“Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James. To those who are the called, beloved of God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: may mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.”
Jude is one of the half-brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is mentioned along with his brothers in Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3. When we say “half-brother” we are talking about the humanity of Christ. And it is interesting to know that two of the half-brothers of Jesus Christ became authors of scripture - James and Jude. But they write practical rather than doctrinal epistles, although their epistles contain doctrine and are based on doctrine. James talks about the production of the Faith-Rest Technique, Jude warns against apostasy. There is a possible explanation for all of this: they were unbelievers until after the resurrection of Christ. Like Jude, James was not a believer during the public ministry of Jesus Christ according to John 7:5. He became a believer after the Resurrection. (Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 15:7; James 1:1)
Jude emphasizes application in the field of apostasy which is very pertinent to the time in which we live. We are in a period of apostasy and Jude has some relevant application of doctrine for us. Jude introduced himself as a bond-servant of Jesus Christ not as the half-brother Jesus. Jude understood that he had no advantage due to physical birth. So, Jude was grace oriented. Jude illustrated the principle of grace orientation as he declared his relationship with Jesus Christ, which was the same as all believers. Both Jude and his mother Mary were saved on the basis of faith in Christ.
Called is a reference to the doctrine of election. And the word called simply relates the plan of God under election to the doctrine of divine decrees. In eternity past God knew that you would accept Christ as Savior. Therefore, God provided a plan for you. Election is the plan of God for believers only, whereby He chooses or selects certain things to be true. The Greek word for election is “eklektos” and means picked out, selected, or chosen for privilege. The question that must be answered in order to clearly understand this doctrine is “What are these things that God chooses for the believer?” Please notice that it is not God choosing a person for salvation as some teach; rather it is God choosing certain things to be true of the believer. An unbeliever must still use his volition to choose to believe in Christ or to reject Christ. (Ephesians 1:4)
This false doctrine that God chooses some for salvation and others to reject salvation is called “limited atonement.” What the Bible teaches is “unlimited atonement.” The Bible teaches that any person may come to Christ by faith. God is not willing that anyone should perish but that all should come to know Christ as Savior. (II Peter 3:9) At salvation, God has decreed (chosen or elected) certain things to be true for those who have believed. Church Age believers have been chosen by God for a service. This service is to be Royal Family of God, (the royal family of the Lord Jesus Christ). Every person who believes in Christ during this dispensation becomes Royal Family of God. It is the responsibility of each believer to fulfill “their election” by executing the Christian Way of Life. (II Thessalonians 2:13-14)
Mercy is simply grace in action. Peace is a reference to spiritual prosperity. Love is God’s personal love for believers. Jude therefore expresses a sincere desire that all of these things be true of believers. This is accomplished only by means of accurate Bible doctrine in your soul and proper application of that doctrine under the guidance and power of God the Holy Spirit.
Beloved in God the Father uses the Greek word “agape” for beloved. It is a reference to divine agape love which is constant, unconditional, and unemotional (though human emotions are often ascribed to God in the Bible in order to assist us in our understanding). Divine agape love is not drawn out by any excellence of its object. Divine agape love is based on God’s integrity (complete, honest, pure, virtuous love based on truth) and His virtue (strength of character). God loves believers because they possess the righteousness of God and God loves His own righteousness.
Divine agape expresses the deep, constant love and interest of a perfect God towards imperfect, and therefore unworthy, objects (unbelieving mankind). Upon faith in Christ, this love and interest has the potential of producing in these now perfect and worthy (positional sanctification) objects (believers) a love towards God. In turn, God’s love is able to produce in the life of the believer virtue-love towards others. Virtue-love is a synonym for divine agape love. Virtue-love is love based on the virtue of the one doing the loving. This virtue-love desires to see others come to know the source of this love. (I John 4:18-21)
Under the control of the Holy Spirit, divine agape love can be reproduced in the life of any believer. This constant, unemotional, unconditional love, whether exercised towards believer or unbeliever is a matter of the right mental attitude. It does not depend on the “love-ability” or compatibility of the object. This type of love always seeks the welfare of others. (Romans 13:8-10, 15:1-3; Galatians 6:10; Colossians 3:12-13)
Kept for Jesus Christ refers to the doctrine of eternal security. The doctrine of eternal security is the Scriptural teaching that once a person becomes a believer in Christ, that person is secure in Christ, forever. (I John 5:13) There is sound doctrinal reasoning for knowing that a believer is secure forever. The most important fact to note is that eternal security depends upon God’s faithfulness, not man’s faithfulness. It is the life of God (eternal life) that He credits to every believer at the moment of salvation, which assures us of an eternal relationship with Him. The Bible says that believers are guarded in the “hand of God.” We are also given a guarantee in the Person of the Holy Spirit, Who indwells every believer. The Holy Spirit Himself is the seal that secures forever our eternal life. Since salvation is a grace function and has nothing whatsoever to do with human effort or human merit, losing your salvation through sin would negate God’s grace – a blasphemous thought. (John 10:28-29, 14:16-17)
If a believer could lose his salvation through sin, who is to be the judge of which particular sin cancels his salvation? If you merely have life until you sin again, then you do not have eternal life. A lack of understanding or believing in the eternal security of the believer results in lack of confidence in God and His Word. Assurance of salvation should be dealt with in spiritual childhood and cease to be an issue once a believer has begun to learn and apply Bible doctrine. Confidence in God is a priestly function and is obtained by the consistent study and application of God’s Word. The more doctrine you learn and apply, the more you know about God and the more confident you become in His plan and purpose for you. (Romans 8:38-39; I John 3:21-22)
Once you have gained confidence in your salvation, you can relax knowing that regardless of what people or circumstances do to you that you are eternally secure in Christ. This divine viewpoint mental attitude has the result of confidence towards God and courage towards man. Since you are not trusting any member of the human race, including yourself, to secure your salvation, you can have complete confidence in the “powerful hand of God” to keep you secure forever. (Isaiah 41:10: John 10:28-29)
“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”
Beloved is in the plural in Greek and indicates that Jude is addressing this to many believers (beloved ones) with emphasis on positional truth. All believers are beloved ones based on our union with Christ. The Greek word for making every effort is “spoude,” which means both diligence and haste. Jude started out to write concerning “the common salvation” so obviously this is written to believers. This verse records the writer’s change of plan. He intended to write an epistle on salvation but instead wrote under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit on apostasy. The reason for changing his mind is given in the phrase, “I felt the necessity.” The Greek word for necessity is “ananke” meaning needful. It means Jude was constrained to write (it was needful for the readers). God the Holy Spirit made him change from teaching on salvation to teaching on apostasy, heresy and the spirit of antichrist.
Contend earnestly for the faith means to diligently fight for. The Greek word for contend is “epagonizomai” meaning to do combat. It is a reference to spiritual warfare in the Angelic Conflict. It was true then; it is true today. It is intense fighting for accurate Bible doctrine. The word “faith” is technical here for the whole body of doctrine. The greatest defense for Christianity is Bible doctrine not some philosophical argument or human reasoning. You don’t have to have debater’s technique, meet argument with argument to defend the faith; what you need is Bible doctrine stored in your soul. You cannot even recognize error until you know doctrine. Doctrine must be in your soul so that you have the basis for detecting apostasy and many believers are led into apostasy because they do not have that doctrine. Believers are in a battle with apostasy and many do not even know it.
Biblical apostasy is defined as a believer or unbeliever who deliberately rejects or distorts the revealed truth of the Word of God. Biblical heresy is defined as a believer or an unbeliever who rejects or distorts the truth of the Word of God as a result of being deceived by Satan or his ministers. Antichrist is defined as anyone who assumes the identity of Christ or opposes Christ. The spirit of antichrist is, therefore, anyone who lines up in opposition to Christ. Some people err from the truth due to ignorance, which is not an excuse. (Galatians 1:6-9; II Peter 2:1-22; Jude 1-25; I Timothy 4:1-16; II Timothy 2:24-26; 3:1-7; 4:1-4; I John 2:18-22; II Thessalonians 2:1-12; Acts 19:1-7)
“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
The persons spoken of in this verse are unbelievers (ungodly persons), but believers can also be apostate teachers. We must keep in mind that Satan and his ministers of darkness present themselves as ministers of righteousness and angels of light, but are instead wolves in sheep’s clothing. And they have been written about many times throughout the Scriptures (marked out). One of Satan’s greatest counterfeits to the truth is emotion. Though emotion is a wonderful gift from God, the misuse of emotion leads to all kind of false teachings. The most obvious one is displayed by the Charismatics or Pentecostals. They replace the true ministries of the Holy Spirit with emotional experience. The ministries of God the Holy Spirit are not seen or felt, they are simply facts stated in God’s Word for us to believe. (II Corinthians 11:13-15; Romans 16:18)
Though these false teachers often use Biblical phases, passages and Christian-sounding words, they distort the truth by taking passages out of context, ignoring dispensational truth or in some cases changing the meaning of God’s Word to fit their particular teaching. In some instances they even accidentally present truth. Satan is the great counterfeiter. Therefore, what his ministers teach is mixed with a small amount of truth in order to look like the real thing. Beware… you must always evaluate the message in light of the truth of God’s Word. (II Peter 2:1-22)
The first test of apostasy, heresy or the spirit of antichrist is the clarity of the Gospel message. Those who distort the Gospel can be, even without knowing it, apostate, heretical and antichrist. In Galatians chapter one Paul tells us what the fate should be of those who preach a different gospel. He says that they should be accursed, which means to be destroyed. Paul is not saying that these people should go to Hell. He is using a metaphor that they should be stopped from preaching a false message. The message, of course, is already accursed. The Bible tells us to test the spirits of men. The best test is what do they say about salvation and eternal life. (Galatians 1:6-9)
The second test of apostasy, heresy, or the spirit of antichrist is the doctrinal accuracy of the message. This is where it takes a greater amount of doctrine in the soul to discern the false from the true. Only through spiritual growth can a believer avoid being deceived by these false teachers. There are some obvious signs that a preacher or teacher is presenting false doctrine. For example, the motive of most false teachers is to seek fortune, fame and power. There are some ministers who appear to be sincere and appear to have correct motives, but have allowed themselves to be deceived. Both are still teaching false doctrine and are enemies of “the Cross of Christ.” (II Timothy 2:25-26; II Timothy 3:1-7)
The third test of apostasy, heresy, or the spirit of antichrist involves the motive of the preacher or teacher. This, of course, is very difficult to determine since we do not have the ability to read a person’s mind. We can, however, compare the fruits of their labor with the truth that we find in God’s Word. “By their fruit you shall know them.” Fruit is tantamount to production. There are two kinds of production, human good and divine good. You must know the difference. Quite often what is proclaimed to be divine good is in fact human good. We know from Scripture that all human good is wood, hay and stubble and will be burned up at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It has to do with the person’s spiritual status and motive. Good done by a believer under the control of God the Holy Spirit is divine good and is rewardable in eternity. Good done by a believer that is being controlled by the sin nature (with its accompanying wrong mental attitude) is human good and not rewardable. Therefore, in the Christian Way of Life, attitude is everything. Wrong attitude equals wrong motive. Right attitude equals right motive. (I John 2:18-22; I Corinthians 3:11-15)
There have always been false teachers around. However, the Bible tells us that as human history continues and we draw closer to the Rapture of the Church (calling out of all believers to meet Christ in the air), false teaching will increase. We are seeing a lot of what the Bible predicts as we get closer to this event. It is, therefore, our responsibility as Christians to be aware of these false teachers, identify them and have nothing to do with them.