Have you ever poured salt on your food, just to discover your food tasting slightly sweeter? Or poured sugar in your coffee and ended up with a not-so-sweet flavor? Salt and sugar look almost identical, but they taste totally different. Sometimes, something that seems familiar can be surprisingly deceptive.
This happened in Jude's time as men were distorting the Gospel. They were straying from orthodoxy, which is the validated doctrinal stance that's consistent with the history of the church. Today, we're going to read and study verses 1-4 of Jude.
WHO IS JUDE?
Right at the beginning of Jude, we learn who Jude was. He describes himself in to ways in verse 1:
- "A bondservant of Christ"
- "Brother of James"
The word "bondservant" is "doulos" in the original Greek. A doulos is a servant who willingly commits to their master. Unlike the traditional idea of a slave, Jude is describing himself as willingly surrendered to Jesus as a servant. And this is what our lives should look like too. We should be proud to be bondservants of Christ.
"The highest honor of the greatest apostles, and most eminent ministers, is to be the servants of Christ; not the masters of the churches, but the servants of Christ." -Matthew Henry
Jude's second description of himself was "Brother of James." Now, if you know anything about the Bible, you know that James was the son of Mary and Joseph. Coincidentally, Mary was also Jesus' mother, and James and Jude were his half-brothers. If Jude had a brother like Jesus, why wasn't he dropping names to earn "street cred"? Well, Jude knew there were no ins with Jesus. Nothing makes us more likely to be loved by him. In humility, he acknowledged himself as James' brother, and left it at that.
TO WHOM IS THIS WRITTEN?
Continuing in verse 1, Jude tells us he's writing to:
- Those who are called
- It's important to not mistake this for calling on God. God calls us. He chooses us, and we respond. It's His calling, not our calling.
- Those who are sanctified by God
- The word "sanctified" can also be described as set apart and beloved. We are loved by God.
- Those who are preserved in Jesus Christ
- "Preserved" is a passive verb, meaning we are kept by God. There's nothing we can do to be kept. We just are kept. Isn't that incredible?
WHAT'S THE MESSAGE?
In verse 3, Jude tells us why he's writing. He wanted to write about their shared salvation and focus on wonderful, joyous things, but he felt compelled to instead exhort the church to contend for the Gospel.
Moving on to verse 4, we learn that there are people amongst those in the church who are ungodly and who distort the Gospel. These false teachers tell us that salvation comes from Jesus plus something else.
Today, in 2016, this is still happening. There are people changing the Gospel to work nicely for them. And instead of learning doctrine and standing up for Biblical truth, we tend to "agree to disagree." We fight for what's important in life, and what's more important than the truth of the Gospel?
Just as boxers train and prepare in every way they can for a big fight, Jude urges the church to prepare in every way we can for battle. This means learning scripture and knowing doctrine, so that when you're confronted with a false teacher, you'll know truth.
But it's important to know that contending for the Gospel is not the same as fighting against someone else. Our goal as Christians is not to fight with others and tell them they're wrong, but to stand up for what is true. Let's not be known for what we're against.