This is part two of the series “Gleanings in Jude.” Last post, we marveled at the humility produced by God in Jude’s introduction. We saw that he encouraged his audience by reminding them of their calling by God. They, just as we, are beloved by God and kept by the grace of Jesus Christ. This is great news for them and for us! This post will be about what God has shown me in verses 3 and 4 of Jude’s epistle. Let’s walk together!
3 Beloved, although I was eager to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny over Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jude is writing to the called. Verse 3 tells us that he was ready to pen a letter to these people that he loved concerning salvation; the same salvation that saved him. There is but one salvation. The original intent for Jude’s correspondence was to discuss Christian salvation with believers. However, something took precedence. Jude exhorts the believers to contend for the faith they have been taught. The word “contend” has its roots in the arena. It means exertion, great effort. Believers are expected to contend for the faith with fervency. Contention is seen as a secondary concern if not totally disregarded. The postmodern definition of tolerance has crept into the Church. It is viewed as wrong or mean to contend for the truth of the Bible. To be sure, contention for the sake of contention is wrong. This is a common struggle for us who really love the Bible and by God’s grace are committed to objective truth claims. It is not okay to roll around looking for fights. But when the gospel is at stake we are commanded to contend for the faith. We must acknowledge Jesus before men (Luke 12:8). Jude is not addressing a secondary issue over a primary issue. This is a primary issue!
I’d like to note the end of verse 3. The faith that had been given to them had been delivered once for all. No new revelation will come. The Bible is how God has revealed Himself and we have no reason to think He will in any other way. Take that Mormons 🙂
On to verse 4. Having fun yet? Jude must have a reason to change his plans. In verse 3 we see what Jude is writing about and verse 4 begins to explain why he is writing. People who look like Christians have entered into the fellowship of the Church but are ungodly and pervert the grace of God. It is scary to think how easy false teachers slip into the fold of evangelicalism. Jude says they come in unnoticed. These men probably came into the Church, saying all of the right things and pretending to have been changed by the gospel. They would at first have been undetectable. But only to man. Verse 4 tells us that God was not surprised by the false teachers. In fact, Jude says that they had been designated for the condemnation they will face (more on that in the posts to come!). God does not react to trying circumstance. God does not sin but makes good on what Satan means for evil.
The reason for their condemnation is their ungodliness. These ungodly people are perverting grace and denying Jesus as Lord. God justifies the ungodly (Ro. 4:5). However, once justified, a life change will occur. Romans 6:11-14 tells us that sanctification does not save but it will come with saving faith. It must. Luther remarked:
“We are saved by faith alone but the faith saves is never alone.”
These men were living an ungodly lifestyle. How? They were perverting the grace of God and denying Jesus as Lord. I think this shows how the false teachers were able to slip in unnoticed. They are not explicitly denying the Lordship of Christ. Jude’s audience would certainly have known something was up if they were always talking about how Jesus was not the Lord of all things, themselves included. They would not have crept in. The way they were denying the Lordship of Christ is by their perversion of grace. They were using the grace of God as a license to sin. They were living under the guise of being reborn and doing whatever they want. This is not Christianity! This is not just an alternate gospel. Jude is addressing a false gospel; one that will bring condemnation.