What exactly is “the faith”? If you were to poll a variety of Christians you would likely receive a very diverse variety of responses. Some would likely answer “the faith” is Roman Catholicism, while others might answer the question with Lutheranism, or evangelical Christianity. People often correlate their specific denomination or sect with “the faith” as though it was the one and only true faith and the rest are incorrect variations. Many Christians were raised in households with parents who brought them up in a specific way, and left them with an impression of the right and wrong way to do Christianity. Many denominations raise secondary theological issues up to the level of dogma leaving their members with the impression that those secondary issues are “the faith”.
Secondary theological issues, denominations, sects, etc. are not “the faith”. In the Bible in the book of Jude, Jude wrote “ Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only sovereign and Lord.” Here Jude writes to a group of people who are already Christians, and eagerly asks them to contend for “the faith”.
Jude says that the faith is something that was once and for all entrusted to God’s holy people (Christians). In this verse we discover that the faith is not a principle held by a specific denomination. A person does not have to be a Lutheran in order to be a part of the faith. A person does not have to be a Pentecostal in order to be a part of the faith. The faith is something that all bible believing Christians have in common regardless of denomination or cultural heritage. The faith breaches all nationalities and people groups and is something that Christians throughout the world share. But what is the faith? The faith is the core essential beliefs of Christianity.
The core essential beliefs of Christianity consist of who God is, how God saves, how God’s people should live, and the Holy Scriptures as God’s special revelation to mankind to communicate these truths. Within “the faith” is all of the essential dogma of the Christian Faith, specifically, the deity of Christ, the Holy Trinity, the attributes of God, the doctrine of salvation (atonement, regeneration, sanctification, justification, etc.). Also within the faith are the commands that God has for His people. God teaches us how we are to worship, pray, study, meditate, evangelize, and live every moment of our lives (glorifying Him).
All of these things have been essential beliefs of bible believing Christians since the beginning of the Christian faith. Time and time again people have shown up assuming the identity of a Christian while simultaneously denying an essential aspect of “the faith”. This criticism isn’t exclusive to modern Christianity either. The Epistle of Jude is evidence that “the faith” was under attack as early as the 1st century. Thankfully, eyewitness testimony was so prevalent that many of these people who attacked the faith were branded as heretics and wolves in sheep’s clothing. As Jude writes, the faith was once and for all entrusted to God’s holy people. The faith does not change as society becomes more progressive. The faith does not change because it is no longer considered relevant. People can attempt to delete the essential doctrines of Christianity with the motive of being inclusive of all, but ultimately their manmade creation is not “the faith”.
Ultimately the faith must be contended for by every generation of Christian believers. This isn’t just the task of the seminarian or ministry worker either; this is the God given task of every Christian throughout the world. We must all be ready to give a testimony for the good news of Jesus Christ (the faith). Ultimately it is not up to the individual Christian to pick and choose what “the faith” is. A half gospel does not save. If we dumb down the truth with the motive of not offending anyone, we are actually doing them a grave disservice by presenting them with a message that is a lie. Lies do not save people; the gospel of Jesus Christ saves people. All Christians must unite in learning about what the faith is, and we all need to unite in the great commission of preaching the gospel to all nations.