Friday, September 23, 2011

Bible Study: Battling For Perseverance In The Faith - Jude - Verses 1-7


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Jude. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, early 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment among other things. Natural disasters are happening – volcanic eruptions in Alaska and rising flood waters in North Dakota. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor the book of Jude. It’s only one chapter. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

We're going to take three weeks to study this crucial new testament letter. So really savor it.


I’ve titled our study of Jude “Battling for Perseverance in the Faith”. You will notice that there are several specific things Jude mentions that we will have to contend with as Christians. Some battles that I mention are not specific warnings, but rather things I noticed while reading scripture that simply struck a chord with me, personally, so I mentioned them in the event that you may struggle with the same things.

1 – Jude is believed to be either Judas, the brother of Christ or Judas the disciple (not Iscariot). Matthew 13:55 says Jesus had a brother names James and a brother named Judas. He also had brothers named Simon and Joseph. Since Jude doesn’t claim to be an apostle (see v.17), it is likely that he was Jesus’ brother. According to Mark 3:21, Jesus’ own family said He was out of His mind. John 7:5 says that Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe in Him. Therefore, Jude wasn’t initially a follower of Christ. But Jesus’ death and resurrection changed them just as it changed you, me and the world! In Acts 1:14, the Bible tells us that Jesus’ brothers joined the apostles constantly in prayer which is an indication that they had come to follow Him. I hope they didn’t spend too much time brooding over all they missed out on by not following Him sooner.

This letter is addressed to those who have been called to belong to Christ. See Romans 1:6-7. What does that mean? He is writing to Christians and those who are destined to be Christians. Since Jude’s primary message in this letter is warn Christians at all stages of development about the infiltration of counterfeit Christians into their circles, this makes total sense.

BATTLE: His name. Notice that the title of the book is Jude, not Judas. Can you imagine the stigma attached to the name “Judas” after Jesus’ betrayal at the hands of one of those closest to Him with the same name? If the author is Christ’s brother as scholars believe, I wouldn’t blame Jude for going by a nickname – possibly even what Christ Himself called His brother when they were growing up together.

Have you ever struggled with your own name? I don’t mean to ask if you’ve ever liked your name. How did you overcome? Let me help with this: the Lord has a new name for you. He will present it to you when you join Him for eternity. And I promise you, that name will be the most beautiful name you’ve ever heard – except for the name Jesus, of course.

2 – Jude prays an abundance of love and grace upon those who belong to Christ.

BATTLE GEAR: Love and grace. They are like armor. They help us to persevere. Just remember that we are at war spiritually and must put on the armor of God. Read Ephesians 6:11-18.

3 – Jude’s purpose was to encourage Christians to build their faith in the face of counterfeit Christians.

The gospel was entrusted to us to share with others. Who have you shared with lately?

BATTLE: Perseverance. We battle to persevere on a daily basis. We are rejected when we share our faith. People avoid us because they think we’re pious. It’s hard to make friends because others don’t want to really know us. How do you push through under such circumstances? Are you asking God for help and direction? Or are you trying to persevere under your own strength?

4 – False brothers had infiltrated Christian circles according to Galatians 2:4. They claim to know God, but don’t behave as followers of Christ according to Titus 1:16. In fact, they use God’s grace as an excuse to keep on sinning! THIS IS IMPORTANT: How SHOULD a follower of Christ behave? You will know a true follower of Christ by the fruit they produce. The fruit of the Spirit appears in Galatians 5:22-23. They are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

BATTLE: False Christians. My advice: Don’t dwell on the negative. Keep your focus on Christ. Love others as He instructed so that we may draw all men to Him!

2 Peter 2:1 talks about false prophets and false teachers. I’ve commented in previous studies that one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned was during my participation in the study “Experiencing God” by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King. In order to train Canadian police to identify counterfeit currency, these agents are not shown counterfeits. Instead, they study the genuine article so thoroughly that they come to know it so well and can’t help to spot the counterfeit. This is how diligent we need to be with studying Christ and His character. That way, we will not be fooled by counterfeit christs or counterfeit Christians! This will be imperative in the time of tribulation!

1 John 2:22 talks about the antichrist, which is anyone who denies the Father and the Son.

5 – Why would Jude want Christians to remember what the Lord had done? The simple answer is so we wouldn’t forget and sin by grumbling about Him. Israel did that a lot! See Numbers 14:27-30 for the sentence against Israel for grumbling that led to their death. Or you can read almost any account once the exodus from Egypt was underway (Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy). It was a lack of remembering that led to unbelief that led to their grumbling.

BATTLE: Forgetfulness. We “forget” God even after we’ve seen Him working in our lives. We need to do something to remember. Pray that God will help you remember His work in your life. Create tangible reminders: journal, scrapbook, paint, draw – do whatever it takes to help yourself remember what God has done for you. Remember that forgetfulness leads to unbelief which leads to grumbling. Is there anything about which you complain? Pray God will help your unbelief just as a boy’s father asked Jesus in Mark 9:24.

6 – This passage describes the great white throne judgment.

BATTLE: Endurance. How we endure determines how effective our earthly ministry will be. This has a direct bearing on judgment – not our eternal destination, as there is nothing we can do since salvation is a gift from Jesus to us – but rather the rewards that we are given when we get to heaven. But remember that our responsibility is ONLY to share our faith. It’s God’s job to convict someone of sin and draw someone to Him.

Angels have authority. Those who didn’t keep their positions of authority are fallen angels. They chose to abandon heaven and follow the devil in rebellion against God. They will be judged for their sin. If even the angels knew better and chose poorly, why would we be any different?

7 – BATTLE: Peer Pressure. Entire cities gave in to sin as the angels did. The demise of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:1-19:29) is supposed to dissuade people from choosing to sin and thus suffering in the eternal fire. What does this teach us? Sin is contagious! RUN FROM IT!!!

The destruction of these cities was so complete according to Deuteronomy 29:23, that nothing would grow there. That is pretty complete destruction if you consider that a pine forest will rejuvenate itself with fire. The flames that decimate the trees also open the pine cones to release the seeds inside. Not that this is a Biblical principle, I just thought about how God works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). The good that comes out of a pine forest fire is new trees. This complete destruction is a testament that there was no love for God, here. And that the lives lived here were NOT according to His purpose!


• The book of Jude teaches much about how to protect yourself and others in the battle to keep and build our faith. What have you learned about how to guard your heart or the heart of others today?
• What attributes of God do you see in this chapter?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

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