What does it mean to contend for the faith?

This is the fourth in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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Jude writes in verse 3 of his epistle, “I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.”

The Holy Spirit has stirred Jude’s heart, causing him to grieve over the manner in which his beloved friends are allowing false teachings to seep into the church. They must not sit idly by while interlopers undermine the first-order doctrines established by the eyewitnesses of the life of Christ.

Like Paul, who writes that “an obligation is placed on me” to preach the gospel (1 Cor. 9:16), Jude senses a heavy burden that compels him to address false teachers in the church. He and his readers are not able to share a common salvation if they lose the doctrinal truths that define it. Therefore, Jude exhorts them to contend for the faith.
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The time is near – Revelation 22:6-7

Previously: The source of life – Revelation 22:1-5

The scripture

Rev. 22:6 – Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His angel to show His slaves what must quickly take place.” 7 “Look, I am coming quickly! The one who keeps the prophetic words of this book is blessed.” (HCSB)

The time is near

John notes in verse 6, “Then he [the angel] said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His angel to show His slaves what must quickly take place.’” This is followed immediately by the words of Jesus, who declares, “Look, I am coming quickly” (v. 7). Again, in verse 12, the Lamb says, “Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done.” Once again in verse 20 Jesus says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” The angel adds to this sense of urgency the following command in verse 10: “Don’t seal the prophetic words of this book, because the time is near.”

Both Jesus and the angel assure John that what he has seen should be shared immediately because the fulfillment of these visions is imminent and the coming of Jesus is soon.
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Are some Christian beliefs non-negotiable?

This is the third in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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With an estimated 2.2 billion Christians in the world, worshiping in more than 41,000 denominations, one may legitimately wonder how we can possibly fulfill the prayer of Jesus that we all be as one (John 17:22).

But diversity does not necessarily mean division. The differences among the world’s Christian denominations generally have more to do with location, culture, worship styles, missionary efforts, and forms of church government than they do with major doctrinal differences.

Even so, it’s good to ask: What are the non-negotiable doctrines of the Christian faith?

Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, refers to the process of discerning biblical truth as “theological triage.” On the battlefield and elsewhere, triage is the process by which medical personnel evaluate and prioritize the urgency of patient needs. A scraped knee can wait; a severed artery cannot.

Mohler suggests that a similar method be used in our churches to determine a scale of theological urgency – what some theologians call primary, secondary, and tertiary issues.
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The Source of life – Revelation 22:1-5

Previously: I did not see a sanctuary – Revelation 21:22

The scripture

Rev. 22:1 – Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the broad street of the city. The tree of life was on both sides of the river, bearing 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, 3 and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His slaves will serve Him. 4 They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5 Night will no longer exist, and people will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever. (HCSB)

The Source of life

The first five verses of the final chapter of Revelation describe four prominent objects in the New Jerusalem: (1) the river of living water, (2) the broad street of the city, (3) the tree of life, and (4) the throne of God and of the Lamb. Each of these relates in some fashion to God, who is the Source of life. Let’s take a closer look at these elements.

The river of living water. John describes the living water as “sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the broad street of the city” (vv. 1-2). In Rev. 21:6, the One seated on the throne says, “I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life.” This promise draws deeply from the Old and New Testaments and speaks of eternal life received by God’s grace through faith. We see that promise fulfilled in Revelation 22. The Greek word potamos is translated “river,” “flood,” or “stream” and is used metaphorically in John 7:38 to describe the blessing of eternal peace and satisfaction found in Christ. That same figurative application is used throughout Revelation, pointing us to the Source of eternal life.
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Are Jude and Peter plagiarists?

This is the second in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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History is rife with famous plagiarists. Primatologist Jane Goodall “borrowed” from sources ranging from Wikipedia to astrology websites to produce a 2013 book, Seeds of Hope: Wonder and Wisdom from the World of Plants.

Alex Haley’s epic Roots is now considered a mixture of facts, fiction, and thievery.

Joe Biden scuttled his own run for president in 1987 by stealing lines – and even whole pages – from other people’s speeches, including Neil Kinnock of the British Labour Party and American President John F. Kennedy.

And that’s not all. Martin Luther King Jr., rocker Led Zeppelin, and composer John Williams all stand accused in varying degrees of taking other people’s creative work and calling it their own.

So, how do we deal with the reality that portions of Jude and Peter’s second epistle are uncannily similar? Are we dealing with one or more plagiarists claiming divine inspiration?
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