#57 CONTEND FOR ‘THE FAITH’

In the previous meditation we saw the critical significance of our knowledge of Jesus Christ. This raises, or should raise, serious questions – ‘Where do we get this knowledge?’ and ‘What is this knowledge?’ and ‘How do we know if our knowledge is accurate?’ and 'Is there more truth to be revealed?'

In a secular sense, we get our knowledge from a wide range of sources – our parents, our environment, our schooling, our experiences, our culture, our companions, the media. And even from these sources we get some of our spiritual knowledge – our perception of who God is, what God does, and what God expects of us.

In themselves these sources are untrustworthy. The knowledge we gain from them is relative – it varies from person to person, family to family, culture to culture, place to place, nation to nation and generation to generation. This ‘knowledge’ does not give us a final, absolute definition of spiritual ‘truth’ that is true and relevant for all people from every culture, race or nation in every generation.

When Peter wrote of the critical significance of the knowledge of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ he was not speaking of this relative, variable, limited kind of knowledge. While our personal understanding, our personal knowledge of Christ, is something that continually increases as we learn more and more of the truth about him, the body of truth is fixed and final. It is complete. It is absolute. All that God wants us to know of himself he has already made known, he has already revealed.

God has spoken through the prophets (the Old Testament), and God has spoken through the apostles (the New Testament). This body of knowledge, revealed by God himself, is once-for-all.

The writer to the Hebrews put it this way:

‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various way, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son ...’ [Hebrews 1:1,2].

Peter, in his first letter, said:

‘... the prophets spoke of the grace that was to come ... they spoke of the things that have now been told to you by those who preached the gospel to you ...’ [1Peter 1:10,12].

In his second letter Peter refers to the integrity and reliability of the message of the apostles (the New Testament):

‘We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty’ (2Peter 1:16).

And also of the integrity and reliability of the message of the prophets (the Old Testament):

‘Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’ [2Peter 1:21].

He wants our thinking to be governed by this two-part revelation of the knowledge of God:

‘I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles’ [2Peter 3:1].

By the time Peter and the other apostles wrote their letters false teachers, false apostles and false prophets were in the churches interfering with this body of truth given by God through the biblical prophets and apostles. They were changing the message – adding, subtracting, altering. They were discarding God’s truth and replacing it with lies.

These foundational apostles, appointed by Christ, knew that there is no such thing as further revelation beyond that which was entrusted to them by Christ, because in Christ the fullness of truth is revealed.

Christ is the truth [John 14:6]. Christ is the light of the world [John 8:12].

In Christ we see God and we know God [John 14:7-9; Colossians 1:19; 2:9].

In Christ we find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [Colossians 2:3].

This truth was entrusted to us once for all [Jude 3].

Of those who presume to add to or alter God’s final self-revelation in Christ Paul said: ‘... if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned’ [Galatians 1:8].

And Peter said of the false teachers: ‘... they exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them ...’ [2Peter 2:3].

And Jude, similarly: ‘... certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They ... change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only sovereign Lord’ [Jude 4].

May we all close our ears to those today who boldly affirm that God is giving additional authoritative revelation. Let us hold firmly to and ‘contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints’ [Jude 3].

© Rosemary Bardsley 2018