Jude 1-7: Contend for the Faith
November 23, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
We tend to run to extremes. At one moment, parts of the Christian church seem to be astonishingly naïve regarding heresy, embracing untruth with a wilful disregard to its danger in the name of “love.” The next moment parts of the Christian church are stridently insisting that their minute interpretation of everything is the only possible and legitimate way and excluding others in the name of “truth.” In this little book, Jude is showing us how and why to “contend for the faith” (verse 3). There is a time and a moment when we must with strength and deliberate confrontation stand up for what is right, and argue against what is wrong: we must contend for the faith. But even then we must do it in the love of God (verse 21). To encourage us to contend for the faith, Jude here teaches us about the essentially conservative nature of Christian truth, the morally rebellious nature of heresy, and the eternally serious consequences of false teaching.
Note, first, the essentially conservative nature of Christian truth. Jude urges his readers to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” That is not to say that all aspects of everything we inherit in human tradition must be conserved. Far from it! It was the traditionalism of the Pharisees that did so much to undermine God’s Word. Nor is it to say that innovation is wrong – again, far from it. Christians at their best are to be people who are creative and filled with insight and, yes, innovation. But the content of the faith is not to be changed (even if the style may be, sometimes is, and at times must be changed). Yet the truth itself is not something we develop, have liberty to alter or change; this faith has been entrusted to us. Our job is to preserve the truth. What we believe is the same as what Christians before us believed, and it is to be the same as what Christians who come after us will believe too.
Then note, second, the morally rebellious nature of heresy: “pervert the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ.” The heretic may have logic arguments that he musters, but at the root there is a desire to find wiggle room to indulge the flesh and escape from what they find to be unwelcome rule of Jesus over their lives. Christian truth is a healthy thing; it grows and develops and builds soundness of mind and heart and character. False teaching does the opposite; it perverts and degrades.
Third, note the eternally serious consequences of false teaching. God’s rebellious people in the desert were punished for their unbelief. Similarly, the evil people in Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned. These stories teach us about the judgment to come for those who deny Jesus. “They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”
Therefore, contend for the faith once delivered to God’s holy people!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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