Audio Worship "Contend For the Faith" Jude 1-25

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1596

July 16, 2023

Jude 1-25          Click here for audio worship!

Dr. Ed Pettus


“Contend For The Faith”


 1Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 3Beloved, 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. 4For 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. 5Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6And 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—7just 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. 8Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9But 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.” 10But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. 12These 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; 13wild 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. 14It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15to 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.” 16These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. 17But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22And have mercy on those who doubt; 23save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. 24Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.


  • The Purpose of My Letter


This is one of those rare times when we can look at an entire book of the Bible in one sermon. Jude is one of the few short letters or books of the Bible that give us an opportunity to master one book in twenty-five verses. So I am expecting that we will all be well versed in Jude by the end of worship!

The author is named as Jude, brother of James, and nothing else identifies who Jude is other than his own confession to be a servant of Jesus Christ. Most scholars look to Matthew 13.55 where several of Jesus’ half brothers are listed and therefore the consensus is that Jude was a half brother to Jesus. If that is truly the case then it may add to his reputation of a humble servant as he does not mention his familial relationship to Jesus in this letter.

The purpose of the letter was changed from its original intent. At first Jude was going to write about “our common salvation”. We can only imagine what he would have revealed on that topic. Instead there was a more pressing concern, “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” We know from the remainder of the letter that the church was being infiltrated by those who would pollute the truth and diminish the orthodox teaching on the faith. In one sense Jude is still addressing a concern for the common salvation as he addresses issues of faith and teachings.

The opening of the letter includes a typical identification of the author, an address to the recipients, and a blessing. Those to whom Jude is writing are called, beloved, and kept. When we just take those three terms it is a wonderful teaching on our common salvation. We are called by God to follow Jesus, beloved by God as seen in Christ’s work on the cross and up from the grave, and we are kept in the protective loving grace of God for Jesus Christ. One of the assurances of our common salvation is that God has done all this for us and nothing can separate us from this love of God.

But Jude sees another issues that threatens our common salvation; it is that some have crept in for the purpose of perverting the grace of God and making it something it is not. They seek to turn God’s grace into a cheapened grace, devoid of the gospel, devoid of the cross and resurrection, and instead turn it into a denial of common salvation but make it a common sensuality. If this is not what is going on in the many churches today, I do not know what else to call it. We should have known that there would always be those who would creep into the church, unnoticed, to turn the gospel into a sensuality based false teaching rather than holding true to the biblical teachings of human behavior and God’s redemptive purposes in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The sensuality being taught today calls sin a virtue and rids our lives of sin if only we would love one another unconditionally without calling sin sin. Leave out all that bloody cross stuff and just love, because love is love. It is something of a theology of the Beatles, all you need is love. Problem is, it is not God’s love revealed in the gospel.


  • Some Have Crept In


Jude is not the kind to hold back. He does not give specific identity to who is creeping into the church. He calls them “certain people” in verse 4 and “these people” in verse 10. But, he does label them as ungodly. They are ungodly because they pervert the grace of God. How do they pervert God’s grace? I see it as two sets of concerns. The first set deals with the sensuality issue from verse 4, grace perverted by sensuality. That set is described beginning in verse 7, just as those in Sodom and Gomorrah - sexually immoral, pursuing unnatural desires. This issue is nothing new. Lifting up the example of Sodom and Gomorrah shows us that today’s perversions in the church, and in society, have been around since sin first entered into the hearts of Adam and Eve. Jude deals with this sensuality, as does Paul, and Jesus and others in the New Testament. We are not facing new perversions, but ancient sins revisited in fallen human beings. Yes, we are surprised nearly every day with how low it can get, but it is really nothing new.

The second set of issues with the ungodly is more about their condition or substance. Look at verses 12-13…I want to comment on each of these characteristics. They are hidden reefs. If you have ever been fishing off the coast you know about hidden reefs, as we call them, sandbars. Once when fishing off the coast of a barrier island, we were coming back in and knew where some sandbars were but also ran into to some that were hidden. You can’t see them because they are just deep enough to look like clear sailing ahead, but they can stop a boat as if you just ran ashore. These people are like that, hidden barriers, proclaiming words that may sound “Christiany”, but their Christianese language is a front, a hidden heresy absent the full gospel of salvation. Jude then calls them waterless clouds. They bring no rain to replenish the earth. They are useless outside of filling the sky with white fluffy clouds. They are fruitless trees, They have nothing to offer, no fruit of the Spirit. They produce nothing of value and only seek to deceive. Reminds of the time when Jesus cursed the fig tree.

Jude describes these people as twice dead. There is no more dead than twice dead. Dead, dead! No life to offer and it may mean they have no shot to life in eternity. Dead physically and dead spirituality. Jude calls them uprooted. They have no foundation – and therefore, they will believe anything and teach anything that opposes the truth of God. They are wild waves, unpredictable, also foam of shame or empty of substance. If you have seen the foam on the waves at the beach, it is like bubbles that pop and disappear. The same holds true for cheap grace that is like a bubble of foam. Jude finishes off his nice things to say calling them wandering stars. I don’t think he had movie stars in mind, but if he were alive today, he might. Tell us what you really think of them, Jude!

All are doomed to darkness. That’s all they have here and all they will have in their future. Their greatest happiness is to deceive and especially to deceive Christians. Two sets of ungodly categories, one dealing with human sexuality that refuses to obey God, and another of empty vessels refusing to accept the life that only God can give.

Jude is not a “watch out who you might offend” kind of guy. Notice his language against those who are ungodly in verses 16 and 18 – grumblers, malcontents, followers of sinful desires, loud-mouthed boasters, showing favors for gain...then he quotes the apostles who warned about such people. They are scoffers, following ungodly passions, divisive, and devoid of the Spirit.

They depend on themselves rather than God’s Word. I recently had a conversation with someone about a pastor in another denomination who was speaking to those who might oppose the LGBT... movement, who said something to the effect, “You should look within yourself.” Now I do not know the intent of that statement but I’ve heard similar things from many on the left, and it sounds like someone who looks to themselves for truth rather than to God’s Word. I wish I could have been in on that conversation because I would have said, “No, we do not look within, we look to Scripture”. I know this person might have been saying that we need to examine our beliefs within, take the log out of our own eye before noting the speck in another’s eye, but the stand alone statement to look within yourself is the same as those considered ungodly in Jude. These people in Jude’s description only look to themselves and to the truth within them, as human beings, but it is not the truth of God within them.

These are the ones who were creeping into the church then and have crept into the church today. But Jude has a counter to these people, and that is to contend for the faith.


  • The Work of The Church


It begins at verse 20. But you! But you, the church, you have an alternative to the ungodly activity and ungodly people. But you… This is what we are called to do. This is how we contend for the faith. It is not an exhaustive list because there are a lot more exhortations throughout the Bible about contending for the faith. Here we have at least five imperatives depending on how we break it down. I’m going to set it at five.


1. Build Up in Faith (vs 20). Building up the church is mentioned in many places in the New Testament but probably the best example is from Paul in Ephesians 4,

 11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

We have all been gifted in some way to build up the church. And the purpose is to attain unity, knowledge, maturity in the fullness of Christ. It is also so that we are not tossed about by human schemes of ungodly people.


2. Praying in Holy Spirit (vs 20). Prayer is crucial to the vitality and unity and peace of the church. We cannot depend upon ourselves alone but must seek God’s face and kingdom and righteousness to keep ourselves on the right road to maturing faith.


3. Keep in Love of God (vs 21). Keeping in God’s love is in keeping with His Word. John 15.10, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.” Those who have crept into the church do not keep God’s Word and therefore have a distorted and twisted understanding of God’s love.


4. Wait – Patience for Mercy (vs 21). We struggle to wait on the Lord. But patience is truly a virtue for Christian faith. Psalm 27.14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”


5. Show mercy & show mercy with fear (vs 22-23). While we wait for mercy we also are called to show mercy. This is something of an escalation of showing mercy. Show it to those who doubt (1), save others out of the fire (2), and show mercy with fear, hating the garment polluted by the flesh (3). The fear is to watch out that you don’t get seduced by the creeps, those who have crept in.


We are called to contend for the faith, especially in local congregations, in each church, but also in denominations. I would add that we are to contend for the faith for the sake of society and culture as well, for the well being of community. What does it mean to contend for the faith? Well, it means we stand up for Truth. We fight in defense of the Truth. We fight the good fight striving against the enemies of Christ. We fight not in physical ways, but spiritual (Ephesians 6). We vie for the truth. Jude needed to write in order to warn the church about those who had crept in, slowly, over time, and they sought only to eliminate the gospel and the meaning of Scripture in slight ways. I can hear them now probably talking about the Old Testament as an outdated antique that needs to be retired from public life.

When the creeps creep in, it is time to clean house. Some denominations are supportive of sexual immorality proclaiming that the only thing we need to say is “love is love”. Have you seen this on FaceBook, the “love is love” meme or pic posted on some pages. It might have come from this ungodly creed called the “Sparkle Creed” that has also crept into some churches. I thought about quoting it this morning but it is so horrendous I did not want it creeping into worship even as I speak against it. Let’s just say that I oppose any so-called creed that calls God non-binary and speaks of a rainbow spirit. I think the “love is love” stuff also comes from this creed as it ends with a statement “love is love is love”. Sad, really. Pray for these people, certain ones who have crept into some churches. “Love is love” is not biblical. “God is love”. That’s what the Bible truthfully reveals. God is love. “Love is love” makes love the god, the idol, the heresy, the deceptive non-truth like that of “certain people” in Jude’s letter who indulged in sexual immorality and in verse 8, blaspheme the glorious ones. They blaspheme Christians and the Church and God. It is idolatry, blasphemy, and it has crept into some churches.


The work of the church is first and foremost to worship the Lord. Another work is church discipline, as in keeping the church unified, pure, and in peace. This is what we do to contend for the faith. We cannot and will not let the lies of the devil creep in to distort the truth of the Bible. Our work is to contend for the faith as the church has done many times before. Our situation may seem vastly different, but sin is sin and has always been sin. People attempting to pervert the grace of God have always been around and will continue to seek to creep into congregations and denominations and places of godly ministry. Contend for the faith. We really have not had to do that much in our nation, but it is time. Time to build one another up in faith, to pray, to keep in God’s love, to wait for God’s mercy, and to show mercy with fear. That’s why Jude wrote to the church, to encourage them, and us, to contend for the faith in times of confusion and perversion and sexual immorality.

One more note from Jude: a wonderful benediction can be formulated from verses 20-21 which include a Trinitarian insight – praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping in the love of God, and waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. God the Spirit, God the Father, and God the Son. In this God we build up our faith, we pray, we do all that Jude teaches that we might, in every generation, contend for the faith. May we embrace what God gives us through Jude for our time. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.