Monday, January 12, 2009

Hey Jude

Where should we as believers be prepared to defend our faith?

I suspect that if you polled a large number of Christians, you would receive many similar answers such as politics, school, work, community. . . anywhere "out there" among non-believers in a world which is becoming increasingly hostile to our beliefs.

But what about at church?

There's a tiny little book in the New Testament that is easily overlooked but which has quite a message. We are beginning a 5-week study of the book of Jude (the penultimate book of the Bible, just before Revelation) in our Sunday morning class, and just the first 4 verses yesterday gave us much to think on and discuss.

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,
To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:
2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Although many great truths could be pointed out and treasured within these verses, I was particularly struck by verse 4. Jude (who, though he was the half-brother of Christ, only claimed to be His servant) is not warning the church about the evils "out there" in the world, the other religions that just don't get it, or a myriad of other potential dangers. He doesn't even warn them about another church that has begun meeting down the block and which does things a bit differently or in a questionable way.

Instead, he says that wrong teaching has "slipped in among you."

Peter says the same thing in 2 Peter 2 when he says . . ."there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up."

Do we recognize when someone is in our midst and is teaching or promoting things that are not grounded in Scripture?

Most of us are not likely to be led astray by an outside influence whose doctrine is diametrically opposed to the Bible. But the most dangerous influence is the one who is in the church and whose beliefs begin to veer off course.

Scandals that have rocked various high-profile churches and ministries confirm that those within the church are not immune from straying.

But you don't have to be a mega-church or a high profile leader to drift from the truth of God's word. How important it is for us all to study and know God's word so that we will recognize that which is inconsistent with the teachings of Scripture. And to teach our children to do likewise.

Those who train folks to recognize counterfeit money do so not by having them study all the fake money in circulation, but by instructing them to become intimately acquainted with the real thing.

Only by knowing the Truth will you be able to recognize what isn't.


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sara said...

awesome post!!!!

Lisa writes... said...

My husband has taught through Jude twice now as part of our community groups at church. Many wise warnings we would do well to heed!

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

Amen, sister!


2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Whoa! This is a great post, Lid! Publish it! Publish it!

Carrie @ Cottage Cozy said...

What a great reminder to open our eyes to the enemy that may be right in front of us, disguised as a brother or sister! Thank you for your post.

Greg C said...

This really is a great post. I am feeling very much under attack these days from all around so I am reading more and more to strengthen my faith.

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

A hearty Amen Linda!!

A Stone Gatherer said...