Judgment on False Teachers
Thank you for reading this Bible study on the book of Jude. This bible study is part of a series on the book of Jude, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of Jude for other studies in this book.
Let’s start in verse three of the first chapter of Jude.
3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jude is keen to get to the point of why he was writing the recipient of this letter. We learn from the first sentence that the people who are receiving this letter are…
2) Brothers in the faith (common salvation)
3) To contend for the faith
4) Have caution against ungodly people
5) To know the reason why they were ungodly
6) Having reaffirmation who the Lord was
Jude starts the letter “Beloved” he affirms that the folks who are receiving this letter are people that he is writing to in love. The content of this short letter deals with some pretty heavy stuff so this was not your average “church newsletter” and packs quite a theological punch. This is why Jude reminds them in the first instance that they are “beloved” and when you are counselling people it is always fruitful to establish that what you say is done in love.
Those of you who know me personally know that I do a bible study in my home and my wife brought up a wonderful point when she said (and I am paraphrasing) “when she is asked for advice she has the choice of ‘making someone happy’ or giving them ‘good biblical advice’ and Jude does the latter, he is confident that the people who are receiving this letter will take this advice from him.
We go on to read “although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation” which tells us the reader that the letter he was planning to write did not happen and events at the destination of the letter necessitated a different subject matter to be written about. Reading between the lines this would be why Jude started the thought with the word “Beloved” and tells us that Jude may have been writing this with a heavy heart or to say another way, this may have been a letter that he was not looking forward to writing.
We have all been in this situation where we have had to be honest with people on a subject matter that may not go down to well. What I see from this letter is that Jude was a man of great biblical integrity and he was willing to speak the truth at the expense of feelings. Today’s church could do with a dose of this as we tend to be “seeker centric” or wishing to court “popular opinion” and our churches tend to be numbers driven and programs driven as opposed to allowing God’s word and the Holy Spirit to change people’s lives.
This letter may be small but it is a dynamic letter in the form of a sermon. Both on this blog and in person I have shared in the past that I spent over six months in this letter with a previous pastor and due to that time I rediscovered how to study the bible for the maximum benefit to my Christian walk. It is the word of God and God working through people that changes people’s lives. I was won over to the Christian faith because I saw the love of those around me, and because I knew I was accepted and loved, I took what they had to say about the errors in my life in the way that it was intended to be received.
I am grateful that Jude was sensitive to the Holy Spirit and took the “road less travelled” both in my personal development and the fact this letter made it into canonical scripture tells me that it will have impacted many more people that the intended recipients. The lesson here is that no matter how small your service in the Lord may be, it could have the profoundest effect on someone and may change the course of families for generations to come.
I am a product of this, because of the love, correction and exhortation I received at that Calvary Chapel in Glasgow, Scotland my life drastically changed (for a fuller account please check out my “testimony” page) and this helped change the life not just of me, but it helped my marriage and now my daughter is growing up in a house where Jesus Christ is of the upmost importance. That all came from a wee missions church that averaged between 20-40 people in Scotland’s largest city.
Jude goes on to say what the new subject matter is “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” And from this we understand that Jude was writing to a church (or assembly) that was on the verge of splitting due to internal strife’s and divisions. Jude is preaching against practices (or doctrines) that were toxic in that church. I am sure many of you could make modern day applications based on individual experiences.
The word contend also means to strive, to agonize, to really reach for it is in the context of an athletic competition where all competitors are extracting every last ounce of everything they have to struggle for that prize, likewise our Christian struggle is continuous and that contending for the faith may not be a one-time deal.
Jude starts this thought with advising the necessity to write and the written correspondence was an appeal for them to contend for the faith. This is obviously written to the leaders of that assembly and the content alludes that it was for general distribution and we are aware that Jude wishes to get the doctrine straight before he deals with more “secondary issues”. I love this as Jude is showing great wisdom as this is not always how we problem solve in the fellowship today and it is to the detriment of our fellowships.
Jude writes to believers and we know this because of the term “common salvation” is used; it is common that they have this in common, that they are likeminded in who they believe is the Messiah and who they have put their faith in. Their Salvation is what they have in common and they have understood and believed that which was said in John 14:6…
John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
We all get saved in the same way, there is no VIP lounge or Captains table for people who earn a certain amount or have been that better a Christian. It all starts with brokenness and individual contrition as well as a desire to no longer be at odds with your creator. Jesus stated that you “must be born again” you have to make that individual commitment and despite how much I love my daughter, my brother or whomever I cannot be saved for them. If it isn’t a “common salvation” then I would go so far as to say that it isn’t salvation at all.
There is contention that is true, but if we do not do what Jude does and set a standard for the theology and get the “doctrinal ducks in a row” then we solve nothing by just solving the individual contention and “smoothing things over” We have to keep the main thing, the main thing. The reason and purpose for the letter is firstly correcting the doctrine, and Jude understands the importance of getting this basic, but yet foundational part of the assembly correct. One cannot underestimate the importance of getting the doctrine correct especially as it relates to Jesus. We have also to be careful who we allow to dominate the doctrinal conversation. Jude goes on in verse 4 to say the following…
V4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
It is worrying that these people have crept in and crept in un-noticed, if they were that ungodly then surely they would have been noticed and they were the classic “wolves in sheep’s clothing” to give the folks in the fellowship the benefit of the doubt, they may have been fine actors, they may have not been picked up as quickly because they were likeable or they may just have been able to be a “man to all the people” and let folks hear what they wanted to hear in order to “fit in”.
People like the folks who are “man for all the people” or accepted due to “likability” are difficult to deal with from a personal respect as people do tend to be respecter of persons towards those folks and personally I have been passed over for ministry due to situations like this and it was hard when it all went south. (As inevitably it does) Jude when he is talking about these people he is not talking about the “Sunday only Christians” who turn up like sheep and don’t do a great deal, he is talking about the guys who are involved and are like a nuclear bomb going off in the heart of the fellowship because they are in the “in crowd”
These guys may look “picture perfect” but they disregard God on the inside, the advice they give sounds Godly but leads people away from God and they go as far as to deny the messiah himself Jesus Christ. Like the analogy I gave before, the truth will win out, it will eventually go south. I say with no boasting that I have seen quite a few “likely lads” that were rated by men to do great things and they all went the same way. Most aren’t even attending any fellowship, this is why it is important to be honest with who you are and what you are, church is not a career and it is not a ladder to climb, your ambition maybe delaying someone who is called to something of you barge in to get “a job” or “a position”.
We read that these men had both doctrinal problems as well as moral problems; they really were a cancer on the fabric of a thriving church. They should be in the gallery learning, being counselled and helped instead or at the front making a mockery of the leadership and leading people away and astray. This is not to say that we should not show grace to those who error, Jude is not stating this in the slightest and what Jude is stating that if the heart remains corrupt and unrepentant then there is a bigger problem at hand. These people were not simply in honest error, they were leading folks away with deliberate malice. We have to be careful when we use the comparison of how great God’s grace is as opposed to the corruptness and wickedness of an unrepentant human heart. This is why they go on to deny who the messiah is, we are not specifically told how they did it but we do know that they did. These people need prayer as God will give them an opportunity to repent, although based on what we read here I have no idea if they will or not.
Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.