Jude is Jesus’ half-brother and has written this letter to discuss something he calls more important than salvation: false teaching.
Jude begins as a letter about salvation but makes an abrupt change. What’s more important than salvation? The infiltration of false teaching in churches.
We’re never making the Bible relevant. Scripture is always relevant for all time.
Envision a longer letter that becomes the shorter epistle we have.
Jude 3 is often considered the key verse of the letter:
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
Verse 4 explains this “contending for the faith”
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
“This epistle is intensely concerned with the threat of heretical teachers in the church and the believer’s proper response to that threat. The contents reveal two major purposes: (1) To condemn the practices of the ungodly libertines who were infesting the churches and corrupting believers; and (2) to counsel the readers to stand firm, grow in their faith, and contend for the truth. Jude says little about the actual doctrines of these “hidden reefs,” but they might have held to an antinomian version of Gnosticism. The readers are encouraged to reach out to those who have been misled by these men.” (1.)
This is chilling, but clear: there will always be people who are “marked out for this condemnation.” But Jude is not calling out those marked for condemnation. He’s calling out those who turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny Jesus.
Never say about Jesus what He did not say about Himself. We cannot water down the person and work of Jesus Christ. We must understand our salvation, our position in Christ.
As believers understand our position in Christ, we live a certain way: this is sanctification. A simple measure: are you growing? Are you growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ?
Jude gives examples of ungodly people and brings us to the point: do we submit to the authority of Jesus Christ, or not? (Jude 8)
“I know I shouldn’t do this, but God will forgive me.” That’s licentiousness. That’s a refusal to submit to the author of the Word. Denying Christ takes many forms.
Jude gives these examples:
- Rebelling Israelites (Jude 5)
- Rebelling angels (Jude 6)
- Rebellious licentious people (Jude 4, Jude 7)
Jude uses great images as warnings: unreasoning animals, hidden reefs, clouds without water—a pretense, but fraudulent. His arguments come from three examples that would’ve been well-known to his readers:
- Cain murdering his brother, Genesis 4
- Balaam wrongly prophesied, Numbers 22-24
- Korah who opposed Moses, God’s chosen servant, Numbers 16
His warning: consequence to sin is swift. His readers would’ve understood these examples immediately and clearly, they knew their history. Do we know ours?
To understand history is to understand the current events of another time. The New Testament Christians knew their history.
Lessons from Jude
- Remember what was spoken by the apostles about the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Mockers will come. We need not be surprised when it happens. They’re not of the Spirit of God, why are we surprised when they hate Christians? The greater concern is: if it’s going to happen, are we ready?
- Build yourself up (Jude 20). We can help one another, but no one else can make you a disciple.
- Praying in the Holy Spirit. This has nothing to do with tongues. Being filled (Ephesians 5:18) is being controlled by the Holy Spirit. It’s submitting to God’s Word and God’s Spirit.
- Keep yourself in the love of God. Remember John 15:10. God loves you. Does anyone else need that reminder? Christ loves you. There’s nothing you’ve experienced that He doesn’t know about, and He still loves you. He loves you when you sin. He loves you when you repent.
- Waiting anxiously (Jude 21). One of the things we struggle with is the imminent return of Jesus Christ. How do you live every day like He might come today, practically? Remember: He’s King. He’s real. He’s eternal. He’s coming.
Quoted: Article from Joni Eareckson Tada: When My Quadriplegia Ends
- Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Talk Thru the Bible(Nashville: T. Nelson, 1983), 502.