Hymn writer, George Duffield’s poetic prowess is matched by his theological soundness in the words, “Stand up, stand up, for Jesus; stand in his strength alone; the arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own: put on the Gospel armor, and watching unto prayer, when duty calls, or danger, be never wanting there.” Jude seemed convinced that every disciple of Jesus must hear the call of duty to stand up for the purity of the faith, to resist the insidious teaching the perversion of grace into a license for sinning. In his letter we can identify a three-fold approach to confronting spiritual error which is as valid today as it was back then. In this episode of messages for The Grace Hour Broadcast we examine how to stand up for your faith.
The first requirement is that disciples of Jesus must be committed to growth in their knowledge of Christian truth. We encounter this at verses 20-21: “20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Entities that train persons to detect counterfeit items are known to employ a strategy of exposing the trainees to minute details of the genuine items. The expectation is that when one is so intimately familiar with the real it becomes much easier to spot the fake. Disciples are encouraged to intentionally build their faith, expand their knowledge of the truth of the foundational message of the Prophets and the Apostles. Do we even utilize such rhetoric in church today? Is not true that the greater emphasis seems to be on how we feel? Church has been reduced to its entertainment value and the notion of thinking and grappling with the nuances of the faith and the nexus of Word and life are scoffed at in some circles.
Paul was keen to let young pastor Timothy know the futility of bodily exercise and the necessity of spiritual exercise. In 1 Tim. 4: 18 he says “bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable unto all things.” This commitment to the spiritual disciplines that lead to growth in the knowledge of the truth takes time, requires discipline and is something no one can do for you. The challenge of secularism invites us to return to the old time religion of personal solitude, meditation, reflection, time in the Word. Admittedly this is an immense challenge in our world of noise, gadgets and instant global communication. Jude’s suggested approach involves a life, inclusive of prayer that is controlled by the Holy Spirit. This is in stark contrast to those who indulge their flesh by abusing grace. According to Jude 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.”
As we desire to know how to stand up for your faith, the second aspect of a thorough strategy of resisting heresy among the people of faith is the personal incarnation of the truth. It follows logically that the more we deepen our knowledge of the faith is the more we reflect truth in our own lives. The life of the disciple must become the defense’s exhibit A. This means totally rejecting the notion of antinomianism, visible demonstrating that while I celebrate God’s grace it leads me to the cross, to the surrendered life, the crucified life. It is that same grace that teaches me to deny lust and ungodliness. Jude describes the conduct and characterization of those who turn God’s grace into license as a template of what the life of truth would NOT look like.
These people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious one… they behave like unreasoning animals acting instinctively… 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. Cain is viewed in Jewish tradition as the archetype of sin and the one who instructs others in sin. The rebellion of Korah speaks to the spirit that defies established authority and is skillful at influencing others to follow suit. Jude went all out in a manner similar to Jesus broadside against the Pharisees, to describe the danger and the emptiness of this false teaching and those who espouse it. Listen to his poetic juices flow: “these are hidden reefs[e] 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; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars” It is very clear that Jude considers such conduct and such persons to be ungodly. He draws upon his reading of the apocryphal text of The Book of Enoch at verses 14 – 15 which used the word ungodly four times. Though this text didn’t make it into the canon the sentiments of God’s righteous. judgment against such living. This is properly attested by the works of Daniel and Zechariah for example. So we deliver our magnum opus against any message of freedom to sin under grace when we live to renounce the flesh and instead die daily, embracing the cross.
The final component of this three part strategy to resist heresy is reclaim those who are wavering. The code of the military and firefighters is fitting here, never leave the fallen behind. To our shame the Christian church has been labeled as an organization that kills its wounded. I am not afraid to say that I have experienced this first hand and know the pain of such an experience. In the very same context where Jude appeals for an intention commitment to growth in the faith he urges that we pause long enough to engage in a rescue mission driven by mercy. It certainly follows that a mark of spiritual maturity is the disposition of mercy for fellow travelers, an attitude of humility that removes aloofness. “22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment[g] stained by the flesh.” Galatians 6: 1 springs to mind here, the restoration of the fallen fulfills the law of Christ and evidences genuine spirituality. In our efforts to preserve the purity of the faith there are some who will need to be handled gently and there are some that we may need to hastily save from themselves, but save them we must.
The message of defending the faith is grow your faith, show your faith and rescue the perishing. It is my prayer that this sermonette on how to stand up for your faith has steeled your resolve and challenged you to stand.