This little New Testament book, right before Revelation at the end of the Bible, may seem like an odd choice for a sermon series. But the more I speak with people in the community, both Christian and non-Christian, I sense a similar urgency that Jude (actually Judas, half-brother of Jesus) must have felt. Back in his day Christianity was under severe attack, not just the external attack of Rome, but inwardly from the infiltration of false teachers who sowed abundant seed for a huge harvest of doctrinal error. Jude's letter is a call to arms, a battle cry, an urgent call for the church to deal with apostasy and false teaching, calling for Christians to be discerning and to defend true, Biblical doctrine.
This is why I find Jude so relevant for us today! While the church is under attack from outside sources, we are also in grave danger of attacks from within ... false teachers and teachings have infiltrated the church and weakened us almost to the point where any teaching is deemed acceptable as long as the name Jesus is sprinkled on it a few times (though perhaps a "Jesus" defined differently than the orthodox teaching of Scripture), a Bible verse or two is referenced (but not exegeted or explained and probably not used in context), it's taught by a gifted communicator with much charisma (though perhaps not adequately trained nor under the authority of church leadership), and it makes us "feel" something (though similar feelings can come from sporting events, watching kitten videos on Facebook, opening a fortune cookie, or eating a bad burrito bowl at Chipotle). Though the evangelical community would be very nervous about "tolerance" when it comes to who goes in what restroom at the local Target, we are incredibly "tolerant" of any and every doctrine that comes our way with a Christian label. We've lowered our commitment to sound theology to the point where we're willing to feel good about our brother or sister in Christ "as long as they're going to church somewhere." While there are lots of really good churches around, there are also a lot of bad ones!
Please DO NOT hear me saying that diversity in the church is a bad thing or that in order to be a true Christian you must be in the PCA tribe. I actually welcome varying perspectives on many theological matters ... I like the fact that different denominations exist and help us see things with a different emphasis ... I'm excited to learn Biblical truth from other cultures and ethnicities. And I'm definitely not saying that we're to be theological snobs, waving our particular theological credentials around in self-righteous ways ... but we must take seriously the responsibility to contend for the faith and rigorously defend orthodox theology. This is Jude's call to the church in his day and it's the cry to Community Presbyterian Church today!
Let's take this responsibility seriously by doing a few things.
- Study the Scripture. We're not going to be discerning apart from a knowledge of the Bible. Read it, learn it, come to Sunday School and worship, get involved in a small group study, be discipled by someone mature in their faith.
- Read good book on theology. Don't let Google decide for you how to pursue true teaching on a particular matter. There are many good resources. If you need help, ask us.
- Be willing to teach our children and youth. A strong foundation in the early years goes a long way to help guard against heresy taking root.
- Pursue your friends who have strayed into false teaching. Again, the church in America has been infiltrated with much heresy and we need to love fellow believers enough to help them discover this error.
- Pray for the church ... for Community, for the PCA, for the church in America, for the church around the world ... to be discerning and not afraid to exercise discipline when needed. None of us are immune from error and we need God's grace to preserve us.