Jude begins by declaring his relationship with and position in Jesus Christ. He names five blessings that every believer has.
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ... (Jude 1:1) The word for servant is "doulos" and carries the idea of a bondservant or bondman. It describes one who willingly gives up his or her personal freedom to serve another. Noah Webster defines a servant as:
"... a person, male or female, that attends another for the purpose of performing menial offices for him, one who is employed by another for such offices or for other labor, and is subject to his command. The word is correlative to master. Servant differs from slave, as the servant's subjection to a master is voluntary, the slave's is not. Every slave is a servant, but every servant is not a slave."
A bondservant is not someone who is taken against his will and forced to serve, but one who voluntarily gives himself to the service of another. Jude's heart was to serve. This is in keeping with the example of our Lord. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
Jude addresses this letter to them that are sanctified by God. (Jude 1:1) The doctrine of sanctification is one of the most misunderstood doctrines of the Bible. One group goes to extremes teaching the eradication of the old sin nature and claiming total sanctification here and now, while another group claims that it is impossible to live holy and separated lives here on this earth. The word sanctified comes from the Greek "hagiazo" and means "to be set apart for special service." In the Bible many things other than people are said to be sanctified: A mountain (Exodus 19:23); The altar and the laver of the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:10-11); and Food (1 Timothy 4:5). Sanctification is threefold in the life of the believer. 1) Positional Sanctification, 2) Progressive Sanctification and 3) Perfect Sanctification. Let's take a brief look at these three areas.
At the time of the new birth, every believer is eternally sanctified in Christ and transferred from the family of the devil into the family of God. At the very moment of salvation we become a child of God. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (John 1:12) Before salvation we belonged to the devil—we were subjects of his kingdom. Jesus said to the unsaved, Ye are of your father the devil... (John 8:44) However, salvation changed that and now we are children of the King. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. (Colossians 1:12-13) At that moment God declared us perfectly righteous and set us apart for Himself. This is positional sanctification that takes place the minute one is saved. It is the act of God whereby Christ is made unto us... sanctification.
(1 Corinthians 1:30) This phase of sanctification is solely the work of God.
Positional sanctification is an eternal fact grounded upon the new spiritual standing the believer has in Jesus Christ. This is what God declares each believer to be in Christ. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him... (2 Corinthians 5:21) Just try to imagine the magnitude of this great truth. When God looks at us He does not see our past—He sees Christ's righteousness.
Progressive sanctification is different from Positional sanctification, in that positional sanctification is entirely the work of God, while progressive sanctification includes human responsibility. Progressive sanctification is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) This is Christian growth; putting away sin and putting on godliness (Romans 6:19, 22; 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4; 1 Peter 1:14-16) All believers are exhorted to pursue Progressive Sanctification, For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication. (1 Thessalonians 4:3) This aspect of our sanctification is a matter of choice to the believer. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:21-22) Unfortunately the choice of many Christians is to ignore God's clear command to separate, and they never become a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use. The Scriptures that command the Christian to be separated and sanctified are practically endless. Here are just a few:
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness. (2 Peter 3:11)
God intends that the process of sanctification continue throughout the believer's life. This present process of sanctification never ends in this life. There are those who claim to have grown to the point of sinless perfection, but the Word of God offers no proof for their position. In fact we see just the opposite. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10) The Christian is to combat and resist sin until he is taken from this world at death, or at the return of Christ.
This is the final perfection of the believer, which will take place at the return of Christ. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23) Perfect sanctification is the plan and purpose of God for every believer. This phase of sanctification cannot and will not be attained while we are in our mortal bodies. However, it will be accomplished. What God started in the believer, He will finish. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6) Perfect sanctification will be the completion of what God started in us on the day of our salvation. Like positional sanctification, this is wholly the work of God. At Christ's coming, every believer will receive a new body that will have no sin. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2) The Christian will no longer have to resist sin within or to grow toward perfection. His sanctification will be complete. He will be wholly and forever set apart to God from sin.
Jude says that the believer is preserved in Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:1) Praise God, What a wonderful security the child of God has! Sincere Christians often ask if a saved person can ever be lost again. Sadly, many believe and teach that it is possible for a saved person to sin and become lost. However, the Bible teaches that those who are truly saved shall never perish. (John 10:28) By believing in Christ, the Christian receives a salvation that cannot be taken away or forfeited. Nothing can separate the believer from the love of Christ. This is not to say that a believer will never backslide, for many do.
What does the term Eternal Security mean? Eternal security simply means that once an individual has put his faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Lord saves him, then he is saved forever. As Jude says, he is preserved in Jesus Christ. There will never be a time, from that day forward, in which he is not saved. He cannot lose his salvation. It cannot be taken from him. He cannot give it up. He cannot sin it away. He is saved and secure for eternity. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) Consider the words "everlasting life". Many scriptures make it clear that the person who is trusting Christ as their Saviour has everlasting life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24) Notice that the Bible does not say, "He that believes on the Son will someday have everlasting life", or "might have everlasting life", but "hath", present tense. Eternal life is a present possession of all who are saved. God does not take back the gifts that He gives. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (Romans 11:29) The child of God has eternal and everlasting life now!
Those who hold to this Bible doctrine of Eternal Security are simply exercising faith in what God has said. When Jesus says, .... I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5), we believe that. When Jesus said, All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37), we believe Him. When Jesus says, And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28), we take Him at His word. Jude knew that his salvation was secure. Like Jude every believer must stand against the wiles of the devil and the wickedness of the apostates. No child of God can be a top notch soldier and battle the enemy the way he should unless he or she has complete assurance of salvation. The Devil has used the false doctrine of falling from grace to take many out of the battle.
Next, Jude says that believers are called. (Jude 1:1) Salvation is the result of the call of God. The whole ministry of Jesus was calling sinners to repentance and salvation. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) John tells of Jesus bidding the multitudes to come, In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. (John 7:37)Praise God for his wonderful calling! God says a great deal about this calling in scripture. According to the Bible, Christians have been:
God takes the believer's calling seriously, and it is our responsibility to walk worthy of that calling. I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. (Ephesians 4:1)
Once Jude establishes the fact that believers are Sanctified, Safe and Summoned he says, Mercy unto you, and peace and love, be multiplied. (Jude 1:2) God loves all people, but those who have come to Christ for the forgiveness of their sin hold a Special place in the heart of God. He seeks to bestow every blessing possible upon His own. God's desire is that mercy, peace and love be multiplied among believers who are faithful to God and His word. These three blessings are especially needful when Contending for the faith.
This little epistle concerns the apostasy of the last days. God's people need mercy during such times. We serve a God who is rich in mercy. (Ephesians 2:4), and exhorts us in His word to Come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) We certainly need mercy when dealing with apostasy.
The next great blessing the believer needs is Peace. The ungodly will have no peace, But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. (Isaiah 57:20-21) But as believers we can have... the peace of God, which passeth all understanding. (Philippians 4:7) One of the ways that we can enjoy peace, is to keep our hearts fixed on Christ. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3)
Then there is love. The word for love is "agape." It is Calvary love. This is the kind of love that is sacrificial, kind, pure, peaceable, humble and giving. While we must stand strong and unwavering amidst the onslaught of apostasy, we must nevertheless stand with the right attitude. Paul said, speaking the truth in love: (Ephesians 4:15)
Jude leaves no Christian out! Every child of God must realize that he has been called to battle. Jude was a soldier of the cross. The imagery of the soldier is used many times in Scripture to depict the Christian. Paul said, No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (2 Timothy 2:4) Several truths stand out in this verse.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3) Notice to whom Jude addressed his admonition. Three times in this verse he uses the word you, showing that these instructions are for every child of God. Many folks get the strange idea that the faith was given to Preachers and Theologians to protect. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our silence is one of the best advantages the enemy has. Silence will do more to aid the enemy and hinder the cause of Christ than all of Satan's other methods of attack. Baxter "Cyclone Mack" McClendon wrote:
"It is not those who oppose and attack the Word of God who are the greatest enemies of the Cross; but those who are silent and do not come to its defense. Those who do not witness for it; they are the most dangerous modernists."
While it is the Preacher's responsibility to contend for the faith, it is also every believer's responsibility. Preachers and laymen are under the same obligation. As soldiers of the cross, we are commanded in Scripture to both defend and declare the truth. Jude's call to earnestly contend is for every Christian.
Jude said, I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith. (Jude 1:3) While apostasy is the main theme of the book of Jude, it is not where this epistle begins. Jude's desire was to write of the common salvation. Our salvation is not common in the sense that it is cheap or plain, but it is common in that there is only one plan of salvation for all people. Religion has done a good job of confusing the issue of salvation by grace. However, while man has come up with a variety of different plans, God's word makes it clear that there is only one way to Heaven. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6) Anyone who wants to get to Heaven will get there by way of Jesus Christ, or he can forget about it. God has no secondary plans. Speaking of Jesus Christ, the word of God says, Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) Jude loved and enjoyed his salvation. He had been set free from the bonds of sin and now he was a servant of Jesus Christ, and the joy of his heart was to preach the gospel to others so they too could enjoy this wonderful salvation.
Jude says, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith. (Jude 1:3) Though salvation was heavy upon his heart, God had other plans. The word needful carries the idea of necessity or "constraint." The Holy Spirit constrained Jude to expose apostasy instead of writing about salvation. We notice at once that it was not up to Jude to decide what he was going to write. The Holy Spirit is the Bible's Author.
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation; For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
It is interesting that in our day men are putting their emphasis on evangelism, while basically ignoring doctrinal heresy. We live in a day when religion is eaten up with the spirit of getting together. Ecumenicalism is rampant and apostasy is nearly full blown. While there needs to be a great emphasis on winning the lost to Christ, we must at the same time be careful that we do not forsake sound doctrine. The distorted modern teaching on love has become an ecumenical excuse for the unequal yoking of everyone and everything that comes down the pike. When the Holy Spirit stressed the need to contend for the faith He was not diminishing the importance of salvation, and reaching the lost, but He was stressing the need to stand for the truth and to preach the whole counsel of God. This ought to serve as a strong warning to those who excuse false doctrine and ungodliness in order to get a crowd. When a preacher is submissive to the leading of the Spirit of God he will preach the whole counsel of God, no matter who is listening.
Notice that Jude instructs us to exhort... (Jude 1:3) The faithful Preacher must exhort his hearers. Paul charged Timothy to, Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2) The word exhort means "to use words or arguments to incite to good deeds." It carries the idea of admonishing, encouraging and walking along side. In our day, when a Preacher stands uncompromisingly against sin and apostasy he is branded as unsocial, unloving and contentious. I agree that many are unloving and contentious in their stand and that ought not be. The biblical idea of exhortation means much more than simply preaching the truth. It is preaching the truth plus walking along side of and encouraging those to whom we preach. It is not enough to simply get up and preach about what is wrong. Biblical preaching, especially in relation to the pastorate, involves encouraging and helping people grow in the Lord. There is a perfect balance between truth and love. The Bible teaches that when we truly love God and men we will be truthful. As the Apostle Paul said, speaking the truth in love... (Ephesians 4:15) True biblical love will manifest itself in truth and action. My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18) A preacher without compassion will do more damage to the cause of Christ than ten preachers can undo.
Jude commands that we earnestly contend. (Jude 1:3) The word earnestly carries the idea of "zealously; persistently; eagerly; with real desire." It speaks of being relentlessly committed to something. Contrary to popular opinion the Christian life is not simply an easy ride to Heaven. Too often the gospel is presented in such a fashion that it almost makes the sinner feel that he is doing God a favor by getting saved. People are led in a cheap "1-2-3 repeat after me, 4-5-6 hope it sticks" prayer. And then they are sent out with little or no discipleship to get others to repeat the same little ditty. Jesus said, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (Matthew 15:8) This is a sad truth about many professing Christians. They have repeated a prayer, but nothing has changed. Biblical Christianity calls for absolute commitment. It is something that we are to be earnest about. Solomon said, Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might... (Ecclesiastes 9:10) Christianity is worth doing right! May we who call Him our Saviour give ourselves wholly to Him.
Next, Jude commands us to contend. (Jude 1:3e) The word contend means "to strive against; to struggle in opposition." It comes from a military term that speaks of a strenuous, intense, determined struggle to conquer the enemy. The Christian life is a war in which we must daily contend with the enemy. In the book of Ephesians Paul likened the Christian life to that of a soldier on the battlefield. The primary characteristic of our conflict with Satan is defensive. Paul uses such terms as stand, wrestle and withstand to describe the intensity of our conflict. The Christian life is not one of ease and comfort. Instead it is all out war, and Satan is the aggressor. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12) Notice the word wrestle. This is not a war that is fought from a distance. It is up close, in our face, hand-to-hand combat. We must strive against Satan and his messengers as we contend for the faith. Our Lord commands, ...Occupy till I come. (Luke 19:13) The word occupy means to "busy oneself with, or to trade." It is a term used of doing business. The Christian soldier is conducting business for Christ until He comes.
Sitting in prison awaiting his execution, Paul said, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7) Paul's was not an easy chair religion. Our love for Jesus Christ compels us to stand for truth. Again, the defense of the faith is the duty of every child of God.
Contending for the faith is necessary if we are going to see people saved and victorious. Peter referred to the false doctrine of the apostates as damnable heresies (2 Peter 2:1), and then warned that many shall follow their pernicious ways. (2 Peter 2:2) People are not going to be saved, and Christians aren't going to live victorious lives with damnable heresies. The whole counsel of God must be declared. John R. Rice, was one of the greatest soul-winners of the last century. Here is what he had to say about the need of contending for the faith in evangelism:
"By the clear call of God, and by lifelong choice, this author is an evangelist. As far as I can judge my own heart, my one greatest concern in life is to win souls, and God has given me some modest part in bringing back revival, large scale, soul-winning campaigns to America. It has been my very great privilege to have large city-wide cooperative campaigns in Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago, Seattle, Oakland, Miami, Winston-Salem, Dayton, and other American cities, as well as in hundreds of local churches, and by God's great mercy I have seen some tens of thousands of sinners come to claim Christ as Saviour. And I bear witness from more than forty years of soul-winning effort that the defense of the faith, and plain, sharp, but loving and scriptural, condemnation of sin, have had a tremendous part in arousing Christians to duty and bringing conviction to sinners, and in helping to bring great revivals. My testimony Joins that of R. A. Torrey, Billy Sunday, Sam Jones, Bob Jones, Mordecai Ham and many others that 'earnestly contending for the faith' has a divinely appointed part in the soul-winning program....I have over twelve thousand letters from People who have written to tell me that they found Christ either through sermons in The Sword Of The Lord or through my own books and pamphlets. Contending earnestly for the faith not only pleases God and merits His blessing, but it gains the respect of decent people everywhere, the respect of sinners."
Folks, if we ever we needed contenders, it is now. Everything that we hold near and dear is being threatened. In Foxes Book Of Martyrs, there is account after account of fearless Christian defenders of the faith who were burned at the stake, boiled to death in vats of oil and dragged to death in the streets by horses. May God raise up a new generation of men and women who will be willing to stand for the truth at any cost!
They were to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3) The faith spoken of here is not the personal faith by which one is saved. Rather, it is the entire revelation from God; the whole body of truth as contained in His Word. Men and women down through the ages have attempted to add to and take away from the body of doctrine. This accounts for the great number of denominations and cults that are present today. This is why we stand so strongly on the Word of God as it was given to us. The Bible is our sole authority in all matters of faith and practice. But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (1 Peter 1:25) The Bible contains the mind of God, the condition of man, and the clear, simple plan of salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Wonderful and glorious theme of the Bible. His salvation shines forth from its pages as a guiding light to he who desires to be saved. It is the source of truth and doctrine.
Also, notice how the Holy Spirit led Jude to point out that this body of doctrine known as the faith was once delivered unto the saints. Not twice delivered. Not thrice delivered. It is not progressively being delivered. But it was once delivered! Those who claim that they are receiving revelations today are sadly mistaken. The Bible tells us that the revelation of God is complete and that no new revelation is being added. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:10) When the Word of God was completed the temporal sign gifts were ended. The body of truth, the faith as the Bible calls it, was finalized at a point of time in history. It was once delivered. God's word is both full and final.