Summary: Jude's letter is a call to Christians to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. In today's lesson we see the invasion of false teachers.
Several weeks ago I began a new series of studies on the Letter of Jude, which I have titled, “Contend for the Faith.”
The Letter of Jude is an extremely important letter. It is extremely important because it is so relevant to our contemporary situation. Even though Jude wrote almost 2,000 years ago, he was addressing an issue that is exactly the same as one we face today. And that is the issue of false teaching creeping in to the church.
After beginning his letter with the normal introductory greetings, Jude immediately gave the reason for writing this letter. Jude wrote his letter to call believers to unite against heresy.
3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 3-4)
Pollster George Barna offered an end-of-year review at the end of 2009 about what people thought about faith and Christianity. Here is part of what Barna discovered:
“Now that we are comfortable with the idea of being spiritual as opposed to devoutly Christian,” Barna pointed out, “Americans typically draw from a broad treasury of moral, spiritual and ethical sources of thought to concoct a uniquely personal brand of faith. Feeling freed from the boundaries established by the Christian faith, and immersed in a postmodern society which revels in participation, personal expression, satisfying relationships, and authentic experiences, we become our own unchallenged spiritual authorities, defining truth and reality as we see fit.
“Consequently, more and more people are engaged in hybrid faiths, mixing elements from different historical eras and divergent theological perspectives,” Barna stated. “In some ways, we are creating the ultimate ecumenical movement, where nothing is deemed right or wrong, and all ideas, beliefs and practices are assigned equal validity. Everyone is invited to join the dialogue, enjoy the ride, and feel connected to a far-reaching community of believers. Screening or critiquing what that community believes is deemed rude and inappropriate. Pragmatism and relativism, rather than any sort of absolutism, has gained momentum.”
Some of the survey findings that related to this theme included:
• About half of all adults (45%) say they are willing to try a new church or even a new form of church.
• 71% say they will develop their own slate of religious beliefs rather than accept a package of beliefs promoted by a church or denomination.
• Only one-third (34%) believe in absolute moral truth.
We live in a culture in which a growing number of people do not believe that there is such a thing as absolute moral truth. And sadly, that view is growing in the church as well. But, worse, we see that the church is being invaded not only by those who do not believe in truth but even by those who teach heresy.
Jude’s letter is a call to Christians to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. In today’s lesson I want to observe the invasion of false teachers.
I. False Teachers Have Entered the Church (4a)
So, first, notice that false teachers have entered the church.
Jude said in verse 4a, “For certain people have crept in unnoticed. . . .”
Truth has always been under attack.
It began in the Garden of Eden, when Satan twisted God’s Word and convinced Eve to disobey her Creator. This is so important that I want you to see it for yourself. Turn to Genesis 3:1-6 and notice how Satan distorted God’s Word:
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.