Contending for the Faith-Jude 3-4, 20-21

Jude 3-4, 20-21 “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.”
Jude 20-21   “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” 
     These verses are at the beginning and end of this general epistle. Jude has watched the Gospel move across the landscape and he has seen the rise of apostasy in many forms. His urgent message is shared immediately with the words “contend for the faith that was once entrusted to the saints.” (v.3). The word “contend” comes from the idea to struggle or fight. The truth is that all through church history, the church has had to fight to keep the purity of the Gospel from being corrupted by cultural ideologies (external) and twisted false doctrines (internal). Jude says that this had now happened (slipped in) and therefore his caution. 
     This short epistle is filled with polemic warnings against Gnosticism (freedom to live for the desires of the flesh since they believed that God only wanted the spirit of man) and then he follows with examples of truth which were once held with great esteem but then ignored. Listen to his list: the Israelites who lost their way in route to the promised land (because of their unfaithfulness and unbelief); angels who rejected God’s authority and lost their position in heaven (pride); the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (immorality); the fall of Cain (false worship); Balaam’s error (greed for money); Korah’s rebellion (rejecting God’s authority in Moses); and those who claim to be shepherds, but feed and flatter only themselves (false teachers).
     But Jude gives us guidelines in vv. 20-21 to keep us in the Gospel “once entrusted…” to us: 1) Build yourself up by the teaching of the Word. 2) Pray in the Holy Spirit 3) Keep yourself in God’s love and 4) Show mercy as you contend for the faith. If you know the truth, you won’t follow a lie!    
Pray with me: In reading Judas, I am reminded to remain true to the truth once entrusted to me. Help me to heed the warning in the Scriptures and apply Jude’s protective guidelines to my life. 

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