I have the distinct pleasure to have a guest post-er…someone near and very dear to my heart and life…my dear husband Carl will share what God laid on his heart this past weekend as he spent sometime in the Word…
As he shared his thoughts with me, he mentioned that I should write about what we talked about on my blog…I quickly responded by saying, why don’t you write it? He gave me a sweet grin and said…alright.
I hope you enjoy his thoughts and His love for God’s Word and God’s people as much as I do!
Wow, summer is finally here! It is an exciting time if you are a sports fan. The Summer Olympics will soon be upon us, many hours of watching on television or reading print or posts, cheering on your favorite athletes in your favorite sporting events. Are you a fan of track and field, or swimming, or maybe diving? When I think of the Olympics, I think of how hard, how many hours the athletes had to train in order to get that perfect 10 on the balance beam, or rings – no way I could ever do that. But I do have one thing in common with these world-class athletes – I can contend!
The book of Jude is a small morsel lodged between Third John and Revelations that packs a whole bunch of applicability to our lives today. When I recently re-read Jude, I couldn’t help but think he was talking about today’s world. He is warning the 21st century church to beware of those within the body:
He describes these people as part of the church. Those who act and say the right Christian words, attend each Sunday and praise God aloud. His warning is that these are people who are diluting the word of Christ, who distract us, who bring in thoughts and ways that may be just a little bit off from what the Lord teaches us, or a long way off of what we know about Christ, and if we are not careful, we may get sucked in by their persuasions.
Then I noticed something interesting about what I was reading. I realized that Jude wasn’t writing about the 21st Century church, he was writing about what he was seeing as he wrote his letter sometime between the dates A.D. 70 and A.D. 80! Seems as though the world hasn’t changed much in 2000 years.
“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints”.
Now it’s that word contend that caught my attention given the time of year it is. As I looked a bit closer at the meaning of contend in verse 3, it is the Greek word diakrino, which is “to separate throughout or wholly” (dia, “asunder,” krino, “ to judge, “ from a root kri, meaning “separation”). I was disappointed that in this verse, the meaning didn’t belong to the more athletic root of the word athleo, which is to engage in a contest, to engage in public games. Now, that’s what I’m talking about – the Summer Olympics!
But not all is lost, we can still aggressively contend. Verse 9 speaks about Michael disputing or contending with the devil, which was strong. He did not argue with him, he simply states, “The Lord Rebuke You.”
So Jude is telling us in verse 3 to not associate with these persons – who have crept in, who are in the church, but are not of the church. Wow, that is a tough one to swallow. Really though, how can one tell who the “real believers” are?
Verses 18 & 19 “In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts. These are the same ones, who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit”. Verse 16: “These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts, they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage”.
He contrasts this with those who are the true believers. Do you have these characteristics? “But you beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life”. (v.20-21)
Now remember, this was written over 2000 years ago, not yesterday – but doesn’t it sound like it applies today? What can we (you and I) do to help this matter?
Verses 22-23 give us a command. “Have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh”.
The only way you can be sure which camp you are in is to live a godly life, to contend for the faith, your faith! Love those who you care about, that you recognize as falling away – contend for them with all godly love and mercy. Don’t be fooled by smooth talkers, speaking a language that isn’t from above. When you find those – separate from them, but – let me add, pray for them – snatch them out of the fire. Be a contender, not a pretender.
(All scriptures taken from the New American Standard Study Bible)