The Faith Once Delivered
Jude was in full expectation of a departure from ‘the faith’ and knew that it would be necessary to defend it. He evidently had had it on his heart to speak to them of comforting things, things that are bright and sweet to the believer; but the circumstances called for alarm, for solemn warning. This is never very acceptable to people: They prefer things smooth. The writer’s whole heart would have delighted in dwelling on all that was comforting and strengthening to the soul, but what is the good of that if the foundations are being undermined? Therefore he draw attention to the fact that the faith was “once delivered”. “Once” is an ambiguous word. It might mean “once at a particular moment”; but this is not the force of the word here at all. It means “once for all”. And what a blessing it is that we have in this book, (and particularly in the books of the New Testament), the Holy deposit which we are called upon to believe, truth given us in full, “once for all”. There is not a truth to be received that is not revealed in the word of God. There is not a difficulty, nor a departure from the truth which is not in one way or another there guarded against. We, therefore, never require to go outside the revelation of God; and this explains why God permitted, in the early apostolic days, that there should be so much evil. Does it surprise us that there should have been gross disorders among the Corinthians, for instance, even at the table of the Lord? How was it that when there was such power of the Holy Spirit, that when there were miracles wrought, that when there were prophets prophesying (the highest form of teaching), that at the same time and in the same place, the saints broke out into a disorder that we never find even in the present day, (or very rarely)? How could God more guard us than by allowing it then? It is always a very delicate matter to deal with evil, whether of doctrine, practice, services, government, worship, or anything that you can speak of. It was of the very greatest moment, therefore, that God, in view of the evils that would, some time or another, appear in the church, should allow the germ of the evils to appear then in order that we might have divinely given directions for dealing with the evils when they did appear. Consequently, we are not to take the place of setting up to legislate and we are not at liberty to depart from the word. This has been given us by the Holy Spirit. We are called to find therein everything that becomes us as saints, and for every part of our work to find a principle, and example too, sufficient to guide us so that we may never set up any will of our own about a matter, and that we may always find God expressing, in one form or another, His will. What we have to do is seek to learn from Him, and to apply the result, either to ourselves for our own correction, or to other people for warning.