Monday, December 10, 2012

Jude's Call to Persevere is Still Applicable Today

Stand firm in the truth and contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. | Jude 1:17-23 (ESV)

There are so many things to think about in these verses. First of all we see that Jude is reminding the saints of the predictions of the apostles. These predictions were more than likely starting to take shape in the culture and therefore Jude felt the need to remind the elect that there will be "scoffers, following their own ungodly passions."

But the next section of this passage is what I find very interesting. Jude makes it a point to tell the saints that "it is these people (i.e. worldly, devoid of the Spirit, Gk. psychikos) who cause divisions." Jude was clear about who the church was to be on the lookout for (see Jude 1:4) and it wasn't those seeking to be faithful to the scriptures or those making efforts to take a firmer stance on the truth as it has been revealed in the bible who Jude labeled divisive.

It's sad to see that in the culture of the church today, it is often those who are seeking to follow Jude's direction who are labeled as divisive; namely, those striving to "contend for the faith." (Jude 1:3)

Jude's words should ring just as loud in today's church as they did in the first-century church to which he was writing. We must make it our aim to not only "contend for the faith" but to also do it in such a way that we are "building ourselves up" in faith while we pray and ask the Holy Spirit to keep us in the love of God as we wait for Jesus Christ.

Jude tells the first century saints to "have mercy on those who doubt", but he also gives them (and us) a picture of what that looks like in Jude 1:23, where he tells them to "[snatch] them out of the fire." Bad theology leads to a bad understanding of the gospel and what God demands from the world. A bad understanding of the gospel is eternally significant. Jude is warning the saints to have mercy on those heading to hell, by investing in their lives, while contending for the faith, that those who don't believe the truth may have their hearts softened to the saving work of Jesus Christ.

Jude also tells the saints that in some cases they are to "show mercy to [others] with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh." Those caught up in immorality should also be shown mercy, but with fear, lest the faithful Christian be influenced for evil by the person he is trying to restore. When Jude is telling the saints to "[hate] even the garment stained by the flesh (see also Zechariah 3:3–5)" he is implying that they are to hate the sin and everything connected with it; but the sinner should be treated with mercy rather than hatred.

Every generation of the church can sense the need to live out the exhortation of Jude in his letter to the church. Each generation faces attacks from the culture which seem as if they could undermine the gospel or the church's ability to reach the lost. However, one thing the church can never do is stop contending for the faith. People within the faith should never be called, divisive, for standing up for the truth. We need more people willing to take a stand against the culture...more people willing to make war against sin and to show mercy to the ungodly, by snatching them out of the fire with the truth of God's word. The church needs to have it's vision firmly rooted on shaping the culture with God's truth...knowing full well that the devil is contending just as hard (if not harder) to shape God's truth with the culture.

Stand firm in the truth and contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

For His Glory,


No comments:

Post a Comment