You can listen to the full message here:
How To Contend
Jude is a one chapter book with 25 verses.
It doesn’t take long to read so let’s do that now.
In Greek the name is pronounced “Judas” – in the Bible there are a number of different of people who have the name Judas. But the only Judas we know whose brother is James is this Judas:-
Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us?
The way Judas describes himself is very interesting.
He is not the brother – or half brother – of Jesus. He is the brother of James.
Which says a lot.
Firstly it shows that Jude doesn’t want to elevate his position or play on his family ties to Jesus. Indeed he only calls himself the servant of Jesus Christ. Which, above all else, makes Jude a humble ministry vessel.
Secondly this description helps us understand a bit about the date and location of the book. If we have a closer look at the family of Jesus we discover a great transformation. At an early point in the ministry of Jesus this happens:-
Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
Those of us who have family members and close loved ones who are not-yet-believers – be really encouraged by these words. Even those who lived with Jesus at first didn’t believe him to be the Messiah.
His ministry caused embarrassment and shame.
The family felt like they were a laughing stock – who is so spiritually minded that they don’t even eat.
Yet … eventually … they came to see the truth.
After Jesus was ascended, but before Pentecost the 11 disciples gathered regularly in an upper room.
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Never give up on those you love – because you never know when the grace of Jesus with take hold. You never know when the reality of repentance and confessing the name of the Lord will be seen.
Few people had greater exposure to Jesus than his brothers … his family.
Yet even they took decades to finally see the truth.
When they saw the truth … well what a transformation. In Galatians 1 Paul gives us an outline of his conversion and the years following.
(After three years of living in Damascus) I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas (Peter) and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.
Many years later in about 58AD after his third missionary journey ...
We (Paul, Silas and the missionary team) arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
This James is the Lord’s half-brother – James the brother of John was put to death by Herod in Acts 12:2. James who is now one of the most senior leaders in Jerusalem.
Now his little brother is writing a letter.
Jude the brother of James.
Where the home base is Jerusalem where the church is predominately made up of Jewish background believers.
- Which explains the high use of Old Testament examples.
- And also explains the use of Jewish books not included in the Old Testament.
In the time frame when James was a predominant leader – so around the AD60-AD70.
Jude is writing into that social situation.
Once the introduction is out of the way the first thing Jude says is:-
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.
I wanted to write about the salvation we share
We are one body because of the sacrifice of Jesus which enables all peoples from all tribes and languages and nations to be brought into the kingdom of God and know that they have a place and a purpose.
We different gifts but the same Spirit.
One Lord. One faith. One baptism.
Growing on a foundation that enables us to become mature body attaining to the full measure of Christ who is the head.
This is the salvation we share.
At the dawn of mankind the lie was told and believed – “you can be like God.” From that time on the world has been infused in sin.
It breaks our relationship with God.
It breaks our relationship with each other.
It all looks hopeless, except there is a promise. There will be human descendent who will take on Satan – that descendent will crush the head, but in the process the serpent will strike at the descendant’s heal. We see it all unfolding as we look to the cross and the sacrificial work of Jesus.
This is the salvation we share.
When we are not standing in the grace of Jesus ultimately we have no security.
We don’t have the security of having our past sin, guilt and shame forgiven.
We don’t have the security of being able to walk daily with Jesus who makes us a new creation.
We don’t have the security of knowing we will be before God for eternity thanking and praising the One who looks at us and says, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
When we are loved by God and kept for Jesus Christ there is security, hope, identity, peace, forgiveness.
This is the salvation that we share.
Jude was going to write about such topics. Amazing … grace filled .. hope securing … peace providing … topics such as these.
Something more important has come up – more pressing and more urgent.
I was going to write to you about your recent health check-up.
But I am now compelled to write about your heart replacement.
I was going to write about your home loan mortgage.
But I am now urged to write about how to file for bankruptcy.
I was going to write about your job application.
It is more urgent that you know how new start works.
Jude didn’t have to say what he was going to write about.
He could have just written and said, “Dear friends, I need to urge you to contend for the faith.”
But by telling them what he was going to write about Jude actually emphasises even more the situation – and how serious the situation is.
What is the situation?
For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
Verse 4 is a concise summary of the people who are more extensively described in verses 5-16. Next week we have the task of trying to identify who these ungodly, grace perverting, Messiah denying secretive and slippery individuals are.
For now let’s focus on the action that Jude is calling the recipients to practise.
The call is to contend for the faith
The word Jude uses for “contend” in Greek is used only one – here.
The word family is much more common
Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.
We live consistently as those who have entered the narrow door. Which makes the way we deal with those who oppose us – even people against whom urgency is needed – it makes the way we deal with such people different to that which is usually done on the broad road.
On the broad road – when opposition takes place – that opposition is destroyed, mocked, belittled, undermined, gossiped about, brutalised and shunned.
On the narrow road – when opposition takes place – that opposition is treated gently, and shown mercy, and given grace, and honoured as an image bearer of God.
Contending is a “we who are of the narrow door” action.
Christ is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in him. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
Contending always has an end goal in mind – that everyone may be present fully mature in Christ. This calls us to see the bigger picture …
… and this is not easy …
… to see the bigger picture that the heart of God for everyone around us, even the most difficult anti-religious, sneaky infiltrator …
… even for that person the heart of God is that he doesn’t want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
Contending always is done with the purpose of evangelism and repentance.
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
When we read the book of Colossians we don’t get any impressions at all that the church was difficult. Yet, look at what Epaphras is doing. He is contending in prayer so that the will of God may be enacted in the lives of people – and that such people will stand firm, mature and secure.
Don’t we see here the heart of Jesus.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28).
Even as they were crucifying him Jesus prays, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Contending is a spiritual action which requires much time on our knees.
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.
1 Timothy 6:11-12
Look at the context.
Righteousness. Love. Gentleness. …. Fight.
Paul will write in his second letter to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
How did Paul fight the good fight?
I have .. been frequently in prison. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea … I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
2 Corinthians 11:23-27
Contending for the faith will result in personal sacrifice and suffering for the faith.
That is a hard call … isn’t it.
To be faced with an opposition
… that has been deliberately secretive about their agenda.
… that has sneakily infiltrated with the sole purpose of causing disruption.
… that twist God’s grace in such a way as to make immorality a non-event.
… that deny the very heart of the Scripture by denying the sovereignty and lordship of Jesus.
To have that sort of opposition
… wouldn’t we just love to push back, and shout out, and point fingers.
… wouldn’t we find so much personal satisfaction in being ruthless, and harsh, and right.
… wouldn’t it just be satisfying to act just like every other worldly individual.
But we are not of this world are we.
For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.
But our citizenship is in heaven.
We weep with tears over those who are the enemies.
We consistently live out our heavenly citizenship – as those who are loving called by God and kept for eternity by Jesus Christ.
And we contend for the faith.
Contending in a “we who are of the narrow door” action.
Contending with the purpose of evangelism and repentance.
Contending on our knees in prayer.
Contending even when the result is personal sacrifice and suffering.
That is what Jude is urging us towards.