Jude: The Burden to Contend for the Faith
By Gino Geraci
Scholars suggest the short but powerful book of Jude was written sometime after 64 AD, but before 80 AD. The book was written to Christians familiar with the Old Testament. In this letter there are 613 words, 25 verses, one chapter, and eight illustrations from the Old Testament.
The book of Jude is a warning against apostasy and apostates. It begins in verses 1 and 2 with Jude's prayer and description of true believers (those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ). Verses 3 and 4 continue with Jude's initial plan, prophetic perception, and a caution and warning against apostasy. Jude then goes on to describe the characteristics and judgment of false teachers in verses 5-16. The book concludes with an exhortation to believers (verses17-25).
We're in a Battle.
Someone recently said to me, "I hate confrontation." The remark came from an unexpected source; a highly trained and decorated soldier. He's not alone in his attitude about confrontation. The truth is, most people hate confrontation.
But the Christian life is not always a playground; sometimes it is a battleground. The book of Jude can be viewed as basic training for the battle, a type of Bible boot camp for believers. The book begins with Jude's burden to contend for the faith. What faith? "...the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 3)
When Jude set out to write this book, his original intention was to encourage the saints in our common salvation (verse 3). Salvation is a great, worthy, and edifying subject. But then in the third verse, Jude switched gears and felt compelled to warn us: we are in a battle, we are to contend, and we must fight against false teaching and false teachers.
Paul gave a similar warning to his young protégée, Timothy: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." (1 Timothy 4:1, NKJV)
Warnings about Apostates.
The Apostle Peter wrote: "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction." (2 Peter 2:1, NKJV)
Peter warned, "The apostates are coming." Jude announced, "The apostates are here."
An apostate is a person who has confessed the truth about Jesus Christ, and then seeks to change that truth, walk away from that truth, or fight against that truth. The word 'apostate' comes from the Greek root word 'pisteo' which means trust or belief. The Greek prefix 'a' negates the root word; thus 'apistos' came to mean faithless or unbelieving, and 'apisteo' means to disbelieve or be unfaithful. We might say an apostate is a person who has walked away from faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and His Word, or who has embraced false teaching and false teachers that undermine the person of Jesus, the ministry of Jesus and the message of Jesus. An apostate is someone who has walked away from what some have called essential historical Christianity.
How does such a transformation take place? How does one go from friend of the truth to enemy of the truth?
Consider this example of a man who once said, "Our heart, reason, history, and the work of Christ convince us that without Him we cannot achieve our goal, that without Him we are doomed by God, and only Christ can save us." These deep and sensitive thoughts were spoken by a 17-year-old and revealed wisdom few attain. He had been baptized into the Lutheran church in 1824 at age six, and was confirmed at age 16. To graduate from high school, he had been required to write an essay on a religious subject. He chose to explore "The union of believers with Christ, according to St. John's Gospel (John 15:1-14), an exposition on its basic essence, its absolute necessity and its consequences."
"The fruit of our union with Christ," he continued, is our willingness "to sacrifice ourselves for our fellow man." And the "joy which the Epicureans in their superficial philosophy sought in vain ... is a joy known only to the innocent heart united with Christ, and through Christ to God."
Those profound words were written by Karl Heinrich Marx, but by 1844, nine short years later, he had abandoned any Christian devotion he may have once felt. In fact, his militant atheism and philosophical ideas of man's struggle for a classless utopia, free from the mind-numbing effects of religion, established him as one of the most influential figures of the 19th century. (Adapted From Moody Monthly, June 1988.)
Karl Marx did not begin life as a commie. Sun Myung Moon did not start out life as a "moonie." Marshall Applewhite of Heaven's Gate fame did not start out life as a self-loathing loony, and David Koresh in Waco did not start out life as a self-proclaimed end-time prophet whacko. People join cults for all kinds of reasons. Perhaps the biggest reason is the Church failed to love them, teach them, and ground them in Jesus Christ.
God knows, Peter, James, Paul the Apostle and Jude tried to warn them, and the Bible still sounds those words of warning today. We would all do well to heed such warnings.
© 2007 Gino Geraci
Gino Geraci is pastor of Calvary South Denver. If you would like to write to him, you can do so through the letters page of this magazine.
Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com