MacArthur on Monday: When it’s time to go to war
From time to time I plan to include some quotes here from John MacArthur’s works; MacArthur is one of the doughtiest champions of truth in our day, as well as one of the most compelling. Read and enjoy!
Jude’s words stress the pressing urgency and the absolute necessity of the Truth War: ‘I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith’ (vs. 3). The expression ‘contend earnestly’ is translated from a strong Greek very epagonizomai, literally meaning ‘agonise against.’ The word describes an intensive, arduous, drawn-out fight. There is nothing passive, peaceful, or easy about it. Jude ‘exhorted’ them – meaning he urged and commanded them – to wage a mighty battle on behalf of the true faith.
Jude himself says he felt the necessity to write this command. He employs a verb that speaks of pressure. In other words, he sensed a strong, God-given compulsion to write these things. He was not writing them because he took some kind of perverse glee in being militant. He was not responding to a momentary whimsy or personal anger. This was critical, and since the writers of Scripture never wrote by human self-will, but only as they were moved by the Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:21), the extreme urgency of Jude reflects the sovereign influence of the Holy Spirit and therefore also the mind of Christ.
We thus have an urgent mandate from God Himself to do our part in the Truth War. The Holy Spirit, through the pen of Jude, is urging Christians to exercise caution, discernment, courage and the will to contend earnestly for the truth.
Notice what we are supposed to be fighting for. It is not anything petty, persona, mundane, or ego related. This warfare has a very narrow objective. What we are called to defend is no less than ‘the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.’
Jude is speaking of apostolic doctrine (Acts 2:42) – objective Christian truth – the faith, as delivered from Jesus through the agency of the Holy Spirit by the apostles to the church. As he says in verse 17: ‘Remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
Notice: no one discovered or invented the Christian faith. It was delivered to us. It was not as if someone mystically ascended into the transcendental realm and drew down an understanding of the truth. We don’t need an enlightened guru to open the mysteries of the faith for us (cf. 1 John 2:27). The truth was entrusted by God to the whole church – intact and ‘once for all.’ It came by revelation, through the teaching of the apostles as preserved for us in Scripture. Jude speaks of ‘the faith’ as a complete body of truth already delivered – so there is no need to seek additional revelation or to embellish the substance of ‘the faith’ in any way. Our task is simply to interpret, understand, publish, and defend the truth God has once and for all delivered to the church.
(From ‘The Truth War’ by John MacArthur, pages 74/75)