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Contend Earnestly for the Faith
Ben Hill
Jude
May 20, 2017

Do you know who Jude is? He wrote a book in the Bible. Let’s turn there now. Right by Revelation. So you’re already there in Revelation with Pastor Steve. We’re going to turn to Jude and look at a few ideas I had about Jude that hopefully God has given me. Let’s see: Pastor already prayed. I was going to pray that I was going to say the right words.

Anyway, Jude wrote a book found in the Bible. He was the half-brother of Jesus. He wrote a short letter to a group of believers encouraging them to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all and trusted to the saints. He prayed that mercy, peace, and love would be lavished on them from God, and he warned them of the false teachers. He tells them how to have victory over false teachers and not be led astray. He gives an illustration of God and how He works in the believer’s life. All of this is compressed into one short chapter in Jude. So hopefully you have had a chance to find the book of Jude. Let’s read a portion of that. I’m going to read verses 1 through 4, and then verses 17 through 22.

Verse 1 says, “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James. To those who have been called, who loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ. Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.

Dear friends, although I was once eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and to 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 God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ, our only sovereign and Lord.”

And then skipping over in verse 17 is says, “Dear friends, remember what the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you in the last times there would be scoffers who follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who deny you. Who follow mere natural instinct and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God as you wait for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ to bring you eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt. Snatch others from the fire and save them. To others show mercy mixed with fear. Hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

Kind of a sideline, but I watched the movie Trolls the other night. Anybody seen that movie? It’s kind of new out. It’s really colorful. Anyway, there are some Bergens. Kind of the nemesis to the story. There is some teaching in there about an interesting storyline.

The Bergens are grey, colorless creatures in this land of Trolls, everything is Trolls, yes. Bright pink, bright green, bright all these colors. All these Trolls are dancing around and singing all the time.

These Bergens are just walking around, moping around grey and colorless. The only way – they’ve been led to believe – that the only way they can have happiness, these Bergens, is to eat Trolls. So they eat them, and they feel happy for a while.

It’s kind of an interesting storyline.

They’re led astray into this philosophy by a cruel chef that likes to user her power over these Bergens by thinking they have to come to her to prepare their meal. That the only way to get happiness is through her, and eating these Trolls. So they’ve been led astray, all these Bergens have been led astray to believe they have to eat Trolls to be happy and to find true happiness.

And false teachers have been in the church since it started, and like this cruel chef in this movie, they try to control and lead people to a dependence on themselves instead of a dependence on Jesus Christ.

I believe God in inspiring Jude to write this letter wanted to do three things. Wait, there’s 4 here. Maybe 4 things.

God wanted to show His love for His church. He wanted to show you what false teachers look like. He wanted to encourage His church to fight against false teachers and false teachings, and He wanted false teachers to realize the judgment coming if they did not change their ways and turn to the true teachings of Jesus.

First of all, God loves His church. His church is made up of individual believers. He loves you individually. Look at how in verse 1 and 2 it talks – Jude talks about this. It’s interesting how the three parts of the Godhead, the Trinity, are working together for the salvation of His church and those who are called. In verse 1 it says, “To those who have been called.” It is the Holy Spirit who calls us to Himself. And then it says, “They are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ.”

Those are some interesting ways that the Trinity has worked together to call us, to show us love, to save us, and to keep us through His blood. There’s power in the blood.  The blood of Jesus Christ shed for sin. And there’s salvation found there. We’ll talk more about his love in just a little bit.

We want to look here what Jude wants his people, the people of God, to be filled with. Verse 2 says mercy. He wants mercy to be yours in abundance. When we fall short – when we’re trying to serve God and we fall short, His mercy is there to help, lift us up, and keep us going.

His peace comes upon us. That is the other thing. He wants peace to be yours in abundance. In this world ridden with anxiety and stress, He wants us to be the uncommon. The ones who are peaceful even in anxiety and stressful times. And he wants love to be yours in abundance.

In this world of conditional love, He wants to show you a life impacting love. It is called unconditional love. He is always there for you. Caring for you, helping you, delivering you, encouraging you, giving you His blessings, and protecting you. So first of all, we see God loves His church. He loves you individually.

Second, we see that He wants to reveal false teachers to us so we can be aware of what they look like. So from verse 4 all the way through the middle – that’s why I skipped the middle, it gets a little bit descriptive of all the ungodly people – I think I’d like to say it this way.

They are opponents to Jesus Christ and Him working in the church. So we’ll call them – in the red corner – they’re the opponent. He weighs 666 pounds and he is the ungodly. He is a mocker, a grumbler, a fault-finder. He chases after evil. He speaks arrogantly. He flatters people to take advantage of them. He causes division. He is worldly-minded. He’s devoid of the Spirit, and he turns the grace of God into lasciviousness. That’s an interesting word. I like to describe it as, “If it feels good, do it.” He turns the grace of God into “if it feels good, do it.”

Anyways, this opponent of the Church and of God Himself. People who have crept into the church to divide and erode its effectiveness. In order to combat people like this in the church, we need to have a good defense and a good offense to combat this. People who try to make church and its message irrelevant in peoples’ lives. So, as we look over in verse 20, he starts giving us encouragement to contend earnestly for the faith. What we can do as believers to strengthen ourselves defensively and offensively to not be led astray by false teachings or by false teachers.

It says, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith.” Build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Well, I don’t know, let’s see, where does holy faith come from? That would have had to come from God because I don’t have that in myself. And building yourself up, that is strengthening what He has given us. Taking steps of faith. But first of all, I want us to think of a game called Jenga. You’ve probably all seen it or heard about it. It’s a tower of blocks, stacked up. There’s three laying this way, and three laying this way. And they just stack up. It’s a tall tower to begin with, and the object of the game is to take one of them out and stack it on top. As you do this, the tower kind of gets wavier. Pretty soon you’re down to the last couple ones on the foundation. You take one out, it’s teetering, you put it on there – oh! - and it falls over.

What does this have to do with faith? Building our faith. Well, in order to keep the tower – the Jenga tower – from falling, it has to have a strong foundation. My favorite thing to do when I’m playing this game is to take out those bottom ones first. But then it’s a shorter game, right, because the foundation isn’t strong, and it can’t grow as far up. And in order to keep your faith from falling, you have to have a strong foundation. This foundation is found in the Bible, and it has to be a proper view of God. A proper view of Jesus. A proper view of the Holy Spirit, of salvation, prayer, service.

Kind of sounds like a sermon series that we had in our church not too long ago. Pastor Steve preached many sermons on these topics to help us stay grounded in the Word of God, and how that keeps a strong foundation in our lives as we believe the right things about all these things. So a strong foundation is essential in building up your faith. It is also important to take steps of faith in your personal life.

The process of building your faith starts by believing and it ends with action. So where are you at? How would you get to a higher level? What does it involve? As I was thinking about that, I’m like, I can’t – in my personal life, I can’t take steps of faith without being more connected to Jesus. Having more trust in Him. Having more knowledge of Him. Experience with Him, and trust in Him. And that leads me to obedience to Him.

I think I’m going to skip over that illustration, because I didn’t follow it through very well. Anyway.

We’ll start out with just a personal story in my life.  So God says, “Here’s faith. I give it to you. Now build on it.” That’s pretty much what He’s saying. In my life, most of the time I’ve been hearing Him say, “Here’s faith in your life.” “Thank you, God. Now I’m good.” That building part of it. I don’t like to take steps of faith. I’m afraid of things. One of my biggest fears is speaking in public and rejection. And somehow I’m up here. I don’t know why. I lost a lot of sleep, but I’m here. Maybe I’ll take a nap this afternoon. *laughs*

I felt God leading me to start up a prayer group in church. It had been a while back. And it kind of sat on the back burner for a while. Then I heard a pastor preaching on taking a step of faith. Before it could get out of my mind, I was like, I better. I better just take a step. So I called up Pastor Steve, “Can I start up a prayer group at church?” And he was like, “Well, sure!”

And it started there. We’re meeting back here on Sunday nights, and it has been very good. I don’t know how to describe it. I think as we pray for others, as we pray for the church, as we pray for the needs of others, in some ways it affects your heart.

*clapping*

It has been a big benefit in my life. Of helping to heal me, and to give me strength to move on.

So God is helping me conquer those fears.

The next thing that comes up in the Word of God, it says that “we are to be building our faith, and we are to be praying in the Holy Spirit.” Hmm. I wonder how that works. Because the offensive weapon that we have is to pray. Our offensive weapon in our hearts to make changes in our lives; the offensive weapon in other peoples’ lives to help them overcome things is prayer. It’s the power of prayer.

It says to pray in the Holy Spirit. And if you turn with me over to Matthew 6:9, we can use that as an illustration or an example of what it means to pray in the Holy Spirit. Matthew chapter 6 verse 9. It is the Lord’s Prayer. You probably all know it, but Jesus is teaching his disciples to pray, and He says:

“Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

So praying in the Spirit, I think, could be described in these first 3 or 4 phrases. “Our Father who art in Heaven.” Having a proper view of God or a proper aspect of who He is when you’re praying. All honor and praise and glory be due His name. That is the “hallowed be your name”. “His Kingdom come.” We’re looking forward to His Kingdom.

“His will on Earth as it is in Heaven.” How is His will done in Heaven? Right away and to its completeness, right? His angels are always there, wanting to do His will. Wanting to do His will and doing it completely, right away. That’s kind of convicting for me. Sometimes I take His will as a suggestion in my life and say, “Well, I’ll get to that another day.”

So if we have that aspect or that view of God when we’re praying, I think it is praying in the Holy Spirit. We’re praying in the proper spirit for His will, for His glory, and I think it is powerful in a Christian’s life.

Next as we look there, God gives us another way that we can stay solid against false teaching and false teachers in our lives. It says to “stay in the love of God.”

That staying in the love of God. Maintaining in Him or abiding in Him. I think of the verses that Jesus said, “I am the vine. You are the branches. He who abides in Me, he will bear much fruit.” Staying in His love and connected to Him. God’s love is life-changing, unconditional, and always there.

I have a note here to go back to page 3, so let’s see what that’s all about.

*laughs*

One of the most popular verses on God’s love is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Sometimes we think of those whosoevers and those the worlds as some other person. But God loves you individually. So as you say that verse personally, it would look something like this. Kind of think of your own name put in here.

For God so loved Ben that He gave His only begotten Christ. If Ben believes in Christ, Ben will not perish but have everlasting life. Amen.

So that salvation can be yours, and yours today if you choose it. Believe in Jesus Christ and His payment for sin. You can come to Him and be secured and locked in to God’s family if you trust Jesus for your salvation.

He gave up a lot out of love for you. He gave up His only son being sacrificed on the cross. And that’s all we can do, is accept him. It’s a free gift of salvation.

That’s what impacted me on staying in the love of Christ. And as Jude moves on, he also talks about how we react to others. We need to be focused foundationally in our faith. We need to be praying. We need to be praying, building ourselves up in our faith, and keeping ourselves in the love of God, and anxiously awaiting His return because that gives us an urgency to reach out to others. That’s what the last section is about.

In verse 22 it says, “Be merciful to those who doubt. Snatch others from the fire and save them. To others show mercy mixed with fear. Hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

When we’re grounded in Him, we can reach out to others and help them in their spiritual lives come to know Him as their savior. Even the people who were the false teachers in the church, sometimes doubt led them astray. So if we can help them come along, it shows the world a different way of dealing with an opponent. If we can help somebody get corrected in their theology or think the right way about God, that’s a great thing. It strengthens our church.

In conclusion, as I reflected on this book, it’s a short book but I think it teaches us a lot. And there’s a lot more that I didn’t even delve into in this book. But I think the main points: God wants to show you His love. He wants to show you what false teachers look like, and how they lead people astray. He wants to encourage you to fight against false teachers and false teachings in the church. And He wants the false teachers to know the judgment coming if they don’t turn to Him for salvation.

Let’s as a church take up his challenge to fight for the faith through building our faith in Him, praying in the Holy Spirit, staying in His love, awaiting His coming, and reaching out to those in need. We can accept his challenge today.

And now I want to give a benediction. And it’s right there out of the passage. Jude 24. It’s one of the most popular benedictions in church. “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy. To the only God, our savior, be glory, majesty, power, and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord. Before all ages. Now and forever more.”

Amen.