Treasures New and Old
Elkmont Baptist Church
Beloved: Grace and Peace
The Faith Delivered unto the Saints (Part 12)
". . . the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Jude 1:3
May God bless you all!
Jude, perhaps frustrated that so many believers of the Way now being called Christians by the world, would be enticed and deceived to fall back into both the ways of the world and old failed religious practices, has penned a short, and to the point, letter. Look whom he addresses:
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ,
that ye should earnestly contend for
the faith which was once delivered unto
called. Mercy unto you, and
peace, and love, be multiplied. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort
- Jude 1:1-3 (bold added)
So far we have looked at several topics related to the faith once delivered to the saints.
This article will explore another topic regarding this faith, and that is that of an unknown man of faith - or so said Jesus.
First let's looks at the story for proper context:
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this
, Go, and he
goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth
. When Jesus heard
, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I
say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go they way; and as thou hast believed,
it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
I note that at this time all of the miracles being performed by Jesus are in person, that is, He is present at the location or even touches the person being healed. At this time, Jesus has primarily performed miracles for Jews. We remember that the Word teaches us that the Jews require a sign (1 Corinthians 1:22). Jesus accommodates the Jewish followers by performing these miracles in their presence for they generally seem to lack faith. People come to get Him and take Him to the afflicted one, or else they bring the afflicted one to Him (and drop him through the roof).
Not so with the centurion, a Gentile, and possibly from a local area legion (by 27 A.D. there were around 28 legions) which would most likely have been from Syria or Egypt. This centurion knew the authority structure of the military and the empire well. The "iron" Roman legions were brutal to those they conquered and to any who would defy them including deserters of those who ignored their orders. Remember the jailor who thought Paul had escaped and was ready to kill himself?
Here was a man who could make the leap from understanding the authority structure of the Roman military (I say to this one go and he goes or to this one come and he comes) to the spiritual authority that Jesus clearly held. To make this even more interesting, it is likely (but not certain) that the centurion was an idolater having been brought up worshipping many gods and goddesses as well as the emperor. He would have to set those beliefs aside to be able to accept that Jesus did indeed have spiritual authority and power.
The centurion accepts that he, himself, has little power but has the authority and power afforded him by Rome and the emperor. As such, his commands when spoken under the orders and authority of Rome, have the weight and gravity of the emperor himself. This centurion didn't bark out orders that had no basis of cause or personal whim, but carefully subservient orders that extended from the greater orders of his superiors. As he worked his way up the ranks, saw how well such a system works, and exercised that system himself often, he had the ability to issue an order and basically "forget it" knowing that it would be carried out (or consequences for those who failed) and move on to other business.
The marvel that Jesus had I think encompasses several things:
That the centurion really did understand authority structures and how they operated and expected that they would operate as they should - no doubts.
That by some observations on his part as he watched Jesus (or heard about him), he realized that Jesus also operated on a spiritual level in the same way that the empire military operated with a structure of superiors and inferiors and and fully expected obedience to orders given. He saw (heard) Jesus speak and results happened. Not unlike a centurion.
He has further extended his belief to include the fact that Jesus controlled or at least was embedded in the power structure of God and therefore carried the authority of God when he spoke such that the spiritual realm obeyed. Did he perceive angels carrying out the commands? Did he see Jesus as the Son of God at this point? We can only guess.
The result is actually amazing. With all certainty, as if he gave an order to an inferior, he knew (no doubt) that when Jesus gave an order, it would be carried out without fail. He did not require a sign, as did the Jews of their day, and did not need Jesus to be present and touch the servant to heal him.
Finally, I respect the centurion's sensitivity to Jewish custom and beliefs that they would be unclean should they enter into the house of a Gentile. No need to come and become unclean when I know your power and authority alone can heal my servant even without your presence.
Jesus marvels at this man and calls his statements "thou has believed" which is of course a very active faith. Jesus then lets us know "[t]hat many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." Who are all these who will come from the east and west? None other than all those Gentiles who believed the faith once delivered to the saints. The Gentiles saints who make up most of the church today. We are those who will sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom!
Unfortunately, "But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." These are, of course, those of the Jewish faith who did not believe in their Messiah.
But what about us today? Do we have military-like faith as did the centurion, or do we need a sign to believe? Do we envision the same power structure within the spiritual worlds as he did, or are we full of doubts? When Jesus gave us promises, and I know we don't "see Him", do we act as though we have received those "orders" and promises as if directly from Him like He was in the room with us? He is, you know.
Beloved, we all need to take seriously our Christian walk and learn to walk by faith as the centurion spoke of that day 2,000 years ago.
I hope to continue to share principles, truths, tidbits concerning the "faith which was once delivered unto the saints." The goal? To, therefore, put you in remembrance!