Compelled to Contend

Jude 1-3

Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. (1-3)

Without question, the greatest threat to the church has always been false teaching. Its subtlety and severity make it a spiritual poison unlike any other. While external threats—such as religious persecution and the world’s animosity—are certainly unpleasant, the wounds they inflict are only physical and the injuries they cause only temporary. The deadliest false teaching, on the other hand, comes not from deceptive, non-Christian religions outside the church, but from spiritual pretenders inside the church. And the resulting damage is far greater than that caused by any external assault; the casualties are spiritual and the consequences are eternal. It’s no wonder, then, that Jesus warned His followers about the deadly dangers of apostasy:

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matt. 7:15-20)