When I look at America today, it is shocking to see what is going on in our nation. From the promotion of things of the vilest sort to corruption in all levels of leadership, the state of the government can seem hopeless. But this post is not about that. As shocking as the state of any country can be, it should not be surprising because, after all, nations are godless. The truly shocking state of affairs is in the Church, where untold numbers of false teachings have crept in. So even though I would like to focus on the gospel, I am compelled to address the things that have come into the Church.
Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, felt the same way. He wanted to write his epistle on their common salvation but was compelled to address the work of false teachers in the Church. After finishing the James series, I was going to move into Ephesians, but I believe a study in Jude is critically needed in the Church right now, so, over the next several weeks, we will work our way through the twenty-five verses in Jude.
Jude 1:1-3 TLV “Judah, a slave of Yeshua the Messiah and brother of Jacob, To those who are called, who are loved in God the Father, and kept safe for Yeshua the Messiah: 2 May mercy and shalom and love be multiplied to you! 3 Loved ones, though very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I felt it necessary to write to you urging you to continue to contend for the faith that was once for all handed down to the kedoshim.”
It is interesting to note that Jude identified himself as a slave of Christ instead of the brother of Christ. Furthermore, Jude is humble, whereas the false teachers he warns about are prideful. Paul also addressed these same types of men in his letters. The only New Testament book that does not address false teachers and false teaching is the letter to Philemon. With that in mind, we can see how Jude could be compelled to forgo writing what he planned and address the problem of false teachers infiltrating the Church.
Jude addressed his letter to “the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept by Jesus Christ:” To be called is to be personally chosen. This isn’t referring to the generic call of repentance but the effectual calling to salvation. Believers receive that call because they were beloved of God before the foundation of the world. God chose Jacob over Esau before either one did good or evil. God decreed that the older would serve the younger based on His divine prerogative. We are called, we are loved, and we are kept by Christ. The English says for, but the Greek word is better rendered by, which affirms what Jesus said, and Paul repeated in Romans: no man can pluck us out of His hand.
Jude wanted his recipients to know they were secure in God, and he went further to say, “may mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.” He began with such encouragement because he knew what he would deal with for the remainder of the letter. Jude wanted the compassion, rest, and affection to abound in believers; he didn’t want them to fall into the traps of the false teachers. He even explained that he wanted to write about their common salvation but “[he] felt the necessity to write to you exhorting that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”
It isn’t enough to have received salvation and know the gospel; we must contend for the truth. Jesus and all the New Testament writers warned of a falling away. Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 “ For the time will come when they will not put up with sound instruction, but they will pile up for themselves teachers in keeping with their own desires, to have their ears tickled. 4 And they will turn away from hearing the truth and wander off to myths.”
We must contend for the truth; we must not allow the gospel to be polluted with worldly ideologies; we cannot let entertainment take precedent over equipping the saints, which is happening in the Church today. Although, of course, this kind of message wasn’t popular in the early church, it is less popular today. But the truth matters, the Biblical gospel matters. So I will stand for the Biblical gospel against the social gospel, the prosperity gospel, the power evangelism gospel, and any other false teaching that enters the Church.
The prosperity gospel deceived me at one time; I have read the progressive emergent books. All of that has been repackaged for Critical Race Theory to enter evangelical circles. I like Jude, feel a necessity to warn against false teaching and contend earnestly for the faith, the gospel message.
From the letters of the New Testament, Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Thesis, The Down-Grade Controversy where Charles Spurgeon stood alone, and in our day, there has always been a battle for truth. And in the coming weeks, we will face that battle head-on as we go verse-by-verse through Jude, consult Church history, and deal with the false teachings and teachers present in our day. This battle is not for the faint of heart, but it is a battle that must be fought; we must stand, or we will fall.
Resources to be equipped for the fight:
Ashamed of the Gospel: John MacArthur
Apostasy from the Gospel: John Owen