Contend for the Faith

Jude 1

While some NT letters can be encouraging and uplifting, other letters contain harsh criticism or reproof by the writer. Even though it was Jude’s original intention to write about the joint salvation that he and all God’s people share, he felt he needed to turn his attention and exhort his readers “to contend for the faith that was delivered to the holy ones once for all” (v. 3).

We can all probably think of a time in our life when we needed to be told what to do or why we should be doing something. That is essentially what Jude is doing here. He offers examples from people in the past whose ungodliness or rebellion were deserving of punishment, and then he also warns of present people among his readers who “nurture only themselves without fear” that are also deserving of God’s judgment. He reassures them that there is nothing unusual happening among them, and that even the Lord Jesus Christ predicted through the apostles that “in the end time there will be scoffers walking according to their own ungodly desires” (v. 18).

False teachers abound in the world, and just as there were people in the past who opposed God and followed their own ungodly desires, there will always continue to be such people who work against the purposes of God. Given this fact, Jude exhorts his readers to “build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the holy spirit,” and as they do this, they are to keep themselves in the love of God (vv. 20-21).

This is the way that Jude encourages us to “contend for the faith.” We must continue to build ourselves up and become strong in the faith and to pray in the holy spirit so that we are not shaken by people who create divisions or who utter arrogant words and flattering speech for their own advantage. By being confident in our faith we will be strong in the Lord without doubting, ready to “save others by snatching them from the fire” (v. 23).

The world is a dark place and evil seems to be rampant, and it will continue to be that way until the day that we stand in the presence of our God, blameless and with great joy. Until then, we must fight the good fight and be on guard for those who want to “turn the grace of our God” (v. 4) into unrighteousness and immoral behavior.

-Jerry Wierwille

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Joel 1-3 and Jude 1

Twice Written, Twice Shy(ing away from sin)**

Jude & 2 Peter

Today, I would encourage you to read the material (Jude, 2 Peter) BEFORE the devotion, if you don’t already do that. Go do that. This can wait. 
You may be saying to yourself, did I just read the same thing twice?  They are very similar.*


I’ve written this before, but in scripture, when something is repeated, IT IS IMPORTANT. In Ancient Cultures, reading wasn’t the norm. The people in the time of Jesus and before were oral cultures, and repeating oneself in written form was a way to emphasize important points. What’s happening in Jude and 2 Peter is God “repeating himself” for our benefit. 

Jude and 2 Peter are both focused on false teachers bringing in destructive teachings among the people of God. Jude tells us that these people “creep” in “secretly”. They are teaching two general ideas : they are denying Jesus as Messiah and Master and they are turning grace into immorality and sensuality. These are twin ideas. These people were declaring that Jesus was not the only one who could save us from our sins (Messiah) and had no place in telling us what was right and wrong (Master). The false teachers seemed to have held the view that sin was not “real”; there was not one thing that was right and another that was wrong, but all were saved by the grace of God, and all would be permitted to spend eternity with him. All action was permitted. 


We are still talking about the ancient world, though I know how similar it sounds to our own. Jude and Peter are warning us to not be seduced by these ideas. Instead, FIGHT for the faith. Don’t let those who would water down the gospel win. In love, speak truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You contend because those who are teaching these false things are bound for destruction. THEY should have known better, but YOU DO know better. Don’t let others go down this same path, but watch out for yourself. Peter says to live with all godliness and righteousness. Jude says to build yourself up in faith and keep yourselves in the love of God. 


My brothers and sisters, may you see in Jude and 2 Peter faithful authors speaking to the same truth : there will always be someone trying to convince you that Jesus is not the Messiah, and their way to live is the best (either by adding commandments or removing standards). May you turn away from these false teachers. May you see two testimonies about the dangers of these heresies and sins, and may you make sure to be doubly cautious before following an unknown teacher. 

-Jake Ballard
—————————————————————————————————*If you would like to see a pretty decent analysis of why they are similar, you can read this article here : http://exegeticaltools.com/2020/05/15/the-literary-relationship-between-2-peter-and-jude/ The author of this devotion does not necessarily endorse everything said on the site (of course) or even the implicit conclusion of the article. (I think Jude wrote first, and Peter copied and riffed on his writing.)
** To the Tune of Last Christmas by WHAM! (Merry Christmas Eve)

Today’s Bible passages can be read on BibleGateway here – 2 Peter & Jude

Tomorrow we will read 1st John.

A Lifelong Learner

FREE THEME – Deuteronomy 6

Deut 6 6

Go ahead give it a read – even if you are pretty familiar with the chapter of Deuteronomy 6 already.  It is the well-known home of the Shema – a declaration of the oneness of God.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”  (Deuteronomy 6:4).  But, it doesn’t start or end there.  Let’s look at the rest of the chapter, too.

First off, the word Deuteronomy means “repetition of the law”.  Moses had already written down the events of his own life and the commands of God in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.  Now, close to his own death and the time for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land led by Joshua, Moses uses the book of Deuteronomy to retell what is MOST important for God’s people to remember and live by to receive His blessings.  It’s a great book for God’s people today as well.

Deuteronomy 6 begins with Moses telling the people that these are the laws and commands that 1.) were God given,  2.) which Moses was to teach,  3.) so the people and their descendants would fear and follow God and 4.) thus experience blessing from God.  The blessings come to obedient people who listen to the teachers who teach what God requires.  This sounds like a great description of Christian Education – as designed by God.  But, sometimes we don’t do such a great job of following what God designed.

God’s people were – and are – to be learners.   They need to be hearing God’s Word (daily Bible reading, sermons, Sunday School classes, youth group, small group Bible studies, email devotions, etc…).  I am so thankful for those who have taught and are still teaching me God’s Word and the importance of knowing who the one true God is and how to follow Him and His Son.  I immediately think of my parents, pastors and Sunday School teachers as those who have poured God’s Word into me faithfully and consistently.  I am certainly still learning and correcting and learning some more.  It is a lifelong task to be a learner of God’s Word and His way.

Verse 18 says, “Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you…”  God’s people can only do right when they know what is right.  And, unfortunately there is a whole lot of confusion and mixed messages in the world about what IS right.    We need to be wise enough to know who to listen to – who is speaking the words of the one true God and what He requires – and who is a false teacher.

Sometimes the false teachers look pretty smooth and appealing and gain a popular following, all while twisting and perverting God’s Word.  They quote Scripture and try to make it say all sorts of ungodly things – even that abortion and homosexuality is approved by God (Does that sound familiar from any presidential candidates you know? Or, maybe a college professor, or a friend?)   And Satan smirks and cheers.  And God, I can only try to imagine, perhaps the sadness, anger, jealousy, patience and love mingled together as He watches and waits.  His judgment will be coming.

So, God’s People – will we be ready for His judgment?  Is it perhaps time to wake up?  Look in God’s Word and read the whole thing!   See who God really is – and isn’t.  Don’t be led astray.  What does He require?  What does He love?  What does He hate?  What is God waiting to teach you today?  Look in His Book.  Seek out wise teachers.

What is on your heart today?  How about some more of God’s Word.  It brings blessings.

Marcia Railton

(Tomorrow let’s continue in Deuteronomy 6 – there’s a lot more there.  Give it a read and I will see you tomorrow.)

 

 

 

Reader Beware!

The Letter of Jude

Jude 24 b

“Judgment is Coming, Especially for False Teachers”

“He who saved a people of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (1:5).

The Letter of Jude is very similar to 2 Peter. The letter is a warning to believers that false teachers who have perverted the grace of our God into a license for sin will undergo a devastating, destructive judgment.

 

Turning the Grace of God into a License to Sin

Jude states that the faith had been delivered once for all to the saints (1:3). The believers were “once for all fully informed (1:5). This new teaching was a perversion. The new teaching was brought by false teachers who “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (1:4). Some people perverted the grace of God and the work of Jesus on the cross into a license to sin. Their attitude was something like: “Our sins our forgiven, so let’s do whatever we want”.

The New Testament strongly condemns such an attitude (Romans 6:1-15, 1 John 3:4-10). Rather than promote sin, the grace of God through the work of Jesus on the cross condemns and defeats sin.

 

Examples of Judgment

Jude reminds his listeners that there is a devasting, destructive judgment in store for these false teachers, but also by implication for those who follow them. Jude gives several examples from the Old Testament to illustrate that judgment will eventually come.

  • God brought Israel out of Egypt, but afterwards destroyed those (in the desert) who did not believe (1:5).
  • Angels who “did not keep their proper position” have been kept in chains “until the judgement of the great day” (1:6).
  • Sodom and Gomorrah acted immorally but were destroyed by an eternal (of an age) fire.
  • Jude also mentions the “way of Cain”, “Balaam’s error” and those who perished in Korah’s rebellion.

All these serve as evidences and examples that God will judge wickedness. It is a great error to turn the grace of God and the work of Jesus into a license to sin.

 

Admonition to Stay Faithful, 1:17-23

Jude knows that a warning is needed, but hopes that his listeners can maintain their “holy faith”. He says believers should not be surprised that false teachers have arisen. The Lord Jesus and the apostles said this would happen (1:17).  In the Old Testament, one reason that God allowed false prophets among the people was to test the people, to see if they loved God with heart and soul, or not (Deuteronomy 13:3).  Likewise, one reason false teachers are around today is for our testing (2 Peter 2:1-3, 1 John 4:1).

“But you beloved…keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal (of the age) life” (1:20-21).

 

Bill & Stephanie Schlegel

 

(Editor’s Note: Yesterday, we provided some links to Bill’s website, Satellite Bible Atlas and trip to Israel.  Today you might enjoy this interview with Bill from our friends at Restitutio.  https://restitutio.org/2019/08/01/interview-53-why-knowing-the-land-of-israel-matters-bill-schlegel/.)

Don’t Be One of Those People

2 Peter 2

2 Peter 2 1

For every ounce of truth a lie is out there.  In 2 Peter 2 the apostle warns of those people who would distort the truth or add to it.  He warns in verse 1 from the beginning that false teachers and false prophets are out there twisting, distorting, and adding to the truth.  By truth here he is referring to the message of Jesus Christ.

Today it is not uncommon to hear people say things like – all roads lead to God, and regarding religion: I’m looking for what works best for me.  These are twisted and in some cases flat out lies about the truth.  The truth of the matter is that Jesus is the son of God and that he is the ONLY way to the Father, and the ONLY source of salvation and forgiveness, and the ONLY hope for eternal life. This is the message that Jesus taught and that God confirmed when he spoke from the heavens saying that Jesus was his beloved son in whom he was well-pleased as referred to in 2 Peter 1:17.  Jesus is the ONLY way!   Anyone who would persuade you otherwise may fall into the category of the false teachers and prophets of whom Peter warns.

This is why it is important for Christians to know what the word of God says – so they will not be deceived by these false teachers and prophets.  If something someone says is contrary to scripture or seeks to add to it in ways that do not agree with scripture then watch out!  And for goodness sakes – don’t be so foolish as to be one of those people who leads others astray!  We must know God’s word and be filled with His spirit to be able to discern what is true and what is false.

In concluding the chapter Peter reminds us that God has not turned a blind eye to those who lead others astray because of their acts of deception but rather that their destruction is sure.  So to sum up Peter’s words to us:  Don’t be one of those  people  who is either led astray or leads others astray from the truth!

Merry Peterson

Paul, the Servant

Titus 1

Titus 1 1

Similar to some of Paul’s other letters, he begins the book with an introduction of himself. To start off, Paul calls himself,  ̈a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ.¨ (Titus 1:1) Paul’s willingness to serve allowed him to reach many churches and impact a whole lot more people. He clearly states that he is a servant of God to help the faith of God’s chosen. 

 

Throughout Paul’s letters we can find how he did this – by mentoring people in godliness. This includes Timothy, Titus, Philemon and entire churches in Colosse, Ephesus, Galatia, Corinth, Achaia, & Thessalonica. He consistently encouraged, prayed, and thanked God for them all. Since Paul understood that faithful churches needed Godly leaders he worked to mentor others to be those faithful leaders in the church for when Paul couldn’t be there. In verse 5 we can see Paul left Titus in charge of appointing elders for the churches on the island of Crete. He gave Titus careful instructions as well as warnings. He told Titus and the church to beware of, ̈rebellious people, mere talkers, and deceivers” who were ¨teaching things they ought not to teach ̈ (Titus 1:10,11)

 

Paul’s willingness to serve is shown through all of the mentoring he was able to do so that God’s word could continue to spread. This is something we should all learn from. We should encourage younger Christians as well as seek guidance from others more spiritually mature than us. 

 

And as Paul would say,

Grace be with you

 

-Makayla Railton

While We Wait

2 Peter

2-peter-3-9

Friday, July 14

During high school, I would bring my Bible to study during lunch and free time. Numerous people would ask me why I would put my faith in a book that was written by various authors and not “actually written by God.” I always tried to defend why I believed what the Bible told me but felt like I wasn’t explaining it correctly. 2 Peter 1:20-21 states that we “must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Had I come along this passage while defending the Bible, it would have been a lot simpler to explain my reasoning.

Being mature in our faith and living Godly lives is imperative these days due to the fact that God and Jesus will soon return. We are to “make every effort to add to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if we possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV). The reason we should ensure that we are living to the standards set for us by God is because there are false teachers in the world who will try and lead us astray. These teachers will tell lies that seem to be true, but will also deny the Lord and live sinful lifestyles. The people that are most vulnerable to this destruction are those who don’t have solid foundation in Biblical teaching.
While we wait for the day of the Lord to arrive, we need to “be on our guard so that we may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from our secure position. But we should grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17-18 NIV). Today, I want you to take the time and ask God to show you how to live a life pleasing to Him and ask Him for forgiveness of your sins. He doesn’t want any of us to perish and wants everyone to repent. I look forward to when God and Jesus come back to make the Kingdom here on earth and pray that we all have salvation! May God bless you today and always. Amen.
-Cynthia Fyfe
(Photo Credit: https://dailyverses.net/2-peter/3/9)
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