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Mustard Seed May/June 2013
The Faith Once Delivered To The Saints
The Epistle of Jude is one of the shortest in the Bible with only 25 verses. Jude is depicted as being the brother of James and apparently also a half-brother of Jesus (Matt. 13:55and Mark 6:3). If this is true, then Jude did not believe in Jesus at the beginning of Jesus' ministry (see John 7:5), and became converted after Jesus' resurrection from the dead (see Acts 1:14).
Jude brings out a very urgent request in verse 3 that God's people need to read and heed this admonition which reads: "Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. But I found it necessary and was compelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort you to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
This epistle was written approximately 66 A.D. about the time that the apostle Paul was executed at Rome. After Jesus' crucifixion, Jude apparently became moved by the events that had happened and he became a follower of the apostles. The epistle deals with those things that Jude saw happening inside of the Church, from personal observation. He is reminding God's people to be alert for false prophets in their midst who had entered the Church with wrong motives and false doctrines (verse 4) corrupting the body of Christ.
Jude was not the only one who saw what was happening in the Church that Jesus founded. The apostle Paul had the same problems of the arising apostasy inside God's Church. Read his instructions and warning given to the elders in the church of God at Ephesus and Miletus (Acts 20:17-38), before he departed to Jerusalem. He told them to be aware of false brethren who would distort the truth of the gospel message, and to draw away members to start their own congregations! Read Paul's epistle to the church in Galatia chastising them (especially chapter 5).
The apostle John also lamented in 2 John (written around 90 A.D. about false deceivers (verse 7) who left the church to start their own churches subverting God's truth and began teaching the customs of men. After John died in the 90's A.D. the period from the 100's A.D. to 325 A.D. can be considered the dark ages of the church, because not much is known or written about God's Church during this time frame. When 325 A.D. arrived, we see on the scene an entirely different Church. This was the year when the Roman Emperor Constantine convened a church council in Nicaea (in Turkey) and as a result of this council we see different custom/practices being adopted contrary to the word of God and anything Jewish (such as Passover) was outlawed! So we see church and state being combined and people being forced to worship a different way than the truth taught by Jesus and the apostles. As a result of this and the resultant persecution against God's Saints they were forced to flee the cities and town and hide in caves and mountains.
Jesus makes a very pronounced statement in John 15:19-20 where he states that because his followers refuse to go along with the customs of men, that they will be hated in this world (verse 19). In verse 20 he says that if the world back then hated him for preaching the true gospel and persecuted him for it that this world will also persecute and hate us! Paul reiterates the same thing in 2 Timothy 3:12.
To Hold Fast To The Truth
Paul gives us the answer in 2 timothy 2:15 "study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Example: Paul commended the Jews and Gentiles at the Macedonian city of Berea (Bereans), because they searched and examined the scriptures daily to see if the things preached to them were true and when verified to be true they believed and became converted! (Acts 17: 1 0-13).
The Saints today are not just to be spoon-fed by our ministers at Sabbath and Holy Day services; but we are to write down the scriptures given and then at home review them. To aid you in your bible study a good Bible dictionary such as Unger's and a good concordance, such as Strong's, or Concordia Self-Study, can be helpful. Each of us has the duty to be able to dispel false doctrines and also have the ability to give outsiders a firm grasp or our understanding of God's word, if we are asked (1 Peter 3:15).
Finally, remember that each of us are in-training now to be the future co-rulers of this world under Jesus Christ in his coming 'Kingdom of God' and we need to know what is inside the Bible, because we are going to be judged by what is inside of it. We are to let God's Holy Spirit in us impart wisdom and understanding of God's truths to help us to be mature and standing firm upon our Rock (Christ) and be ready for his return to earth whether dead in the grave or alive when that last Trump sounds (1 Cor.15:51-52). Let each day that God gives to us, be one of constantly contending for the faith once delivered unto the Saints.
George A. Bratcher