (the Christian “faith”). In our verse for today, Jude, the half brother of Jesus, encourages his readers to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). In our study of the faith, that is, of the doctrines of biblical Christianity, we are to affirm what God has told us in the Bible, then seek to present — and defend — those truths before the world.
Real Life Says . . .
But “real life” suggests the no one finally has the truth, certainly not in eternal matters. Each person must create his or her own spiritual reality, says our world, and no person has the right to claim that only his (or her) faith is ultimately true. Others suggest that having any kind of faith is for the weak. The strong of this world don’t need any religious orientation to live successful lives — or so they think.
A newspaper once had a column entitled “The Answer Man.” Readers could send in any question they wanted answered. One question that was sent in read, “How does an elevator work?” “The Answer Man” responded, “An elevator is essentially a small room dangling over a very deep shaft, help up by thin cables that are maintained by building employees who have tremendous trouble just keeping all the toilets working.”
This shows that everyone, in some sense, lives by what we might call faith. No one has the FBI do a background check on the young man who serves them a burger and fries at a fast-food restaurant. We ask total strangers for directions (although me struggle with the concept!) and trust them not to lead us over a cliff. And we never do a safety inspection on an elevator before we use it — we just step in.
Christian faith, however, is not gullibility, wishful thinking, mass hypnosis or auto-suggestion. Faith, as presented in the Bible, is only as good as the object in which it is placed.
In Jude’s battle plan for believers, his challenge to us to “contend for the faith” does not refer to our confidence in God, but to the specific doctrines which should guide followers of Christ. This content of truth, this “faith” that we are to fight for, is described in a unique way. Jude calls it the “once-for-all-entrusted-to-the-saints” faith, which means that God will never edit His truth, abridge the Word of God or change its content.
But before we can defend it, we must know it. And that’s what these devotionals are all about.
But Lord . . .
Lord, I don’t know all that I should believe. Expand my understanding of, and my obedience to, the truths which You have revealed for my good and Your glory. Help me to live today looking for ways to humbly stand for Your truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
To Ponder . . .
“People are driven from the Church not so much by stern truth the makes them uneasy as by weak nothings that make them contemptuous.” (George Buttrick)