Having greeted and blessed his readers, Jude proceeded to state the purpose of his epistle. We noted last week that Jude was very eager to share with the saints the blessings of their common salvation. However, a far more urgent need forced his pen in another direction.
We are in a raging spiritual war and we hardly notice. If guns were blazing and bombs exploding all around us, we would be taking decisive action. A spiritual war is unseen and unfelt but just as real and deadly. In Satan’s futile effort to prevent God’s repair of sin’s devastating effects on creation and His progress in retaking the kingdom he usurped, he has launched an all-out assault on the instruments, the home and the church, God has chosen to accomplish this plan. The enemy believes that he can stop God’s plan if he infiltrates the church and destroys its effectiveness. God is sovereign, and although Satan may do much damage, he is already defeated. He is cunning and powerful, which makes him very dangerous, nonetheless.
Jude’s epistle is aimed at awakening the churches to Satan’s crafty schemes against them. The key verse of this small book is verse 3, particularly the exhortation “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Three very important things stand out: (1) the need for the appeal, (2) the action appealed, and (3) the importance of the action. The issue prompting this call to action is found in verse four: “For certain people have crept in unnoticed . . . ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
The enemy has infiltrated the church with false teachers and false believers; therefore, the saints need to be aware of his methods and discerning of his doctrines. It is far more important to defend the faith than to celebrate it. Failure to contend has left modern evangelical Christianity almost unrecognizable compared to the early church. It is as Paul warned that in the final hour there would be a great departure from the faith (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:1–5). Judas betrayed Jesus; false professors betray His body, the church. That is why the Bible warns us, Jesus prays for us (John 17:11, 12, 15; 2 Thessalonians 3:3), and God guards us (1 Peter 1:5), but we also must be prepared to withstand in the evil day (Ephesians 6:10–18).
Jude urges his readers to earnestly contend for the faith (from epi and agonidzomai). The saints are to fight with great savagery to maintain the purity of truth. Such action calls for the saints to devote themselves wholly to this project. It must not be left to others to undertake. Every believer must set himself to watch (1 Corinthians 10:12; Ephesians 5:15; Hebrews 3:12), pray (Romans 15:30), and fight (Colossians 1:29; 1 Timothy 6:12). This faith, this truth concerning salvation, has been delivered to us once and for all time. It is a great treasure that has been entrusted to us. We have a great responsibility (2 Timothy 1:13, 14).