Contend for the Faith and Love People

Jude vs. 17-19 “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.”

Jude is concerned that a church is being separated from the faith that saved them. He says early on that he wanted to talk about their “common salvation,” but that he saw the need to write to them to contend for their faith. He wanted to talk like friends who have something in common and dig into the faith that they all loved, but he learned they were dealing with false teachers.

While this isn’t what he wanted to write about, it was both necessary and foretold. As he tells them in verse 17, the first set of apostles warned them that scoffers would show up with their own interests in mind instead of the interests of the church or of Christ. The strong implication, both through the book and in verse 18, is that they are already in the church.

For 2000 years the church has been producing its own scoffers and heretics and dealing with the fallout. The term, “scoffer”, is interesting in this context. It means someone who despises something, and by extension someone who is a false teacher. How is it there are people in the church who despise the church? Or those who allegedly are leaders in the church who scoff at the orthodox teaching of the church?

It is curious, but it is common. I have written before about what I think is a very real group of people, “self-hating evangelicals”. These and scoffers like them want to retain something about the title “Christian” but grow to openly oppose or even mock the fundamental teachings of the church. Do you think the Bible is a reliable account of history and the life of Christ? Don’t be so backward. Do you believe that relationship with God is secured through the atoning death of Jesus Christ? Don’t be so intolerant. Do you believe that the local church is important to your faith, even if it is full of problems? Don’t be so parochial.

If you hold to the core Nicaean doctrines of the Christian church, you have become passé.

What does Jude prescribe a group of Christians dealing with internal mockery and division? There seems to be two basic moves on his part.

In all our contending we can’t lose love. In all or loving we can’t stop contending.

Jude says, “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (vs. 3). Contend for the truths taught by the church. Contend – fight for them. There will be times we will need to defend the faith against attacks against its veracity, timeliness, or usefulness. There will be times we need to be proactive about thinking through our culture’s worldview and critiquing it where it runs contrary to the faith. The church can’t afford to sit on its laurels and wait for the latest wave of cultural confusion to pass. We need to teach the truth to each other, from our pulpits, in our books, and around our tables. We need to be sharp enough to understand our times and how and where they differ from the truth.

Secondly, Jude says,

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” (vs. 20-22).

This is great. Jude writes that we need to grow closer to the Holy Spirit and keep ourselves as close as we can to the love of God. Dealing with mockery of the faith and its fallout is no easy task. It takes an emotional toll on you (especially if you are a pastor or church leader of some kind) when people decide they no longer want to have anything to do with the faith or with the church. The strain is enough to cause frustration with people and with God. Don’t let it happen, says Jude. Stay close to God and close to His love.

And don’t stop loving those caught in the crossfire. Jude is clear that false teachers will get what is coming to them. But he is also clear that we need to love those who doubt and help them in any way we can. Their soul is worth your work and your prayer.

In all our contending we can’t lose love. In all or loving we can’t stop contending.

We need to teach the truth to each other, from our pulpits, in our books, and around our tables.

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