This week the Lord has set me on a new journey. I have been reading and studying the Bible under the tutelage of many teachers for the past...ummm, how many years, (my goodness, where did all those years go)? Well, believe it not, 42 years, give or take a year, that's how many. Off and on during that time, I've taken a Kay Arthur or a Beth Moore, or a Church led Bible study, but I've never just studied it on my own. Lately, though, I've been hearing the Lord tell me it's time to strike out on my own and trust Him. It's time to become a Berean and find out that I can know the Scriptures on my own. He will teach me. (I did pick up Kay Arthur's "How to Study Your Bible" book, though, to be completely honest.)
It's very appropriate that the holy spirit led me to begin with the book of Jude. One of the reasons I have felt led to begin my own study is that for the past year I have been getting so many mixed messages; i.e, from my past teachings from my mother, my church, blogs, different pastors; teachings about grace, works, the law, prophecy, universalism, eternity, hell and frankly, it was taking a toll on my relationship with God, and I was like, "I know I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died to pay for my sins and to put me back into relationship with God, but where and how does the rest of all this come into play. What is truth, Lord?"
A word of caution, here, folks. I am not a Bible scholar, and I am not professing to be a teacher. I am writing this for my own good, and if you would like to comment and if it helps you,...great! Then, please join me, BUT be a good Berean, like me, and read it and ask Him to teach you, too.
Jude was, according to my KJV Study Bible, a brother of Jesus. He wrote this small, one chapter, 25 verse, letter to a group of Christians who had been infiltrated secretly by false teachers. These infiltrators were teaching a message that promoted moral looseness, doctrinal error, destructive pride and divisiveness. Sound like anyone you know?
In verses 5 through 7, Jude then refreshes his readers' memory of three instances when God judged and punished individuals for similar actions: (1) Israelites who "murmured" and complained after being delivered from slavery in Egypt and were then killed off/died and not allowed to enter the Promised Land; (2) the fallen angels of Genesis 6 who have been put in everlasting chains in darkness until the great day of judgement; and (3) Sodom & Gomorrha and their destruction due to sexual sin.
Jude is very explicit in his criticism of these "filthy dreamers" but cautions that even archangel Michael in disputing with satan over Moses' body didn't just go all viral on him but calmly said, "The Lord rebuke thee." So, it seems in contending* for the faith, we are to know the truth and calmly rebuke those who are teaching a false gospel. We are to know that there are dire consequences reserved for those who do teach a false gospel, and when Christ returns with "ten thousands of His saints" (verse 14) He and His saints will execute judgement upon them. These infiltrators are characterized in verse 16 as being murmurers, complainers, boasters, and persuasive in getting what they want by flattery.
v contend [kənˈtend]
1 (usually withwith) to struggle against.
2 (withthat) to say or maintain (that).
a person who has entered a competition (for a title etc).
1 an opinion put forward.
2 argument; disagreement
Jude then advises Christians to remember the words taught by Jesus and the apostles that in the the "last time" there would be individuals infiltrating the Church but that they were to "contend" for the faith by building up their own faith by praying in the holy spirit, staying in the love of God and looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus for eternal life. Also, we are to have compassion on others who are lost and even though we strive not to be defiled in our own walk, we are to save them with fear as though pulling them from a fire and "hate" even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Kay Arthur teaches that in rightly dividing the Word, we are to try and answer as many of these questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How as possible.
The Book of Jude
Who: Jude to Followers of Christ
What: Letter advising them to contend and defend the true gospel
When: Not mentioned in the letter.
Where: Not specified.
How: Praying in the holy spirit, staying in God's love, seeking
to reach others for Christ, and waiting anxiously for Christ's
mercy unto salvation.
Why: Because certain men had infiltrated the church and were teaching
a false gospel which gave license to loose morality, divisiveness,
doctrinal error and pride.
As I leave your Word today, keep me ever aware of those I come in contact with who need a touch from your hand for healing and restoration. May I contend for and defend only the gospel that you and your disciples taught. Thank you for the Bible, your instruction manual for my life. May I hold it in high regard and importance and may my desire to know what it says increase each day.