There is a little Epistle tucked away near the end of the Bible after Third John and before Revelation. It was written by the brother of James whose famous brother was Jesus Christ. We know this because the first verse tells us who the author of Jude was. There are many who believe that Jesus was the only child of Mary but the Bible doesn’t teach that doctrine and so I will take the position that the one who penned this Epistle was one of Mary and Joseph’s younger boys named Jude. Jude didn’t believe in Christ until after Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. I can only imagine what a shock it was to Jude to have been shown that his big brother was the Messiah! No wonder Jude became a believer. He has a short note to all believers and I think it is one we need to study because of the relevance it has on our era and time in history. So let’s read it together.
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:1-4, (English Standard Version or ESV).
Jude obviously had a different subject in mind to write to his friend but at the last moment he changed his mind. I think we can all appreciate that happening. We have something we want to encourage someone with and we call to talk to them and end up talking about something entirely different. Perhaps he learned of something that worried him and so he wrote to express his concern to his friends. He warns that there are people who have snuck into the church fellowship that are not really Christians but are wolves in sheep’s clothing. What does this mean? It means that the group Jude was writing to had someone in their midst that was not being honest with the group and had motives that were not pure. If the church back at the time of this writing had false teachers trying to disrupt and sway Christians away from the truth then wouldn’t we believe that there are people today in the churches that have the same motive to disrupt and create a false teaching? I think so! This should remind all of us to be careful what we read or hear taught and be vigilant to compare it with the Bible to see if it is true. I can think of several issues in our culture and day that are false teachings and are creeping into churches today. Can you?
Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Jude 1:5-7, (ESV).
Well that stings! Not only does Jude speak about some of the very sins that have crept into the church today but he also warns that if we tolerate and allow these false teachings to continue what will happen to us. After all if Jesus didn’t tolerate disobedience from the Jewish nation when He brought them out of Egypt, then why do we expect that we can defile Jesus’s or God’s teachings? Wait a minute…wasn’t it God who led the people from Egypt? Well the truth is Jesus and God and The Holy Spirit have been working together all through the ages and so Jude simply points this out. Angels were punished and so were the inhabitants of the two most famous examples of immoral behavior. It would be a good study for you to go back and read beginning in Genesis 19 the account of Sodom and Gomorrah and how Abraham pleaded with the angels who came to destroy the two cities to spare the people if there were any righteous men left. It is a stark reminder to us today as it was to the original readers of this Epistle that God and Jesus don’t tolerate sins and judgement doesn’t escape sinners. What else does Jude say?
Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. Jude 1:8-16, (ESV).
We must remember that the receivers of this Epistle did not have the Bible as we know it today to study and learn from. They relied heavily on the Old Testament and the Holy Spirit and dreams have always been a part of prophecy. Jude warns that not all dreams are righteous and that there is a consistency in the teachings of the Bible, Old and New Testaments alike. We also need to understand this fundamental truth and not fall for false teachings. Spirituality alone is not enough to escape judgement and hell. Obedience and grace and seeking the truth must be a part of our spiritual life. Again Jude describes these false teachers and what they teach. Do you see any similarities to our day and what is taught in some so-called churches today? I sure do. There are no surprises to Jesus or to God when it comes to our lives on this earth. People have over the centuries done some barbaric things and sinned egregiously and we today are also sinful and in need of a Savior and must keep ourselves pure from this world. How does Jude end this?
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. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:17-25, (ESV).
Jude reminds us that the Apostles of Christ foretold of the things to come in the last days and so it is today as well. There are those who twist the truth to fit their own sinful desires and think that they will be in heaven. As always these people think that there is strength in numbers so they try to get as many people on board with their belief to feel justified. The sad truth for them and their followers is that God has always had a moral standard and it never changes. Sin is sin because God is the one who decides what sin is and what it isn’t. That is God’s call and not our culture’s. Our culture teaches that so many things are acceptable and sadly many believe the culture but God sets the standards and will judge the world including you and me on His standard and not ours. We need to be sure that the church we attend is teaching us the truth and not a form of truth that isn’t really truth at all. These are tough words to hear but so important to understand and obey. Thank you Lord for the Bible and the ability to read and comprehend and understand as it certainly helps me to obey.