I used to love to watch old war movies: Bridge over the river Kwai, Tora! Tora! Tora!, or The Longest Day. There are actually some newer ones that are worth watching also; Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers. Nearly all these movies have some basic things in common; the good guys, the bad guys and then the conflict. Sometimes the conflict was overwhelming odds, the impossible task or a band of misfits who came together to get the job done. Then there is the leader. This is the guy who was destined to rise to the occasion when the chips were down. He's always courageous, wiise and was never surprised. He always seemed to know what the enemy was thinking. Sometimes the leader of the moment was the general, sometimes the sarge, and sometimes it was a grunt that became a leader in the midst of the carnage.
What's that got to do with Jude? Interestingly enough, we have the same elements in the book of Jude. Jude is a call to action because we are at war and the enemy is on the move. The book of Jude is one of the most ignored and forgotten of all the epistles. Yet this book brings us an important lesson and message, especially in our day and time. This Holy Spirit inspired book was written by Jude. We'll see why as we move along.
Jude, Judas or Judah were common names at that time. The name Jude is actually Judas. But the name Jude stuck since Judas carries with it some very negative connotations. There are quite a few 'Judes' in the New Testament. So as not to create confusion Jude distinguishes himself from others by saying that he is the brother of James. Being the brother of James makes him the half brother of Jesus. Instead of claiming to be Jesus' half brother, he says instead that he is a bondservant of Jesus. This is humility.
Even though Jude was the half brother of Jesus he didn't even believe in Jesus as the savior until after the resurrection. None of the 4 brothers believed at first. (John 7:5 and Acts 1:14). But he couldn't deny the resurrection.
Here's Jude, a bondservant. He doesn't see himself as anyone special. He's just a man in the trenches, submitted to the higher authority of Jesus Christ. He's an enlisted man. He has all the makings of an unsung hero.
Many believe Jude wrote to the same believers Peter wrote to. They believe he was reminding them; stirring them up and encouraging them in what Peter told them. If you remember in 2 Peter, he was an old man. He knew he wouldn't be around much longer. As he prepared himself to leave this world, he looked at the health of the church. He was concerned because the false teachers were worming their way in. Peter was warning the church and all Christians to beware. He did this by speaking to them of Spiritual knowledge. That knowledge was the weapon to wage war against false teaching and false teachers. This makes sense and fits the letter.
So, while Jude may have been writing to the same people, what's really important is Jude wrote this to you. You, who is also called, sanctified and preserved in the Lord.
Jude was going to write a peace time message. He wanted to write of a common salvation. This is the message of how we are all one in Christ by the blood of the cross. We have one salvation found in Christ for all men; rich, poor; those of the highest education and IQ to those who have no education; male or female; black, white, oriental or whatever; free or slave. Jude's motivation to write a message of common salvation may have been division in the ranks. Christians not engaged or not at work for the Lord tend to war amongst themselves.
So Jude was going to write about common salvation but something changed at the last minute. The Holy Spirit directed Jude in another way. He suddenly found it necessary to exhort them to contend for the faith. Jude found out the enemy was attacking. And the attack wasn't a frontal attack. It was more like espionage, guerrilla warfare and acts of terror.
I think it's fair to wonder, was this fellowship equipped to discover this attack on their own? And if they did recognize it would they be able to hold their own? Were they ready? Awake? Were they watching for the enemy? Or were they fighting amongst themselves?
The servant Jude was concerned. He had information regarding the enemy's intentions. He needed to pass it on to them. Jude said they needed to contend for the faith. All believers possess a faith that was delivered to us. This faith is of great value.
Many times the soldiers don't understand the value of the hill they are asked to defend. They sometimes question whether any hill is worth dying for. I think in most cases, halting the aggression and progress of the enemy was at hand. We are engaged in a battle. If we don't realize that we are in trouble. Our enemy is aggressive and he threatens you faith.
Our faith is of great value and worth contending for. It's not something given out to randomly and without cost. We don't receive this as some ticket to be used to get into heaven. We don't put it in our back pocket to be used someday after we've taken our last breath. Jude says, hold tight to it and contend for it. Contend is an athletic word. It means wrestle for it, go to the mat over it. Do it earnestly; willing to hold onto it at the peril of all else. Fix bayonets, fight hand to hand to the last. To contend is to acknowledge that everything in my life might be stripped from me but I will hold to my faith to my last. To contend earnestly is to enter the trenches of warfare to hold on to the tenets of our faith. There are many who want to strip them away. They will try to do this with reason, with cunning, with overwhelming power and authority. The enemies of God will stop at nothing - they will use every device at hand to get you to give up ground and to cease your contending.
The world says to Christians, Why so contentious? Why are you so intolerant? Can't we all just get along? And as they judge us and are intolerant of us they demand we let go of the truth, the light and the tenets of our faith. All the while, they have no real understanding of why they are even engaged in this fight or why our beliefs bother them so much. It's all the more reason we must contend.
The language Jude uses when he says contend earnestly tells us that this is a present and ongoing struggle. It's happening right now, right where you are. And Jude directs this exhortation to "You" even today in East Tennessee. Your faith is a great gift given to you. Jude says, which was once for all delivered to the saints. Every one of us has a different story and testimony of how the Lord brought us to faith. God prepared you ahead of time. He set the truth in front of you and even gave you the courage to reach out and receive it. He beckoned to us to reach and grasp it and never let go.
If you've never reached out and taken what God has offered, today, right now, is the time and the day. A great price was paid for it and you can't buy it, steal it, or acquire it from some other place. Its free, but a long way from cheap. It's common to all men but not devalued by its abundance. It's precious, personal and there for you. When you reach out and take it, the Lord is faithful to fulfill His promise to save you. When you do that you also become a humble servant in a great army. Then you also must contend.
It's important that we grab our faith and hold on, because......
The other day I saw the leader of one of these Atheist groups that seem to be popping up more and more. This guy was carrying a sign demonstrating at a Christian gathering. It said, "If Jesus comes back, Kill him again." This guy is about as honest and upfront for his hatred of the Lord as one can be. But those guys don't truly threaten our faith. The ones we need to look for are those who have crept in among us. This is the enemy sneaking right into the midst of the camp. What could be more dangerous? No one is expecting that to happen. In fact, this enemy looks exactly like he is part of our army. We have no ability to spot this intruder by looks or actions.
Certain men, who Jude identifies as ungodly, were marked for this. These men might show up in any church. They play the part of a Christian well. They probably seem very religious. It's almost as if they trained for this very thing. Isn't it fascinating how hard it is to train ourselves in godly disciplines, yet its so easy to learn the ungodly things. Ungodly habits are formed in the blink of an eye. Godly habits, the tools we use to contend with, come only with work and intention.
Jude wrote this in or around 69 AD. The church was growing and spreading. As it grew and spread, so did apostasy. Jude was seeing the same thing as Peter. Jude speaks to believers about apostasy and false teaching. And His teachings are even more powerful and relevant today. This is a call to arms that is almost 2000 years old.
In Jude's time, these men were abusing the grace of God all the while claiming to be good people. They said we're saved from our sins. They taught, God does this for us so we can sin. They used grace as a license for lewdness. In doing so, they deny the Lord. They deny holiness and the victory and power over sin.
Most of the time we here lewdness it's a reference to sexual immorality. And that was certainly going on. These "certain men" were acting immoral with no shame at all. They were open and blatant about. So these guys sneak in playing a part and even though they may appear religious, they don't possess any shame. The lewdness of Jude's day was both a moral problem and doctrinal problem. And it's the same today. These two seem to be two sides of the same coin. They go together, they are one in the same, inseparable. A wrong understanding of God - and this includes ignoring God - leads to moral decay. And at the root of any moral decay you will find a doctrinal problem; a wrong understanding or denial of God, arguably every time.
We hold a set of essential truths as our faith and 'certain men' are trying to change what you hold. They are trying to take it away from you; strip it from your grip. In doing so, they will strip away and destroy every institution of God; marriage, family, church and community. Jude exhorts us to hold on tight; contend for it. We are in a war and this hill is worth dying for.
As a Christian, you can't keep it at arms length and not engage in it. You're in it. If you bear the name of Christ you will be attacked.
This is Jude's first example for our consideration. These examples are encouragement for those that are weary of the battle. When it feels like the enemy can't be defeated; when it feels as though he can come and go as he pleases; when you are ready for some R&R, Jude wants to remind you.
God delivered his people from their bondage in Egypt. It was miracle after miracle. It was the Lord's hand guiding them and protecting them. He led them to the Promised Land. And what did they do? They didn't trust the Lord. They turned away in fear. At Kadesh Barnea, they believed the report of men. They trusted what they saw and heard and their emotions instead of trusting what God had told them. We need to note 2 things in this example. One, the certain men were dealt with. Those who stirred up trouble were dealt with by God. Two, the Israelites started well but they didn't finish. They didn't contend. Many followed those who stirred up trouble and paid a terrible price for it.
Jude brings up some controversial topics. This passage creates more questions than it answers. There was a proper domain for angels. Angels were created by God to serve God. Some of these angels left their abode. Peter talks about this very same thing in 2 Peter 2. Both Jude and Peter refer to Genesis 6. This is the story of the sons of God coming down to take the daughters of men as their wives. This unnatural union polluted the human race and brought the judgment on the world. God has reserved these angels in everlasting chains for judgment. Once again, as with the previous example, we see two things in this example. One, the certain ones will be judged by God. Two, we can't rest on some past spiritual status or position, we must contend.
And in this 3rd example we see 2 very similar lessons as the first 2. One, those 'certain men' who stir up trouble will be judged. Two, previous spiritual state doesn't guarantee tomorrow. You must contend.
Jude knew these certain men and what they were doing. This is why he didn't write the peace time letter. Instead he wrote a letter calling all Christians to contend. The enemy had weaseled their way into the church. Then they defiled the flesh, rejected authority and spoke evil of dignitaries. You can turn on "Christian TV" and see this nearly any day. But it's not just TV preachers. These men claim to have prophetic dreams yet all they say and do goes against the core beliefs taught by Jesus and his apostles.
This is another Jude passage that causes more questions than it answers. We don't know what the dispute over the body of Moses was. We know from the bible that he died on Mt. Nebo in Moab; not being able to enter the Promised Land. Apparently the Lord sent Michael to deal with the body of Moses because the devil had other plans. We have no idea what that might be. Michal is THE ARCHANGEL. You don't have to study angels long before you see the power they have. Yet, with all his power, Michael didn't contend with the devil. Michael didn't make accusations or mess around with the devil. He simply deferred to the power of the Lord.
Jude's point was this; these "certain men" are going where they have no business. They've left the boundaries of solid teaching. They are out of bounds from those essential truths laid down by the Law, the prophets, Jesus and the Apostles.
These actions seem to indicate a lack of humility. There is little or no acknowledgement of the higher authority we serve. In their life and in their teachings these false teachers were pedaling apostasy. They didn't know the Spirit or submit to the supernatural authority of God. Like brute beast they operated in the natural; operating on instinct and passion and lust that are born of a dark and sinful heart. Jude says, Woe to them.
We must contend earnestly for our faith today, right now. It must be very real and present in our life. We can't rest like we've arrived at some spiritual high ground that can't be captured. The enemy is crafty and he's certain me to worm their way past or around your defenses. He sent certain men right among the Israelites while God brought them out of bondage. They stood on the border of the Promised Land and passed on it. All the angels once served before the throne of God. They left the service of God. Not willing to contend and serve the Lord humbly doing that for which they were created. Sodom and Gomorrah were at one time blessed cities. But they failed to contend for the things of God. They turned away to sin. And they are set for now as an example of suffering and vengeance of eternal fire.
Jude said those who are called, sanctified and preserved are the good guys. But there are "certain men" who are marked for destruction. They've made it their job to take as many down as they can. They are the bad guys. And the conflict is our faith; these are the beliefs that our salvation is built upon. The enemy wants to take them away.
Sometimes it seems as though be battle against overwhelming odds. No one would argue we are a band of misfits the Lord has brought together. And of our own power we would be crushed. But we operate by the power of the Holy Spirit. By His power, we can and will contend. And we contend earnestly because this hill is worth dying for.
They've gone the way of Cain. Write Genesis 4 in the margin of your bible. Cain's way was to do religion as he saw fit. His heart was wrong when he brought his offering. When it was rejected by God he responded in anger. This anger was directed at the one whose offering was accepted.
The way of Cain is a pursuit of God on man's terms instead of on God's terms. The way of Cain results in jealously, persecution and even murder of the godly.
The next characteristic of these false teachers is they run greedily in the error of Balaam. Write Numbers 22 - 25 and 31 in the margin. Balaam was a profit but he was led away from speaking forth the truth by the glitter of Gold and riches. God even warned him through a talking Donkey. Now, if you find yourself having a conversation with a donkey, it's time to give serious consideration to the direction of your life. Balaam went on to lead his people into sin that caused a curse to fall on them and he did this out of greed.
The error of Balaam was to part from God's plan for Greed. Jude said that's what these false teachers are doing.
Jude goes on to say they perished (paste tense) in the rebellion of Korah. Write Numbers 16 next to this reference. Korah challenged God's appointed leadership. He resented the authority given to Moses. Korah was a Levite and he had a God appointed ministry. He knew how God wanted him to serve. But he rejected God's way and God's leadership, even to the point of challenging Moses. Korah's rebellion ended bad when the ground opened up and swallowed him and his family. And the fire came down and burned up those who followed him.
The rebellion of Korah was to rebel against god's appointed leadership. Jude likens this to the ways of the false teachers.
Jude says these false teachers; these "certain men" when they stand in the pulpit and teach this doctrine, they reject God's appointed leadership and pursue God in their own way for the pursuit of money. They are worse than Cain, Balaam and Korah because they are like all three of them.
The false teachers at that time taught what is called antinomianism. This is a theological term. Here's what it means: The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace.
They say, I'm saved by my faith alone, it's a done deal. Which is fine, but they go on and say, not only will it not change my conduct in any way, they say it can't because if your conduct changes they say you've allowed works to enter into the picture of salvation.
This is an evil doctrine that they somehow arrived it at this from scripture. They have twisted scripture to eliminate any call to holiness and righteousness. An extreme example of this would be a drug addict that cries out to the Lord for salvation. The antinomian says he can't stop using drugs because that somehow pollutes his salvation by works. While the Christians says, and knows, that in true salvation God calls us to righteousness. We no longer have to live in bondage to sin because we've been delivered from it and He provides the Holy Spirit to empower us and grow us in this new freedom.
Now over the years man has developed a lot of different versions of this antinomianism. All these versions essentially divorce good works and a heart change from the saving grace of Jesus Christ. They didn't believe that God had a standard of holiness and righteousness that was to be lived out in the Christian life.
Paul addressed this very thing in Romans 5 and 6. He was contrasting the old man, the Adamic nature with the New man born in Christ. Sin came to the world through 1 man. Grace came in a like way through Christ. Sin abounded in man but through Christ grace abounded that much more. If there was more sin, then there was more than enough grace to cover it. Paul is saying there is no limit to the grace of Jesus Christ. There isn't a man that can sin so much as to not have the grace of God available to him. Anticipating the antinomian response, Paul said this: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (Romans 6:1-2)
These false teachers were standing before God's people teaching just the opposite. They said it was legalism to stop sinning. This is why Jude was fired up. And it's why we must contend because this thinking is alive and well today.
The love feasts were fellowship dinners. It's when everyone brought what they could to share with others. You can imagine everyone doing so with a heart toward serving and sharing with others. Imagine one of these dinners when the tables are set and everyone has brought something. Everyone's stomach is growling but we'll wait to pray and we tend to always defer to others; no one wants to be first.
What if someone came charging in, bringing nothing, "out of my way, I'm hungry. They take a taste of something and spit it out back in the dish. They stick their fingers in the corn pudding, 3 times. They take an entire pie for themselves. It becomes pretty clear, these guys only came to serve themselves.
A person like that would be a pretty ugly spot at a dinner like this, wouldn't they? God sets a beautiful table for his people. It is His church of which he is the head. They are serving each other, loving each other, sharing their lives together. When these guys enter the picture, only serving themselves and loving no one, it become evident they don't belong. They are like a big gravy stain next to a beautiful place setting.
These clouds look like rain but they never deliver. They are useless.
(They are) late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;
A fruit tree that bears no fruit is useless; only good to be pulled up by the roots.
They brought the promise of ministry but only delivered a lot of noise and chaos like a crashing waves. They used words like "grace" and "salvation" and "Jesus" but there was no evidence of any of those things. All that was seen was the havoc among the church and the shame they operated in, all the while calling it grace, while the Christian in pursuit of God's righteousness was called a legalist.
Picture this as a shooting star; a moment of brilliance, a flash that serves no purpose. It draws your attention for a second and is gone forever and forgotten in everlasting darkness.
Jude is quoting Enoch from the writings of Enoch which are outside the bible. This is just using something outside the bible to reinforce what the bible says. Jude's point is that there is a day of judgment coming. It doesn't matter if you failed to prepare. It doesn't matter if you were fooled into thinking it was never going to happen. It doesn't matter if you don't believe in God. The truth is a day is coming when you will stand before Him and give an account. On that day our only hope is found in Jesus.
These guys were all about words. They could speak and flatter and gain advantage because they could sound like they knew what they were talking about. But the words and flowing language couldn't hide the attitude of rebellion. They grumbled and complained, never happy. They spent their time picking nits. Anyone who was in the pursuit of righteous; anyone who was obedient to God; anyone with an absence of sin, was called a legalist. They were professional critics of everyone else yet unable to stand against any criticism of themselves or their doctrine. They spoke against more that they spoke for.
These men mixed with God's shepherds. They pretended to be shepherds leading and feeding the flock. But these men didn't have the heart of a servant shepherd. Jesus set the example of a shepherd when he washed the feet of the disciples. These "certain men" would never wash the feet of God's people.
Jude says remember. Again, he's reminding these folks of what they should already know. He's reminding us of what we should know.
These false teachers are people that operate from feelings and emotions. While they preach tolerance, they cause division. They make their own rules not possessing the Spirit of God. And we shouldn't be surprised when we see people acting this way. Jesus and the Apostles both warned of mockers in the last time.
In 2 Peter 3 Peter wrote that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
Peter wrote that they would be mindful. Jude followed up with reminding them what Peter wrote.
And we know Paul wrote 2 Timothy 4; For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
The world is full of churches with pastors that don't offer sound doctrine. They preach sermons looking for acceptance, to build a following, to raise up a crowd and increase giving. These certain men could be anyone and come from anywhere. Some you may know personally and it may be painful to acknowledge. Other attacks may come from TV, work, internet.
We need to recognize these people for what they are. They may be very passionate and sincere about their beliefs. It doesn't change the fact that they are passionately and sincerely wrong and causing sin.
Remember this battle is personal. It's fought in your mind as you daily make decisions regarding your walk as a Christian. The world and the antinomians say, live however you like, your works have nothing to do with your faith.
Paul said in Ephesians, we are God's workmanship, created for good works. As the workmanship of God, we are driven by the Spirit of God that lives in us. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Jude doesn't say to go to war against these folks. He doesn't say we should attack them or engage them in any way. We simply recognize them as enemies to our faith. We are to grow in holiness and righteousness. We should focus on our growth and our walk and our relationship with the Lord. Jude said, don't be impressed with, or influence by these guys. God will deal with them. We are simply to contend.
To contend is to hold fast to the faith you've been given. You who is called, sanctified and preserved, contend earnestly. Here's now to do it: Keep your self in God's love. Build yourself up. Pray in the Spirit Keep your self looking for the mercy of Jesus. (humility)
Imagine standing in front of these men. They are educated. They speak in a way that engages the listener. They use the buzz words of religion. They flatter and captivate their audience. Any person could get drawn into that if they weren't careful. And we must contend by keeping, building, praying all in humility.
But then, outside of our own contending, we see others falling prey to these shysters. How are we to respond? I think you can make the case that there are 3 groups represented here. We aren't to deal with any of them in anger. No one will be corrected by finger pointing yelling "Heretic!" or "Heathen!" No one will return to the faith by any of us acting as if we have achieved some high and holy place of faith.
We are to make a distinction. That happens by the Holy Spirit directing us. First, we have compassion on those who are suffering from unbelief. We've all been there. But for the grace of God we may be there again tomorrow. Have compassion and a loving concern for these people as they deal with doubts and concerns. These are the people hearing this false teaching and giving it a place in their thoughts, wondering if there is anything to it.
At the Second level are those who are deeper in unbelief. These people need rescued from the fire. Like the Israelites that stood at the promised land but failed to step forward; or the angels that left their abode; or Sodom & Gomorrah that were once godly cities; these people are about to make a grave error. They have allowed this doctrine into their thought process. They are entertaining thoughts of sin; sin the Lord called for them to set aside. They must be pulled out of the fire.
The third level are those who are disciples of apostasy. These people have bought into this doctrine. They've allowed it to affect their life instead of the direction of the Holy Spirit to be Holy.
These people still deserve our mercy. But extreme caution is needed on our part. Chasing after them may lead you into dangerous territory. This is where you must be prayed up and grounded in the word. You need someone to stand with you when dealing with a disciple of apostasy because the enemy will come after you to steal your faith. He will also come after you because you are trying to rescue others. Don't for a second think that isn't a real and valid threat.
Jude truly believed this threat was real danger. And we should be warned because the Lord put it in His word. Each individual is threatened. Each individual has to be prepared to contend. Each of us must Keep our self in God's love, build our self up, pray in the Spirit and keep our self looking for the mercy of Jesus. (Humility)
This may all seem overwhelming to us individually. We may all feel ill equipped and unprepared. We may feel totally inadequate to contend. The threats are so real and so prevalent. The odds seemed to be stacked against us. Yet, we are called to walk on; carry on for a time; for today, for now.
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
God is able to guard your steps. He is able to present you. Do you trust him? Will you lean on Him today? Will you contend, not in your own strength and understanding but in His? It is the joy and glory of Christ to do this work in you.
25 To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
©2012 Doug Ford
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