Publication: One-to-One, Summer 2010
“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:3).
Ideas matter. What you truly believe-not simply what you profess – drives your actions. Bad or incorrect theology has produced entire rotting cultures. In fact, bad theology has produced the notion that there is no such thing as a “rotting culture” and that all ideas and expressions have equal merit. We have become so obsessed with the “right” of people to say or believe anything that we sometimes forget to ask whether or not what is being said or believed is right.
Deception and delusion are the ebb and flow of today’s toxic streams of information, which carry polluted data to trivia-hungry hordes who never quite seem to come to a knowledge of the truth. It doesn’t help that there is a great market out there for deception and seduction … many willing consumers create a demand for all-too-wi1ling manufacturers.
Jude writes about “the” faith. Such exclusive talk would get Jude kicked out of most American prayer “observances” today.
Suggesting that there is one true faith, especially if the person suggesting it is a sincere Christian, can get you in a lot of trouble now.
Suggesting that there is a right way to look at things-and a wrong way-is a shockingly offensive notion to those who would rather have a crash in the fog than to live with clarity and boundaries.
Not long ago, I heard a pleasant and well-intended rendition of “Amazing Grace,” where the singer took some liberties with the lyrics, perhaps in an effort to make them more palatable to politically-correct, postmodern tastes: “…’twas grace that taught my heart to feel, and grace my fears relieved.”
If you blinked, you may have missed it.
John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace,” understood that it was the grace of God that taught him the fear of God; the ugly but freeing realization that he was a wretch in desperate need of salvation. We must be delivered today from the idea that “mercy” and “truth” are at odds with one another. To the one who is perishing, truth is mercy. The truth that there is one way for salvation through the name of Jesus Christ sets us free. To suggest to a drowning man that a stone is the same thing as a buoy would be cruel, even if the stone was very pretty and shiny.
There are many deceivers running amok in Christendom today, peddling false doctrines and seducing many souls. Not only do they tell lies, but they smoothly suggest that truth doesn’t matter, and that those who pursue truth are “Pharisees” locked into the Old Law.
Consequently, many ministries have been bullied into setting aside the offensive message of the Cross or the Kingdom, in order to appease and mollify critics, or to somehow coddle and entertain youth. We think that if we spare our youth from the Cross, perhaps they will like us better and stick around a little longer.
But we believe that our only hope, our only way through, is the faith…the very same faith delivered once and for all. The faith worth contending for, even in the face of an adversarial society. We are not called to popularity, but to faithfulness. The irony is that pursuit of popularity inevitably ends up in a cul-de-sac of disappointment and disillusion. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35).
Scripture Reference: Jude 1:3; Mark 8:35
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.