Summary: The once for all delivered faith must be kept and contended for if the church is to remain pure and pleasing to God. Jude shows the way.
Jude – Defending the Faith
What would you agonize over? What would you fight for with all the resources at your disposal? Today’s study is about doing just that.
This little letter of Jude falls in order as the next to last book in our New Testaments. It has a singular focus although it approaches this focus from several angles. Jude’s message is a warning and an encouragement for these early Christians who were facing false teachers.
Let’s just read the letter together and then take a deeper look at some of the contents.
Note his encouraging introduction in verses 1-2.
Jude likes groupings of three – (called, loved, and kept), (Mercy, peace, and love). This writer seems to be the half brother of Jesus. Seven men bear the name Jude or Judas in the New Testament, (1) An ancestor of Jesus (Luke 3:30); (2) The betrayer (Mark 3:19); (3) Thaddeus, one of the 12 Apostles (Luke 6:16; John 14:22; Acts 1:13); (4) A Galilean insurrectionist (Acts 5:37); (5) A native of Damascus (Acts 9:11); (6) A prophet chosen to verify the message of the Jerusalem Counsel (Acts 15:22-27, 32); (7) The brother of James, and Â½ brother of Jesus (Mat 13:55, Mark 6:3) mentioned as one of the sons of Joseph and Mary.
Verse three is the key verse that introduces his purpose in writing.
He urges the faithful who share a common salvation to fight for it. This verse tells us some important things about our faith:
1. The Christian salvation is something we share in common. God draws all the saved into the same family. We become brothers and sisters in Christ. We are given the same hope and share the same mercy, grace and peace. God calls us back to himself as one body in Christ, where there is oneness unlike anything this world has to offer. Gal. 3: 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
2. The faith has once for all been delivered to us. I heard this verse a lot growing up. We were taught correctly that this verse meant that no new revelation should be expected by us. God has given us all we need and preserved this message for us in the scriptures. Jesus Christ is God’s final word! No new messiahs will come. There are no new ages or new dispensations, or new gospels, or new salvation plans on the horizon that will come before the judgment. In other words: these are the last days. We are living in them now. Hold up your Bibles if you have one. If you don’t have a Bible with you, you should. The message within these pages is all we need for life and godliness in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit within us is all we need for empowerment to keep the message of this book. The blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for our sins, to save us from our sins and deliver us and redeem us for God, is the only blood we need to be made clean and holy before God. Nothing else will do and nothing else is coming that will improve on this. There is no better book than the Bible to give us direction and instruct us in the way of eternal life! There is no way to improve on it. Changing it only messes it up. God’s final word is not to be changed; it has been given to change you and me. We can’t improve on the faith, but we can sure be improved by it! This faith, once for all delivered is more powerful than the world! 1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whoever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world; our faith.
3. Our common, shared, once for all delivered faith must be fought for; it deserves that we fight for it! We fight for much lesser things, don’t we? Our nation has a huge sense of justice and will contend very earnestly for our “human rights.” We have been sold a bill of goods. Our American sense of self importance and rights have created the most selfish, prideful, immoral, self-destructive generation in our history. And we contend for this decadence with a vengeance! The word “contend earnestly” come from the Greek word “epagonizomia” which has the root from which we get the word for agony. What would you agonize for? God is telling us here to agonize for the faith! He is saying we must struggle, even painfully so, to keep it and prevent it’s reinterpretation by those who are false teachers. Now, I think we need to stop and think about this. What is happening to the once for all delivered faith in this book? That will be what Jude tells us next. But before we go there, I think we need to take to heart what we are called to do right here. Contending for the faith has gotten a bad reputation over the years because of the witch hunts that some overzealous Christian journalists have published. Instead of contending for the faith, there was more contentiousness for the faith in many of those journal articles. Names were called and open letters published with less of the Spirit of Christ and more of the spirit of faultfinding than faith defending. Many of those are gone. Today things have changed. In fact, the most popular thing to do today is not contend for the faith, but to bash it. The word of God and the faith of Jesus Christ have come under more and more attack, even while there are fewer and fewer who are willing to stand up and say, “Enough!” Let’s face it, this work of contending for our faith is not popular today. In fact, it can lead to agony. Defenders of the faith are perhaps needed more today than at any time in the past century. Who will arise and answer the call of Jude 3? Today we need first to understand and embrace the faith, and then to contend for it. Once we know and share the faith, how do we contend for it? Jude will demonstrate!