The following blog post was originally published on August 17, 2015. —ed.
If your Christian life is devoid of persecution, hardship, and fighting against false teaching, then you probably need to re-evaluate your faith (John 15:20; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Timothy 2:3; Jude 3-4). The race we are called to in Hebrews 12:1–2 is not run on the path of least resistance. Yet that’s where many believers live today—blown around by the winds of church trends and without testing them against Scripture.
That’s not to say modern Christians are passive in every regard. We’re happy to contend in our careers and among our peers. We’ll work hard for a promotion, we’ll argue our political point of view, and we’ll defend our honor and credibility. But we don’t always expend the same kind of energy to defend God’s Word or His people. In a tidal wave of trendy theology and novel doctrines, many believers simply lack the resolve to stand firm in wisdom, discernment, and theological conviction. “Examining the Scriptures daily,” like a Berean (Acts 17:11) seems like too much hard work when we’re offered our best life now.
Jude wrote his epistle with the express purpose of calling Christians to remain faithful to the truth and vigorously oppose the seductive teachers who had infiltrated their camp. Jude instructed them to remember the warnings that Jesus had given them so that they would not be surprised by a stealth attack (Jude 17–19).
Jude then exhorted the church to remain faithful to the truth and not fall under the spell of damnable lies: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life” (Jude 20–21).
John MacArthur describes this as a call to remain:
We ought to respond to apostasy by remaining faithful. We need to build one another up in the faith and maintain our spiritual stability. Above all, stay committed to the truth. Don’t waver.
Jude includes four aspects of this principle. First, he says we must seek to remain faithful by “building yourselves up on your most holy faith.” He is urging us to edify one another by the Word of God. The phrase “your most holy faith” is a reference to sound doctrine—a right understanding of the truth as it is revealed in Scripture. Build yourself up on that, Jude says. Here’s how Peter says it in the parallel passage:
“You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17–18 NKJV).
Be strengthened. Become mature. This is a call to the spiritual discipline of studying the Word.John MacArthur, The Truth War (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 175–176.
One of the chief arguments from leaders in the Emergent Church was that striving for orthodoxy (right doctrine) comes at the expense of orthopraxy (right actions). But Jude states the opposite—that good practice is dependent upon good doctrine. A stable, consistent, and unshakable spiritual walk can only be built upon and sustained through the disciplined study of Scripture. The modern Berean is steadfast in his faith because it is informed and empowered by eternal truths rather than experiential evidence.
Second, maintain your spiritual stability and equilibrium by “praying in the Holy Spirit.” Commune constantly with the Spirit of God, going before God in the power and the will of the Spirit to demonstrate your dependence on God and to cry out for His protection, His grace, His insight, and His power. The faithful life is kept steady through means of the spiritual disciplines of study and prayer.
Third, Jude says, “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). That is a way of reminding us to be obedient. Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). “Abide in My love,” He told the disciples. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:9–10, emphasis added). Jude 21 is simply echoing that commandment. It is a call for obedience.
Finally, Jude says, keep “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” That speaks of an eager expectation of Christ’s second coming.
All of those are ways of reminding us to set our minds on heavenly things, not on the things of this world (Colossians 3:2). That is the only way to survive in a time of apostasy. Ultimately, only what is eternal really matters—and that means the truth matters infinitely more than any of the merely earthly things that tend to capture our attention and energies.The Truth War, 176–177.
Remaining faithful to God and His Word is dependent upon His power and demonstrated through our obedience. And it is motivated by the reality of His imminent return. In a sea of doctrinal confusion, our anchor in the truth is our commitment to Christ.
When Jude discusses the battle plan for exposing error, he doesn’t provide an option for conscientious objectors. Those who try to argue that they’re not called to contend against false teaching are essentially deserting their post in the war on truth. All believers are enlisted in Christ’s army (2 Timothy 2:3-4).
It’s worth noting that the ultimate enemy in this battle is not people but ideologies and worldviews. Our goal, after remembering and remaining, is to reach those who have fallen under the deception of the enemy. Unbelievers and those with wrong beliefs are not to be destroyed, they are to be won over to the truth. We’ll consider that element next time.