Yesterday we spoke of the necessity for God’s people to earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 1:3-4), which represents the entire body of teachings which have been passed onto the Church. Paul calls this the “pattern of sound teaching” (2 Tim 1:13). “The faith” is complete. It has been given “once for all!” The Bible represents the sum total of God’s revelation to us about Jesus Christ, salvation, and how to live our lives as Christians. This is our “doctrine”, which is complete and final (Heb 1:1-4).
This “faith” was under attack by false teachers, just as it is today. Jude’s concept of contending involved opposing the false doctrines. But, the epistle writer goes farther. Contending for the faith involves leading a positive life which is conducted in faithfulness and obedience to the Gospel message. It is a life which brings the reward of victory — eternal life (1 Tim 6:12).
Jude, along with the other apostles who were called and commissioned by Christ, found it necessary to combat this influx of false teaching. These false teachings fell into a number of specific categories, including pride, greed and rebellion. They were men who walk according to their own lusts, who are exposed by their flattering tongue, their desire for money, their exploitation of the poor, their watering down of the gospel, their disdain for the godly, their distortion of the truth, their contempt for the glorious gospel of Christ – and their politically correct, seeker friendly teachings, which continues aggressively today.
We read that these apostate teachers who ply their ungodly teachings are marked out by God for condemnation. No wonder he and the other apostles gave such serious warning to the Church to contend earnestly for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)
Following yesterday’s post I looked further into a Scripture quoted, “And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” (Gal 2:4-5) Obviously, this is speaking of other false teachers that creep into the fold in order to disrupt the teaching of the true gospel of Jesus.
Paul, who received the truth from Christ Himself, insisted that nothing was required of a person to be saved, because Jesus had already paid the full price for our salvation when he died for our sins on the cross. A group in the church known as the Judaizers didn’t accept grace and attempted to lead people down the road to hell with their human works theories. There are many religions today who cheapen Jesus Christ’s grace and mercy by teaching that sinful humans must do good works to gain entry to heaven, but Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Paul wrote to the church in Galatia that he never for even a moment allowed the apostate to stand. “But we did not give up and submit to these people for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would be preserved for you.” (Gal 2:5) Paul refused to budge an inch on this all-important point at a meeting in Jerusalem with the most influential leaders of the Christian movement. He saw it as his job to preserve the truth of the gospel. The Bible is excruciatingly clear: adding even the slightest hint of “works” to the gospel, requiring any kind of ritual or act on our part, is to replace the truth with a lie.
False teachers and doctrines of demons have been flooding into the Church since those early days in Galatia, in increasingly loathsome and satanically-inspired ways. It’s not surprising that every New Testament writer gives serious warnings, that heretical teachings and apostate teachers will continue to pervade the Church of Christ.
We need to be increasingly aware of the dangers we are in and the invasive ways ungodly teachings are seeping into the pure gospel of grace. May we become increasingly familiar with the pure ‘milk’ and ‘meat’ of the Word and pray for discernment to identify and renounce anything that undermines the liberty we have in Christ, which will only bring us into bondage. We need to earnestly contend for the faith, and not give an inch.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many warnings, throughout Your Word, of the profusion of insidious teachings and unbiblical doctrines that are flooding the Church today. Keep us pure in heart, sound in doctrine, looking to Jesus and anchored to the Rock of our salvation for His name’s sake. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.