O. Palmer Robertson
December 4, 2023
“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.”
The following excerpt is taken from a message delivered by O. Palmer Robertson during the first General Assembly of Presbyterian Church in America in December 1973.
When Jude suggests that someone has delivered the faith, he could be understood as referring to the apostles. They were commissioned by God officially to deliver the faith to the church. Or he could be referring to God himself as the ultimate source of the faith.
Most likely God is the one being considered as the deliverer of the faith in this context. In the final analysis, the apostles themselves must be included with the rest of the saints as the recipients of the faith. The faith did not originate with the apostles. It originated with God. Scripture is uniform in its affirmation that the faith of Christianity originates in God, not in man. Who has delivered the faith that saves men from sin and death? The Almighty Creator God. The sovereign Lord of heaven and earth is the source of the faith which we affirm.
The faith which we profess is not a faith invented of man. Take any of the cardinal truths of Christianity, and its source must be affirmed to be in God. not in man. “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ … ” (II Pet. 1:16).
See God’s sovereign choice of a single man in the history of lost humanity? He chooses an idolator from Ur of the Chaldees, changes his name to Abraham. “father of a multitude,” and promises that the seed-designate who is to bruise Satan’s head will be the descendant of his barren wife. God alone stands as the author of this history of salvation. God’s sovereignty alone explains the faith of every true believer who enters into this history.
See the finger of God carving in stone the revelation of his gracious law? These ten commandments are not the product of human evolutionary development. They have been delivered to man by God himself. Dare to treat them as originating from man, if you will. Flaunt his laws, embodying as they do the very structures of the created order. They will break you rather than your breaking them. God alone stands as author of the ethical norms of Scripture.
Feel the earth shaking as God’s virgin-born son dies? The veil of the temple is torn from heaven to earth, from top to bottom, indicating that He is the one providing free access to Himself by the sacrificial blood of his son. The faith of the Continuing Church is the faith delivered by God himself. We affirm without equivocation that the faith of genuine Christianity originates in God. He is the deliverer of the faith.
O. Palmer Robertson is the founder of Consummation Ministries. He previously taught at Reformed Theological Seminary, Westminster Theological Seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary, and Knox Theological Seminary. He also served and led for twenty-seven years at African Bible University.