Article: Beware of Intruders and Stand firm for the FAITH | Jacob Varghese

The epistle of Jude is a short but fascinating book in the New Testament. There are only 25 verses but there are important lessons and insights to discover in its introduction of the author, it’s purpose, it target audience and most importantly, its various reference from Old Testament. Like most of the other general epistles, the title of this book takes its name from its author. Most of the scholars identify the writer as Jude, the half-brother of Jesus for at least two reasons. First he identifies himself as the brother of James in vs.1.Second, when we look at Matthew 13:55, it records the names of brothers of Jesus and we find James and Judas there. Though Gospels record his name as Judas, English translations shorten it to Jude because of the association it has with Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. No one in the present day wants to name a child Judas, isn’t it? According to John7:5, we understand Jude like the other half-brothers of Jesus, did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah until after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

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Jude introduces himself as a servant of Jesus Christ, (a bond slave) and a brother of James in Vs.1.Jude was a blood relative of Jesus but he considered himself only as a servant of Jesus Christ. He wanted himself to be known this way. This shows of his humility. He does not want to take any credit of his human relationship with Jesus (We see this in Mark 3:31-35; Luke 11:27 &28). Without doubt, Jude valued the fact that Jesus was his half- brother and that he grew up in the same house hold with Jesus. But even more valuable was his new relationship with Jesus as his savior and his Messiah. To Jude, the blood of the cross that saved him was more important than the family blood in his veins that related him to Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:16)And James was an important leader of the church in Jerusalem and the author of the letter that bears his name.
We may ask these questions -why Jude is writing? What is his purpose? What is the rationale for his writing? Jude is writing in the first century of the early church in response to some circumstances that had arisen. It is very easy to discover in the book of Jude as the third verse provides the purpose of the book. There is some indication that Jude carried on an itinerant ministry. This has led some to believe Jude is writing to believers in the places where he had preached and who were now affected by the problem of the abandonment or renunciation of their faith.

The book of Jude is simply divided into three categories. First, Jude provides words of explanation in verses 1to 4. This introduction or words of explanation consists of a greeting in verses 1&2 and a warning in verses 3&4. Second are words of exposition in verses 5 to16. Finally, he comes to the third division: words of exhortation found in verses 17-24. These verses provide a hope needed after the first sixteen verses, for if that is all we had we would all be in a state of deep depression. In the exhortation, beginning in verse 17, Jude provides us encouragement on how we are to contend against the rejection of Christian faith by someone who formerly was a Christian. So the message of the book of Jude is relevant even today.
Jude is writing to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ, in fact to those who are loved by God the father and kept by Jesus Christ. He is writing to a group of people in general. He is not writing to a specific group of believers in a specific location. Jude writes in a general nature, “to them who are called,” Jude describes these called ones as those who are sanctified, loved by God the Father, and preserved in and for Jesus Christ. Jude wrote to Christians. This is not an evangelistic tract. It deals with things that believers need to hear, but often don’t want to hear. Jude identifies his readers as Christians in 3 specific ways. (1) They were called- A person is a Christian because God has called him. (2) They were sanctified by God the Father- set apart from the world and set apart unto God. (3) They were preserved in Jesus- Jesus Christ is our guardian and our protector. Verse 2 Gives a warm and typical greetings. Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance (in another version it says be multiplied to you). In the mind and heart of Jude, it was not enough to have mercy, peace and love added to the life of the Christian. He looked for multiplication instead of simple addition.
In vs.3 Jude clearly defines the purpose of the book is the call to defend Faith. Verse 3 very clearly addresses the occasion. “Beloved, 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 you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” His intention was to write a leisurely little letter about the common salvation. Apparently something happened that then changed his plan. This occurrence was so serious and important that he said it was needful to write. We could translate it as, “I had a compulsion to write and to exhort you to contend earnestly for the faith.” This compulsion is the occasion for the letter. Jude is addressing those who have departed from the faith and he is telling “the called” that they need to contend earnestly for the faith. “I was very diligent to write to you”- Jude’s initial desire was to write about our common salvation but something happened. Jude found it necessary to write to exhorting you. Yes, it is a different letter- this was the letter that did not want to be written. Finally the letter is becoming a sermon. Jude is preaching against the dangerous practices and doctrines that put the gospel of Jesus Christ in peril. Serious issues Jude dealt with them seriously. We should be happy that Jude was sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

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Vs.4 teaches us to distinguish Truth from lies. Certain men have crept in unnoticed. They are godless men (ungodly men). Jude warns us about the ungodly men who have made their way among God’s people rather casually and unnoticed. This calls us for our attention and careful discernment. We need to be able to rightly divide the word of God and His truth so that we can distinguish it from the lies of ungodly men. Satan knows well that one devil in the church can do far more harm than a thousand devils outside. They may bring both moral and doctrinal problems. Heresy was sweeping in to the region and disturbing the churches, deceiving the believers through false teachers and condemned individuals.Vs.4 points out two tactics of ungodly men. (1) They turn the grace of God (salvation) into a license for immorality and Sin that is practiced without shame or without any sense of conscience or decency. (2) To deny Jesus Christ our only sovereign and Lord.
Jude is exhorting us to contend, struggle & resist earnestly for the faith. Be strengthened to agonize, to struggle continually for the faith as it is valuable. Valuables are protected, so we need to protect our faith. We need to give witness to our faith, we need to be ambassadors for Jesus and strengthen the hands of our co-believers, Pastors and leaders of our churches today. Honor the word of God and do not encourage false teachers. Live an uncompromising Christian life. Give credit to the Lord who changed us. Faith was delivered to us one time and does not need to be delivered again. But we need to distribute or preach this truth again and again. Jude urges Christians to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ (Vs17) His advice is to focus on Jesus Christ and to watch out for each other so that no one is misled in to error or wrong things. Those who place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ are secure in salvation, not by their own good deeds, because no one is good enough to do that but believers are secure by the mediation work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Jude’s warning brings us back to God’s grace.

What can we do to protect our church? So now we must ask the question. Can we protect our church from these intruders’? Can we do our best to make sure that the church is kept pure and unspotted from the world? Yes, it is possible. There is no doubt about it. There are few keys to protecting our Church. The Word of God must have the priority in our churches. Watching and praying must guide our position. Where and how money in the churches spent must be protected. We must guard how the money God has entrusted us with is spent. Wisdom in Biblical separation must be pressed upon. It takes knowledge of the Word. It takes a willingness to watch and pray. It takes diligence about the finances. It takes willingness to follow Biblical guidelines of separation. That means those that cross these lines in our churches are not to be fellowshipped with or communicated with unless they want to make things right. The Christian life is a separated life. There is to be a distinct difference between the way of God and the way of the devil. The closer we live to the Lord the less we will desire the things of the world. The closer we get to the flame of His righteousness, the less we will desire the coldness of unrighteousness. This separation is like light separates darkness, water separates land, and ground separates sky. So salvation must separate a child of God from the evil of this world. This separation is commanded by Jesus.
Jude has been describing in detail these creepers. They have sneaked their way into the church. They claim to be saved. They claim to have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. But Jude has exposed them as pretenders. Following what is written in verse 17 through 25 is going to help the believers live in the last days. But prior to his instruction, Jude takes one more opportunity to give us a practical look at these persons who renounces their faith. This warning is helping us that we will not become one like that. There are five things that Jude mentions here. Do not murmur, do not complain, do not walk after your own lusts, do not speak great inflated words and do not flatter people to gain personal advantage.
In verse 17 and verse 20 we see Jude is now calling out the beloved. It is almost as if we have been calmed to sleep by the numerous charges and descriptions of these that had crept in unawares that Jude is changing his tone of voice to capture the attention of those that have been redeemed. Remember that people will turn away from God; remember that there would be mockers in the last time, who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. Jude is giving us some action words to help encourage the saint during the last days. First of all, we are to be building. Not just building for the sake of building, but building on our most holy faith. The most holy faith is that faith which God stretches and grows in our lives. Are we building on our Most Holy Faith? The second action word Jude mentions is praying. We cannot build without praying. Praying is a fundamental part of our faith. Praying in the Holy Spirit is us surrendering our will, our desires, and our aspirations to the authority of God.

Jude wants us to stay true to the Word of God keeping ourselves in the love of God and looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. We have to make the determination to live holy. In this whole letter, Jude is emphasizing that the right relationship with Christ and the right relationship with the Word of God will keep us aware of those who wish to creep. It will also keep us from wandering away from God. Jude’s purpose of writing this epistle was twofold (1) He wanted to expose the false teachers that had infiltrated the Christian community and the church. (2) He wanted to encourage Christians to stand firm in the faith and to fight for the truth. So Let us be aware of these things and grow in the Lord and be a blessing to the church.

JACOB VARGHESE

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