CONTEND FOR THE FAITH (JUDE)
Cults are prevalent and persistent in Hong Kong. Mormons in white shirts are a common sight at Kwai Fong MTR station where I board. The Mormon Church has about 58,000 missionaries serving in 347 missions worldwide and they have lowered the minimum age of missionaries for men from 19 to 18 and for women from 21 to 19. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/28/mormon-missionaries-get-an-earlier-start-raring-to-go/1954261/
Jehovah Witnesses distribute their literature on the bridge connecting IFC mall and the Star Ferry piers and occasionally from 2pm below our church's main hall. Lately the controversial Eastern Lightning cult from China has been pulling up their banners in Tseung Kwan O and other MTR stations and placing their ads in local newspaper.
The early church not only had to contend and counter on a regular basis against civil authorities and internal infighting but also false teachings. The last is hard to fight against because they are religious counterfeits and work undercover. They wear the cloak of religion and talk spiritual things, but they are not Christians.
What makes a cult a cult? How do you identify them? What strategies do they use? How shall deal with them?
Be Awake - Cults Will Prosper
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ: 2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. 3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 1-4)
One time in Los Angeles a group of visitors came packed in a van. Before I could come out to greet them, they have left. They shook hands, gave out leaflets and CDs, and left before I could come out to greet them. Later I found they were the latest and hottest cult from China, Eastern Lightning.
The Eastern Lightning or the Church of Almighty God cult has an estimated 1 million adherents. According to the Christian Research Journal, a man named Zhao Weishan from a charismatic church founded the movement in Heilongjiang province in 1989. Zhao later moved to Henan province, where he began to teach that Jesus Christ had returned to Earth in the form of a Henan woman named Deng. Zhao reportedly immigrated to America in 2000.
The group teaches that Deng (邓闪电) was to guide mankind for the third and last time, the first and second occasions being Jehovah of the Old Testament and as Jesus in the New Testament. The Chinese government arrested more than one thousand of its members because the cult controversially predicted that the world will end on December 21, 2012, in accordance with the Mayan calendar and
The cults' extreme practices targeting Christians include kidnapping, torturing, and brainwashing their victims into conversion. In 2002, for instance, they kidnapped 34 of the leading members of the China Gospel Fellowship and held them for two months. (Wikipedia) They now have offices and churches in Hong Kong, Los Angeles and other metropolitan cities.
Jude's urgency is understandable and not overstated, using a rare word in the Bible. "Contend" (v 3) occurs for the first and only time in the Bible, its root word is derived from Paul's famous admonition to Timothy to "fight" the good fight (1 Tim 6:12, 2 Tim 4:7), but with a twist. "Fight" in Greek is agonizomai, not just show up but to struggle on, as to agonize in English, not to be aloof or apart. Contend (epagonizomai) and fight (agonizomai) are different in that contend has the preposition "upon/on" as the intensive prefix. The prefix epi means upon, beside, among. It implies to stand on one's ground, not letting go or giving up, to be fixed and unmoved, unyielding, undeterred, not budging, backtracking or bending.
Why did Jude use such a dramatic one-time verb, to contend? What is there to contend for? What is the alarm? Who were the saints up against? There is only one "for/because" (v 4) in the book.
There are two prepositions and a noun for "secretly slipped in" (pareisduno) in verse 4. The second is "in," but the first is "alongside" (para), meaning these false teachers slipped alongside you before they slipped "into." The noun (duno) is the word "set," as in sunset and settle, set for life. Cults line up along unsuspecting victims before they line up against them. They are hard to detect, dissect and differentiate, not easy to drive out and unlikely to disappear. They associate with you and, before long, affiliate with you. Cults are beside and around you, in and among you.