One Comment to “Contend for the Faith – Part 1”

  1. Donald McMahon
    January 28, 2019

    “Contend for the Faith” (Jude)(1.27.19) Part 1
    Jude (NIV84)
    1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,
    To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:
    2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
    3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
    5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
    8 In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. 9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.
    11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
    12 These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
    14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.
    17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
    20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
    22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
    24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
    The word of God for the people of God.
    Title: Contend for the Faith (Part 1)
    If this letter from Jude to fellow believers did not grab you, you were not really paying attention. Jude tells them that he was excited to share with them about salvation, but there was something else that takes precedence. Listen, there is a problem. We must contend for the faith. We must fight for the faith. We must agonize for the faith.
    You and I are called saints by Jude here, by Paul in several places, in the Book of Acts, and in the Letter to the Hebrews. As saints, we have been entrusted for once and for all with a special purpose. One of the many things laid out for us by Jude is to snatch those that are perishing from the fire and save them.
    Make no mistake; judgment is a fact. Jude makes this perfectly clear. Some are under condemnation. In their godlessness they are denying Jesus Christ’s authority and Lordship. Those rescued from Egypt who were unbelievers were destroyed in the wilderness, which was a whole generation. The rebellious angels are being kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. Sodom and Gomorrah and surrounding towns were destroyed by fire and brimstone. There is a punishment by eternal fire. Woe to them! In verse 11 we are given three more examples of those that were destroyed. There is blackest darkness that has been reserved forever for those that rebel against God and God’s ways. Enoch prophesied about the judgment.
    On the other hand, Satan has promulgated a great deception in our day. It is even believed by many in Christian churches. That lie is that men and women are basically good. The common parents of everyone, Adam and Eve, were unable to follow one simple rule. In the second generation, Cain murdered his brother Abel. On what basis does modern man argue that humankind is basically good? War, genocide, abortion, greed, covetousness, all sorts of sexual immorality and perversion are not signs of basically good people. Why do we have to have hundreds of thousands of laws?
    Romans 3:10–12 (NIV84)
    10 As it is written:
    “There is no one righteous, not even one;
    11 there is no one who understands,
    no one who seeks God.
    12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
    there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”
    Romans 3:23 (NIV84) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    The good news of our faith, the faith for which we contend, is that we have a Savior. We have a life in Jesus; loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ. It is an abundant life for today, filled with mercy, peace and love. This is the faith we share with those snatched from the fires of judgment. This theme has its roots in the writings of the Prophets.
    Zechariah 3:1–2 (NIV84) one of the Prophets, says,
    3 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”
    God laments in Amos 4:11 (NIV84)
    11 “I overthrew some of you
    as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
    You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire,
    yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.
    This idea of snatching the doomed from the fire also has a strong connection for Methodists in particular. John Wesley grew up in dingy little Epworth, England, where his father, Samuel, was a penniless and unpopular pastor whose sermons were blunt and without tact. As a result Samuel occasionally became the victim of ruffians. His crops were burned, his livestock maimed, and twice someone tried to torch his house.
    The third attempt succeeded. About midnight on February 9, 1709, Susanna Wesley was awakened by sparks falling from the roof onto the bed of little [daughter] Hetty. Samuel woke with a start and cried, “Fire! Fire!” Opening the door, he found the house full of smoke and flames. It was a three-storied timbered house liberally daubed with plaster. The thatched roof exploded in a mass of flames, and the fire spread like a sheet of lightning. The parents, flying to rescue their bevy of children, were almost trapped in the burning building, but finally managed to escape through windows and the garden door.
    But a head count showed one child missing. Peering back, they saw John’s terrified face pressed against an upstairs window. He was only six. Instantly a human ladder formed; and just as the house caved in, John was snatched to safety.
    He never forgot the rescue: I remember the circumstances as distinctly as though it were but yesterday. Seeing the room was very light, I put my head out and saw streaks of fire on top of the room. I got up and ran to the door, but could get no further, the floor beyond it being in a blaze. I climbed up a chest that stood near a window. One in the yard saw me. …
    Samuel gathered his family around him and offered thanksgiving to God that none had perished. Susanna then made an exclamation that stayed with John all his life: “Is this not a brand plucked out of the burning?” In later years, he had this phrase engraved under his portraits.
    After the fire, Susanna gave herself to prepare John for the ministry, believing that God surely had some special work for him to do.
    My heart goes out for children today. In matters of faith, too many parents say, “I want my children to make up their own mind.” While it is true that every person makes their own personal decision about following God, what these parents are really saying is that they themselves are not sure about God. If we have an assurance of faith in the Lord Jesus, how could you possibly not contend for your child’s soul? Do you leave that to someone else? The culture, the schools, and unbelievers are NOT going to tell children the truth that Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven and to God our Father.
    We live in times when good is called evil and evil is called good. Everyone does what is right in their own minds. Holy and sacred are words with no point of reference. As Jude warns, deceitful men have slipped into the churches. They teach heresy and deny that the wages of sin are death. Certainly, we must pluck the children of today from the fire, from the wrath to come. We must understand what is at stake, the eternal souls of our children and youth.
    This past Tuesday night was the first meeting this semester for the Stockton University Christian Fellowship. It was exciting to see over 40 college students praising God, learning from the book of James, and praying together. They are contending for the faith on their campus where the ways of this world dominate. I ask you to join me in prayers for them.
    Three nights a week and all day Saturday, Upward Basketball meets at Beacon Church. During the practices, we have a devotion time. Right now, we are teaching them the virtue of honor using Romans 12:10 Love others deeply. Honor others above yourselves. They learned about the Lord Jesus’ promise to be with them always. Honor is about showing others you think they are valuable. I told them because each one of them is valuable, Jesus promises to always be with them no matter what.
    Later on Friday night, some of the Boy Scouts from Troop 77 met for their God and Life program’s final session. We will celebrate Troop 77 and what God is doing in these young men’s lives later in February. Emmaus Church is being used to bless this character and life-skill building Troop. It was an encouragement for me to hear how the Scouts in the God and Life program are growing in their faith.
    My Clergy Mentor, Ray, was telling me about his first church, Trinity UMC in Spotswood, NJ. When he interviewed with the District Superintendent and their Staff Parish Relations Committee, they told him weekly attendance was between 20 and 30. Ray told me that he didn’t know what he was doing when he started. He looks at his old sermon notes now and just shakes his head. He said, “Ironically, we had not been praying for revival.” Nevertheless, they experienced a movement of God the Holy Spirit in that church.
    From the first it seemed like they started with 40 people. But they would eventually exceed the Fire Marshall’s maximum of a 96 person occupancy. For Christmas Eve, Easter and Weddings they could open up the accordion doors at the back of the sanctuary and seat more. Average attendance would eventually even out in the 80s.
    When Ray and his family arrived the Sunday School was pretty small. There were 15 registered, but 2 were his kids, 5 were the secretary’s, and 2 more from her brother-in-law’s family. The Church took to praying for children in a big way. They had a bulletin board where people would write the name of a child in their neighborhood or family on a memo-card and post it there. Then others would pray for the names on the board.
    Ray and his family would arrive an hour early before Sunday worship service. He would start getting ready for services. His wife would prepare for the fellowship time. And his daughter, who was only 10 when this started, would begin calling her friends from the church phone and invite them to Sunday School. She did that Sunday morning phone ministry for 3 years or so. When growth started to happen other children began to invite others too.
    Before long they had so many children that they needed to begin new ministries. They restarted a youth group with an after school junior high group. Spotswood had long had a Christian Clown ministry, and they started a ministry that taught children to be clowns called God’s Rainbow Kids. Other leaders began Church Buddies in response to so many children coming without an adult. It paired a mature Christian with a child to be buddies while at Church.
    The church was pretty dedicated to being child friendly in many ways. The various children’s ministries were front and center during leadership meetings. They looked after the children’s physical safety and their spiritual well-being. Surely, these were children snatched as a brand from the fire. Praise God.
    Let us go back to that parsonage fire on February 9, 1709. It was Holy Week. John Wesley’s father Samuel was depressed. While sitting in his room and thinking of how Christ, too, had been rejected, Pastor Samuel penned a new hymn for the upcoming Good Friday service.
    That night Wesley’s house caught on fire. Samuel and his wife, Susanna, celebrated that all their children were saved. Shortly afterward, someone found a piece of paper lying in the garden. It was Samuel’s hymn, blown through an open window and, like John Wesley himself, saved from the fire. Here are the lyrics:
    Behold the Savior of mankind
    Nailed to the shameful tree!
    How vast the love that Him inclined
    To bleed and die for thee!
    Hark, how He groans, while nature shakes,
    And earth’s strong pillars bend!
    The temple’s veil in sunder breaks;
    The solid marbles rend.
    ’Tis done! the precious ransom’s paid!
    “Receive my soul!” He cries;
    See where He bows His sacred head!
    He bows His head and dies!
    But soon He’ll break death’s envious chain,
    And in full glory shine;
    O Lamb of God, was ever pain,
    Was ever love, like Thine?
    This is the faith for which we are called to contend; to fight for; to agonize until all have heard the gospel.
    1 Corinthians 15:1–8 (NIV84)
    15 Now, brothers [and sisters], I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
    3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me [the Apostle Paul] also, as to one abnormally born.
    I say again, let us contend for the faith. Let us snatch others from the fire and save them. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes!
    Amen and amen. Let us pray.


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