June 10, 2010 David Balzer

Jude: Stand up for the Faith

What do you do when people who call themselves Christians start to UNDERMINE what Christians believe? When the truths of the bible get THROWN OUT THE WINDOW? When the good news about salvation through Jesus becomes, “Yes, I believe it … BUT…”?

Sometimes it’s ADDING to the gospel. “I believe the Bible AND…”

For example the Catholic church. A guy called Karl Barth put it this way. “The greatest obstacle to the Catholic and Protestant churches getting back together is this very small word ‘AND’.

When we say “Jesus”, the Catholics say “Jesus AND Mary”. We seek to obey our SOLE Lord, Christ. The Catholics seek to obey Christ AND his earthly vicar, the Pope. We believe that the Christian is saved by the merits of Jesus Christ, but the Catholic adds, AND by his own merits, that is, his good works.

We think that the only source of revelation is the Bible, the Catholics add “AND tradition”

Or the Mormons. Have you seen the ads in the paper? There’s a picture of the Bible and the book of Mormon side-by-side. Under the Bible it says “What God said”. Then under the book of Mormon it says “What God said NEXT”. The updated version. The improved edition. The Bible AND the book of Mormon.

Or sometimes it’s TAKING AWAY from the gospel. Yes God loves us, Yes, Jesus died for us. But, I don’t have to do what he says. Or… Yes, God gave us the bible to guide us, but it’s really irrelevant these days.

For example the Uniting Church, and their view on ity. This is their official position on membership and ity. From the Assembly Standing Committee in 1987. Standing Committee minute 87.46. “All baptised Christians belong in Christ’s church and are to be welcomed at his table, regardless of their ual orientation”.

In other words, practising s are welcome in the membership of the Uniting Church. There are churches in Sydney that call themselves Christian. They like parts of the Bible, but not others. They like part of the gospel, but not all of it.

What do you do with people who claim to be Christians, but who either add to, or take away from, what the Bible teaches? From the truths of the Christian faith as we’ve had them for 2000 years?

Do we just shrug our shoulders, and pretend it doesn’t matter? That’s just the way the world is these days. Do we assume, or hope, that Christians are sensible enough not to get sucked in?

Or perhaps we’re tempted to listen just a little bit? After all, the bible is a REALLY OLD book. Perhaps we ARE just a little bit out of date. Perhaps we HAVE grown up a bit since those days. Grown a bit more enlightened. Perhaps things aren’t quite as black and white as they used to think in the old days.

But Jude doesn’t think that way for even a second. These things are much too important for that! They’re matters of life and . Eternal judgement.

He’s heard the reports. About false teachers leading his good friends astray. Making fun of Christ. Spitting in his face.

And he’s furious! He’s the attack dog. The pit bull. And he’s going for the throat.

His call is TO DEFEND THE FAITH. Don’t be embarassed by our history. Stand guard over the truths we believed. Because they’re under attack.

And that’s the call to us. Because to stand up for the bible isn’t too popular these days. To suggest that Jesus is the ONLY way to God isn’t really politically-correct. And to suggest that someone else’s lifestyle might actually be EVIL, or wrong in God’s sight, or heading towards hell, is just about the worst thing you can do.

So let’s listen in to Jude’s words. Because they’re words for US. For OUR time.

1. Defend the faith (3)

Let’s start at v3. His purpose for writing.

(Jude 1:3 NIV)  Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you TO CONTEND FOR THE FAITH THAT WAS ONCE FOR ALL ENTRUSTED TO THE SAINTS.

He’s pleading with his friends to stand beside him in DEFENDING THE FAITH. The facts they all believed were UNDER ATTACK. The facts that had been around since the start.

That God has spoken to us in HIS WORD, the Bible. And then, that he’s spoken to us in his LIVING word, his Son. That God sent Jesus to be born, that he lived. That he died for the sins of many. That he defeated by rising from the . That he ascended to heaven. That he sits at God’s right hand. And some day he’ll come back.

They’re the facts of the faith that Jude’s talking about. The faith that needs defending.

And look at what he says about the faith. Three things.

Once for all… entrusted … to the saints.

Once for all. God HAS spoken to us. His plan for salvation HAS been finished. It’s all in place.

There’s an element of finality there. There’s no looking around the next corner for the next piece of the puzzle. No throwing out the gospel because the latest book on psychology, or archeology, or ethics, or history says something different.

Because rather than measuring God’s Word by the standards of today, the OPPOSITE is true. Whatever ideas or philosophies mankind comes up with/ need to be compared to the measuring stick of God’s word. It’s the standard for today. Not the other way around.

The faith was ONCE for ALL. Complete. Final. Set in stone.

2. It was also ENTRUSTED to us. Signed over to us. God’s the AUTHOR, and he signs over the distribution rights to the church. We’re the publicity agent. It’s our job to the news, not make it up as we go along. Not to think that we know how to say it better.

And that means we’ve got a real responsibility. We’re the way God’s chosen to let the world know. That’s a serious task. So, we defend the faith with everything we’ve got.

Thirdly, it’s been entrusted TO THE SAINTS. In the Bible, saints refers to EVERY CHRISTIAN. It’s open to everyone. Public knowledge. It’s not a secret. That’s only available to those in the know. Standard Christianity has no secrets, or skeletons in the closet. We’re not scared of what the Da vinci Code, or some new archeologist might discover. Because it’s there for ANYONE and EVERYONE.

Defend The faith. Once for all. Entrusted. To the saints.

Well, who does the faith needs defending FROM?

2. Against condemned and godless men (4-16)

Against condemned and godless men. Look at v4.

(Jude 1:4 NIV)  For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

These are non-Christians masquerading as Christians. Inside the church. Hiding behind a mask of words and deeds. Wolves in sheeps’ clothing. They’re in the church, but Jude says they’re godless.

And look at the specifics of what they said. They change the grace of God into a license for immorality.

They understood that God accepted repentant sinners unconditionally. By his grace. Because of Jesus’ . And they thought that meant they could do whatever they liked. And then just asked forgiveness at the end. Doesn’t matter how dirty you get playing in the lovely mud puddle. As long as you have a shower at the end everything’s fine!

It’s the same argument I’ve heard from people today. “I won’t become a Christian yet. I understand everything. But I don’t want to miss out on life. I’ll ask for God’s forgiveness later. I’ll become a Christian on my bed”

But it’s misunderstanding grace. God’s grace is to REPENTANT sinners. To those who turn their back on the old ways. And are walking towards the new.

But for those who keep moving in the old direction, there IS no grace.

And Jude says that’s denying Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Our only MASTER and Lord. To head in the new direction/ is to pledge allegiance to Jesus. To recognise HIS right to rule. To tell us what to do.

And when we aren’t prepared to do that, that’s a true sign that we’re not headed in that direction at all.

They’re just like…

Jude goes on to describe what these people are like. All sorts of people from history who turned away from God. Who took their position for granted. And who God punished.

Like ISRAEL, Verse 5. Most didn’t believe. And God destroyed them.

Even ANGELS weren’t above punishment. Verse 6. They weren’t content with their position. And God’s got them kept in darkness, bound in everlasting chains.

Or Sodom and Gomorrah. Verse 7. Turned to ual immorality. And God destroyed the whole city.

And over in v11. Three more examples from history. Classic cases of disobedience and wickedness, and God’s punishment.

Cain, who killed his brother Abel in a fit of JEALOUSY.

Balaam, who was GREEDY for a king’s reward. And who’s donkey had more sense than him.

Korah, who REBELLED against Moses. Who thought he knew better than God.

JEALOUSY, GREED, AND REBELLION. Perhaps these were just general examples. Or perhaps these were the very things that the false teachers were guilty of.

And Jude’s point? Whatever the sin, they were all PUNISHED. If God’s people Israel, and even ANGELS, couldn’t escape. Who were THESE PEOPLE to think THEY could?

Judgement is real. It was THEN. And it’s just as real NOW. Look down at v14.

(Jude 1:14-15 NIV)  Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones {15} TO JUDGE EVERYONE, and to CONVICT ALL THE UNGODLY of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Whoever you are – judgment is coming. No one can escape.

And their judgement is deserved because of what they’re doing. Look back up at v12. Look at the pictures Jude uses to describe them. Five different images.

1. They’re shepherds who only feed themselves. Shepherds are supposed to provide for the flock. To look after their needs. But these shepherds. These teachers. Were more interested in serving their OWN interests. There was nothing to give the flock.

2. Secondly, also in v12. They’re like clouds without rain. They promise sweet, nourishing rain. But they deliver nothing. They just tease. Nice sounding words, but there’s no substance in them. No real meaning.

3. And they’re like autumn trees. No fruit. Nothing to show for the season of growth. And worse. They’re twice . No fruit, AND uprooted. There’s no fruit, because they’re not connected to the soil. They don’t really know God.

There’s no nourishment going IN, so there’s nothing to come out.

Christian leaders who try to minister without being connected to God very quickly dry out. Our own resources can never be enough.

These people had no relationship with Jesus. No roots in him. And so there’s no fruit in their ministry.

4. The fourth image is that of wild waves. Storm swell. Foaming up with stormwater runoff. Full of disease and filth.

I remember going windsurfing once after a bad storm. It was in Botany Bay, and the wind was wild. It was a great day for windsurfing. But the water was also full of stormwater runoff. And I was sick as a dog for days afterwards.

Not only do the teachers NOT grow GOOD fruit. But they produce filth instead.

5. And fifthly, their like stars, or comets, that zoom off into the darkness of space. They keep going into the blackness of punishment. Just like they deserve.

They’re terrible pictures, aren’t they? Very vivid and powerful. It’s almost hard to imagine what sort of people are being described.

Jude gives us one more list of descriptions. A bit more concrete. These are the sorts of things they DO. Their identifying marks. Their calling cards. And here they are in Verse 16. Five more things. How to spot them in your own congregation.

1. They grumble. “Things are terrible. Those in charge have got no idea. Things would only be so much better if only I was in charge.”

2. Secondly. They find fault in whatever OTHER people do. “Nothing anyone else does is good enough. Noone does things the way they SHOULD be done”.

3. Third, they follow their own evil desires.

4. Fourth, they boast about themselves.

5. Fifth, they flatter others for their own advantage. They don’t build up others for THEIR good, but only to suit themselves. To serve their own ends.

Does anything sound familiar there? Take careful note! And change!

3. By building yourselves up (17-23)

This would all be a pretty depressing letter if it was all warning. All negative, with no positive direction about what they should be doing. Jude’s alerted them to the dangers. He’s told them to defend the faith. He’s told them who to defend it FROM. And now he tells them HOW TO DO THAT.

Defend the faith. Against condemned and godless men. By building yourselves up. Verse 20.

(Jude 1:20 NIV)  But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith

Defend the faith by building yourselves up in the faith. Learn about it. Know it. Read. Listen. Watch. Copy. Memorise. Practice. Work.

Encourage each other to live by it. Stand firm in it. Don’t doubt it.

Relating to God

And he goes on to show HOW to do that. Another set of three. To do with our relationship with God.

(Jude 1:20-21 NIV)  … pray in the Holy Spirit. {21} Keep yourselves in God’s love … as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Pray in the Holy Spirit. It’s God’s Spirit who shows us how to pray. Who gives us the strength and the application to pray.

Keep yourselves in God’s love. Obedience to God’s commands is how we respond to God’s love. Jesus says in John 15:9-10

(John 15:9-10 NIV)  “…remain in my love. {10} If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

Prayer and obedience in the present. As we wait for Jesus to bring us to eternal life. Having one eye on the finishing line is a powerful motivation to keep going.

Notice how each of the three persons of the Trinity are mentioned? Pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourself in God’s love. Wait for Jesus’ return.

Relating to others

That’s all to do with our relationship with God. What about our relationship with others?

We’re to have mercy mixed with fear.

Defending the faith isn’t about a WAR against people. We’re not to DESTROY them. It’s God’s job to judge. We defend the faith by encouraging others to believe it. By being MERCIFUL. Verse 22.

(Jude 1:22-23 NIV)  Be merciful to those who doubt; {23} others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

While Jude was angry with the false teachers, the people who’d been lead astray were to be treated gently. To encourage them back onto the right path. Be merciful. How do you show that mercy? By showing them where they’re wrong. ing them from the fire before it’s too late.

But there’s a word of warning. Plenty of firemen get burned as they try to rescue people. The safe fireman is the one who maintains a healthy fear for fire. Who follows the necessary safety procedures.

And as we mix with those on the wrong path, we need to have the same healthy fear. Loving the sinner, but hating the sin.

And whether that be reaching out to s, or speaking to our Catholic neighbour, or Mormon co-worker. We defend the faith, by holding firmly onto God. Not compromising on what we believe. On what God has revealed to us in his word.

We defend the faith by loving the person who’s been led astray. But hating their sin. And hating the lies that confused them.

How do we keep that balance? How do we keep strong in the faith, when the world tells us we’re old-fashioned and out of date?

By clinging firmly to God. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Praying in the Holy Spirit. Obeying God in response to his love. Looking forward to Jesus’ return

4. And remembering the God who can give you victory (24-25)

And Jude finishes with some wonderful words. Perhaps the most beautiful and encouraging in the whole bible. A reminder of the one who has everything in control. And of who is powerful enough to achieve his purposes.

We defend the faith. Against condemned and godless men. By building ourselves up. And remembering the God who can give you the victory.

Verse 24.

(Jude 1:24-25 NIV)  To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy– {25} to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

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