Put simply the purpose of The First Faith ministry is found in what Jude, the half brother of Jesus wrote before the end of the first century:
- "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3)
Jude was excited about the possibility of sharing the gospel, the story of our common salvation made possible through Jesus (or Yeshuah if you prefer). However, the urgency of the need within the church compelled him to write something else. The Holy Spirit directed him to encourage followers of Jesus "to contend for the faith."
"THE FAITH" you and I believe about God could be expressed as a simple equation like 2+2+4. Yet Jude realized even before the end of the first century believers were adding to and subtracting from "THE FAITH" with answers like 3.75 or 4.25.
Differences of opinion on matters of faith were nothing new among the Jews. We are most familiar with the Pharisees and Sadducees, but there were others like the Zealots and Essenes each with a different theology or doctrine. From these different groups many "Jews" came to believe Jesus was the Messiah as "the LORD added to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). Together all these were considered followers of "The Way," viewed by many as another sect of Judaism.
The differences from these Jewish groups as well as the addition of Gentile believers soon brought tension among the followers of "The Way," first known as Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). Most notable among these opposing forces to "THE FAITH" were the Judaizers, the Gnostics, and the Nicolaitans.*
An honest look at the Christian Church today reveals not one faith, but many diverse faiths we call denominations. We all hold some core beliefs in common, but on many other doctrines we don't agree. Someone once estimated that there were over 33,000 Christian denominations (and that number was growing). I think that estimate is really more of an exageration. For simplicity let's just say there are four groups: the Catholic, the Protestant, the Pentecostal (or Charismatic) and the Independent.
Which if any of these four Christian groups holds "THE FAITH" expressed as 2+2=4? Regardless of what camp you and I most closely associate with we all want to believe that our faith is "2+2=4" None of us would say we our faith is based in a lie or state our faith as 2+2=5.
You and I are living centuries after Jude first challenged followers of Jesus "to contend for the faith." With the passing of time tradition and false docrine have added to and taken away from "THE FAITH." Therefore, all of us must admit our belief is "THE FAITH" plus or minus something.
And so The First Faith is a search to find "THE FAITH." Our faith might be expressed as something close to 4, but none of us can honestly say we have the original faith "once for all delivered to the saints."
To contend for the faith begins with allowing the Holy Spirit to convict our hearts and be taught by The Teacher, the Spirit of Truth. No matter how close we might be to "THE FAITH" somewhere we hold to something that has either been added to or taken away from faith. This means we must allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in truth. Only the Spirit of Truth knows "THE FAITH" expressed as 2+2=4. The Spirit has come to make that "FAITH" known.
Let us therefore, contend for the faith. But from whatever camp we may have come, let's contend for the faith without being contentious. Let us never forget we have all come to Jesus, who is "the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). We may not agree on some things, but with gentleness and humility we can be agreeable.
For more about "The First Faith" see the We Believe page.
*See: the Judaizers (Gal. 2:14), the Gnostics (1 Cor. 8:1; 13:2; 1 Tim. 6:20-21), and the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6,15).