Monday, October 12, 2009

Contend for the Faith! Jude 1-3

For all those feeling beaten down by the struggles, this one is for you.

Contend for the Faith
Jude 1-3

Jude 1-3 – 1 (A)Jude, a (B)bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To (C)those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and (D)kept for Jesus Christ: 2 (E)May mercy and peace and love (F)be multiplied to you. 3 (G)Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our (H)common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you (I)contend earnestly for (J)the faith which was once for all (K)handed down to (L)the saints.

1 (A)Jude, a (B)bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To (C)those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and (D)kept for Jesus Christ: The very first verse of Jude’s letter gives us such comfort and should bring such peace to the heart and soul of the believer. He uses passive verbs … called, beloved, and kept. We are going to look at each one individually tonight with the purposes of hopefully and prayerfully understanding why it is that Jude would use such hope inspiring language for the reader. I will tell you up front it is not just so you will leave this place feeling good about yourself but it IS to get you feeling GOOD!
The first one, “to those who are called”. This is a reference to the irresistible call to salvation.

1 Corinthians 1:23-24 – 23 but we preach [a](A)Christ crucified, (B)to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles (C)foolishness, 24 but to those who are (D)the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ (E)the power of God and (F)the wisdom of God.
When God convicts a person and calls them out of the darkness to repentance they do it. No questions about it. Remember that we are not saved because we made a decision but because God made the decision to call us to salvation and sanctify us for HIS purposes. Out of His great grace and mercy even though there is nothing good within us, He still loved us.
Romans 5:6 – 6 For while we were still (A)helpless, (B)at the right time (C)Christ died for the ungodly. We were helpless and He chose to save us. Unregenerate sinners are spiritually dead and incapable of doing anything to help themselves out of it.
God’s love for His creation is unwavering because it is not based on how lovable we are, but on the consistency of His own character. God’s supreme act of love came when we were still undesirable, sinful, bad, wretches. One of my all-time favorite songs is and will always be Amazing Grace. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. The early church understood their guilt before a Holy God and it drove them to the foot of the cross in repentance and faith!
Then Jude calls the Christian, “beloved in God the Father”. Beloved IN God the Father. It is unconditional love from God to the believer in Christ and because of that love we are sanctified, that is we are set apart, from sin by the transformation that occurs in us at conversion.
1 John 3:1 - 1 See (A)how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called (B)children of God; and such we are For this reason the world does not know us, because (C)it did not know Him. The believer’s hope is strengthened by the fact that God’s love initiated salvation. On that salvation we are united with the Holy Spirit. But on Christ’s return we will be united with the Heavenly Father who loves us with the love depicted in John 3:16. But John says that the world didn’t know Jesus and they won’t know us. Meaning they rejected Him, they rejected truth, and they will also reject us as a result.
Throughout John’s gospels he expresses just, just total astonishment at God’s amazing love for believers in making them His children.
Lastly, in this introduction, Jude says that we are “kept for Jesus Christ”. The same God whose grace was sufficient to save you is the same all-powerful God who has you in the palm of His hand and will see you all the way through to glory in Heaven.
Romans 8:29-31 – 29 For those whom He (A)foreknew, He also (B)predestined to become (C)conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the (D)firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He (E)predestined, He also (F)called; and these whom He called, He also (G)justified; and these whom He justified, He also (H)glorified. 31 (I)What then shall we say to these things? (J)If God is for us, who is against us?
Ok, so Jude gives this introduction and uses language that is clearly intended to inspire hope and assurance to the believer. Why? For what purposes? Remember I told you it isn’t so we’d leave feeling good about ourselves. We should leave feeling a sense of awe towards God, but not good towards ourselves.
But why take time to write things to stir our hope and affection to God? Why encourage believers? I think we find that answer in verse 3.
3 (G)Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our (H)common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you (I)contend earnestly for (J)the faith which was once for all (K)handed down to (L)the saints.
Contend for the faith! Contend… The Greek word there is epagonizomai. It means to agonize over, or contend as a combatant. The word earnestly is added to impress upon the reader the intensive force that must be used by Christians in their fight for the truth. This word contend in the Greek is where we get the idea of contending in a boxing match. Get this idea of a boxing coach or trainer and he has his boxer in the corner and he’s giving him some water and he’s refreshing him and getting him ready to go back out and fight. Charging him, reminding him of his training and ability and such. Get that idea here. Judge is encouraging with just 3 simple phrases that would draw out hope and joy in these believers to whom he is writing.
If we are true believers then we will truly be willing to fight for the truth… contend for it… The true desires and loves of your heart are easily read by everyone around you. Something you are truly passionate about you don’t just give half your effort to. You go all out. You only give half effort to something you aren’t that passionate about… something you don’t care much for.
Can’t we say that is a true statement? We can make that statement about a sports team and no gets offended. However, suggest that someone doesn’t truly exhibit the love God calls them to have or the devotion to Him that they should have and they get all indignant. My mom used to say that type of reaction is known as the guilty dog hollering first. Meaning when you make a statement like that and someone gets mad that you are hitting too close to home with that person.
How many of us concern ourselves daily with witnessing and sharing our faith? Pleading those we know who aren’t Christians to flee from the wrath of God that is to come… Yet there was obviously a need for Jude to write the admonition to contend earnestly.
If sharing our faith and speaking the truth weren’t a requirement of our God then why does it seem that the audience of this letter are engaged in such a battle for the truth? Never lose sight folks of the Biblical mandate of the church to contend for the faith. The battle we are in is for the salvation of lost sinners.
Matthew 28:18-20 – 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "(A)All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "(B)Go therefore and (C)make disciples of (D)all the nations, (E)baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, (F)I am with you always, even to (G)the end of the age."
We are told to GO. In today’s world you don’t even have to GO that far. It wasn’t that long ago that I was talking to a young lady at the Allsup’s in Graham and after visiting for just a short time she admitted that she had no idea what Jesus had done for her on the cross. She had heard His name before, but never knew that He died on the cross so that if she repented she could be set free from the penalty of sin. I was able to share with her and give her a Bible. A seed was planted there and hopefully… God willing… she will repent and trust the Savior.
We are called to GO and make disciples. Not roll over and be tolerant of pagan views. We cannot be silent about our God. And not to get saved and then hide our light under a basket…
The truth of God is a truth worth fighting for. Jude lived in a time when Christianity was under severe political attack from Rome and bad theology was creeping into the church. I think we can look at the world at large and see the same thing coming for Christians today.
Jude is encouraging them to continue fighting for the truth because He is a worthy cause to fight for. Mark it down in your mind: there is truth worth contending for. And that truth is found in Jesus Christ and Him alone.

God uses are men and women who swim against the tide. They hold strong convictions with great courage and refuse to compromise in the face of incredible opposition. David refused to tremble before Goliath; he saw him as an insult to God. While all Israel cowered in fear, David stood alone before the enemy. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all courageously refused the easy path of compromise. It surely would have cost them their lives if God had not sovereignly intervened. Yet they never wavered.

In Acts 26, while was on trial before King Agrippa, Paul didn’t plead for his own freedom. Instead he witnessed to King Agrippa in hopes that the King might be saved. John the Baptist stood before Herod and let him know that his adulterous relationship was not right and he would not back down. It cost him his life.

2 Samuel 22:3-4 - 3 my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn [a] of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent men you save me. 4 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.

There is a single truth in this world. It is Jesus. And there is a single passion to live for. It is Jesus. Why? Because He alone is worthy.

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