Summary: Jude urges us to keep fighting for the faith especially against the false attitude that since we have forgiveness, we can live any way we want to.
How many of you are Twitter followers? I’m not, so forgive me if I don’t have this quite right. The way I understand Twitter is that it’s the ability to email the world without having to have anyone’s email address. The catch is that your message, or tweet as it is called, can’t be more than 140 characters long. I would have to send out three tweets just to get to this point in the sermon. In spite of that limitation, or perhaps because of it, there are currently 284 million Twitter users sending out 500 million tweets a day. That’s sixteen tweets for every Canadian! People obviously like messages that are short and sweet.
It shouldn’t surprise us then that there are a number of books in the Bible that are short and sweet – like tweets from heaven. Over the coming weeks during the seasons of End Times and Advent we’ll look at a couple of these “tweets” to see how they prepare us for Jesus’ second coming.
The first tweet from heaven comes to us through the New Testament book of Jude. Jude identifies himself as the brother of James, and they had another brother, a half-brother that you all know: Jesus, our Savior. But did you also know that neither Jude nor James was an early follower of Jesus? In fact they were among those who mocked Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah and the Son of God. They eventually became convinced of the truth and James even served as a leader in Jerusalem and was recognized by the Apostle Paul as one of the pillars of the early church. James went on to write a New Testament book that is five chapters long. Jude, on the other hand, is not listed as one of the early church leaders. And although he did write a New Testament book, it is only 25 verses long. It’s probably a book of the Bible that you can’t remember anything about even if you have read it before. But it’s worth reviewing so listen to how this “tweet from heaven” begins. “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).
If Jude were to give these verses a hashtag (#) so that Twitter users would know what his main point was, it would be: #Contend4theFaith. That’s a fitting theme for Reformation Sunday since it’s exactly what Martin Luther did some 500 years ago. He fought to bring to light the biblical truth that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus and not because of anything we have done. The false teachers that Jude had to contend with, however, were not denying that salvation is God’s free gift to us through Jesus. No, they celebrated that free and full forgiveness but concluded that it now no longer matters how we live. Jude summarized the false teaching like this: “They…change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 4b).
I have yet to stumble across a church’s website that encourages its members to party it up and to give in to their body’s cravings, no matter how sinful, because according to the Bible we are forgiven so we might as well enjoy life! There may be no false teachers today who are so bold in promoting such lies, but I know that this attitude lurks within my heart. And apparently it’s also observed in others who call themselves Christians. Listen to what one Christian blogger wrote when he wondered aloud whether or not there is a hole in our holiness. “We live in a culture of cool, and to be cool means you differentiate yourself from others. That has often meant pushing the boundaries with language, with entertainment, with alcohol, and with fashion…[We’ve] willingly embraced Christian freedom, but have not earnestly pursued Christian virtue…When is the last time we took a passage like Ephesians 5:3-4 and even began to try to apply it [to our fashion choices], to our joking, our movie picks, and to our YouTube clips? Ephesians 5:3-4 says: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be…foolish talk or crude joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”...God would have us be much more careful with our eyes, our ears, and our mouth. It’s not pietism or legalism to take holiness seriously. It’s the way of all those who have been called to a holy calling by a holy God” (Kevin DeYoung: The Hole in Our Holiness).