Monday, December 10, 2018

Devotional: Defending The Faith, Jude 1-16

Outline Jude 1-16

The Letter of Jude is very similar to 2nd Peter (who knows which one came first and influenced the other) and deal with a very similar issue. Jude writes passionately to urge believers to see the urgency of opposing false teaching and to fight against apostasy to preserve the content of the witness of the apostles to the gospel contained in the New Testament. We need to recognize that, in every church, there are people who, some out of ignorance and others out of intentional rebellion, who are being used by the forces of evil to destroy the church’s witness to the gospel, pervert its witness and oppose God’s kingdom. Jude wants us to prepare ourselves to know and preserve the truth and rescue the church from false teachers in God’s strength.

Jude hints at the basic problem with the false teachers in the greeting of the letter (1-2). True leaders, “slaves of Jesus Christ,” who recognize their dependence on God who has called them into the faith, loves them and keeps them in the faith. One of the key characteristics of the false teachers is a self-reliance that breaks God’s boundaries and abuses the responsibility of authority.

The main job of Christian teachers is to accurately explain the special revelation of God contained in scripture and apply it to daily life. (3-4) This requires diligent study in the scriptures to properly understand it and continuing dependence on the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jude sees the false teaching focusing on two issues. First, false teachers “deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” That is they compromise the deity and authority of Christ, often by deemphasizing or redefining the Trinity and the nature of Jesus as the God-Man. Second they “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality” by twisting the idea “that God loves as we are” into “God is ok with leaving you just as you are,” in order to excuse their own immorality. The grace of God is always extended to everyone where they are but is always working to change those who believe into the likeness of Christ. Good teaching must keep this balance, God has entrusted us with this counter-intuitive special revelation and Jude wants us to avoid the condemnation that we bring on ourselves when we change or compromise it.

The main body of the letter presents examples of apostasy from the past as warnings of the danger of rejecting the truth. These rebels from the past lack submission to God and practice overreaching, abusive authority. Their rebellion and unbelief is recognized by their grumbling, complaining, immorality and greed. They are seductive, unreliable dangers that do not deliver what they promise. Eventually their prideful words and deeds will lead to devastating consequences in the near future and judgment when Jesus returns. Thus, Christians need to be able to recognize false teachers so that they can oppose them and avoid their judgment.

We would be missing Jude’s point if we only pointed his warning at others. All of us, especially Christian leaders, are prone to a self-reliance that forgets our dependence on God and fails to be accountable to God and one another as a “slave of Jesus Christ.” We can fail to keep the balance of the gospel and change grace to “sensuality” or spiritual discipline to human rules. We need to watch in ourselves the tendency to impose standards on others and then give ourselves a pass. As we fight for the faith, let’s make sure we are staying on the right side.


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