Have you ever been involved in one if those peculiar situations? You know the one I am talking about, where one person or group is the victim of a wrongdoing but everyone just sits and watches. You know what is happening is wrong but for some reason you just sit and watch and don’t get involved. Your conscious may be screaming “don’t just sit there, do something!”
The situation that is happening to the group of believers that Jude is writing to is that some “people have crept in unnoticed.” These people slithered their way into the Church, maybe into positions of leadership, teachers or deacons. Jude is interesting here, because he tells us very little on what these false teachers are teaching. He doesn’t give us a point for point rebuttal of their errors. What the rest of the book of Jude informs us about is the character behind the false teachers. Jude is teaching believers how to recognize false teachers. You know what astounds me? Much hasn’t changed, but I am getting ahead of my self.
What are these false teachers teaching?
These people are referred to by Jude as “ungodly” and these people “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” This is the only description Jude gives us of what they are teaching, which seems to be some sort of libertine theology “go ahead and sin God’s grace will cover it.” In doing so they deny the Lordship of Christ because they are not submissive to His Word and the commands of The Lord Jesus Christ. Other than this brief description Jude moves on to focus on their character. But what we are going to focus on today is Jude’s forceful echo all the way from the first century, “don’t just sit there, do something!”
A First Priority Issue
When Jude sat down to write his letter, he tells us his intentions were to write about our “common salvation.” Now we can all agree that salvation is of vital importance. The salvation of a person is a matter of heaven and hell, it is a first priority issue. Yet, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jude “found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith,” The words Jude uses here are critical to understanding his urgency. Jude’s use of necessary and appealing are important. Jude is saying, “I wanted to write to you about our salvation, but I am compelled to say this first so I am begging you to listen to me please,” If salvation is a first priority issue, Jude makes it very clear, contending for the faith that saves us is also a first priority issue. But what exactly is Jude asking of us? What is this verse implying?
Contend for the Faith
The word contend that Jude uses is an athletic term. In a couple of days our nation will be enveloped by a little event called the Super Bowl where the Seahawks and the Broncos will play a football game to find out who will be this years champions. In this game they will each do everything possible, within the rules, to keep each other from scoring points and score more points than the other. They will contend for the right to be champion of the NFL. This is the term Jude uses, he uses “fighting words.” Jude is telling us, when necessary; fight, defend and contend for the faith against these false teachers.
Secondly, Jude isn’t asking us to fight for the sake of fighting. Jude tells us to contend for “the faith.” Jude has a specific set of beliefs, a creed, in mind here. Maybe something like 1 Corinthians 15:3-4,
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
Jude wasn’t the only New Testament writer to use “the faith” to refer to objective truth, which is the gospel. When Paul was telling his story to the Galatians he says,
They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” (Gal. 1:23)
Jude is imploring us to fight for the Gospel, for truth. Now the assumption Jude is making here is that his audience actually knows “the faith.” We are Jude’s audience now, do we know the Christian faith? Do you know the “what” of the Gospel? Do you know why you believe the Gospel? Can you defend it against false teachers in and outside the church? Jude’s assumption is yes.
Finally, Jude tells us that “the faith” “was once for all delivered to the saints.” Why is this important? The false teachers that were slithering into the church were claiming to have “new revelation.” They were coming claiming an authority that did not belong to them. Jude told this group of believers “the faith” is a done deal already delivered, so if any one tries to add to the Gospel, defend it and drop them like a bad habit.
My friends, take Jude’s exhortation seriously and know what you believe and why you believe it. Also be ready to stand up and defend it. When false teachers come to your church, your home or into your world “don’t just sit there, do something!”