Jude: Will You Contend for the Faith?
Open to the second to the last book of the Bible, Jude. We have finished going through 64 books, and we have two more to go. These shorter books are challenging because I feel like I want to preach every single verse and every single word, right? Every word preached; every word inspired. But as such, Jude is still so packed, we won't be able to get through every single word. Jude, though, is a wonderful book. And it is quite simply a message that poses one question: Will you contend for the faith? Will you contend for the faith?
John Owen said this: “A man will not contend unless he knows what he's fighting for.” John Owen was born in 1616. He died in 1683. He was a man of great courage and brilliant learning. His life was anything but easy though. He had 11 Children, 10 of whom died as infants. And he also saw his wife pass away before the end of his life. Yet he wrote one of the earliest children's catechisms that we have, published in 1645. He believed the goal of the Christian life was knowing God. In fact, he wrote over 8 million words in his lifetime -- Let me know if you've read all of John Owen -- that, with a pen, not a computer. And he described how a Christian is to relate to each person of the Trinity. John Owen has something for everyone. He was a staunch defender of justification by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone. He said Christians should never choose between “entire dependence on the Bible and the Spirit.” As you can tell, many of these issues we still struggle with understanding today. We would do well to read more of this man's work. Yet toward the end of his life, when Charles II of England was about to be replaced by his Catholic brother James, he thought the Reformation was all but over. Yet here we are.
October, as you may know, is known as Reformation month. And we dress up like Puritans, and we have harvest festivals and stuff. The Reformation is when the church decided enough was enough and changed. We became proud Protestants, protesters of the Catholic faith, that largely began when Martin Luther posted what we call his 95 Theses -- in other words, 95 points of differences -- that would help draw the church, in his mind, back to a resounding faith that rested on the Scriptures alone. And he did so by posting that to the castle door of Wittenberg in 1517. It continued all the way through Owen’s time. And here we are today, still contending for the faith.
Jude was no stranger to theological danger either. Jude was the brother of Jesus and James, who wrote the book of James. Jude is also commonly translated as Judas, so it's a very common name in Scripture. He is called Judas and Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3, but Jude did not even believe in the divinity of his own brother until he had been resurrected. We learn that from John 7:1-9. Yet if you'll see here in our passage, in Jude 1, he calls himself “a servant of Jesus Christ.” Now, I don't know if you've got brothers and sisters, but normally we don't go around calling ourselves “servant” -- or in the Greek, “doulos,” a slave -- of our sibling. The other sibling might treat you like one, but we normally don't call ourselves one.
And Jude knew about opposition. See, now we're into the part where, for instance in 2 Peter, we are talking about false teachers. And we talk about false teachers all the time, and that they're coming, and they're on their way, and they will rise up from among you. And Jude says they're here. They're here. He wrote towards the latter half of the first century, not exactly sure when, in the late 60 AD, maybe even as late as 85 or 90. But they killed his brother.
So, when you read the book of Jude, and he calls himself “a slave of Jesus Christ,” he knows about persecution. He knows what it is to fight against false teachers, false ideologies, false political systems. He knows what it means to be outnumbered. He understands what it means to have oppressive systems on him so much that he can't do anything about it. And they kill his brother before his very eyes. And yet here he is, with a great, sincere love of God, a joy that is everlasting, and it just explodes at the end of Jude into the greatest doxology, I think, in Scripture. John Owen said, “a man will not contend unless he knows what he is fighting for.”
There is of course, much fighting going on: Israel and Hamas, Arabs, Palestinians, Jews. They are fighting even as we speak. Israel knows what they are fighting for. It is very simple; they are fighting for their survival. This is why it will be very difficult to defeat them. Hamas, of course, is outgunned and outmanned, though backed by Hezbollah in Lebanon and backed by Iran. The Palestinians claim it's their land, but what is the truth? They claim that they are occupied and because of that occupation -- and if you have studied the Gaza strip, about 26 miles long and anywhere from four to seven miles wide, a very poor people, a very destitute people, a land with its own refugee camp, bordered by the sea, Egypt, and a real wall around their borders. But what is the truth? What are they fighting for? Well, they're fighting to annihilate their neighbors. That's what Hamas’ stated goal is, along with Iran.
Does the Bible have anything to say about that? Does the Bible have anything to say about current affairs, and the world order, and the world system, and whose land is it, besides the fact that Genesis 1:1 says it's all God's land? Well, the earliest we go back to is Abraham in 2000 BC or so, around that time, in the land of Canaan. This is not named after Cain and Abel. They were before the flood. The flood took them out. Okay, so now we're moved up to Noah. Noah had Shem, Ham and Japheth and their families. They made it through the flood, and the rest of the world's lineage comes back to that one family. Ham had a son named Canaan. Okay? And Ham is the one who saw his father when his father, Noah, was drunk, among other things. And we're not sure exactly what Ham’s sin was, but what's interesting is that Ham wasn't cursed. His son Canaan and the descendants of Canaan were cursed, and they became the Canaanites. And they dwelt in the land of Canaan, from the sea to the Jordan River, approximately, and north, and they occupied all that land. They were not Palestinians; they were Canaanites.
The Canaanites were wicked, according to Leviticus 18:3-29. They practiced “many abominations,” according to Deuteronomy 20:18 -- those people in that land, wicked and evil, practicing abominations against God. Now don't think of them as millions of people as they are today. The population count was much smaller and intermixed with all kinds of nations and people groups. You can read about the Canaanites and who they are in Genesis 10, if you like. But the Palestinians (or Arabs) in general, descended from Ishmael, whom God also said, “I will bless… and make a mighty nation,” lest we forget. (Genesis 17:20)
But it was the Canaanites whose land was given to Abraham and his descendants, the 12 tribes from Jacob and their 12 people groups, who were given the land and occupied the land. And they became numerous in the land. And they are the ones who through even David's rule -- 1000 years later, which would be 1000 BC, David's kingdom -- extended beyond the Jordan to the east, into what is now modern-day Jordan, which has the largest refugee camp in the world, some 3 million people or so; they're not sure how many are in there. But David's territory extended at least 15 to 20 miles east of the Jordan River. So, you’ve got the Dead Sea, you’ve got Sea of Galilee to the north, you've got the ocean on the west. It extended south; it extended into Syria 250 miles, so from Galilee to Damascus -- look on your maps – it’s about 60 miles as the crow flies. And if you take 250-mile northeast into modern day Syria, that is the extent of King David's territories which he conquered.
You can read about Gaza still being there in the land of Philistia, which is a long strip near the ocean, that extended into modern day Lebanon. Okay? And they occupied that area, with the military, with their people. The 12 tribes spread out; remember two stayed on the other side of the Dead Sea. The other side of the Dead Sea and south would be where Sodom and Gomorrah is. You'll see that in our text today. This land has a rich history and whose is it is the question that they are fighting for. The Palestinians say it's theirs, and they want it back. The Jews say it was promised to them, and it started with God, “It's ours.” But “a man will not contend unless he knows what he is fighting for.”
Do you and I know what we're fighting for? Do we even know we're in a fight? You and I are no stranger to struggles. We're no stranger to Christians being put in jail for “illegal religious gatherings.” Does that ring a bell? I mean, we saw who was strong and whose churches and their gatherings were prioritizing worship from the beginning. I mean, a few months ago, I spoke to a neighbor whose church, that had 1000s of people in it down in Arlington, still has sporadic services to this very day -- scared to death of gathering for worship.
Jude is a clarion call to contend for the faith. And you and I must have deep convictions based on the Word of God. So that when we are in the fight, we know what we are fighting for. Brothers and sisters, if you would, look at Jude 1. There's just one chapter in Jude, and we're gonna have to summarize today, or we would be here way past the PHC lunch coming. But listen to this rich, amazing little letter. I'm going to read the whole thing.
“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. [Jude 4] 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. 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 word 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 8] 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 abandon 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.
“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. [Jude 20] 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.”
He writes to believers, to those who are called, to those who are beloved, to those who are kept -- to “be called” is to be summoned by God. He doesn't write to a specific church, but to believers who need encouraged in the faith. I ask you, believer, do you need encouraged in the faith, to contend for the faith? See, we are not just here for our own means, and our own purposes, and our own enjoyment, and our own plan, and our own life, and our own establishment, and our own legacy. We are here for God. But if we are to contend for the faith, we must be clear about two things. And Jude reveals these things to us.
One, namely, what we are fighting against, and two, what we are fighting for. The fight is assumed. The fight is assumed. First, point one: Jude 4-16, what we are fighting against. And you may say, “Well, I already know what I'm fighting against.” Well, God, in his great wisdom, thought it best to reveal to us, 2000 years ago, very specifically, what it is that the church -- believers who are called and summoned -- what we are fighting against. Notice, this is not just those who disagree. This is not inter-church, politics. This is an enemy with another view. An enemy who perverts the grace of God, the very grace by which we are saved, the enemy perverts -- that is, changes, manipulates, takes it off course, makes it into something else that it is not. And notice in Jude 4 that they “have crept in unnoticed.”
You think it's easy to spot, the enemy. But I would say, at this point in time, even with the apostle John still alive, that the enemy is crafty. He is smarter than us. And he wants to take down the church from the inside out. And we must be aware that it does happen today, that enemies do come inside the church, to not just enjoy the benefits and the blessings of being part of the grace of God, but to systematically and fundamentally change the nature of the church into something else. How do we spot them?
Jude 4 - they “pervert the grace of God into sensuality.” Sometimes we tell ourselves, as we consider whether or not we shall indulge in a certain sin, sometimes we tell ourselves, “God will forgive me.” We consider God, we consider his grace. And we consider this sin that we would like to indulge in. And we tell ourselves God will forgive us, and that is a perversion of God's grace. It's a perversion of his grace. Grace is not a license to sin. Grace is given to save and to sanctify. It's to set us free from sin. It is to be treasured beyond all belief. It is to be longed for; it is to be sweet to the Christian, to the mind, to the heart. It is to motivate the will to action, to not be stagnant or to never be satisfied with where we are.
And yet here we see people inside the church, inside their ranks, who have crept in unnoticed and attacking the very grace of God. Jude 7 - those who have crept in have are compared to those who indulge in sexual immorality. And I think many times in our society, we think problems are so great, how could we ever solve them? Can you think of a few problems that we have kind of put aside, put aside and said, “How could we ever solve these problems?” Abortion is one such issue. In less than a year, if we followed God's Word as a society and as a people, it would eradicate that issue completely.
People do not follow God's plan for marriage and for sex. So, they want to kill the evidence. They don't want to take responsibility for themselves. They don't want any of the accountability. And yet, God's simple, wonderful, joyful plan would solve so many of the ills that inflict our world. It is crushing to have gone through those things. You probably know someone who has had an abortion or has been in this situation. Single motherhood is incredibly difficult. It is something the church needs to come alongside these young ladies who need help. We need to point them to the truth of God's Word. We need to be compassionate and loving, and yet truthful.
It's like trying to solve the drug crisis in America by keeping drugs out of America. What a silly idea. Stop taking the drugs, America, and they won't come. If there's no one to sell them to, why would we bring them here? We think the drug is the problem. No, the sinful heart, the nature of man, that's the problem. But we don't want to address the problems. And here, Sodom and Gomorrah stands as a great beacon of judgment to all who would indulge in these things that our society celebrates every single day on the news, as though there's some kind of lasting benefit to that. It brings about great tragedy and confusion. “Why am I here?” It makes people question their purpose.
These people who have crept in are “ungodly.” It's used in Jude 15 four times: that they are “ungodly.” That doesn't sound very devastating, does it? Well, if God is the goal, “ungodly” is about as far as you can get. They come in with deceptive flattery in Jude 16. Gossip has torn many a church in half. Flattery has torn many a church in half. Flattery makes a person like you. Gossip makes you dislike someone else. Both should never come from the lips of a Christian. We should not be seen as a person who is one who welcomes flattery, one who welcomes gossip. If someone gossips to your ears, ask them, “Why do you think I would be receptive to your sin?” Is that what you say when someone gossips? Will we contend for the truth of the gospel? Or will we shy away, thinking that it is more polite not to say anything, which is an ungodly response to sin -- is to ignore it. And yet our ears are open to these things.
Both flattery and gossip seek to promote self above others or gain favor with other people. There's an estimated 3 billion people on social media every day, filled with flattery. It's nauseating, nauseating. I used to work in that system. We threw great, grand parties for ourselves in LA. Huge parties -- people walking around with trays of champagne. And I thought, “All we did was our job. Why are we patting ourselves on the back?” You know, if you ask an old serviceman, someone over 70, ask them about all their medals. They'll blush trying to get you to change the situation. “All I was doing was my job.”
And yet the world is consumed with flattery, deceptive flattery, gossiping about people, spreading these things for their own gain. And it infiltrates the church. If you think, “I'm not on social media.” Well, you're just not part of the 5 billion person per day conversation. That's a fact. It's not more holy to not be on social media. The devil is taking over the ears of 5 billion people, and we want to turn a blind eye to it? And they did this with TV when it came; they did this with radio when it came. I mean, how many times do we need to learn that God will use any and all means to get the gospel out to people so that they can be saved? The medium is not the evil.
You say, “Dave, they don't talk about ‘gain’.” No, they just call it “likes.” Right? How many “followers” do you have? The Bible does speak about followers. Right? Who do we follow? Jesus Christ, right? How many friends do we have? All that sort of thing. Why? It puffs us up. It's this idyllic world where nobody posts about, you know, what they look like without makeup, unless they're simply trying to get even more views. Right? We don't post how awful the weekend was. We just post all of our great pictures. Why? Because we want the flattery of other people. And it's not just teenagers. Eighty percent of 18-to-50-year-olds are on social media all day. 18-to-50-year-olds -- 80% of them. Now if you're 51 and over, and you got out of that category, what do you need to do? You need to bring the truth to bear on those with it. You need to bring the truth to bear on those with it.
Why do we care about all those 5 billion people on the media every day? Because their influence changes things. We're foolish if we think people can't be changed by social media. They're changed all day long. They will leave churches and go to churches because of what they see. They will leave theology and adapt new theology based on what they hear. And see, we need to -- as we look around this morning and we see these are our brothers and sisters and Christ who love Jesus, and we talk spiritual things to one another, and we sing songs and hymns to each other and to the Lord, and we do these things together, and we come together -- we need to know that Satan is attacking people all day long in other ways, and they do creep in unnoticed. Do you see how they creep in unnoticed in our society today now? Just hold up your phone; they’re there, right there.
Jude 12 - they infiltrate church functions. “These are hidden reefs at your love feasts.” They would gather and break bread together and have food, and it was so different than the culture and society, that they began to call them “love feasts,” mislabeling them. And so, they were saying, “At your gatherings, these people who have crept in unnoticed, who have all of these characteristics about them, are enjoying your food with you, and they don't even find any shame in it.” Jude 12 - “They feast with you without fear.” Without fear -- that's like the gossips speak into the ear; they know we're not going to call them out. So, they share their tidbits of prayer requests with you. Right? That's what we call it. I've got a prayer request to share, and so we dump on someone else. Right? That should not be.
“They cause divisions,” Jude 19. One of the functions of the elder is to protect the flock of God, Acts 20:28. This is not protecting people who are Christians and just foolishly sinning to each other. Okay? It’s not like, you know, we walk around with little stun guns and shoot people who, you know, “You had the wrong look on your face.” You got tased for the day, right? Or you said the wrong thing. And like, you know, we'd just be all day long, and we'd get shot ourselves. That's not what we're talking about. We're not talking about people who feel remorse for sin, who are immature in the faith, and may gossip, need corrected, and then they respond, “Thank you for that godly rebuke.” We are talking about those who want to pervert the grace of God.
One reason why churches put out social media posts and videos and quotes, if they're doing it for the right reasons, is to get the truth out there to combat falsehood, to bring people to gather around truth, to let others know who are at churches full of platitudes, that truth is preached here. Right? And we want to support other churches who are preaching the truth, week in and week out. Notice that the people here spoken about inside the church are not just going to get eternal separation from God, like Jude 13 says. That’s what we tend to think, “Oh, it's just reserved for the gloom of utter darkness forever.” And we forget Jude 7 which says they “serve as an example by undergoing [what?] a punishment of eternal fire.” God takes the purity of the church seriously. The punishment will come on all the ungodly. Jude 15 – “to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness” -- every deed, every word, every thought, every ungodly action used against them, to execute judgment. We should not and we do not make room for those who want to bring down the truth in the grace of God's Word in the church.
And this is the encouragement from Jude, a man who saw his brother nailed to the cross. Right? A man who saw the disciples with his own eyes. A man who grew up with our Lord, who knew way more about our Lord Jesus' life than you and I know. We must contend for the faith. We need men and women of courage who have mastered the Word of God. What are you good at in life? You say, “Oh, you do this all day long.” I do. What do you do all day long? You're called to be a light where you are. God wants you where he's got you. He wants you to shine your light where you are, and the more you know about the word accurately, and not just a knowledge to puff up, right, but to humbly bring the Word of God to bear in the lives of men and women on this earth. We contend for the faith.
Whether you're at school, or whether you were at school 50 years ago, we contend for the faith. There are no free passes in life. We need people like John Owen, who fought with the pen. Are you a good writer? Not just, do you consider yourself a good writer? Have other people told you you're a good writer? Right? We love “American Idol” because it's the show that people who can't sing get on there, and they finally tell him, “You can't sing. Did your mom tell you you can sing?” “Yeah.” “Okay, you're horrible,” right? Did somebody else tell you you are a good writer? Then write good books with good theology. Whatever you're good at, use it for God's glory.
We need people like John Bunyan, who wrote while he was in jail, and we need people like John Calvin, Luther -- not Martin Luther King, Jr., Martin Luther, a long time ago. We need Spurgeon. Right? We need people like that, who take up the preaching mantle at age 16. We need people like Wycliffe who translated the Bible. We need people like Jonathan Edwards who stood against the tide. We need men like Tyndale. There are hundreds of examples of men and women standing for the faith. Pick up the “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.” I've got a few copies in my office. I think we have one in the library; we'll make sure there's one in the library. You can read about them who stood and contended for the faith.
We need universities and colleges that train up men and women in the faith. Not just colleges who bring you in, and there are so many colleges out there that just appease the students, as though there's no fight, as though there's no war, as though there is no Satan roaming around looking for whom he may devour. We need more universities that will tell it straight, that will lift high the name of God, that will uphold the Word of God -- the inerrant, infallible Word of God -- that will preach the authority of Scripture, that will teach their students how to be accurate and accurately handle the word of truth.
We need churches that don't bow the knee to the “woke” agenda or the BLM agenda. Or like the largest church in Fairfax County has, whose head pastor recently gave up the preaching mantle to his “woke” associate. It shouldn't take you long to figure that one out. We need churches made up of people who are willing to stand up for the name of Jesus Christ, their Messiah, led by men of God with deep convictions founded on God's Word. And “a man will not contend, though, unless he knows what he's fighting for.” So, we know what we're fighting against. Most of Jude is about out that. There is so much in Jude, so many word pictures and descriptions. It's the greatest scathing rebuke of false teachers in all of the New Testament.
But we need to know what we're fighting for. Look in Jude 3 – “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.” And many times, Jude 3 is used to say, “Look, the Bible's complete. The cannon is finished. It was once for all handed to the saints.” That is true. But that's not the point of that verse. The point is he's appealing to you to contend for the faith, not just your faith, not just your individual faith, but we're part of this grand, amazing story. People from every tongue, tribe, and nation are going to be rejoicing in heaven together. And we need to contend together now.
Jude 20-21 says, “this most holy faith that [what?] leads to eternal life.” Eternal life starts with knowing that you and I are not just bad decision makers -- that we're sinful. Sin is any thought or deed that transgresses any part of God's law. And as a sinful person, Scripture says if we've broken one part of the law, we have broken all of it. (James 2:10) It shows that God is the Creator, and we are not. That God is the one who establishes what is holy and what is not. The gospel is the recognition that we cannot come to God on our own. Even though we know Scripture states it plainly in Romans 3 that “none are righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) Not a single person on earth is righteous. No one would get to heaven on their own without the grace of God, not a single person.
And we need to come to terms with the fact that when the Bible describes sinful people, like in Ephesians 2:1-3, which says we were all “children of wrath, like the rest of mankind,” lest we think somebody somewhere else gets out of it, “we're all by nature, children of wrath.” How do you go from being a child of wrath to a child of God? It's Jesus Christ. This is what we are fighting for -- the truth of the gospel, the truth in the purity of the church. And we fight for the truth of the gospel, for all of it, every book and only those books, the 66 books of the Bible, no more.
We must understand the need from Genesis for the cross. How do you get to the cross from Genesis where sin began and where forgiveness was promised? We must know and understand Genesis. We must know and understand Leviticus, to know what is the need for the atonement? Why wasn't the sacrificial system adequate? Why wasn't it just able to continue to provide propitiation and to abate the wrath of God on the sins of man? Why couldn't we just keep doing that? We must understand that first, from Leviticus, to understand the very grace of God that's given in the New Testament.
So, when we fight for the faith, it's not just the New Testament like some popular preachers say, “We need to be unhinged from the Old Testament.” That guy's father would roll around in the grave if he knew that. We must contend for all of the faith. If we don't know Daniel and Zechariah, we don't know the prophecies that are on the way. We don't know the beautiful prophecy of Christ's coming if we don't understand Isaiah, starting in Isaiah 52:12 all the way through Isaiah 53. We don't understand why Jesus had to come. How could he “sprinkle many nations” with blood? Why was that necessary? We need to understand the faith. And I want to challenge you. You have every resource you need to understand every single word of God's holy truth. But will you take it? You say, “I'm sitting here. You make it look like I'm not even sitting here.” I see you. And God wants us, as a body, to understand. We cannot contend for what we do not know. We cannot contend for what we do not know.
Part of fighting for the faith is making sure we're ready for the battle. Making sure we're ready for the battle. Jude 20 shows us how to do that. “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.” “Building yourselves up” here is not some idea to puff ourselves up. It's talking about spiritual training. This word used here is a word used to complete something. And notice the word “building.” It's an ongoing action. Right? It means to continually build yourself up in the faith, to continually strengthen your bones, strengthen yourself spiritually. You say, “I'm just happy I made it here.” Well, praise God for that. But we need to press on and to see the long game -- that as long as we're here and breathing that God is going to grow us, that he's going to complete what he started, that he's going to finish the work all the way until the day of Christ Jesus. Why? Because he loves you. He doesn't take vacations on your sanctification. He wants you to grow every single day. He wants you to be a light for him every single day. And I know that's what you want as well.
You know there are those, all day yesterday and maybe even today, that are watching football. Right? There are those yesterday all day and those today all day who are playing football. One is turning more into a couch potato. One is getting stronger. One of the things that social media does is it tempts us to sit and watch everyone else's life as though we were living it. That is a great temptation today. You and I need to get in the game. Right? We need to be equipped. We need to know the game plan. And we need to fight and contend for the truth, to strengthen our spiritual muscles. In seminary, we used to joke that he who had the biggest belly had the biggest spiritual study muscle, because we sat and studied the longest and never exercised; we just studied and ate. Right? However you want to look at it, we need to strengthen ourselves.
You have roughly 100 and some people here today to be strengthened by. When you came in -- and I know you saw the doughnuts -- but when you came in did you say, “They're so and so. I'm going to talk to them because they encourage me in the faith. I love seeing that person. They just ooze God's Word all over me.” “That person, I know they're gonna give me a hug. And they truly love me.” “This guy, he gives a strong handshake, not one of those wet noodle things, you know, that makes you cringe. He gives you the strong handshake. It's his way of saying I am really happy to see you.” “Dear brother, I love you.” “Dear sister, I love you in the faith.” Building ourselves up means we do this together. We train together. You can train by yourself, but you will do more and excel still more by working and training together. We'll pick that up again in just a second.
In Jude 22, as we do these things together, we are to “have mercy on those who doubt.” And this is a great privilege for a Christian -- to have mercy on those who doubt, to have mercy on those who have made bad decisions, to have mercy on those who have once perverted the grace of God, to have mercy on those who have blasphemed the name of God; on your co-worker who doesn't blaspheme Santa Claus, they blaspheme your Savior. On those who will come by your door, and you have to figure out in a few days, will you cower behind your great manifest house or will you evangelize all these people who are coming, asking you for something? When do so many people come and knock on your door? There they are. That's what I call T-ball evangelism. They're gonna stand there until you, you know, give them the treats.
We need to think through these things. And if your conscience doesn't allow you to do it on that day, then you have a whole bunch of other days to do it. I'm just saying we need to think about how are we showing mercy on those who have rejected Christ, because he's surely shown mercy to us. If we truly understand that we're snatched out of the fire ourselves, then we will want to save others. When we think of Hamas, do we think of a great group of people who needs snatched out of the fire?
When we think of those who believe differently, in such a way that they will face eternal fire, do we think of snatching them out of the fire? Do we have mercy on those who doubt? Do we have mercy on those who don't believe, who are not here, do we look down on them? Does your non-Christian neighbor know you love them, that you would do anything to serve them, that you would have them over, that you would share a meal with them just to share the gospel. That family member who claims Christ but lives like the devil. Yeah, you know the one I'm talking about. We all have them -- some extended, some close. Are we willing to have mercy and compassion on them?
You know, trial fortifies the church. Trials strengthen us. You may be familiar with how the giant redwoods in the Sequoias work. Those trees are there and have lasted for so long, because their bark is so thick; it's about this thick [gestures]. The outer part burns, and it becomes a fire blanket around the tree, the charred wood; there's nothing else to burn. It can't get all the way through, and it's protected from the fire. The fire actually makes it stronger. And its roots then absorb everything else that was burned up, and it grows even taller, with less competition. Fire fortifies. It brings the good to the surface.
You know, I told you a little bit about John Owen. He's considered one of the brightest minds the Christian church has ever known. But he had an unlikely friendship. Do you know who John Owen’s unlikely friend is from church history? I'm sure some of you do. It was, of course, another John -- John Bunyan, John Bunyan. To make ends meet, John Bunyan was a tinker. You know what a tinkerer is. It's someone who goes around fixing metal things, like utensils -- not a very lucrative job. Owen was learned and well connected. He was the Vice Chancellor of Oxford University. His friends were kings and queens. Yet these men were friends in Christ. They were friends in Christ.
Bunyan would preach, it is said, to almost 1200 people before the sun came up, in the streets of London, something that would once be outlawed. Yet he continued to preach, and when they told him, “We're going to throw you in jail unless you convince us that you're not going to preach,” he said, “I cannot stop preaching.” So, they threw him in jail with a three-month sentence. That's it. John Bunyan had a three-month sentence if “you will just tell us that you will not preach again. We will let you out after three months.” He stayed in jail, it is said, with the doors open for 12 years because of his conviction to contend for the faith.
That was in 1661, when he was put in jail, and King Charles II allegedly asked his friend Owen, “How could he who had so much learning hear a tinker preach?” And Owen said, “May it please your Majesty, had I the tinker's abilities for preaching, I would most gladly relinquish all my learning.” Bunyan was released in 1672. And in prison, as many of you know, he wrote a book called “The Pilgrim’s Progress.” Spurgeon read that multiple, multiple, times a year, second only to his reading of Scripture. It is considered the most significant theological piece of fiction ever written. In prison, the doors open, his family at home, his children growing up -- how many of you parents would ignore 12 years of your children growing up because of your conviction for the truth? I hope I would never have to make that decision.
But what you may not know is, that because of their friendship, that's why John Bunyan's book actually got published. You see, when John Bunyan got out of jail, John Owen told his publisher he must pick up his brilliant work and get it to the masses. So, this poor tinker and preacher was blessed by his friendship with John Owen, the Vice Chancellor of Oxford. That book, published in 1678, is still in print. If you've ever written anything, you know if your book is still being read after 10 years, it's half a miracle. I tell you this because we must remember our commonalities need not be prolific outside of Christ, but they must be strong in Christ. John Owen and John Bunyan had very little in common outside of Christ, but they had everything to contend for in the faith in Christ.
You see, Jude is not just about knowing what we fight against and knowing what we fight for. It's about knowing who we fight with. And it runs all throughout this book. In Jude 1, it says we have a shared calling. In Jude 3, it says we have a shared salvation. And in Jude 3, it says we have a shared faith and Jude 4, a shared grace. We share the same enemies in Jude 4-16. We share the same call to persevere in Jude 17-23. Beloved, we all share the same destiny. Our houses will be next to one another in glory. We will share the same streets to walk on, we will share the same Lord and the same God to worship. And we are much stronger together than alone. Though it is tempting to do this world on our own, and to set our own schedules, and to just fight by ourselves, we must fight together, for we are much stronger together.
And I think that's why Jude ends with this amazing doxology. And he just burst into this hymn of praise, here at the end, to remind all of the believers, those who are called and summoned, to contend for the faith. This is what binds us together. And I want to end Jude by reading it to you. “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 and majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
Let's pray. Lord God, we need your courage. We need to be wise and know that any church, any gathering of people, is going to be attacked and susceptible to those who try and infiltrate their ranks. Lord, we want to be compassionate at the same time on those who doubt and have mercy, for you had mercy on us. Lord, help us to live a life of great purpose, contending for the faith, building ourselves up in the most holy faith, remaining in your love. Give us this courage, we pray. Help us, Lord God, to give the gospel to our friends and neighbors, and to share the love of Christ, and that by your grace they might be saved. Help us not to live just for ourselves but to you, for your glory, together. Friends, let's just take a moment right now and ask God for the courage to contend for the faith according to the Word of God. Lord God, we praise you. We know that if we pray according to your will, you will answer us and grant that request. We thank you that all praise and glory and majesty and dominion and authority are given to you, for that is our great privilege as Christians, to worship you. Thank you for this day that you've given us, Lord God. Amen.
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