I love the gospel. I imagine you love it too.
I love to preach the gospel. And I'm sure you love the sound of the gospel as it echoes in your soul.
Which is the very reason I need to notice Jude's diversion away from speaking about the one thing any gospel minister loves to address.
Jude 1:3 (ESV)—Beloved, 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.
It would seem that Jude had every intention of writing a letter that would sit comfortably within the plethora of 'gospel-centered' titles produced today. Jude had sketched out an outline that gloried in the grace of the gospel, centred on the substitutionary work of Christ, and applauded the atoning work of Jesus for our sin.
Yet Jude sat his outline aside.
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation...
Something else hit Jude's radar that caused him to detour from the one thing he was eager to do. What was it? And should we be concerned with it also?
Like Jude, we too live in an era of false gospels—which are no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-7)—and must be aware of the fight we are about to face.
Jude found it necessary to lay aside his original intentions and appeal to his listeners to prepare for a fight.
...I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
We live in an age when the 'once-for-all' gospel is under attack.
It would be easy—and where many posts now turn—to begin a tirade against all the social ills of our age; foreign religions, abortion, and same-sex marriage would be the usual hit-list here. And though I am not diminishing our need to be vigilant in how these social trends affect our faith, it's another, more insidious, enemy I want to prepare you for.
A large part of Jude's call to contend for the faith is to simply open our eyes!
Jude 1:4 (ESV)—For 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 Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
"Fight. Open your eyes!"
There are attacks against the gospel that are plain for all to see, but Jude's call isn't drawing our attention to those. Jude is saying, "Wake up!—Look around you!—Ungodly people are perverting the grace of God and you haven't even noticed!"
Our heart is in the midst of a war and many of us aren't even aware of the battle that wages around us—and even within us.
Every day you are being enticed by false gospels, false teachers, false messiahs, and the battle begins by opening your eyes.
Look at how the grace of God is being perverted: "who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."
The grace of our God is being replaced with the pursuit of our own pleasure, that which makes us 'feel good' and 'seems right to me'. The grace of God is perverted every time I am enticed to enthrone my own will over the will of my Master and Lord.
Some of these 'unnoticed' preachers are filling our pulpits, but most are filling the airways. Unprecedented access to podcast preachers, popular authors, subscription-based TV channels, and so-called Christian radio stations, open up a door for these 'grace perverting people' to slip into our thought-life and theology unnoticed.
Beloved, 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.
Fellow Christian: It's time to fight. Contend for the gospel.
How? You're best weapon isn't found on social media, or in signing another petition. Placarding your local heretical radio station, or 'outing' all the on-line 'false teachers' may not be the best course of action here.
So what is?
- Love the gospel
- Love the gospel
- Open your eyes
- Be aware of the times you live in
- Identify the false gospels at work in your own life
- Love the gospel
And when all is said and done.
Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)—Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.