Saturday 6 February 2021

   Jude v.3

This week I ask you to turn with me to  verse 3 in the Letter from Jude. ‘I appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints’.

This was of course referring to the words of Jesus to his Apostles, to go out into all the world making disciples of all nations and teaching all he had commanded.  The Apostles obeyed Jesus and the gospel spread around the ancient world.

This calls for all Christians wherever you live to contend for the faith. To contend means you fight and challenge all opposition. Our commitment to the gospel must be as vigorous as our opponents are to theirs.  Jesus never held back against those against him, and neither must we.

 So what are we to contend for? Well, we are to contend for the faith. That is the gospel, the body of truths that make up the exclusive Christian gospel ;  It is that God sent his own Son to teach us his Word, and ultimately gave his life on the Cross so that we can be forgiven for all our sins. We teach that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to be accepted by God.

And that faith, says Jude, has been entrusted to the saints once for all. Now notice that little word once. It’s easy to miss but it is extremely important. And here the passing of the gospel to the saints is of the gospel truth is a once for all act. It is a finished work. The defending isn’t finished, and the entrusting is passed on to us. In other words there is nothing more to be added, no updates needed. That gospel truth that was passed on by the apostles, is set. We cannot change it or take anything away or add anything. Anyone who tries to alter that gospel truth is a false teacher.

The saints is used in the biblical understanding that a saint is a person who embraces the teaching of Jesus Christ.  This is how we should accept rather than that of the Roman Catholic practice in calling people ‘Saints’ because of service to the Church.

This verse tells us our faith is not which someone has made up, but rather comes from God.  Jude indicates that God will not ignore false teaching, and later in the Letter points out the judgement God passes on such people.  We must prioritize the truth and proclaim the true Gospel as it originated with Jesus Christ and was delivered through the Apostles.

Let us now consider the implications for us, and our duty and responsibility to guard that gospel in a very hostile world.

I cannot think of any words more necessary to deliver to Christians than this calling from Jude. The enemies we face are well armed, having the backing of powerful companies from Silicone Valley, California; the immensely popular social media, which poisons many intolerant minds; and a press which restricts mentioning the Church, except when a member of the clergy does something foolish. Sadly this occurs too often, as when currently an idealistic Curate brings shame and disgrace upon the whole Church due to a bigoted and ignorant remark which shocked an awful lot of people.

Many have lost employments and college places because someone found a statement they made sometime previously, which didn’t fit in with modern woke culture, and was relayed to their current employer who did not have the courage to ignore.

I have been reading of the worldwide attack on the Christian Church, which needs to be urgently confronted.  Authorities and Governments are imposing restrictions in almost every nation, and we have the added burden in that thousands of people who have been prohibited from attending Churches because of the deadly virus circulating the world, may not return.

The church of Jesus Christ is under severe attack in a manner not previously seen, due to modern technology. Forces are striking from the outside, seeking to undermine our existence, but more insidious , as we in recent times have shamefully watched, men/women holding high Office in the Church are betraying God’s Word.  How prophetic it was of Jude.     The world sees the Church standing for values it should have condemned.

 These are dark days for the Church. We live in a society which largely rejects God, and regards Church and Christianity as totally irrelevant to their lives.  The message of the world is that morality, which was once based on Christian principles, is now what you make it as long as you are sincere.  All the boundaries have been swept away and the spiritual moorings have been eroded.  Every so often someone pops up calling for a back to basics campaign, but no one knows what the basics are. 

I wonder how many Christians appreciate how much the Christian Church and faith are in fact under sustained attack from so many sources. Apart from activists in humanistic and sexual causes, we have governments activating and encouraging activities which exceed moral boundaries and oppose all Christian teaching.

In the United Kingdom the government are encouraging and even supplying the means for women to receive home abortion pills which has caused some women to die.  A total of 223 thousand  abortions were performed, according to the last records issued in 2019, so we can expect even more for 2020. 

Most reasonable people would sympathise when a woman’s health was at risk, when a deformed baby would be born, or if the woman had been assaulted, but inmost of the cases it was just another form of contraception.

In Scotland, a ‘hate crime’ bill is being discussed, which indicates how Scotland has drifted under the present leadership. It is being proposed to prevent by law, all speech or writing criticising sexual behaviour, and even extending into private homes.  One group wanted all sermons to be examined  before being delivered.  The First Minister has closed all Churches, an act now being legally challenged.   

If we look around the world, the once most Christian committed country, under the new President is not so much the land of the free, and is adopting the (im)moral  proposals of the Obama Administration, abandoning all the advances made by the former President, who many people believe should still be in Office. Imagine a newly elected President rushing to issue an Executive Order stating boys or men who self-declare themselves to be feminine must be allowed in female facilities and take part in female sports. It is beyond most people’s intelligence to comprehend. (and some have the effrontery to complain about President Trump who promoted true American values)

But across the world, in countries from China, Russia North Korea, Malaysia, Egypt and Muslim lands, Christians are put  in peril. In Victoria, Australia they are trying to prevent any biblical ethical teaching on sex, or gender change.  Europe has long given up on Christianity, especially since the European Union was created.

However, even more insidious is the fact our Church leaders don’t always offer support. They will write letters to the press on social and political issues, especially against Brexit, but there is rarely, if ever in relation to moral matters.  One bishop has just bemoaned the cancellation of a city’s gay pride march, which he thought was so sad.

The Church of England produced a promotional video  called Living in Love and Faith, which is highly controversial, giving guidance for the Church to move forward on sexual matters and marriage (I thought the Bible had done that). 

There was a call forfor mutual understanding, with the intentionto learn and listen on LGBT issues..  This was

uploaded  on to ‘you tube’ where a representative from 

Christian Concern did in fact defend the Bible’s teaching on 

sexual ethics.  The learning and listening soon proved to be a 

lost cause, when a transgender Minister of the United Reform 

Church heard it and reported the speaker for a hate crime  to 

North Yorkshire Police.

Why the Church of England should have produced such a video is beyond understanding.  We are supposed to defend the Scriptures, nothing else. How people live is a matter for them to decide, and they will answer one day, as we all will, but this indicates how the Church is failing to defend and promote the Bible , which all we clergy promise and vow to do when ordained. 

Billy Graham in so many meetings used as his theme, ‘sin’. That is now a word to be frowned upon, even the Church does not fully believe in sin. People think sin relates exclusively to sexual acts, but it also relates to malice, greed, envy, jealousy, lies, and crime. A reading of the newspapers show how much evil there is in the world. In the UK teenagers are shooting each other and stabbing, and one boy of only fourteen years was killed in major city of Birmingham.

It is more than coincidence that things have got so bad since religion has been pushed into the background, when schools do not have assemblies, as is required but not pursued, under law unless it is a private school.

In conclusion, in consideration of the facts stated above, none of which have been exaggerated, you may, and will if truly a committed Christian see the need to heed the words of Jude and contend for the faith, The Church has been sloth (also a sin) in not speaking out aggressively and forcefully as some of the ethnic Churches have, notably the black Evangelical Churches.

My wife has been disabled for a long time, and had Carers to help her, most of which have been black ladies, and each of those ladies has been in possession of a Bible, and not carried as an accessory. I asked one lady, who has been a great inspiration to me personally, why she thought this was so different to white ladies. She told me that black people did not always get appreciated by people, but always have been by God.

Every person and organisation has the right of free speech, but that includes the Church. Any one group have no right to claim  exception to another opinion, as some activists protest strongly when people do not only support but expect approval. I give credit on some organisations who have ordered their agenda so  to gain influence in the major bodies in society, such as schools, the judiciary, and television.  It should not be beyond the Church’s ability to do the same, bearing in mind an awful lot of people have admiration and sympathy for the Church, even if they do not attend.

Remember the words of Paul, don’t be ashamed of your faith, do not have a spirit of timidity, and the words of Jesus, ‘I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE, NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME’.  And he words of Peter. ‘There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we may be saved.’

Let us boldly proclaim this, and may God be with you and bless you.

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