Jude 1:1-3 "Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. 3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints."
Outlines of Bible books are meant to provide a map for navigating through a given Bible book. In yesterday's post we offered the following outline of the Epistle or Letter of Jude found near the end of the New Testament:
A. How to Win the Fight of Faith. Jude 1:1-3
B. Beware of Enemies in the Fight of Faith. Jude 1:4-13 (along with 2 Corinthians 10:3-4; Ephesians 6:11-18; 1 John 2:14-17)
C. The power of God’s Word in the fight of faith. Jude 1:14-19
D. Bullet-proofing your faith in the fight of faith. Jude 1:20-23
E. How God Preserves you in the fight of faith. Jude 1:24
In today's post we will consider the first of these points, namely, "How to win the fight of faith". Jude's urgent tone entails pressing his readers to "fight the good fight of faith" or in his words "contend earnestly for the Faith". The question is: is the fight of faith a winnable fight? As we we will see below, Jude's opening three verses lays out a simple two point strategy for winning the battle that wages in the Christian's soul and throughout the course of living life in this world. So how do we win the fight of faith? Notice....
Surrender to God's Love. Jude 1:1-2
Jude was the half-brother of Jesus according to the flesh. His identification as the brother of James certifies this fact (also see Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). Jude, along with James and his other siblings, had been a skeptic of Jesus' earthly ministry (see John 7:5). Yet, Acts 1:14 reveals that at some point between Jesus' resurrection and ascension, Jude and his brothers were converted to faith in Christ, as evident by their presence with the 120 Christians awaiting the promised Holy Spirit in Acts 1:14. Jude's testimony must had been amazing. He had surrendered to God's love, and now was one of the leading spokesmen for Jesus Christ.
In Jude 1:1b we see the author uses two words that describe how the believer is kept in the faith for which they are to contend. We read - "To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ." Both the underlined terms above are passive perfect participles in the original Greek text. When we say "passive", we mean that the believer is a recipient of God's action of "love" and "keeping". When we refer to these terms as being in the "perfect tense", this indicates that Jude's readers have been kept and loved by God for quite some time, and that they are still experiencing such keeping and loving at the current time of the letter. When the term "participle" is used to describe these words, it indicates that the verbal form is talking about the state in which the Christian finds themselves. In other words, we as Christians receive God's love and keeping power, a reality that began at conversion and continues on throughout the believers walk and which ought to be a stated way of life.
To surrender to God's love, though passive in nature, does not mean that the Christian does absolutely nothing. Surrendering to God's love is an active following of God's leading. Jude evidences this active surrendering in verse 3 of his letter. Jude had come with the intention of wanting to write his readers regarding "our common salvation." Undoubtedly such an intention was noble. Yet, the Holy Spirit was moving upon Jude to go in a different direction and write instead of the need to "contend once and for all the faith handed down to the saints."
What does it look like when we surrender to God's love in the fight of faith? Jude depicts the activity of surrendering to God in Jude 1:20-21 "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith,praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life." Certainly we can think of how Jesus surrendered His life to the Father from the moment he acquiesced to the Father's will in eternity by stepping into time via the incarnation (John 1:14) and virgin birth/conception (Luke 1:35) all the way to his journey to the cross (Hebrews 12:1-2). Henceforth to obtain victory in the fight of faith, we must needs surrender to God's love. But notice secondly....
Stand on the words of God. Jude 1:3
Jude writes in Jude 1:3 that we are to contend for the faith "once and for all delivered to the saints". Author John Piper, in his recent book: "A Peculiar Glory", writes on page 62 concerning this very phrase used by Jude as referring to: "(t)he apostolic witness to Christ in that first generation was meant by Jesus to be foundational for all history."
The reader may had noticed that I underlined the word "delivered" in verse 3. That term, as it is used by Jude, is a technical term in the Greek language that refers to the "handing down" of God's objective revelatory words from one generation to the next. In 1 Corinthians 11:23, we see the Apostle Paul "handing down" to the Corinthians the instructions he received from Jesus concerning the Lord's Supper. Or again in 1 Corinthians 15:3, the Apostle Paul is "handing down" the essential message of Christ's death, burial and resurrection as he had received it from the Apostles Peter and others who were eye-witnesses of those events. Jude's textual similarity to another book of the Bible, 2 Peter, is no accident. If anything, Jude is affirming the authorship of the Apostle Peter's writing and clearly had first-hand correspondence with the apostle. What Jude was doing in effect was to telling his readers to stand upon the words of scripture and contend for the faith.
I thought it would be beneficial to remind the reader of particular verses in the Bible that describe its very nature as we close out this post today. Joshua 1:8 reminds us to meditate on God's Word as a means of victory. Psalm 119:11 and 105 urge us to memorize scripture, since it sheds light on our path. Jesus Himself states in Matthew 5:18 how not one word of God will ever be lost nor repealed. Romans 15:4 indicates that the scriptures were written not only for our instruction, but also to provide hope. 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21 both testify to the Divine origin and inerrancy of the Word of God. All of these verses reveal why it is we can stand on the Word of God. May we then surrender to God's love and stand on His word, since we are called as Christians to win the fight of faith.