Contend For the Faith
Greetings brothers and sisters,
We had a great vacation. My family and I thank you all for your prayers for traveling mercies. Yesterday I had the opportunity to lead Harmony UMC in a brief service at Frank Liske Park, followed by fellowship. This is from my brief message yesterday. This is all mostly scripture, relating to Revelation, and the book of Jude.
Jude is the 2nd to the last book in the Bible, directly preceding the book of Revelation. The author of Jude, Judas, not Judas Iscariot, but who most scholars believe to be Judas, a younger brother of Jesus. This makes for an interesting dynamic, which is this: Judas, in essence, is giving a preamble to his brother’s book of Revelation. There are no chapter designations in the book of Jude for it is only one chapter, so I will begin with Jude verse 3,
“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. 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.”
Let me stop here and just remind everyone how the Bible is a living document. It can mean something thousands of years ago, then, suddenly, the verse can be referring directly to some topic of immediate concern, in the present tense. This verse here refers to those sinful Jews who mistook the grace of Christ as a license to perform immorality.
Not unlike our current struggle confronting all of our denominations in the area of sexuality today. Jude continues in verse 5,
“Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe (note the emphasis on belief and not behavior). And the angels (those who rebelled against God), who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home–these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day (capital D, the Day of Christ’s return).”
How cool is it to listen to Jesus’ younger brother talk about his brother's Return, Jesus’ second advent. It gives me goose pimples. Let’s skip ahead to Jude verse 10,
“Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals–these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them!” Let’s jump to verse 14,
“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 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.’ These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit (capital S, meaning Holy Spirit of God).”
Then Jude gives us some advice as we wait on Jesus’ blessed return. Verse 20,
“But you dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternity. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear (fear of the Lord)--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh (sin).”
This final paragraph is how we are to contend for the faith of our loved ones and neighbors. Be merciful to those who doubt, snatch others from the fire and save them, to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating all sin. Remember, it is harvest time. Let’s finish with Revelation 1:4-8,
“Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father–to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.”
“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be. Amen.”
“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty”
Jude is encouraging us all to contend for the faith. Speak truth in love. Do not allow Satan to win by spreading his lies. Satan will not win.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC