Tag: contend for the faith

What Happened To Holiness?


Way back in the first century, even when the Church was Spirit-led and full of the power of God, Jude wrote a letter to his friends. A letter that was not only timely for them, but for us as well. Here’s a small portion.

“Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:3-4 NLT) 

I sincerely believe Jude’s letter, though only 25 verses long, is THE most important letter for our day and age. I suggest you read the whole letter, and read it often, to see for yourself.

He began his letter saying he had planned on writing something different, a word that was possibly a little more easy for his readers to enjoy. People haven’t changed much over the last 2,000 years. The majority of people would rather hear “All you need is love…”, than “Is your all on the altar?”

Yes, we need love. But we need it as God has defined AND demonstrated it.

Jude said, “…urging you to defend the faith that GOD has entrusted once for all time to HIS HOLY PEOPLE…” Just who are His Holy People? Those who have named the Name of Jesus. Those who are born again, who’ve received Jesus Christ as the LORD of their lives.

Notice: “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:1-2 ESV)

“To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7 ESV)

“Called to be saints (or holy people)”. Simply meaning, “set apart BY God”, “set apart UNTO God”, and “set apart FOR God.” Set apart means “sanctified”. So, saints are, in God’s mind, set apart. Sanctified.

Paul even wrote to the carnal church of Corinth, “called to be saints…” Doesn’t that seem incredible? But that’s how God sees His people. We are set apart by Him, to Him, and for Him.

Peter said, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

Can you get at least a glimpse of what we, as Christians, are called to be and do? Jude knew these things, and was compelled by the Holy Spirit to urge us to DEFEND the faith that was entrusted to us. Defend what we believe.

If we don’t defend it, who will? 

People say, “My faith, what I believe, is too personal to talk about.” Really? Why? If it’s good enough for you to believe, why not pass it on? Or do you really believe?

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not only a personal thing, it is something that DEMANDS to be shared. God Himself could have kept it all to Himself, but He loved us too much to keep it “personal”. The Son didn’t become flesh for His own glory. He LEFT glory to become like us, FOR us. He didn’t let the “personal” aspect of faith keep him from demonstrating His love for mankind.

People of faith, people who have believed and embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, have the responsibility to contend, struggle for, wrestle for, i.e. defend the truth. Speak up for it, declare to their generation the truth OF God, as well as the truth ABOUT God.

Why? Because “some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives.” 

Yes, it’s true. You don’t need to look very far to see the very things Jude was writing about. Compromise, as well as an outright denial of certain things “written by holy men of old who were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

What’s happened to holiness? Why is there so much immorality in our society, and even in the church? And why do so many “people of faith” get rankled when someone innocently points to a certain behavior and calls it sin? What’s happened?

I’ll tell you what’s happened. We have come to care more about what WE believe than what God thinks. We’ve allowed voices that speak contrary to God’s Word to be heard and believed. We have NOT defended THE FAITH (God’s version, not man’s) that God gave to us.

WE have allowed immortality to invade our society by allowing ourselves to be suckered in to believing the same thing. We’ve believed the words of ungodly preachers, because we didn’t take the trouble and research the Word to see if what we were hearing was really true.

Ungodly preachers? According to Jude, people who teach that immorality is okay, that “God’s grace allows it…” are ungodly. 

Yes, WE have let the world’s belief system infect our faith. Instead of the other way around.

And it’s time to change. But it won’t be easy.

People don’t like to be told they’re wrong. Remember the feeling? People can’t stand to hear about absolute truth. And the phrase, “there’s a Heaven to gain, and a Hell to shun” is, to many, as outdated as the old Model T.

Jude summarizes his letter with a reminder and some spiritual, yet practical, advice.

“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’ It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” (Jude 1:17-23 ESV)

In other words, stand up for the faith, even though there will be scoffers. Build yourselves up, praying in the Holy Spirit, so you’ll be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Be ready, in season and out; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching (2 Timothy 4:2).

Holiness, walking with God in a way that pleases Him, IS appropriate for you and I as believers. 

And yes, even in this ungodly society.

Hey Jude

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Ever hear of the rock and roll group, the Beatles? Of course you have! As a teenager, and like millions of other teens, I listened to them every chance I got. And, like it or not, their music spoke directly to the heart of their generation, the culture of the day.

Ever hear of a guy named Jude? (By the way, don’t miss a song about him near the end of this post) Not the guy the Beatles sang about; this guy was a brother of Jesus and a writer of a very small letter in the New Testament. He had much to say to his generation, as well. And although his letter is about 2000 years old, the message he gave then is relevant for us today.

Have you read his letter? It starts out nice and friendly; cordial, even. But things get hot real quick. I mean, he starts writing and warning people to rise up and contend for the faith. Fight for the Truth, the Gospel. Why? Because there’s a time coming when all “hell is gonna break loose!”

He warns of judgment to come, the danger of “backsliding”, and the need to keep “built up on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.” He uses the word “ungodly” so many times you get the idea God isn’t very pleased with a lot of people who call themselves Christians; the ones who act like they’ve never met Jesus. For instance:

“But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

“Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries… But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” (Jude 1:5-13 NKJV)

See what I mean? “Having saved people…destroyed those who did not believe”, and “while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves.” These people hung out with the believers, but…

Jude. Poor ol’ Jude. He’s not a very popular guy. Definitely not as popular as the Beatles! And his message doesn’t attract too many people today, either.

In fact, most of the “church world” would just as soon ignore the message of Jude.

Here’s a little ditty that resonates with a lot of the modern “saints”. Feel free to sing along.

Hey, Jude, I can’t believe, you’d take a Good God, and make Him bitter

Remember, God is love and so kind, I am offended by your letter

Hey, Jude, why are you mad? Where’s the love, man, why be so hateful?

Remember, God’s love and grace is for all, He wouldn’t send a soul to hell.

So why the angry rhetoric, you know, I’m sick, of people who always speak so ugly

Why can’t we all just get along, would it be wrong, to talk of the good, and not the ungodly

Hey, Jude, you’re such a fool, to believe those tales of fiction

Remember, the thought of angels in chains, is but a vivid imagination

So let them out and let them go, those words of woe, they only embarrass Christian brothers

Lighten up your voice of gloom, your words of doom, and let’s all love one another…

Hey, Jude, though I’m your friend, feel that church has made you bitter

Remember, it’s not as bad as it seems, so take your sad notes, and make them better, better, better…

Yep, poor old Jude. Too bad he didn’t realize this generation doesn’t care for such negativity. If he’d only gotten the memo, and had a dynamic agent, he just might have connected to the believers of the 21st Century.

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, hey Jude!

(Originally posted 8/7/13)

 

Could YOU be a CONTENDER?

Could YOU be a contender?

“On The Waterfront” is, in my opinion, one of the greatest movies ever produced! With great acting by Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, and Lee J. Cobb, and directed by Elia Kazan, the film won 8 Oscar Awards in 1955. From its powerful storyline comes the famous line by Terry Malloy (Brando) to his brother Charley (Steiger), “I coulda been a contender.” He was referring to an earlier time in his life, when as a boxer, he purposely lost a fight he could have, and should have won; all because his brother had connections to the mob.

I thought of this movie and its storyline while considering what Jude wrote to the first century believers:

“Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting – begging! – that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license – which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.” (Jude 1:3-4 MSG)

Another version uses the word “contend”:

“…I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3 ESV)

Jude was looking for CONTENDERS!

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