By Tim Frank
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Carthage
My wife is a software engineer with a company in Southern California. Every day she works diligently, searching through hundreds of lines of computer code, looking for errors in the code. Her job is to make sure the code is not corrupted; corruption would cause a complete breakdown of the system. A complete breakdown is called a computer crash.
Jude, the brother of James and half-brother of Jesus, challenges all Christians to work diligently to defend the faith from corruption. He uses strong language as he exhorts believers to contend earnestly for the faith that has been delivered to the saints. He calls for followers of Jesus to fight with all their might to keep error and falsehood from creeping into the doctrines of the church.
This short, intense letter can be studied around five simple words: resist, ready, rescue, rely and rejoice.
• Resist (vv. 4-19). False teachers had come into the church and had begun to teach doctrines contrary to the faith of the gospel. The false teaching seemed to center around the acceptance of sensual lusts in the believer’s life and the denial of Jesus Christ as Lord.
Through the centuries, every false teaching has basically been a denial of the Christian confession, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Jude uses Old Testament examples of God’s judgment on sin and several analogies to show the false teachers’ hypocrisy.
• Ready (v. 20). Jude then calls believers to build up their faith, to strengthen their defense of the gospel. Paul gives a similar exhortation to diligently study in II Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17.
Peter also stresses the Christian’s responsibility to be ready to give a defense of the faith in 1 Peter 3:15. Jude gives a strengthening regimen as he calls us to build up our faith, pray up through the Holy Spirit, keep up the love of God, and look up in the mercy of God to eternal life.
• Rescue (vv. 22-23). Believers are not only to earnestly contend for the faith for their own defense but also to rescue others who have begun to stumble and fall away.
Those who are dabbling in the false teaching are to be compassionately confronted and guided back to truth. A different approach is taken for those who have bought into the lies. For them there is to be an urgency, as if we are pulling them out of a burning building. The picture is no longer one of tender compassion but fearful desperation.
• Rely (v. 24). The reassuring word from Jude in this Doxology is that God is able to keep believers from stumbling. The call is to rely on God and His strength to keep from stumbling into false teaching. He is able to present believers as faultless before His presence.
Paul says in Jesus, Christians are holy, blameless and above reproach in the sight of God (Colossians 1:21-22). Righteousness, holiness and faithfulness comes through faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done on the cross (II Corinthians 5:21). He is able to keep you from stumbling!
• Rejoice (v. 25). On that note, the letter ends with a resounding praise to the glory, majesty, dominion, and power of God. His way is the best way, now and forever. And all God’s people said “Amen.”