Hosea 10:1-11:12; Jude 1:1-19; Psalms 126:1-3; Proverbs 27:17
NT: “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James: To those who are the called, loved by God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ. May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write, appealing to you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For some people, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into sensuality and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord… But these people blaspheme anything they do not understand. And what they do understand by instinct — like irrational animals — by these things they are destroyed. Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, have plunged into Balaam’s error for profit, and have perished in Korah’s rebellion. These people are dangerous reefs at your love feasts as they eat with you without reverence. They are shepherds who only look after themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by winds; trees in late autumn — fruitless, twice dead and uprooted.” (Jude 1:1-4, 10-12 CSB)
This epistle was written by Jude, the brother of James. Jude and James were sons of Mary and Joseph, thus they were biological half-brothers of Jesus. This letter parallels the epistle of 2nd Peter in many ways, therefore it is believed that this letter could have been written after 2nd Peter to the same audience.
Jude’s purpose for writing is clear from the start. He desired to write to them about the salvation they shared, but was compelled to warn them of apostates that had crept into the church. Jude wrote this letter to expose the apostates and challenge the believing community to contend for the faith.
Apostasy, by definition, is the refusal to follow, obey or recognize a religious faith. These apostate people had come into the church by stealth, appearing to be believers and were living in the midst of the believing community and attempting to influence the believers away from the doctrines of the apostles and genuine faith in Christ. They were like Cain, in that they had no desire to obey and honor the Lord, but desired to follow their own ways instead. They were like Balaam, in that they were willing to lead the people into sin for a profit. They were like Korah, who started a rebellion against God-ordained leadership from within the camp. They were like dangerous reefs, lurking just out of sight, threatening to shipwreck people’s faith. In their disrespect and disdain for the grace of God, they were completely empty and fruitless, even though they had the appearance of being full and fruitful.
Jude appealed to his readers to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once and for all. The word contend means to fight earnestly and struggle for something. The Greek word is derived from a word that means to endeavor with strenuous zeal. Jude didn’t want the believers to passively dismiss these apostates as not being a threat. He wanted them to wage war against their teachings and fight earnestly for the once-for-all faith in the gospel of Christ – as if their lives depended on it. When we come into faith in Christ and become citizens of the kingdom of God, we enter a war. There are forces that stand against the purposes of God and want nothing more than to either destroy us or weaken us so much that we have no affect on the world around us. In order to stand strong in the faith and not get blown off course or shipwrecked, we must contend.
Psalms: “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Our mouths were filled with laughter then, and our tongues with shouts of joy. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord had done great things for us; we were joyful.” (Psalms 126:1-3 CSB)
This song of ascents was likely written by those who had returned to Jerusalem after the exile in Babylon. When they were able to return to Jerusalem after 70 years in exile, it was a dream come true. They were elated. The way that they were able to come back to their land and get quickly reestablished was a testimony to them and the surrounding nations of God’s faithfulness to His people. However, the “honeymoon period” had come to an end and things were becoming challenging.
That is the case with believers in Christ. When we first get saved, we are elated and full of joy – but eventually, the reality that we are at war with the world, the flesh and the devil sets in. Life in Christ is not always easy. There are wars to fight. We have to contend for the faith that saved us. But thankfully, we have the grace of God and the help of other believers to help us, in the end, to remain standing.
Proverbs: “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 CSB)
We were not made, nor are we graced, to walk this life of faith alone. We need other trusted brothers and sisters in the faith to challenge us and spur us forward. We need people like Jude to appeal to us to contend and not get passive. Sharpening isn’t always pleasant – but it is necessary for us to continue on the the faith and calling of Christ.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for covenant comrades that spur me on to contend for the faith and stand strong for the things of God. Help me to not grow passive with the things in the world that slowly word at eroding my faith. Help me to recognize them and earnestly fight against them by grace, so that I do not end up blown off course and shipwrecked. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.