Contend For the Faith
Last time we were introduced to the author of this letter we are looking out. His name is Jude. He is one of the many earthly siblings of Jesus. He came from the household of Mary and Joseph. They were all born in the natural way of course as a result of the marriage of Mary and Joseph. Most likely they were all born in Nazareth. Jude and James are the one we are most familiar with as leaders in the earthly church in Jerusalem.
Jude is like any preacher. He would like to stand up and preach an exciting feel good message of praise. He would like to praise Jesus. he would like to whip everyone into a frenzy and have them pat him on the back and say “way to preach preacher.”
But, we can’t always do that. Sometimes we have to give an honest assessment of a difficult situation and even speak about an error or danger.
Jude writes “Although I was eager to write to you about the faith we share; I HAD to write and urge you to contend for the faith.
So, let’s begin this letter…
Jude is asking us to get off the sidelines and get IN the game. He is encouraging us that while we worship and sing of the goodness of God and our great salvation, things are not always good in the church and there are those who do damage to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And so that we know what we are getting into he tells us the state of the troops, state of affairs, states the accusations, and a little taste of reality.
So, troops, what does he say about those of us in the church?
1. State of the Troops
In verse there, Jude recognizes a need to URGE the receivers of his letter, which is the church.
This word, “urge” is parakaleo = to call to one’s side, to come alongside.
The word was often used in describing a general coming alongside his troops to rally them to their stated purpose that they might experience victory. So, General Jude starts by boosting the troop morale and reminding them who they are in Christ Jesus.
V1 says we are Called, Loved, and Kept
A. Called -
The word is “kletos” = invited
Romans 8:29-20 teaches us that God in his complete knowledge, always in the eternal now, knowing all things past present and future, in his foreknowledge those who are those his and have always been his, he predestined those to be conformed to the image of Jesus. In order to be like Jesus, we had to be called out of the world and into light. We had to be called to things that are higher than we are and so being called, God had to show the greatest display of his love …
The word is agapeo = to take pleasure in; to love
John 3:16 says `God SO LOVED … that he gave his only Son
Romans 5:8 says that “God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners (dirty, ugly, unlovely), Christ died for us”
1 John 3:16 “this is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down his life for us”
1 John 4:10 “this is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
The only way for us to experience the blessing of God’s love, is for us to be IN CHRIST
Christ in you IS the Hope of Glory (Colossians 1:27)
In Christ we who are known, destined, called, are glorified so to get to the place of being glorified we must be
The word is “tereo” = “to guard, to keep” what do you do with something you love, treasure, take pleasure in? You protect it, you guard it
John 17:11 – Jesus prayed that the Father would protect his own
1 Peter 1:5 – we are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that will be revealed
Psalm 138:8 – teaches us that we can be certain that our future is certain in God because he will finish it.
Eph 2:10 says we are his workmanship … and
1 Thes 5:24 says that he would called us is faithful to finish it.
Praise the Lord troops, we have been called, loved, and finished, the Gospel is about Jesus from faith to faith, from first to last it’s all about Jesus
So from that position of security and certainty … we need to be aware of the state of affairs
2. State of Affairs
A. There Are Godless Among You
“certain men have come” … in every generation throughout history satan has been at work. He always comes to steal, kill, and destroy. In every book of the Bible and in every generation in the last 2000 years there have been those who were among the fellowship of God’s people, and from that place of infiltration they seek to destroy from within. Some even think they are doing the church a favor. Jesus used the illustration of the enemy sneaking in to the Master’s fields to plant weeds among his wheat.
In this case the work of satan was evidenced in that they
B. Abused the Grace of God
Freedom is never free but always bears a responsibility and our loving God who died for all still expects us to respond in repentance, faith, and following. Jesus said if any would come after him he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow him.(Luke 9:23)
But these “certain men” have perverted grace into a license
“aselegia” = (ahs-el-gay-a) = self-abandonment
Because of the grace of God, they felt they can do what they want. But love demands allegiance and fidelity. Love demands abandoning selfishness, NOT forgetting my responsibility and giving myself over to every thought and feeling that gratifies me.
The heart of the problem is their actions thus
C. Deny the Sovereign Rule of Christ as Lord
We cannot separate our salvation from the Lordship of Christ. God doesn’t sell us fire insurance. He redeems us, gives us salvation which comes with eternal life, for the purpose of us being his faithful followers.
What does Romans 10:9 say? “if we confess that Jesus is Lord and Believe that God raised him from the dead we will be saved”
We cannot separate believing from following his Lordship. And we cannot follow without declaring him Lord. It has always been God’s expectation.
And there have always been consequences for failure to believe and follow.
Jude reminds them that though they left Egypt, some were punished for unbelief. He said there were angels who were banished from Heaven because they failed follow. He reminds them of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Then he calls these infiltrators “Dreamers” - a big long Greek word “enypniazomai” (en-yoop-nee-ad-zom-ahee) = to dream, fantasize, be carried away”
And herein lies the problem with so many infiltrators in the church. They cannot simply rest in the truth of God. They get carried away by their own fantasies and illusions. They want the things of God and the word of God to make sense, and fit into their agenda, so the write of the things of the gospel that they don’t like or don’t measure up to their understanding or are otherwise unplatable
These infiltrators are described historically by Jude for his Jewish Audience
3. Stated Accusations
A. Took the Way of Cain – Gen 4
This means they worship their Own way instead of God’s way.
They determine that self will was greater than God’s way. He expressed anger to God for having a standard up to which he must live.
Worse of all he rejected the need for redemption by blood.
But these infiltrators say we can come to God in any way and at any time as long as we are sincere. Do you know what “sincere” means? It come from two words that mean “without wax”. It is a sculptors term meaning that there were no defects in the sculpture that had to be fixed with wax and covered over hoping no one would see. ALL of OUR ways of salvation are imperfect and nothing more than patchwork wax over imperfections. When we take the way of Cain we try to come to God with spackle and wax and expect a holy God to accept it. but the only way to come sincerely is to come through Jesus Christ
these infiltrators are also compared with
B. Balaam’s Error – Numbers 22
They have set out on a journey into their OWN way of thinking not God’s. Schofield says that Balaam’s error was a problem with reasoning about God with what WE think is right. Balaam’s error was one that worshipped or served God for personal gain. It’s not about the glory of God and his gospel, it is about themselves.
And the final accusation was they had been destroyed by what was the equivalent of
C. Korah’s Rebellion – Numbers 16
Korah was a levite, a minister of God who organized a rebellion against Moses the God appointed leader of his people.
here was the problem, these men were called by God and even given a place of responsibility but they wanted what God gave to Moses.
Oh the shame of a failure to be pleased with who we are in Christ and thus trying take authority and honor given to another.
As long as we live in a fallen world, we will have deceivers among us.
Be aware that not everything in a Christian bookstore or on Christian TV or Radio or other media is true just because it claims to follow Christ.
Now, I am not talking about people that are well within orthodoxy of traditional understanding of scripture who disagree on matters that are not essentials. We can agree on Jesus, sin, salvation, his cross, his person and his name while we disagree on our understanding of how God accomplishes it. We can disagree on methods and agree on the message. There are plenty of great believers who would disagree on these issues but could stand together under the banner of Christ, believing his Word.
But we must contend for the faith that matters. There are those who have
D. Abused the Lord’s Table
In other words, they have taken advantage of us by fellowshipping with us. Masquerading as being in full fellowship with us when they question the very root and basics of our faith.
There are men like a theologian named Brian McLaren who claims Christ but questions the Word of God saying that it isn’t a Constitution of our Faith but a Community Library from which we can pick and choose readings
Or a Pastor like Rob Bell out of Michigan’s Mars Hill Bible Church who also questions the word of God saying “how do we know we have the Word of God. we have what men voted to accept, was the Holy Spirit present at the vote. Well of course he was. The same Holy Spirit who guided men to write exactly what he wanted, completed his task by ensuring that we had exactly his word for us today and for every generation until he comes.
We must be eager and vigilant and aware because of these two realities
4. Stated Reality
A. The Lord IS Coming
You can be sure that if Jesus isn’t coming again, then we can do whatever we want to do. If Jesus will not keep his promises then we might as well eat, drink and be merry.
If heaven isn’t real, if eternity isn’t as described in scripture, then what is the point?
But we can be sure that every word of Christ is true and not only is he coming but the reality is that when he comes there will then also be
B. Payday Someday
Notice v15 says he will come to judge everyone and convict all the ungodly
You see there are two options that day. We all will be judged but NOT all will be convicted. Jesus in John 3:18 says “whoever believes in him is not condemned but he who does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only son.”
Yes all will be judged. I know this is an oversimplification, but I don’t know if this has ever happened to you. But there have been a few times when we’ve been out to eat, we’ve eaten our meal, and asked for the bill. Our waitress judged the situation and said … your bill is X amount … but it’s already been paid. Some friend had been in the restaurant and had paid for our meal. But most of the time, we are judged and presented with a bill that we must pay. The wages of sin is death. And when we stand before God, he will judge me and find that in my natural since I was a sinner, but he will also judge that my sin has already been paid for by the cross of Jesus Christ.
But all who refuse that payment will then be convicted of their sin and required to pay the debt.
There is a standard and it is God’s holiness and we will never measure up. But the good news is that in Christ we can be forgiven and transformed through the work of the Holy Spirit and presented Holy and blameless in God’s presence.
As I prepared I felt I should tell you about a brewing controversy today in the church. You know I rarely speak against another church or minister simply because of simple disagreements on non-essentials. But sometimes I must warn you.
I mentioned Rob Bell earlier. He has a new book that has just been released. The title sounds wonderful … “Love Wins … a book about Heaven, Hell and the fate of every Person who ever lived” . He has been interviewed all over in the last week or so. But this book is nothing new. It is, at best, a liberal approach that does not like or agree with traditional orthodox and biblical views on topics like the exclusivity of salvation and the reality of Hell. They don’t like the idea of a place of eternal judgment from God on sin. But hell was created by God for satan and his angels who chose to rebel against him. But it is also for all who willingly choose to reject God’s offer of Grace and forgiveness and reject his revelation and rightful place as Lord.
Since the 19th century, theologians who didn’t like the idea of hell have tried to make it something else. But this isn’t new, satan in the garden when addressing the idea of death for disobedience told Eve “You will not die”.
Today these same type of infiltrators are in our churches, on our radios, televisions, internets, and books.
They want to make the gospel of Jesus Christ fit our modern palate and understanding.
Mr Bell has said that hell, as Jesus Christ described it, was just a metaphor. He says that Jesus was just describing the hell we make on earth and perhaps a place after life but not an eternal place. He says that it is a place of purging and a place where God still has a chance to win souls through his grace and love, souls who rejected him in their earthly life.
Folks Jesus compared hell to the garbage dump, outside Jerusalem, called Gehenna. It was a place where fires always burned, the worm never died, so it was constantly filled with death and decay.
If hell is a metaphor, it is because it is WORSE than we can imagine not Less. If hell is LIKE Gehenna, there is no recycling going on in Gehenna. Things are not sent there to get cleaned up and brought back. They are sent there for good, forever separated from all that is God’s city.
But when I read my Bible Hebrews 9:27 says we are all appointed once to die and THEN the Judgment … not then another chance. Jesus said we are ALREADY condemned and so we will be judged as condemned. Mark 16:15-16 says we are to preach the gospel to the world and those who fail to believe will be condemned.
Mat 10:28 says we should be aware and afraid of our God who can destroy body and soul in hell.
Rob Bell tries to misuse scripture to prove this opportunity by pointing out that in Revelation 21:25 it says the gates of Heaven are never closed. But he seems to conveniently leave out that this is only true AFTER chapter 20:15 where everyone whose name was not found in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire along with satan, the beast, the anti-christ, death and hades.
So coming into Revelation 21:25 there is no need to close the gates because all those who have rejected God have gotten their wish and are forever separated from him. So the doors are open NOT to let new people in but because there is no night left only those in the glory of God’s light.
But these liberals would have us believe that we don’t need the cross, we don’t need to worry about hell, we don’t need to worry about what the word of God teaches.
H. Richard Niebuhr once summed up liberal theology thus, “a God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without Judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”
That my friends is ridiculous it changes the entirety of the word of God and the meaning of the gospel.
Mr. Bell’s book takes comfort in that he says his questions, suggestions, and teachings were “celebrated by many before him.” Yes, that is true, but many celebrate infanticide, but I do no. Many believed the world was flat, but I do not. Many believed the earth was the center of the universe but I do not. Many believed that flies come from cow manure, but they were wrong no matter how sincere they thought they were, their thoughts were full of wax. Looks good on the outside, spackle on the inside.
And while I can fellowship with those who hold non-essential disagreements with me, I cannot celebrate with those who do surgery to the scriptures and take out what they do not like to give people what their itching ears want to hear.
David F. Wells says “the stream of historic orthodoxy that once watered the evangelical soul is now damned by a worldliness that many fail to recognize as worldliness because of the cultural innocence with which it presents itself”
Dr. Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says Mr Bell’s book title is “Love Wins” but “the message of the Gospel is not merely that love wins it is that Jesus Saves!”
Somehow we have come to believe that today if we don’t like something we can just choose it away. It reminds me of the old twilight zone episode of a little boy who wished away everyone he didn’t like into the cornfield never to be seen again.
But Jude says in verse 3 that we have a gospel that was given ONCE and FOR ALL.
Why, because God was building his house, his church, and we must have a foundation that is solid, stable, and does not shift like sinking sands.
We cannot lose our desire for a bedrock truth that shapes the gospel, our faith, and practice.
The day has come where some theologians think they know and can explain the eternal truth better than Jesus, Paul, John or any of the authors.
Folks if they reject the bible, if they try and pit one part of scripture as against another instead of all working together in harmony and truth, you can throw away their teachings and reject what they teach. Don’t even give it the time of day. If they luck upon a conclusion that 1 1=2 I would even reject that too because they came to it by false practice and for false purposes and so their conclusions will have inaccurate results.
Is the truth about heaven and hell wrong because some have said there is bad news in it? Well, is the doctor bad because he tells you that if you abuse alcohol it will destroy your liver and ultimately take your life? Is the doctor unkind because he pronounces a tumor or other illness? Of course not.
So, is God unloving if there is a hell? Is the Bible misunderstood because it teaches there is an eternal consequence for refusing God’s revelation?
Tell me, are we “marketing” God or proclaiming Him?
With all of this said, I am sure most if not all of us would be proclaiming a resounding “amen” to the affirmation of the truth of the bible and “amen” to the statement that we must distance ourselves from a dependence on a secular understanding and reasoning.
Let me make a flip side statement as well. Many conservative Christians today place their practical day to day hope in secular things as well, like economics and politics. We act like the hope for the world is in sound democracy, economics, and social policies.
Folks, Jesus is the Answer for the world today. the Word of God is our authority and the Judgment seat of God is the only and ultimate place for true justice, grace, and mercy.
We contend for the faith that we can read, study, embrace, and believe. We have God’s Word, inerrant and infallible. You can read it, memorize it, follow it, and love it.
This is the word of God that has come down to us ONCE and FOR ALL
You have heard of the Nobel Prizes. But perhaps you don’t know about Alfred Nobel. In 1888 he read his own obituary in a French newspaper. It was actually a brother of his who had died and they had printed a prepared statement for the wrong man. Nobel had been the inventor of dynamite. He had made lots of money. But in his early obituary he was called the “merchant of death” because he made his vast fortune from exploiting the feelings of humans and desire for destruction. He didn’t like the image he saw. He didn’t want that to be the sum of his life. So, he left his ways and used his money to establish the Nobel Peace Prizes.
What’s my point? We don’t have to keep going the same way. There is still time to change our eternal address.
Two Senators were arguing when one promptly uttered a terribly offensive phrase telling the other senator to go straight to …” well you know he told him that his preference would be that he went to hell. The offended senator came to Calvin Coolidge, then the vice-president and thus president of the senate. “Did you hear what he said to me.” He was offended at being told that he must go to hell. Mr Coolidge looked up and calmly said … “I have been looking at the rule book, and there is nothing there that says you have to go.”
If hell is offensive to us … let us not try and remove it from the Bible, let’s try and remove people from its rolls … proclaim the gospel
No one HAS to go there.
God came to reconcile the world to himself and gave us that ministry of changing people who destroy their own lives to people who are at peace with God.