Contending For the Faith (The General Epistle of Jude)

The desire of Jude was to write about the common salvation, and this is a very pleasant task. God has taken us up to make us just what He wishes us to be. He has one thought, that we should be conformed to the image of His Son. By the Gospel He brings us to Himself. He saves by His glad tidings. It is that which gets into the heart of men and becomes the living link between the soul and God. The word of the glad tidings produces a new nature and a new life in the one that hears it, and believes it, “Of His own will begat He us, by the word of truth”. God has those in this world, who are begotten of Him, who are able to look up into His face, and call him Father, by the Spirit of His Son. Sometimes we think it was by some kind of accident that we came to see and acknowledge that we were sinners, and that we turned to God, who received us graciously, forgave us our sins, set us in His own presence, and took us into His own love and favour. We are liable to think that He had little or nothing to do with it; whereas He had everything to do with it. None can come to Christ unless the Father draws them. It is all in His hands, and the way He draws is by the Gospel, the glad tidings of His grace. The new birth is a mystery in one way to us. I do not suppose anyone can really tell when he was born again. He may be able to tell when he believed the Gospel, and when he got his soul saved. When a man believes the Gospel and receives the Spirit of God, then he is able to speak about being born again, for the Spirit witnesses with His spirit that he is a child of God. But how He reached us, how He dealt with us, how He made His word powerful in our souls, we have very little, if any understanding. We only know He has done it, and it is His work from beginning to end. There are these things that are beyond our power to tell, or to give any real and true account of, but, blessed be God, we can say that they are true of us. We have passed out of death unto life. We have received the Spirit of God, for we receive the Spirit when we believe the Gospel of our salvation. That gives us the enjoyment of this great salvation, so that it is a very happy thing to preach the Gospel, and a very happy thing to listen to it, and a very happy thing to write about it. Jude would have liked to have done so, but there was something else that was pressing upon His mind by the Spirit of God, and to that he has to refer. It was the state of things that was coming in upon those who professed the name of Christ. Very early in the history of Christianity the evil came in. It is full blown today, but it began early enough. The Apostle Paul tells us that evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived, until at last that which professes His name will become so nauseous to Christ that He will spue it out of His mouth.

Jude has to write to the believers, and to encourage them in the battle, because so long as the church is here there will be conflict; we need encouragement. We seem to see everything going to the bad, and we are liable to let our hands hang down, and our knees become feeble, and our feet look for a smooth path through this world. We have to have our hands continually lifted up to God in supplication for strength to tread our pathway through this world. We have to run the race with patience, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith, and not only with the desire, but the absolute certainty that God will bring us through, and that we shall reach the goal at last, to be with Christ, and like Him. So he desires that they should contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. We ought not to be contentious people. There is only one thing that we have to contend for, and that is the faith of the Gospel. We have not to contend for our rights or reputation, but we have to contend for one thing that is more precious to us than our name, more precious to us than our reputation in this world, and that is the faith of the Gospel. Paul could say, when he was about to leave this world, and was seeking to encourage Timothy, “I have fought a good fight”. It was a fight all along the line. Paul was not like a man who boasts when he is putting on his armour, and has nothing to boast about when he is putting it off. He says, “I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.” There was not another thing he did keep. He did not keep his worldly position, and he lost his life at the last. He kept but the faith. That was more precious to him than anything else. He was carrying through this world a treasure that was of more value than the whole creation put together. He was only careful for that. He fought for that. He contended day by day with men of every kind and class, even with the saints themselves, and with one of the first Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, He even withstood Peter to the face that the truth of the Gospel might continue with the saints. He did not hesitate a moment to contend for the truth of the Gospel, and he was sure of victory, because he knew that God was for him. If you contend for the faith of the Gospel you may be absolutely sure of victory, because you have God for you, and if God be for you, who can be against you?

Jude exhorts them to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, because certain men had crept in unawares. They had got into the profession of Christianity for the purpose of corrupting the truth. The devil is very successful in doing so, for he is very crafty. We are no match for him in cunning, and so his servants find ready access amongst the people of God. They deny the only Lord God, the only despot, as it is—the only one who has a right to be a despot, the only one who has a right to enforce His authority over the whole creation. They set themselves against Him. It was a vain effort, but all the efforts of the devil are vain. However cunning the old serpent is, after all, he is always defeated in the end. Take him at the very beginning of his work on earth, in the Garden of Eden. Man fell at the first assault of Satan, and it was a great victory. How he exulted over it, but “the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment”. God comes upon the scene, and says “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed from the earth”. He is like the wicked man who digged a pit for another, and fell into it himself. His head was bruised. However successful the devil may appear for the moment, his joy all perishes in the end, and he finds himself defeated. He has found himself defeated all along the line, and he has found that God has brought good out of the evil that he (Satan) had brought in. We lost everything in Adam; we have found infinitely more in Christ. It is not that we know God as our good Creator, as Adam knew Him. We know Him as our God and Father, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Next Jude reminds them of three things. First, WANT OF FAITH. The Lord, after having saved a people out of Egypt, destroyed them who believed not. They really had no faith. What we want to see is that we have faith in Christ. Faith overcomes every obstacle. These had no faith, and their carcases fell in the wilderness. Second, THE GIVING UP OF A HEAVENLY POSITION. The case is cited of the angels who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation. That refers to Genesis 6. God had given the angels a separate place from man. They were not to mix themselves up with human beings in this world, but they left their first estate, and are now reserved under darkness, to the judgement of the great day. God never fails in his grace towards those who submit themselves to Him, and He never fails to bring down the wickedness of the wicked upon their own heads. We have a heavenly calling, and we are to maintain a place on earth as separate from the world. Those who profess the name of Christ are responsible, whether they are true believers or whether they are not. “He that says he abideth in Him, ought himself to walk even as He walked.” There are many unbelievers in Christendom. They are Christians in name only. Destruction is before them, because God destroyed the people who believed not. Then the next thing is they cannot maintain their separation from the world. They drop down to the level of the world, mix themselves up with the world, and you cannot distinguish the world today from the church. Third, ALL KINDS OF CORRUPTION GET IN. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were burnt up. If God does not fail in grace, He will not fail in judgement. He will not fail in anything that He takes up to do. Judgement is His strange work, but He is compelled to do it, because He is the Governor of the universe, and He cannot allow evil to continue for ever. If men do not judge themselves, they come under the consequence of their own sinfulness.

More than that. We see the Spirit of God rising up in the midst of that which professes the name of Christ, and saying, “Woe unto them”. That is not the world, but that which is inside the profession of Christianity. “Woe unto them, for they have gone in the way of Cain”—mere natural religion. They thank God for the mercies received on earth through His bounty, but want nothing of the blood of Christ to cleanse them from sin. They think they do not need God’s salvation at all. They say they are just what God made them, and their relations with God are all right. That was Cain’s position. Abel, on the contrary, acknowledged that death lay upon him as the judgement of God. Cain would not acknowledge that, and the end was that Cain rose up and killed his brother Abel, and then went out and dwelt in the land of Nod, to be away from God. “They have run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward”. That is associating the people of God with the world, and that for reward. The next is that they have “perished in the gainsaying of Core”. We do not need to say they will perish. God looks upon the thing as done—they have perished.

He tells the saints that they have been well warned of these things. “There will be mockers, walking after their own worldly, ungodly lusts. Not merely will you find men of God—they are always to be found—but mockers, scoffers, professing the name of Christ, and scoffing at everything that is divine.

But ye, beloved.” There is but a little flock today. The great majority of Christendom has turned away from Christ, and they are going faster and faster every day after every mad thing the devil and man can invent. “Building up yourselves on your most holy faith.” As men depart from it, you be more careful of it. Get your soul better built up in it. It is a most holy faith. It is not the invention of man, and the devil has never had anything to do with it. That faith is from heaven itself. Then “Praying in the Holy Ghost”, not merely saying prayers as a kind of ritual, but praying in the power of the Spirit of God. That is, presenting your supplication not in your own power, but in the only power by which you can have to do with God. You say, “Can I always be filled with that Spirit?” You ought to be. In Ephesians it says, “Be filled with the Spirit”. Who? All believers in Ephesus, and the same thing should be true of all believers, now, everywhere. A person may say, “I wish I were filled with the Spirit. How am I to be?”

Go to God, and He will teach you. Pray to Him. Turn to Him. He will teach you. He is neither hard nor unkind. He is gracious and merciful, full of compassion and love. He knows all about you. He knows your desires. Put your trust in Him, and ask Him that you may be filled with the Spirit. Ask Him in the name of Jesus. “Keep yourselves in the love of God”. What an atmosphere that is. Keep yourselves in the enjoyment and the sense of it. Nothing can separate you from it, but you may not be in the enjoyment of it. Keep in the warmth of that bright sunshine of God’s love. On a cold winter’s day it is pleasant to keep on the sunny side of the street. That is where we are to keep in the winter day of this world. Keep yourselves in the love of God. Then you are not looking for things to improve. You are not murmuring because things are not getting better, but looking for the only way out of it, and that is the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ”, for mercy it will be to get out of this wretched scene that is so obnoxious to Christ. It will be a mercy, on account of the state of things.

“Of some have compassion, making a difference”. There are people round about you who need you to help them. They need you to speak them. They need you to tell them about the Saviour. There are poor, feeble Christians who need your help; lame things, ready to turn out of the way. They have to be sought out, to be cared for.

They may sometimes tell you they do not want your care, but we are not to be discouraged. Go after them, seek them. Seek them in the grace of Christ, and the love of Christ. Make a difference between them, and those that lead them into error. Others save with fear. Just as Lot was drawn out of Sodom, draw the dear people out of this Christendom that is under the judgement of God. The angels laid hold of Lot and his two daughters, and dragged them out of Sodom, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

Then he closes, “Now unto Him who is able”. We are not able to keep ourselves from falling. “Now, unto Him who is able to keep you from falling.” Not only that, but to present you faultless, to carry you right through to the glory, to present you faultless before the presence of His glory, and that with exultation, with praises, and songs. Israel will come to Zion one day with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads. God will present us before the presence of His glory with exultation, with great joy. Who is able to keep us? The only wise God, our Saviour. Here it is the only God, our Saviour, to whom be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now, and for ever. Why does he ascribe these great things to God? Because there are those who deny the only Lord God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. The Apostle ascribes glory and majesty, dominion and power to the One whom man casts off.