Summary: Jude is a call for a strong, courageous defense of our faith. Sometimes, we don’t realize how valuable what we have is until we have to defend it.
DEFENDING THE FAITH
Beginning next Sunday night, we’re going to begin a study on the Book of Revelation. This is one of those books of the Bible that I believe intrigues most people and it’s also one that many preachers steer clear of because they don’t understand it themselves. In fact, one of the questions I was asked when I was being interviewed by the search committee almost two years ago was, “Will you preach out of Revelation?” Well, I finally feel like I have somewhat of a grasp as far as an overview is concerned on the book of Revelation after taking a course on it over the summer so I’m excited to share what I’ve learned with you and I hope you will come and be a part of it.
But before we get to Revelation I want to take a look at the letter written just before it in our bibles. The letter I’m talking about is Jude. Most people don’t even know it’s there; it’s one of the most overlooked books of the Bible. Based on verse count, Jude is tied for the fourth shortest books in the Bible.
The gospel message is all about good news. But sometimes, we gotta talk about bad news. Sometimes we can’t just walk around and say what we believe, we have to take a stand against what we don’t believe. That’s the message of Jude. Jude is a call for a strong, courageous defense of our faith. Sometimes, we don’t realize how valuable what we have is until we have to defend it.
Read Vv. 1-2
This letter was written by, what many people to believe, the half-brother of Jesus and the younger brother of James somewhere around AD 60. Other than that, we know very little about Jude. He must have been a humble man as he’s satisfied to be simply known as a servant of Jesus and rest in the shadow of his better-known brother. I suspect that we can all learn something from that!
Jude identifies his audience with three important adjectives—“called”, “sanctified” (loved), and “preserved” (kept). And even though he doesn’t spell it out, he’s probably referring to the work of the Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in the Christian life. As believers, we were called to faith through the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s because of God the Father’s love for us that we are saved. And it’s our faith in Jesus Christ, not our own strength, that keeps us secure. Now, let’s look at the three sections that this short letter is broken into:
THE PURPOSE (v. 3)
Notice how Jude explains his purpose. Sometimes, we gotta do what needs to be done instead of what we’d rather do. Nobody likes to talk about sin, judgment and hell. Nobody likes to hear messages that end up leaving us feeling depressed. No, we’d rather hear inspirational messages that remind us of God’s grace and His blessings for His people. So when the preacher starts stepping on our toes instead of tickling our ears, we tend to dismiss it as somebody else’s problem somewhere else. Not here. Not now. Not us. But this kind of thinking is the surest way for a church, a family, or an individual believer to start heading down the wrong path.
There are a couple of phrases in Jude’s purpose statement that are critical. First, he calls his audience to “contend earnestly for the faith.” The word “contend” was used by the people of this day to describe “wrestling.” So this is describing an up close and personal battle. Also, I want you to notice how it describes “faith”. It’s not talking about a personal opinion, but a body of truth. It’s not our faith or your faith. It’s “the faith”. There’s no room for man made religion when it comes to God’s Word; it’s not a buffet line where you can just pick and choose what you want to believe while leaving the things that you don’t like off of your plate.
The other important phrase is “once for all delivered.” This is speaking of a revealed faith. It’s delivered, not discovered. There’s also a finality to the faith. God has spoken. Jesus came and lived out the message. He died, was buried, and rose from the grave. This was a “once for all” faith; it’s settled. It’s not open for discussion by any denomination, church body, or religious leader announcing a new and revised faith. We believe in, stand with, and “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered.”
THE PROBLEM (v. 4)
To make a long story short, false teachers had invaded the church. Now I want you to understand that this wasn’t the first time this problem had occurred and it definitely wasn't the last. So Jude strongly and suggestively describes the history, the character, and the fate of these unnamed men. There names weren’t what was important because again, every generation has them in one form or another. But recognizing that they exist and the impending consequences of failing to deal with them is the beginning of finding the solution.