Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Contending for the Faith: Jude

In a previous post, I wrote about the rising them of conflict in the last two Epistles of the New Testament before Revelation.

In John's Third Epistle, the disciple whom Jesus loved talked about confronting an arrogant Pharisee in the local church, who not only refused to receive him, but was casting out other people. This Pharisee, Diotrephes, loved to be first. When we do not see Jesus as first, foremost, and only in our lives, inevitably we will try to fill that emptiness, and the fears which come with it, by trying to make ourselves God and control other people.

The grace of God shows us not only the favor of our Loving Father, but that He is taking care of all things for us, too!

Jude, the Brother of James

Now, in the last Epistle, Jude, we find a stern tone of earnest concern from the writer:

3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 3-4)

Instead of men and women seeking to pride themselves on their law-keeping, Jude is exhorting fellow believers to watch out for men and women who claim that the grace of God gives us license to sin.

 For the record, the Gospel is very clear about what we receive in Christ Jesus:

"38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13: 38-39)

Now, not once did Paul ever suggest that this redemption would invite license to sin. However, the missing component for many Christians today is that we are not just sinners, but we are dead in trespasses, and we need life (John 10: 10):

"He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (1 John 15: 12)

Grace is not a license to sin, but rather produces empowerment to reign in life: His life:

"15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5: 15-17)

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