It never hurts to review the basics of our faith. Let us take a look at the over-all picture that necessitated Jude’s letter. His first love was the gospel. His intention was to write about the salvation they shared. I wondered, when was the last time I shared the joy of my salvation with another believer? So often we think of sharing as a witness to the unsaved, but in reality it is a discussion that we can more truly enjoy when we share with other believers what Jesus is doing in our lives, today.
However, Jude’s heavy burden regarding false prophets in the church became his focal point. He was energized by an awareness of evil, and the harm it could do to the reputation of the church. Therefore, he strongly advised the church to contend for the faith. In our world today we might advance the same concerns, for similar reasons.
To substantiate his theme, he reviews patterns in history: Sodom and Gomorrah giving in to the evils of their day, fell under God’s judgment (:7). God released His chosen people from bondage and provided for their needs in the wilderness, but eventually had to punish those who did not believe (:5). Even some angels fell under God’s condemnation, by willfully giving up their positions of authority (Ephesians 6:11-12). Their eternal punishment still awaits; at present they remain bound in chains (Jude :6).
With such a history Jude might rightly fear what will happen to the church of his day, already influenced by Godless men. They know the history, but have they learned from lessons of the past? Have we? Are we standing guard against the infiltration of evil into the congregation of the righteous? To be inclusive is a good thing, but it can be carried to a dangerous extreme if it involves compromise.
Without doubt we face some very difficult choices in the church today. “Be merciful…snatch others from the fire and save them…show mercy, mixed with fear” (:22-23). How do we balance righteousness with the desire to see all people come into fellowship with God? God has a standard. Jude writes about the return of the Lord for the purpose of judging everyone’s acts, words and self-interest, according to that standard (:15-16).
Then Jude offers a solution. Each individual Christian bears a covenantal responsibility. By asking for forgiveness of sin we enter into a covenant relationship with God. We are to keep ourselves close to God by building ourselves up in our most holy faith (:20) Jude fills our minds with God – His character, His goals, His protection, His love! Jude testifies to the depth of knowledge and experience he has as a believer. Do our lives bear such a witness to our world today?
It may seem simplistic to say we do that by reading the Bible, but what does that entail? Is it just a religious exercise? Or – do we read it to learn how we might best please God, how to recognize evil when we see it, to accept its rebukes for our personal sins, to gain comfort in our distresses, to experience the very mercy, peace and love that form the basis of our testimony to others?
Learning comes through repetition. Therefore it is imperative that we meditate, mull over, ask questions about what we have read. How does this apply to our world today? To me? “Think on these things” (Phil.4:8).
Are our choices and decisions a result of fervent prayer in the Spirit. In the Spirit? What does that mean? Do we pray for what we want, or do we search to know the mind of God and pray He will accomplish His purposes in and through us? How then do we know the mind of God? By observing His principles for Godly living contained in Scripture. Then we are prepared to contend for our faith!