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Jude 1 - 4: 1:1 From Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, wrapped in the love of God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ. :2 May mercy, peace, and love be lavished on you! 1:3 Dear friends, although I have been eager to write to you about our common salvation, I now feel compelled instead to write to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. :4 For certain men have secretly slipped in among you — men who long ago were marked out for the condemnation I am about to describe — ungodly men who have turned the grace of our God into a license for evil and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Extracted from Netbible.org)
Jude, the brother of Jesus, is known as the author of this letter. He only came to faith after the death and resurrection of the Lord. He identifies himself as the brother of James. Both he and James had the common blood of the mother running in their veins - corrupted, sinful blood, like ours. But the Blood of Jesus was "precious" and not tainted by sin. Jude and James didn't know Jesus "after the flesh" but had found salvation through Him.
He writes about how he had wanted to write a letter the saints about "our common salvation" and what a letter that would have been for us to see today!
However, he says he is compelled to write about the need to "defend" or "contend" for the faith. It is astounding to learn that even in those early years of the first church there were those who had "secretly crept in unnoticed" with false doctrine.
What was the jist of their false teaching deserved such sharp condemnation? They had changed the grace of God into lewdness, an excuse for sin. We could paraphrase it today like this: "It's good to repent, confess your sin, believe, etc, but now that it's done and the price has been paid for your past and future sins, you can live as you please."
Thus, Jude calls upon Christians to "contend earnestly for the truth". He does this to awaken them and take note of what is happening in their midst. He uses the following examples:
a) Those saved out of Egypt found the same delivering Hand turned against them in wrath, when they went back to sin. Their human-crafted golden calf, around which they danced, was an abomination to God. Promises made by God about bringing them into the land flowing with "milk and honey" were nullified by their persistance in sinning. (vs 5)
b) Even angels "who did not keep their proper domain but left their proper abode" were expelled from heaven and are in chains waiting for judgement. (vs 6)
c) Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, especially because of the sins of homosexuality and lesbianism. This example (vs 7) is used by Jude to counter the claims of the false teachers who taught that grace means that sin has no consequences.
d) The sin of Cain and Balaam (vs11) is also used as a warning and proof that sin which is not repented of will be judged. Cain harboured a grudge against his brother and murdered him. How many aren't there who kill others with their tongues? Balaam is mentioned because, like many of the false teachers in Jude's day, and ours, they run after financial gain. They seek to preach in places where there is the most promising rewards.
John Powys gave a report earlier about their trip to Wales. About 100 years ago there was revival in Wales. That revival is long since dead. Compare that revival to the one in Korea where much of what happened a 100 years ago is still evident. Yes, they still seek and pray for a reawakening (and some things I witnessed when I preached there recently are reasons for concern, such as graffiti in the church toilets). However, there are still visible signs of that revival in Korea and I witnessed their earnestness to repent and follow the Lord when I was on a preaching trip there in May this year. One asks: why is it that Wales lost that mighty revival but Korea continues till today?
On Reformation Day (31st October) we remember how Martin Luther bravely nailed his 95 Theses to expose the sins of the church. He used God's Word ("Scripture alone") to reveal the false teachings of the day. So too, use the Bible to expose your sins. Deal with them, write them down, confess them.
Remember, that the Word teaches that all this is because of grace alone. It is not your effort or sweat that buys your salvation. We are justified by faith alone, through grace alone.