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The Epistle of Jude: A Warning Against Corrupt Doctrine



The General Epistle of Jude is a short yet insightful book. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about Jude is the author’s reference to Enoch in verses 14-15. I also think of the writer’s call to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. This is the primary speaking point of many preachers and teachers when they exegete Jude. Yet, there is another level that few touch on within the context of this short New Testament book. This often-overlooked contextual aspect of Jude would completely cripple two popular modern-day doctrines: Hyper-grace Theology and Once Saved, Always Saved.  

 

Jude clarifies that his writing intends to remind his readers to adhere to sound doctrine diligently (v. 3-4). This is the faith once delivered unto the saints. Jesus taught the disciples, delivering the Gospel message to them. However, the audience of Jude’s letter had allowed others to come into their midst, which taught them a different, tainted message. These ungodly people turned the message of God’s grace into lasciviousness and denied God and the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 4). He calls them “spots on your love feast” (v. 12), demonstrating that they have empty words that offer false hope and lies. But more than describing the behavior of these godless people within the congregation, Jude delivers a clear warning about their condition.

 

When we break down the term ‘lasciviousness,’ we find that the term is used for a lustful, lewd quality of arousing sexual desires. It implies an excessive indulgence in sensual pleasure. Thus, we can surmise that the godless in the congregation were making grace a license for excessively indulging willfully in sensual, sexual pleasures while maintaining a Christian façade. These lustful and adulterous Christians were using grace as a justification for willful, intentional sin after conversion. They did this without conviction. Their actions denied God and the Lord Jesus Christ, constituting a rebellion against Him. This is one reason Sodom and Gomorrah and the Watchers were used as examples, for each group gave into excessive sexual desires. The judged cities gave into homosexuality, pedophilia, rape, and incest, while the fallen angels genetically altered the created order through sexual intercourse with human women (Cross-Species Breeding). Both examples represent gross sexual immorality and impurity. These examples further illustrate that grace was used as a license to sin freely by the ungodly congregants of Jude’s target audience.

 

In verses 5-7, Jude intentionally reminds his readers about the Hebrews who were freed from Egypt and turned against God, the angels who left their proper abode (namely the 200 Watchers referenced in Enoch), and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Each example sheds light on the fact that the godless in the congregations who perverted grace and, by default, denied Christ was a part of the Church. Such people were claiming to be Christians. They were involved in the love feasts (v. 12), which were communal meals where the Lord’s communion occurred in remembrance of Him. These points make it clear that they are within the church congregation, not those outside of the church body.

Then we have the judgment of such godless “Christians” who use grace as a license for sin. The Watchers were bound in chains and cast into the pit to await final judgment. The cities and people of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by brimstone raining down from the sky. The Hebrew people who were freed from Egypt and turned away from God were killed in the wilderness, never inheriting the Promised Land for failure to remain faithful after their freedom. Can this imply that a person who is delivered from the “Egypt” of slavery to sin can find themselves outside of the promised eternal life for turning their backs on God by believing a perversion of grace that denies Christ? Does it mean that when they abandon their proper abode in Christ intentionally, they will not be allowed back in? Does it imply that sexual immorality, as a willful choice, is a specific way that grace is perverted, leading to the rejection of Christ by actions rather than words alone? What does this say of the modern church? I think the answer is clear in Jude and should send a shockwave throughout Western Christianity.

 

The call to contend for the faith is to both leader and laity. Pastors must teach the pure Word of God, as it was delivered to the Apostles by Jesus. Their words are written in the Bible for study, reflection, and teaching. Paul tells us, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). A church leader within the five-fold office of ministry must “rightly divide the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). But those who are being led are also responsible to know the Word and require that their leaders speak to them the truth of scripture rather than tickle their ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Whatever our ministry function, we must not be like those whom Jude addressed that pervert God’s grace to permit willful, intentional sin. If we fall prey to the hyper-grace implications, which are blatantly portrayed as unconditional grace that would still lead to salvation regardless of a person's behavior after salvation, then we would deny Christ before men.

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Excellent post Dr. Christopher

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