I love that, at the very start of his letter, Jude reminds us of some key aspects of our identity before diving into the main part of his letter. The NLT version says ‘I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ.’
Jude reminds us that we have been called by God – that means that God wants us and has chosen us. The ESV uses the word ‘beloved’ – we are loved completely by God, no matter what we have done in the past. God keeps us safe – we are protected by Him and are secure in Jesus – that will not change! This is how God sees all of us, no matter how you feel.
Jude originally wanted to write a positive letter about how Jews and Gentiles now have a shared salvation, but there is a bigger issue to write about, one that is very relevant for us too.
Jude is urging us to defend, contend and fight for, the faith that has been entrusted to Christians, God’s holy people. Why? Because false teachers were infiltrating the church and teaching about grace in a false way. They taught that because we have received grace it doesn’t matter if we sin, but, as verse 4 says about these people, they ‘long ago were designated for this condemnation’. These ungodly people were using grace as an excuse for their immoral lifestyles and were trying to encourage others to join their way of thinking.
This wasn’t just happening then – it happens today too. In fact in some ways it is much easier for false teaching to be spread, because of the internet and social media. This is why Jude is calling us to contend for our faith. We need to be careful to protect what God has given us and not automatically accept everything we watch, hear and read about. There are some great Christian resources out there which are really useful and helpful, but we must weigh up everything we hear against God’s word. Whether it is what we hear in church on a Sunday, what we read in a Bible commentary, or online – we must always check that it aligns with God’s word, to protect the faith we have been given. As the Quest Bible says, ‘We cannot afford to settle for an imitation and lose the real thing’. In protecting our faith we also need to share the truth with others (v.23).
Jude goes on to share three examples of what happens to people who refuse to follow the truth. These examples come from Jewish religious texts that are not part of the Bible, but would have been known by the people at the time.
One thing that struck me in the middle of this book is verse 16, ‘These are grumblers’. It really challenged me because it is so easy to complain and grumble about things. But when we do, we allow our flesh – our selfish nature – to do the talking. Instead we need to be thankful for what God is doing in a particular situation, rather than what isn’t happening or what we think should happen. God sees the whole picture and knows what is best so we have to trust Him even when it is difficult.
Jude gets practical in v.20-21 showing us what to do to protect ourselves. ‘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.’ Keep praying, allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you and guide you. This will keep you safe from false teaching and lies.
Jude finishes by reminding us that although false teaching can slow our growth it can’t derail our salvation. Our salvation is secure!