By Cecil Smith
Originally published in
The Christian Informer
JUDE, THE SERVANT OF Jesus Christ and brother of James, gives to all of those who are sanctified by God the Father and preserved in Christ some very important thoughts to consider in his epistle. He speaks some terrifying words of warning and at the same time some wonderful words of exhortation. His original plan, it seems, was to write a more lengthy letter concerning the common salvation, meaning the salvation accessible to all people regardless of race or position. But this plan was cut short as something reared up its ugly head that Jude felt great conviction to confront.
Everywhere he looked, it seemed, ungodly men were creeping into the church using great words to destroy the faith of the brethren. Jude even compares these men to men such as filled the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. In one of the most frightening verses found anywhere in the Holy Word, he speaks of Jesus coming with ten thousand of his saints to
execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him
or against Christ Jesus himself (Jude 3).
He goes on to call them murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts, and then he gives us a picture of their ungodly deeds, that is their great philosophical words that they were using. Through or by these words they were taking the people's respect and then turning them away from God. Jude considers the church to be in great danger because of these men and their words.
PERVERTING GOD'S WILL
The very same things that Jude confronted in this epistle are true and prevalent today. On every hand we find people rising up and perverting God's Holy and Divine Will, causing people to fall short of obeying the plain and simple gospel plan. People today put more emphasis on the education of the one speaking than they do on what is being taught. When considered in the light of Jude's message, that fact should strike fear into our hearts. Peter informs us in 1 Peter 3:15,
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.
Just because someone can teach something with great and admirable words does not make it right. Jesus warns us in Matthew 7:15,
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
We very much need to learn this lesson today and the epistle of Jude is a good place to start.
The first thing we would like to notice is the meaning of the word faith. Usually when we use this word we simply mean our feelings or conviction in or about some point. But, we find quickly, this is not the meaning Jude is referring to in Jude 3. Rather, Jude speaks of the faith. In this passage the word is used as the thing believed rather than our believing. Remember who Jude is warning us of in this letter, for this will help us understand these words in verse three. Jude is speaking of the basic system of doctrine in which we place our faith which these ungodly men are corrupting with their fair speeches. This faith was what Paul preached according to Galatians 1:23.
In Galatians 1:11,12 Paul speaks of this faith that he preached and states,
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In other words, The Faith and The Gospel was one and the same thing, that is, the word received of Jesus Christ through inspiration. According to 2 Timothy 3:16,17, this would include every word of the Bible.
THE SYSTEM OF FAITH
The Bible and all its teachings is, and there can be no doubt about it, that system of doctrine that was to be believed, the one and only Faith delivered unto mankind once for all time. Just as Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, so was this faith once given. It is not being given today in dreams or even through angels. It was given once for all time. We also find that this Faith is singular in number. Just as there is One God and Father of all there is only one Faith (Ephesians 4:4-6).
It is also good to notice very plainly what the Gospel or Faith consisted of which Jude and Paul were speaking, and which they preached. Paul let us know quickly in writing the gospel plan that faith was a part of that gospel in Hebrews 11:6. He even tells us where this faith comes from in Romans 10:17. He also taught that repentance was a part of the Faith that he preached in Acts 17:30. In Romans 10:8-10 he taught that confession of Jesus Christ as the son of God was also a part of the Gospel to be preached. In Romans the sixth chapter he spoke of their obedience to the gospel that he preached and stated in verses 17 and 18 (after calling attention to their baptism into Christ)
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
All of these things together help make up the Faith which was once delivered and which Jude said people were corrupting in his day. How sad it is that people in our day deny these very simple truths from the Gospel. They fail to realize that when they deny these teachings they put themselves in the realm that Jude calls ungodly men.
There are other points that are also part of that Faith. Jesus stated in John 4:24,
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1,2 that we should follow him as he followed Christ and to keep the ordinances as he delivered them to us. That includes our singing, our assembling for teaching, our observance of the communion, the giving of our means upon the first day of the week, and in our praying in the public assembly. He also seems to have forgotten that this Faith Jude talks about includes our every day life, how we act, talk, dress, and so on. Paul said it this way by inspiration in 1 Corinthians 6:20,
For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
Contrary to what many are teaching today not only are we to glorify God in our heart, but we also are to glorify God in our body. How can we do so when we deny what is taught in 1 Timothy 2:9,10? Every one of these points are a part of that Gospel or The Faith that Jude tells us to earnestly contend for.
We, today, live in a world of relative peace and religious tolerance. Very seldom does anyone suffer persecution as was once suffered. The battles over the great digressions seem to be over in many places as more and more tolerance is allowed. It is high time, my people, that we once again rally under the teachings of the apostles and of our Lord Jesus Christ and press the battle. It is time we realize that Jude's warning and exhortation fits our generation right down to the letter. Jude's point is simply this, if we will contend with all our might for the gospel, then there is no tactic or device the devil can ever use to bring us down. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, so let us, today, start using it as such and start standing up against any and every departure from The Faith.