As many of you know the book of Jude was written and sent to the reader with a since of urgency to, “Earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” “Fight for the Truth!” It seems both then and now we are encouraged to fight against false teachings and teachers that had made their way into the church in Jude’s day, as well as our day, where it seems the influence grows even more stronger as we are warned that the last days will bring with it a great apostasy. It is a warning sign to us all. Jude forewarns of these Apostates and the message they peddle that carries this idea of what I like to call “Greasy Grace!” The idea that somehow Jesus accepts you just as you are and therefore there need not be any change. This is a false gospel! It’s important to note that a Gospel void of Holy Spirit lead repentance is nothing more than an intellectual gospel void of life changing power. When one responds to the message of the Gospel he can’t help but be transformed. He moves from Death to Life (how is that not noticeable?), from Darkness to Light (how is that not seen?), not to mention he experiences a New Birth (I’ve never been in a room where the new baby isn’t noticed, have you?.) But it seems with the false gospel of easy believism, and the works oriented gospel of legalism, we find ourselves from one extreme to the other when it comes to the local church. Jude speaks against the “ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” They deny Jesus because it’s clear their fruit is open for everyone to see. In one breath they name Jesus, but their lifestyle stands in direct contradiction with the transformation that the Gospel is said to bring. They are sensual persons devoid of the the Spirit (vs 19). In other words, they just pursue what the natural carnal man desires, like a natural beast just doing what their appetite dictates. They never really pursue God after Church on Sunday, unless they need something. These are those who like a “jesus” that is like them. A god created in their image.
Then on the other side we find the book of Galatians warning us to not be as the Jewish audience of that day was, where they were trying to mingle the traditions of the past worship with the Gospel of Grace alone, and faith alone, in Christ alone. Today we set standards that are not put there by God. These are performance-oriented standards, externalism, behaviorism, as if by keeping them we will gain favor with God. This is also a false Gospel! It is easily veiled (as is the case with the “Greasy Grace” gospel- which says, why not do what you want after all it’s under the blood.) The problem with the legalistic Gospel it convinces the sinner that somehow by doing more, we can improve our standing before God. If we look a certain way, attend a certain church, follow certain practices, then and only then we can be assured of God’s approval. Now, in all fairness they never say it quite like that, but in essence this is what they preach. Even many churches that are filled with Godly men and women are held in bondage to foolish disputes over issues that are grounded in fear tactics, governed by controlling men in leadership, and followed in just plain ignorance. Wear you best, read this version only, don’t listen to this music, etc. etc, they say. It sounds good, because after all God does call us to be separate… right?
The problem with both of these is the emphasis is the same, it’s upon man, and not God. God has provided the Grace, the faith, and the Way. Jesus upon becoming our Lord and Savior gives us the ability to change, from within. This works its way out! The change He began, He completes, even up until the End! We just have to walk it out. By allowing God’s word to transform our thinking, our hearts, it will change our life as we know it! The fruit of that tree is evident for all to see. Within the local Church that translates to Unity, and Holy living practically speaking. It’s worked from the inside out, not the outside in! Our affections change from selfish natural desires to Spiritual desires that rest upon the very heart of God. We fight for Him, not against Him. In response to the heart changing Grace of God we are equipped for action that manifests itself in Love for God and one another! We recognize and understand that the body of Christ is to be unified in its purpose and mission.
Recently I can’t help but think about the importance of the Church being unified, and her return to Holy living. We’ve worshiped to long at the altar of Self, and we need to return to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that came through the Cross of Calvary! We need to recognize the Truth of the Gospel, and die to self and live for Him. We must be willing to stop justifying our lifestyles based upon “greasy grace”, and leave the lies of “LAW”. Too many professed Christians rely on this as an excuse for their way of life. Your life is a living worship! I’m concerned the modern “church” stands before the altar of a Holy God, offering up the worship of self-deceit, ignorance, and hard heartedness in the place of what we know to be true! We walk in a path of rules hewed out by fear, and too often we trip over Biblical Grace, because Agape Love seems too easy, “surely we must do our part?”
Saints, let’s “Earnestly Contend” by not hardening our hearts to the Truth of the Gospel. May we embrace it fully and allow it’s transformational power to be what changes us from within. May we recognize the hub of the local Church as the gathering of believers to be energized for the battle against the lies of the enemy, both within and without! May we see the importance of Unity, and may the Truth empower us to be transformed and live out the life that God has called us to. Abiding in Him so that He can produce the fruit of our tree! Let’s ask God to sustain us, and change us for His Glory and our good!