“Called to Contend” – Jude 1:1-7

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Jude 1:1-7

“Called to Contend”Download Mp3
Bible Memory Verse for the Week:The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.  -Psalm 145:17-18

 

Background Information:

  • The writer was the half-brother of Christ, called “Judas” in Mark 6:3.  The resurrected Christ was seen by James, another half-brother (1 Cor 15:7), so undoubtedly both James and Judas became believers about the same time.  Christ’s brethren are mentioned in Acts 1:13-14 as sharing in the prayer meeting before Pentecost.  Note that Jude does not boast of his human relationship to Christ.  He prefers to call himself a “bond-slave of Jesus Christ” and a brother of James.  Though in his letter Jude speaks of judgment, he is careful to point out that the true believer is kept in Christ (w. 1, 24).  We do not keep ourselves saved, but we should keep ourselves in the love of God by obeying His Word (v. 21).  (Warren Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament, 784)
  • If the James of Jude 1:1 can be so identified, Jude was the brother of the leader of the  Jerusalem church (Acts 12:17 15:13; 21:18; 1 Cor 15:7; Gal 1:19, 2:9, 12) and the half-brother of Jesus of Nazareth (Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3).  If the Jude of this letter was the half-brother of Jesus, he did not believe in the messiahship of Jesus until after the Resurrection (Jn 7:5; cf. Acts 1:14 [“his brothers”]).  This probably explains the humility with which Jude introduces himself in 1:1 as a servant (slave) of the brother (now recognized as the Messiah) he had denied.  (Edwin A. Blum, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol. XII, 381)
  • Furthermore, James and Jude refrain from calling themselves Jesus’ brothers (Jas 1:1; v. 1).  We assume that they do not wish to use their familial relationship to Jesus as a means to gain recognition.  For that reason, both James and Jude place themselves on the same level as all other believers.  They refer to themselves as servants of Jesus Christ.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, New testament Commentary: James, Epistles of John, Peter, and Jude, 366)
  • Jude had desired to write on the subject of the church’s teaching (“the salvation we share, v.3) but he found it necessary to warn his readers concerning innovators who were smuggling false teaching into the churches.  Quite likely, these teachers had an itinerant ministry in imitation of the apostles.  Both Paul (cf. Gal, Col) and John (cf. 1 and 2 John) faced the problem of false teachers who promoted a different gospel and erroneous instruction.  (Edwin A. Blum, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol. XII, 384)
  • What clear testimony this gives of the deity of the Lord Jesus.  If anyone would be in a position to refute the claim of Jesus of being God, it would be the brothers of Jesus.  Although they did not come to believe in him until after his resurrection from the dead, nevertheless these letters constitute a seal of confirmation that the claims of the New Testament concerning Jesus Christ are valid, in that they are supported even by those who would have every reason to deny them.  (Ray Stedman, Jude: Contending for the Faith commentary, blueletterbible.org)
  • What clear testimony this gives of the deity of the Lord Jesus.  If anyone would be in a position to refute the claim of Jesus of being God, it would be the brothers of Jesus. Although they did not come to believe in him until after his resurrection from the dead, nevertheless these letters constitute a seal of confirmation that the claims of the New Testament concerning Jesus Christ are valid, in that they are supported even by those who would have every reason to deny them.  (Ray Stedman, Commentary on Jude, Raystedman.org)

The question to be answered is… Why would Jude switch gears to warn the church about these false teachers that had snuck into the church?  What can we glean from it as a church 2,000 years later?

 

Answer:  Jude knew that, if left uncontended, these false teachers could do tremendous harm to the body.  Jude knew he needed to address things before they got out of hand.  Even today, it is far too easy for false teachers/teachings to permeate our faith.  Like Jude, we would do well to know how to spot false teachers/teachings, contend for the truth, and remove these blemishes.  As God’s inspired Word for us today, Jude’s call to the early church is also our call; to contend for the truth of God’s Word and for the faith that we share in Christ.

 

The Word for the Day is Contend

 

What does it mean to contend for the faith today?

 

I.  Know what your faith consists of. (John 3:1-15; 14:6; Romans 3:23, 5:8, 5:12, 6:15-23; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Philippians 2:6-11; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21)

 

People who do not seek to know the truth in God’s Word are susceptible to apostasy.  Become a student of the Scriptures and keep your focus on Christ.  Guard against any false teachings that would distract you or pull you away from God’s truth. (Life Application Bible Commentary on 1&2 Peter, Jude, 232)

 

“The faith of the Protestants, in general, embraces only those truths, as necessary to salvation, which are clearly revealed in the oracles of God.  Whatever is plainly declared in the Old and New Testaments is the object of their faith.  They believe neither more nor less than what is manifestly contained in, and provable by, the Holy Scriptures…. The written Word is the whole and sole rule of their faith, as well as practice.  They believe whatsoever God has declared, and profess to do whatsoever He hath commanded.  This is the proper faith of Protestants: by this they will abide, and no other.” (John Wesley, “On Faith,” Sermon #106, I.8)

 

II.  Know why you believe it.  (Luke 12:35; Romans 10:17; Eph. 2:8-9; Hebrews 11:6; James 2:19)

 

If we would hold fast that which is good, we must not tolerate any doctrine that is not the pure doctrine of Christ’s Gospel. There is a hatred that is downright charity:  that is the hatred of erroneous doctrine.  There is an intolerance which is downright praiseworthy: that is the intolerance of false teaching in the pulpit.  Who would ever think of tolerating a little poison given to him day by day?  If men come among you who do not preach “all the counsel of God,” who do not preach of Christ, sin, holiness, of ruin, and redemption, and regeneration, – or do not preach of these things in a Scriptural way, you ought to cease to hear them.  You ought to carry out the spirit shown by the Apostle Paul, in Gal.1:8: “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached, let him be accursed.”  (J.C. Ryle, Tract: Hold Fast)

 

As you read this epistle, you cannot help but realize that Christians must defend the faith and oppose false teachers.  Christ is guarding us, but He wants us to guard the deposit He has left in our hands (2 Tm 1:13-14; 1 Tm 6:20). There is awful doom awaiting those who reject Christ and teach Satan’s lies.  Some we might be able to save; others we can only pity.  May God help us to be faithful until He comes!  (Warren Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament, 787)

 

God does not expect us to submit our faith to him without reason, but the very limits of our reason make faith a necessity.  (Augustine.)

 

III.  Learn how and when to defend it. (Isaiah 43:10; Matthew 5:11-12; Acts 17:1-34; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 4:1-22; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Titus 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; Philippians 1:16)

 

Second, to “contend” does not necessarily mean to become defensive or to be conservative in the sense of making a goal of the status quo.  The verb means “to wrestle” or “to struggle.”  When put into English letters, the Greek word is “agonize.”  Paul used the word when he asked the church in Rome “to join me in earnest prayer”; that is, “agonize with me in prayer” (Rom. 15:30).  Jude is asking for passionate engagement in the life of discipleship, to behave as though who God is, who Christ is, and who we are really matter.  Something is at stake here.  (Fred B. Craddock, First and Second Peter and Jude, 137)

 

The third thing is that it needs to be proclaimed, or contended for.  Now some think that contending for the faith means to roll the Bible up into a bludgeon with which to beat people over the head.  Such people feel that they need to be very contentious in contending for the faith.  But this is not what Jude has in mind at all.  He is simply talking about the need for proclaiming the truth.  As Charles Spurgeon used to put it: “The truth is like a lion.  Whoever heard of defending a lion?  Just turn it loose and it will defend itself.” This is the way the word of God is.  If we begin to proclaim it, it will defend itself.  (Ray Stedman, Commentary on Jude, Raystedman.org)

 

IV.  Lovingly stand up for it.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1; Matthew 18:15-20; Acts 15:1-41; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:15, 25; 2 Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 4:12, 10:35-38; James 5:11; 1 John 5:6)

 

How are Christians to react to this danger?  “Contend earnestly for the faith!” (v. 3) is Jude’s command.  We are to defend God’s truth and the body of doctrine the NT calls “the faith.”  We are to be soldiers who hold the fort at any cost.  (Warren Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament, 784)

 

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” ― Mark Twain

 

 

CONCLUSION / APPLICATION:

 

A.    Watch out for false teachers and teachings that will lead you astray from the truths of God.  (1 John 4:1-6; 2 Peter 2:1; Matthew 7:15, 21; 15:14; 24:24; Mark 7:6-9; Deut. 18:20; Rom. 16:18; John 8:44; Gal. 1:6-9; Psalm 55:21)

The church today is plagued by false teachers claiming superior knowledge and experience; yet their lives are often worse than those of the average pagan.  (Edwin A. Blum, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol. XII, 388)

Let us be on our guard against false doctrine.  Unsound faith will never be the mother of really sound practice, and in these latter days, departures from the faith abound.  See then that your loins be girded about with truth, and be very jealous of receiving anything which cannot be proved by the Bible.  Do not think for a moment that false doctrine will meet you face to face, saying, “I am false doctrine, and I want to come into your heart.”  Satan does not go to work in that way.  He dresses up false doctrine like Jezebel — he paints her face and attires her hair, and tries to make her like truth.  Do not think that those who preach error will never preach anything that is true.  Error would do little harm if that was the case.  No!  Error will come before you mingled with much that is sound and scriptural.  (J.C. Ryle, Tract: Consider Your Ways)

 

B.    When these teachers/teachings come (and they will), contend for the faith!  (1 Corinthians 14:33; Jeremiah 5:30-31; 23:21, 26; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Peter 2:3; 2 Timothy 4:3; Deuteronomy 13:1-4; Ezekiel 13:6; Romans 1:20)

We are narrowly practical in our focus, myopically concentrating on the “bottom line” of behavior to the exclusion of everything else.  But one of the points Jude is trying to get across is that truth and practice are linked together.  Confessing the right things is vital if we are to live the right way.  The truth of God in Christ sets people free.  Surely, if we really appreciate the power of the gospel and the blessings it brings to us, we will be more passionate in maintaining and defending it.  (Douglas J. Moo, The NIV Application Bible Commentary: 2 Peter, Jude, 237)

 

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” – (G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, 1925)

 

Worship Point:

Contending for the faith is in itself an act of worship.  It equates to you living out, and standing firm in, the faith you have in Christ.  As you grow in your understanding of the faith you have, worship will happen.

 

Spiritual Challenge:

Learn about the faith you have in Christ.  Learn so that you can easily spot false teaching(s) when they surface and rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).  As you do, your spirit will soar and you will undoubtedly grow in your relationship with the God of truth.

 

Quotes To Note:

Make sure that you avoid leaders and teachers (even in the church) who change the Bible to suit their own purposes.  Genuine servants of God will faithfully portray Christ in their words and conduct.  Watch out for anyone who tries to make Jesus anything less than the King of kings and Lord of lords and who tries to make the Bible anything less than the inspired, inerrant Word of God.  (Life Application Bible Commentary on 1&2 Peter, Jude, 232)

 

Nominal Christianity has always been the enemy of the church.  Jesus warned against the nominal kind of spiritual lifestyle when He quoted Isaiah in saying, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Mark 7:6, Is. 29:13).  (Loyd J. Ogilvie, The Communicator’s Commentary: James, 1,2 Peter, Jude, 248)

 

To be Christian is to contend for that faith, not being intimidated or beguiled by either the bombastic or the flattering speech of the worldly wise intruders (vv.16, 19).  It is to realize one’s own vulnerability and capacity for going astray and therefore, to be diligent in prayer, in keeping oneself within the circle of love that flows from God, in strengthening faith through all available resources, and in constant hope of Christ’s mercy.  (Fred B. Craddock, First and Second Peter and Jude, 131)

 

The Book of Jude has been called “the most neglected book in the New Testament.  There may be various reasons for its neglect, e.g., its brevity, its citation of noncanonical Jewish writings, and its burning denunciation of error.  Yet Christians and the church today need to listen to Jude’s contribution to biblical revelation.  The emphasis on a “fixed” core of truth known as “the faith” needs to be pondered.  Jesus is God’s word to man (cf. Rom 6:17; Heb 1:1-4).  “God is light; in Him there is no darkness” (1 John 1:5ff.) is the apostle John’s summary of the revelation of God in Jesus.  God is righteous and true and he hates sin and error.  (Edwin A. Blum, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol. XII, 384)

 

They ‘turn the grace of our God into licentiousness’ (v. 4).  The “grace” (charis) of God is very expensive.  It has been bought with the very blood of Jesus Christ.  His grace has been bestowed upon us so that we will live the godly life of righteousness.  But those who walk in sin would encourage us to misuse this grace as a means of license to live the life of immorality.  (Loyd J. Ogilvie, The Communicator’s Commentary: James, 1,2 Peter, Jude, 252)

 

Many things combine to make the present inroad of false doctrine peculiarly dangerous.

1. There is an undeniable zeal in some of the teachers of error: their “earnestness” makes many think they must be right.

2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge:  many fancy that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe guides.

3. There is a general tendency to free thought and free inquiry in these latter days:  many like to prove their independence of judgment, by believing novelties.

4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear charitable and liberal-minded:  many seem half ashamed of saying that anybody can be in the wrong.

5. There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers:  they are incessantly using Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense.

6. There is a morbid craving in the public mind for a more sensuous, ceremonial, sensational, showy worship:  men are impatient of inward, invisible heart-work.

7. There is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, and a determination to forget that Satan often masquerades himself “as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

8. There is a wide-spread “gullibility” among professing Christians:  every heretic who tells his story plausibly is sure to be believed, and everybody who doubts him is called a persecutor and a narrow-minded man.

 

All these things are peculiar symptoms of our times.  I defy any observing person to deny them.  They tend to make the assaults of false doctrine in our day peculiarly dangerous.  They make it more than ever needful to cry aloud, “Do not be carried away!” (J.C. Ryle, Warnings to the Churches, “Divers and Strange Doctrines”, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1967], 76, 77)

 

Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.  (G.K. Chesterton, ILN, 4/19/30)

 

Truth by definition excludes.  (Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message, 6)

 

In other words, truth is not only a matter of offense, in that it makes certain assertions. It is also a matter of defense in that it must be able to make a cogent and sensible response to the counterpoints that are raised. (Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message, 55)

 

 

 

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