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“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.” Jude 1:1-2
Jude is one of the shortest letters of the New Testament often neglected, but is relevant to today’s church.
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James
Jude, (not Iscariot) was the half-brother of Jesus. At first he, (including James), didn’t believe in Jesus as the Messiah until after the resurrection of Jesus (John 7:5 and Acts 1:14).
Jude was a blood relative of Jesus, but he considered himself only as a bondservant of Jesus Christ. The fact that he wanted himself to be known this way instead of introducing himself as “Jude, the half-brother of Jesus” tells us something of the humility of Jude and the relative unimportance of being connected to Jesus or any believer by human relationships. Mind you, Jesus spoke of this relative unimportance in passage such as Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 11:27-28. Without a doubt, Jude valued the fact that Jesus was his half-brother and that he grew up in the same household as Jesus. But even more valuable to him was his new relationship with Jesus. To Jude, the blood of the cross that saved him was more important than the family blood in his veins that related him to Jesus. Even Jesus, “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Heb 2:17
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:16 “Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer”
To those who are called:
The epistle of Jude was written for Christians; so it deals with things that believers need to hear, but often don’t want to, and we shall soon see why.
Jude identified his readers as Christians in three specific ways:
- They were called. A person is a Christian because God has called him. The important thing is to answer the call when it comes.
- They were sanctified by God the Father. This means that they were set apart from the world and set apart unto God.
- They were preserved in Jesus. Jesus Christ is our guardian and our protector.
“…ye should earnestly contend for the faith…”
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1:3
See what prompted Jude to write this letter. It was a call to defend the faith
Beloved, “…I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation…”
“….I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
Jude’s initial desire was to write about our common salvation. But something happened, so Jude found it necessary to write just about something different from his initial plan. He started preaching against the dangerous practices and doctrines that put the gospel of Jesus Christ in peril. These were serious issues and Jude needed to deal with them seriously.
We should be happy he allowed himself to be led by the Spirit to write these things. What might have only been a letter from a Christian leader to a particular church instead became a precious instrument inspired by the Holy Spirit and valuable as a warning in these last days.
To be a Christian is to be a part of a community
Our salvation isn’t common in the sense that it is cheap or that everyone has it but is common in the sense that we are saved in common, in community. God doesn’t have one way for the rich and another way for the poor, or one way for the good and another way for the bad. We all come to God the same way. If it isn’t a common salvation, it isn’t God’s salvation – and it isn’t salvation at all.
To be a Christian means you stand shoulder to shoulder with the millions!, of Christians who have gone before you. We stand with strong Christians and weak Christians, brave Christians and cowardly Christians, old Christians and young Christians, rich Christians and poor Christians alike. We are part of an invisible, mighty army of God that spans back through the generations.
Those who are in Christ are more near of kin than they know of, and their intense unity in deep essential truth is a greater force than most of them imagine: only give it scope and it will work wonders.
Exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith:
This was the great need that Jude interrupted his intended letter to address. Contend speaks of hard and diligent work. The Christian struggle is continuous. We contend earnestly for the faith because it is valuable. Valuables are protected; worthless things are not. This is something that Jude wants each individual Christian to do. There are many ways that every Christian can contend earnestly for the faith.
There is a lot of earnest contention in the world but usually not for the right things and believers shouldn’t be distracted. The faith once for all delivered to the saints is something worth contending for. That faith isn’t about our own personal beliefs, or faith in the sense of our trust in God but is the essential truths of the gospel that all true Christians hold in common.
We must contend earnestly for the truth.
“Once” means that the faith was delivered one time, and doesn’t need to be delivered again. Of course, we distribute this truth again and again. But it was delivered by God to the world through our Chief Apostle and the apostles once (Ephesians 2:20). God may speak today, but never in the authoritative way that He spoke through the first apostles and prophets as recorded in the New Testament.
For all means that this faith is for everybody. We don’t have the option to simply make up our own faith and still be true to God. This faith is for all, but today, it isn’t popular to really believe in the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Instead, most people want to believe in the faith they make up as they go along and decide is right for them.
We need to contend for the faith because there are ‘evil workers’ among Christians.
“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4
Why you would need to contend for the faith?
We need to contend for the faith because there are evil workers among Christians. These are dangerous men because they’ve have crept in unnoticed.
These have crept in unawares because for two reasons;
- because they’ve long been marked out for condemnation,
- because they’re ungodly men, with evil intention; to turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness (lewdness,) and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is what makes them so dangerous – they are unnoticed.
No one notices how dangerous they’re. They’re false prophets and teachers claiming to be more Biblical than anybody else. Crept-in means, to slip in secretly. They are unnoticed by men, but not by God. They may lie to us but not to God who marked and destined them for this condemnation.
They are ungodly simply in the sense that they are not like God and no matter their outward appearances, they disregard God. It is enough to say that they are ungodly men with a destiny – the destiny of every false teacher and leader is condemnation. They may be hidden to some believers but as far as God is concerned, their condemnation was marked out long ago. Their judgment is assured. The truth will win out; our responsibility is to be on the side with the truth.
These certain men received something of the grace of God. But when they received it, they turned it into an excuse for their lewdness. Lewdness is sin that is practiced without shame, without any sense of conscience or decency. But it can also be used in the sense of anti-biblical teaching, when the truth is denied and lies are taught without shame, and many false prophets and teachers have both moral problems and doctrinal problems.
There is a danger in preaching grace, because your sins will find you out. There are some who may take the truth of God’s grace and turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness. But this doesn’t mean there is anything wrong or dangerous about the message of God’s grace. It simply shows how corrupt the human heart is. These certain men deny the Lord Jesus Christ. They do this by refusing to recognize who Jesus said He was, and therefore they also deny who God the Father is also. They denied Him with their ungodly living or it may be that they denied Him with their heretical doctrines.
/To be continued….