Summary: The little post-card falls into three sections: the purpose (3-4), the problem (5-19), the prescription or response to the problem (20-23). Vs 24-25 is an added postscript of praise that neatly ties the entire note together.
Through the New Testament 06
Now for the Bad News
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: You can’t always be upbeat, positive, and encouraging. The faith is about Good News. However, sometimes you have to talk about bad news. Sometimes you can’t just say what you believe. You have to take a stand against what you don’t believe. That’s the message of Jude. Jude is a call for a strong, courageous defense of the faith. Sometimes you don’t know how valuable what you have is until you have to defend it.
Jude is our next to last book in our journey through the Bible that we began in January of 2002. It is one of the smaller books. Someone has suggested that if Romans and 1 Corinthians (and even Philippians) are letters, then Jude and the other mini-books are more like post-cards. Based on the verse count, Jude is the fifth shortest book in the Bible. The shortest books are 2 John (13), 3 John (14), Obadiah (21), Philemon (25), and Jude (25).
A bit of background. We actually don’t know much about when and where the letter was written. The author simply names himself “Jude a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” There are at least seven men in the New Testament with the name Jude or Judah or Judas (all variations of the same Hebrew name). (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 ½ brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3). According to our best information, this last Jude is author of our post-card. He is mentioned as one of the sons of Joseph and Mary. (Mat 1:25; 12:47; 13:55). We know little about Jude except for what he tells us here. He must have been a humble man—he is satisfied to be simply known as a servant of Jesus and rest in the shadow of his better-known brother. I suspect we can all learn something from that!
Jude identifies his readers with three important adjectives—called, loved and kept. Though he doesn’t spell it out totally, he is probably referring to the work of the Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in the Christian life. It is true of every believer—we are Christians because God, the Holy Spirit, worked through the Word to draw us toward faith. It is the love of God the Father (first, last, and always) that saves us. It is our faith in and the power of God the Son, Jesus Christ, not our own strength that keeps us secure. The source, the means, and the destiny of our faith are all about God. It is not about us! That’s good to know!
The little post-card falls into three sections: the purpose (3-4), the problem (5-19), the prescription or response to the problem (20-23). Vs 24-25 is an added postscript of praise that neatly ties the entire note together.
The Purpose. Note how Jude explains his purpose. “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.” Sometimes it is more important to do what needs to be done than what we want to do. No one in their right mind wants to talk about sin, judgment and hell. No one likes to hear depressing messages about false teachers and the havoc they create with their messed up doctrines. We all prefer to hear inspirational messages that remind us of God’s grace and his blessings for Christians. When we hear about false doctrines, we tend to dismiss it as somebody else’s problem some place else. Not here. Not now. Not us. Such thinking is the surest way for a church, a family, or an individual believer to get headed down the wrong path.
Three words in his purpose statement are critical. Jude calls his readers to “contend.” Some translations word it, “contend earnestly.” The term is an intensive form a word for a word used by ancients to describe “wrestling.” We derive our word “agony” from the same word. This is an up close and personal, hand to hand battle. We are to contend for “the faith.” Faith here refers not to some personal opinion, but a body of truth. It is not our faith or your faith. It is the faith. The Bible leaves little room for homemade religion where everyone picks and chooses what to believe.