I previously wrote an article on this same subject a couple of weeks ago as I was preparing to teach a seminar on how to study the Bible inductively. I am now teaching Jude, Precept Upon Precept. Last week we met and covered lesson 1, the overview. I am preparing to teach lesson 2 this coming Monday night. I would like to share some of the truths that I have discovered. I pray that they will be as encouraging to you as they are to me.
As we have seen from our previous study of Jude, there are two types of people described in this letter and they are both members of the church. I would like to examine the two different groups to see what we learn about contending earnestly for the faith.
I. The genuine believers
This article is going to cover verses 1-4 in Jude. Now that you have had a chance to read these verses, let’s see what we can discover about the genuine believers. There are 4 important things that we learn about the genuine believers in these 4 verses.
- Called – the word called means invited, one who has been given an invitation. The genuine believers have been invited to take part in something bigger than themselves. There are a few cross references that explain what the calling means and what they have been called to do and to be. II Timothy 1:8-9,God calls us to salvation. God also calls us to His purposes, instead of our own purposes. The calling that we have been given is according to the grace of God and not based on our own merits. II Thessalonians 2:13-14, the calling that God extends to us is found in the Gospel, the Word of God. I Peter 2:9, the calling that God gives to us is to come out of darkness and enter into the light. We are called to proclaim the excellencies of God, which are found in the Scriptures. Romans 8:28-30, God has called us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. This invitation is extended to anyone who will answer the call. Have you accepted the call? Have you received God’s salvation? Are you living for the purposes of God? Are you proclaiming the excellencies of God to others? Are you being conformed to the image of Christ day by day?
- Beloved – the word means one who is welcome, one who is well pleasing to another. As we are being conformed to the image of Christ, we become pleasing to the Lord. When He looks at us, He sees the image of Christ. Romans 9:22-26, we become pleasing to God when we are adopted into God’s family. I John 3:1-3, we become pleasing to God when we become His children through faith in Christ. In Christ’s family, we become more and more like Christ each day. This is pleasing to God. Ephesians 5:1-2, God is pleased when we imitate Him by walking in love.
- Kept – the word kept means “to attend carefully”. It means to take care of or be taken care of by another. God watches over and guards us. We are kept by the Lord for Jesus Christ. Not only does God keep us, we also have to keep ourselves. The letter ends with God keeping us.
- Contend earnestly for the faith – the phrase contend earnestly means to position yourself against and strive vigorously. The voice of the verb indicates that God does His part and you have to do your part. It is in the present tense meaning that it is an ongoing action. We must constantly contend for the faith. The word faith means to be persuaded by the evidence, to be convinced based on facts. How do we contend earnestly for the faith? Galatians 1:23, we content by preaching the Gospel. Ephesians 4:1-6, we content by the way that we live our lives, walking in humility, gentleness, peace, patience, love, and creating unity. I Timothy 4:1-3, 6, contending for the faith means going up against deceitful doctrines, liars, hypocrites, people who make up their own laws. I must feast on the Word of God and encourage the people around me to do the same. I must share with my brothers and sisters to protect them from heresy.
Are these qualities and characteristics a part of your daily life? Are you working with the Lord to do your part in contending earnestly for the faith?
II. They ungodly in the church
God wants us to be aware of them, one, so that we can be protected from them, two, so that we can protect others from them, and three, so that we can confront them with the Word of God, hopefully leading them to salvation. There are also 4 things that we learn about the ungodly in verse 1-4.
- Marked out beforehand – this phrase is one word in Greek, a Greek word made up of 2 different Greek words. The Greek word is prographo. Pro means before and grapho means to draw on, to mark out. God marked out the way of these people long ago in His Holy Word. They take the mark on themselves by following the path that was already described by God. They we not predestined to be this way. This way was prescribed by God and they walked the path. They marked themselves.
- Change the grace of God – They do not accept the gift that God offers them, the gift that transforms their lives and lifestyles. They actually take the grace of God and try to twist it to what it is not. They are familiar with the lingo but do not understand what grace is or what the Gospel does.
- Licentiousness – this means to have no limits, to have no boundaries, unbridled lust/desire. The Gospel teaches us to be disciplined, to deny ungodliness and deny worldly desires, to live sensibly, righteously, and godly. They do not understand the power of the Gospel.
- Deny the Lord and Master – the verb here shows that their denial of Christ is not a one time thing but a way of life. They do their part in denying Christ and are accompanied by their sin nature who also does its part in denying Christ. They claim to know the Lord with their mouths yet deny Him with their actions and their teachings. They are false, or pseudo. They seem like the real thing but they are false in their lifestyle. They are also false teachers. Their teaching is also pseudo. It seems kosher but it is not the real thing. Their teachings are destructive, both to themselves and to those who listen to them. They are led by their sin nature into sensual thoughts and actions. They do what they do for money. They are driven by the flesh.
The ungodly in the church are still slaves to sin. They are not servants (slaves) of the Lord Jesus Christ. They want just enough Jesus to get them into heaven but not enough to transform their lives. They teach others this dangerous heresy.
My dear friend, which of these two categories are you more like? Isn’t it funny that God is very black and white with this? There is no grey area. In fact, we are the ones who look for and invent the grey area. May the Lord help us realize who we really are so that we can have genuine faith and contend for that faith faith for the glory of God.