Jude’s Message: Don’t Distort God’s Grace
The epistle of Jude contains many warnings for God’s people in all times. One warning is that we not misunderstand the concept of grace. Are we listening?
The book of Jude contains many warnings for Christians in all times. Jude 1:3 is one of the key verses in the book and urgently prods us to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary, the word contend can also mean “struggle.” We could also use the word “agonize.” This demonstrates the seriousness God wants us to put into preserving His truth. The word faith in this verse refers to “conviction of religious truth” (ibid.). Jude is admonishing the Church to struggle to preserve the entire package of doctrine revealed within the Bible.
But why did Jude urge this so strongly?
Deceivers in the Church
Jude reveals that “certain men” had infiltrated the Church (verse 4). These men injected deception into God’s Church and had actually rejected Jesus Christ by overturning what He taught! These men taught an incorrect understanding of “grace”—which made grace into a license for immorality (verse 4). Lawlessness is sin—the breaking of the 10 Commandments (1 John 3:4).
In fact, the effect of the men who infiltrated the New Testament Church in the first century is still felt today. Today’s Christianity is filled with practices and doctrines that are foreign to the Bible.
The effect of the men who infiltrated the New Testament Church in the first century is still felt today. Today’s Christianity is filled with practices and doctrines that are foreign to the Bible.Just a reminder
Jude warned God’s people of these dangers because he perceived the Church was becoming spiritually negligent—in other words, soft on true doctrine. God’s people were being influenced by deceivers to compromise the truth. Jude 1:5 states, “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”
Jude’s warning was that Christians can make the same mistake Israel did after they left Egypt. We can lose appreciation for God and the knowledge of His truth after leaving spiritual Egypt (this world).
Jude’s admonition echoes the apostle Paul’s warning in 2 Thessalonians 2:15: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” It is important that we research our beliefs and make sure they are rooted in the Bible—and not in traditions of men.
Our free magazine Discern contains a regular column called “Christ vs. Christianity,” which explains how many common teachings in Christianity contradict the words of Jesus Christ.
The warning not heeded by Christianity
Unfortunately, Jude’s warning about misusing grace has not been heeded by many who profess Christianity. The concept that grace does away with God’s law is deeply entrenched in mainstream Christianity.
The apostle Paul elaborated on this developing doctrinal misunderstanding in Romans 6:15: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” Even though Paul understood that we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8), he also strongly taught the necessity of keeping God’s law (Romans 7:12, 22, 25; 1 Corinthians 7:19).
The Father sent the Word (who became Jesus Christ) to earth to become the Savior of mankind (John 1:1). Jesus set the ultimate example for us. He was perfect in His observance of the law—the 10 Commandments. Jesus kept the Sabbath and the other holy days described in Leviticus 23. He employed perfect love, mercy, judgment and understanding in His interactions with people. Jesus taught the faith (doctrines) to the apostles, who then handed it down to the saints—the New Testament Church.
Christians are to follow the example Christ set (1 Peter 2:21)!
Be on guard
We should be ever vigilant that we don’t fall for a perversion of God’s grace. Satan the devil would like us to interpret God’s grace as a license to disobey His law. Jude’s warnings should resonate in us just as much as they should have affected people in the first century.
To learn more about the proper relationship between law and grace, read “Law and Grace: What Does the Bible Really Say?” To learn more about the book of Jude, read our introductory article “Jude.”