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The Letters

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Jude 1:3

Watch Week Six: New Testament: The Letters & Revelation

Dear Church

The majority of the New Testament is made up of letters. Most of the letters (from Romans to Philemon) were written by the Apostle Paul. We can recognize them because they’re named for their various recipients. With the exception of the author of Hebrews, whose identity is lost to us, the rest of the letters are named for their respective writers. James, the brother of Jesus, wrote James; the Apostle Peter wrote 1 and 2 Peter, the Apostle John—the same one who wrote the Gospel—also wrote 1, 2, and 3 John; and Jude, also James’s and Jesus’s brother, wrote Jude.

read, copy, share

These books are often described as “occasional” documents because, much like our letters (or emails), something happened to “occasion” their writing. In other words, they were written to address particular issues faced by particular people living in particular places during a particular time in history. As we study these letters, it is helpful to remember that even though they were written to certain groups or individuals, they were circulated widely among believers. The first recipients of the letters not only read them aloud when they met for worship, they also shared them with neighboring church communities. As new churches received them, they copied them before sending them on to other churches who did the same. It was this process that preserved the letters, ultimately making them available for us to study centuries later.

reading other people’s mail

It may seem strange to us that the letters were read and circulated beyond their original audience. Many of them addressed messy—not to mention unflattering—situations. So why would the church share them, ultimately preserving their contents for all Christians to read? The book of Jude gives us some perspective.

In this letter addressed generally to all believers, Jude writes twenty-four verses to communicate one essential message: “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (1:3). Although we only find this command in Jude, it helps us understand every letter’s message—no matter the circumstances and reasons for writing. As we study each letter, we find they can be summed up in Jude’s call. Contend for the faith!

The letters teach to contend for the faith by persevering in it (Hebrews), holding fast to God’s revelation (Romans) and the one true gospel (Galatians), by suffering well (2 Timothy, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Peter) and living in ways pleasing to God (Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians) even as grace does its transforming work (1 Timothy, 2 Peter). They teach to contend for the faith by imitating Jesus (Philippians), in our conduct toward others (James, Philemon) and in the way we care for God’s church—its unity (1 Corinthians), purity (2 Corinthians), and doctrine (Titus). And above all, they teach to contend for the faith through love (1, 2, 3 John).

a god worth sharing

When the early believers studied these letters, they recognized something in them that is as true for us as it was for them. These letters don’t just teach about God and what it means to be a Christian. They present us with opportunities to encounter God and be transformed into the likeness of his Son. And that is something worth sharing.

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Daily Question

Our lives look very different from those of our Christian brothers and sisters who lived in the first century. What might contending for the faith look like in your life—at your work, with your friends and neighbors?

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Comments (6)

Contending my faith today looks like living out the principles of the Bible even when it is countercultural. This has been so very true when it comes for standing up for what is right especially in these times. It means truly loving God and loving people the way God has called us to and to not dilute this truth with the things of the world. It means spreading the Gospel not only by works, but also by action. It means extending grace as we remember the grace we have received from Christ. It means walking the road less traveled at times and maintaining our eyes on Jesus. It may be hard and it may be uncomfortable, but it will help us to remain faithful to the God who loves us so much that He sent Christ to redeem us all. To abide in Him and follow His will is worth it.

Thank you Shameika for sharing your heart and wisdom. You have been like a fourth teacher in this Bible study for our small group.

When I look up on Google what "Contend for the faith" means I found a result on GotQuestions.org which defines this phrase in the following way: "this phrase usually describes an athlete striving with extreme intensity to win the victory in a physical competition. The Amplified Bible translates the command as “fight strenuously for [the defense of] the faith.”

Since the writers of the bible study didn’t clarify what "contend for the faith" meant to them I am going to go with this definition. I would contend for the faith by living in an upright way so that people can see what a Christian life looks like – I will need to love others well, be generous, and live with integrity. It will also look like me standing up for the gospel by defending it in a situation where it needs to be defended, and sharing the gospel when the opportunities present themselves.

Contending for the Faith – I feel people are still adapting, adjusting faith (the truth) to what fits them,
make them feel comfortable. They try to water the word of God down. There is one faith, that was delivered one
time by God to the world through Apostles, Prophets and Christ the cornerstone, Eph 2:20.
People don’t like talking about their faith, "beliefs". They don’t want to offend anyone.

I am open about my faith and daily walk with God at work, with friends, neighbors. There have been some that question me about certain bible verses or doctrine. I will take time, share my understanding and if have more questions sometimes I may need to get back to them. I also let them know I was praying for them if I know they
are struggling with something or having health issues.
The most important thing is for me to live out my faith. It is my responsibility to share this faith (truth) again and again. My testimony needs to be how I live, treat others and serve. Do they see a person of integrity, kindness, generous, that extends grace. I need to speak and live by the Truth even when it doesn’t agree with the world.
We have so many people lost, hurting in this world we need to get God’s word out to them, so they know how deep the Father loves and cares for them.

I was just telling a friend how things have changed in our world and as Christians we need to be more willing to overlook our differences and unite together in unity as Jesus prayed for in John 17 20 uniting with those we know who wholeheartedly Love the LORD JESUS casting aside our differences of doctrine. Studying God’s Word together.

Contending for the faith is now something that we need to determine in our hearts to do despite all the barriers put on us by the society and the government! Especially in Canada. We also may have more opposition from so called Christians who are living in fear of a virus that has killed a few people. But the flu has always killed a few people since the fall of man. We just didn’t have a beast aka the media and computer TV to broadcast into every home 🥺

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