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INTRODUCTION................................................................................................ 2

CONTENDING FOR OUR COMMON SALVATION................................................... 4

CONTENDING AGAINST FALSE TEACHERS....................................................... 10

CONTENDING TO KEEP US FROM STUMBLING................................................ 18

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES......................................................................... 25

Jude, the brother of James, and half-brother of Jesus, wrote to an unknown group of
Christians, eager to write about “our common salvation;” to share about the good news of
the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus with the church. Instead, compelled by the Holy
Spirit, he wrote the New Testament epistle that bears his name—an urgent appeal warning
believers to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered.”

Contending is a funny thing. The word “contend” is defined as:

• to struggle in opposition;
• to strive in rivalry or compete;
• to strive in debate; dispute earnestly;
• to assert or maintain earnestly

Look at these definitions for a moment. They’re quite powerful. Struggling in the face of
opposition; striving against rivals; disputing earnestly. To contend for anything requires
action. Contending is not produced by passivity.

And this is especially true for the Christian faith.

We live in an age where it’s not popular to contend for the faith. The attitude of our day is
that you don’t need to defend something you love; that all we need to do is love each other.

After all, doctrine is divisive, so let’s not worry so much about that. We’ve all heard these
kinds of statements before, read them on blogs or in books... But in all honesty, these ideas
are just silly.

If you love something or someone, you will defend it. If you’re married, would you not do all
you could to defend the honor of your spouse? What about your children, if you have any?
What about our own reputations?

If we are willing to offer defense for all of these, how much more should we be willing to offer
a defense for the gospel? If we truly love Jesus and if we care about the well-being of His
bride, the Church, we must contend.

In 2009, I felt burdened to address this issue in the small group I led. I wanted to help our
friends there build a better understanding of the necessity of contending for the faith. We
began that study by first examining “our common salvation” of which Jude was so eager to
write. It is critical for us to understand “the faith once for all delivered” for which we must
contend—because knowing what is right is critical for us to distinguish what is wrong. This
was followed by an examination of what Jude says of those whom we contend against, and
concluded by looking at Jude’s call to persevere and show mercy to all.

What follows is adapted from this study.

It is my prayer that this short guide would be a blessing to you as you read it and that you
would gain a desire to earnestly “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the
saints” (Jude 3).



Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I
found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for
all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago
were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our
God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
JUDE 1- 4


How would you articulate the gospel? Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, it’s
described in a variety of ways, sometimes with subtlety, other times with great power.

Genesis 3:15 offers us our first hint at Christ’s victory over Satan, sin and death, while
Isaiah 52:14-53:12 provides with one of the most powerful descriptions of the work of Christ,

[H]e was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the
chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have
gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the
iniquity of us all. . . .

[W]hen his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be
satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted
righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was
numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the
I S A 5 3 : 5 - 6 , 10 -12

The Apostle Paul describes it with powerful brevity in 1 Cor. 15:3-4 and in exceeding detail
in Ephesians 2:1-10. The Apostle John provides us with a striking description in 1 John 4:9-
10. And an angel gives us a breathtaking vision in Rev 5:9-10 as the twenty four elders sing,

Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you
ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have
made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.
R E V. 5 : 9 -10


Christ died in our place, for our sins and rose again to give us new life. Every description
I’ve seen in Scripture indicates that where this is not stated, the gospel is not proclaimed.

Every gospel account illustrates that humanity has made itself the enemy of God because of
our sin and that Jesus substituted Himself for us, dying so that we would live. Even the most
memorized verse, John 3:16 contains this message as we continue on to v. 17-21:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not
perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but
in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned,
but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of
the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved
the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked
things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But
whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have
been carried out in God.
JOHN 3 :16 -21

What we see in all of these descriptions is the desperate state of humanity—a hopelessness
that is only overcome by the decisive and merciful act of God to send Christ into the world,
to live the life we cannot live, to die in our place and to rise again and give those who believe
new life. It is a hope, a new life delivered to us by God who initiates. It is God who acts. It
is God the Son voluntarily laid His life down and picked it up again (John 10:18). It is a gift
given to people who cannot earn it, who do not deserve it.

It is a gift delivered by God.


We contend for the integrity of this message because without it all hope is lost.

Without an understanding that we are recipients of God’s grace—ill deserving sinners who
cannot save themselves—we can give people a false hope that merit salvation or can attain it
through their own works.

Without a clear grasp of the gospel, we are open to deception and error, unable to discern
what is true and what is false and those who would seek to distort, deny, pervert and corrupt
the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection are allowed to run free within the church
and devour God’s people.

That’s why Jude says that he “found it necessary to write appealing to [us] to contend for the
faith once for all delivered to the saints” (v.3).

We are to fight for the integrity of the faith, not with weapons, but with the truth of
Scripture. We must protect it, guarding it as we would a precious treasure.

Ultimately, if we are to contend, we must know the Truth. We must know what is right in
order to distinguish what is wrong.

And we must celebrate it.


1. In your own words, explain the gospel.

2. In your opinion, are there things we don’t need to say when we share the gospel? Explain
your answer.

3. Cite at least two examples of the gospel message from Scripture

4. What are some common elements seen in our examples?

5. Why is it important that we are able to clearly articulate the gospel message?

6. Jude says that he “found it necessary to write appealing to [us] to contend for the faith
once for all delivered to the saints” (v.3). What does it mean to contend?

7. Is it still necessary for us to contend for the faith? Explain your answer.

8. Suggest some practical ways we can contend for the faith this week.



Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a
people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And
the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper
dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment
of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which
likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an
example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject
authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael,
contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume
to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these
people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all
that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they
walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s
error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as
they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept
along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the
sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of

utter darkness has been reserved forever.

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying,
“Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment
on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have
committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners
have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own
sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.
J U D E 5 -16


Jude verse 4 tells us that, “certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were
designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into
sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

This is a pretty serious charge, isn’t it? Without question. To say that some among us—
leading, teaching, writing books, blogging, making videos—are not servants of Christ at all,
but servants of Satan seeking to destroy God’s Church is deadly serious. But it’s a charge to
which all believers must pay careful attention.

I would suggest that today the ability to be deceived by false teaching is greater than in
any other generation. Podcasts, vodcasts, books, blogs… There’s so much out there, some
good, some great and some that is extremely sketchy. And quite honestly, it can be difficult
to discern who is on the level and who might not be. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean
that we don’t try.

The Old and New Testaments are not silent on this issue. Virtually every book of the New

Testament has a severe warning against false teachers. Matthew 7:15-20; Mark 13:22; 2 Cor.
11:1-15; Phil 3:2-3; Col. 2:18-19; 1 Tim 1:2-20, 4:1-3, 6:2-5; 2 Tim 3:1-9; 2 Pet. 2:1-22; 2 John
7-11; Rev 2: 14-16, 20… These are just a few of the New Testament examples of warnings
against false teaching.

One of the most severe is the Apostle Paul’s warning to the elders of the church at Ephesus:

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you
overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that
after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw
away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not
cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.

In other words, Paul tells them, “Pay attention! Men are coming who will distort the truth
and lead people astray—and you might be one of them!” He even applies this warning to
himself in Galatians 1:6-9,

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and
are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble
you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven
should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him
be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel
contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

The Old Testament warnings are equally severe. Significant portions of Jeremiah address
false prophets and priests who lead the people of Israel astray (see Jeremiah 14:13-22, 23:9-
40, 28:1-29:32) as does chapter 13 of the book of Ezekiel. These false prophets are called
”liars,” their messages “worthless divinations” and “vain hopes” that are the “deceit of their
own minds.” And God makes it clear: “I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak
to them.”


Beginning in verse 5, Jude begins to describe in unbelievably clear terms the authority of
Christ and the judgement that awaits those who seek to lead God’s people astray. Perhaps
most powerful in verse 5 is that Jude emphatically states it was Jesus who freed the
Israelites from bondage in Egypt. “Jesus is God,” says Jude, who grew up with Jesus as his
half-brother. “And Jesus will judge the living and the dead.”

Jesus destroyed those who did not believe in the desert (v. 5). Jesus brought judgement on
Sodom and Gomorrah for their gross sexual immorality (v. 7). Jesus chains the devil and his
angels in anticipation of the judgement to come (v. 6). It is Jesus who rules over hell and will
judge (v. 6-7).

The Scriptures are clear: Judgement belongs to God alone—and Jude makes it equally clear
that Jesus is the one who will judge.

This should give us pause for “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
(Heb. 10:31).

Those who are warned about are blasphemers.

They rely on their own dreams, on a “private word from God” that they put on par with the
authority of Scripture, despite the fact that it might contradict Scripture. They “defile the
flesh,” falling into sexual immorality. They reject authority, refusing to obey godly counsel
or even Scripture. They “blaspheme the glorious ones,” possibly a reference to flippant talk
against fallen angels when even the archangel Michael wouldn’t rebuke Satan, instead
saying “the Lord rebuke you!” (v. 9).

They are controlled by their base instincts and desires. They are rebels motivated by greed
and self-aggrandizement. They exemplify depravity.

They have no fear of the Lord.

They are blasphemers.

And Jesus will “execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of
ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things
that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (v. 15). These things will not go unchecked.
God will not allow His name to be maligned, nor His people to be destroyed.


The challenge is false teachers don’t usually make themselves obvious; it’s not a guy who
looks like Dick Dastardly with a sinister moustache waiting in the wings to snatch you.
These are “Christians” who reject the truth; they are pastors of the serpent. They say nice
words and say nice things that make us feel good but deny Scripture, sometimes overtly,
sometimes covertly. They sow doubt under the guise of a conversation. Like the serpent in the
garden speaking to Eve, they ask, “Did God really say…?”

Looking at the Old Testament examples in particular, these are men and women who would
speak as though God had given them additional revelation; as if He had left something
essential out of Scripture. Their intent is always to turn us away from the God that is to the
god of their imagining.

The point of knowing what to look for is not to go heretic-hunting. It’s to be discerning. To
help us identify godly teachers and authors. To understand when God is being honored, and
when He is being blasphemed. To encourage others to do the same. But it’s not to go on a
smear campaign or to watch-blog or declare someone a heretic if they’ve misspoken. That
happens far too often and is something that we must avoid.

In the end, judgement belongs to the Lord. He will render all judgement. So we must be
cautious in how we approach countering false doctrine and teachers that we do not ourselves
blaspheme God. We are called to contend for the faith, not abandoning it for what sounds
pretty but is altogether unhelpful. We are called to persevere in the face of false teaching
with a holy fear of the Lord.


1. Does false teaching matter? Why?

2. How does Jude identify false teachers in verse 4?

3. Cite two or more similar warnings from the New Testament.

4. Cite two or more similar warnings from the Old Testament.

5. What practical application do these warnings have for us?

6. Examine v. 5-7. What is Jude showing us here? Why is it important?

7. Examine v. 8-13. How does Jude describe false teachers? Be specific.

8. Examine v. 14-16. What does Jude describe here?

9. Why is the warning of judgement important?

10. How should we respond to false teaching according to Jude?



But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus
Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own
ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the
Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus
Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by
snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment
stained by the flesh.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless
before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through
Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and
now and forever. Amen.
JUDE 17-25


We should not be surprised that there are a great many who would seek to lead God’s people
astray. The serpent has been doing this since the beginning (see Genesis 3) and he is still

hard at work today. Among those professing to be Christians today are fierce wolves who will
not spare the flock (Acts 20:29). We have been warned throughout Scripture that this would
be the case. And although it can be discouraging, we must not despair because it is a sign
that Christ’s return is closer:

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will
these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” And Jesus
answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am
the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that
you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against
nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various
places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all
nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one
another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will
be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to
all nations, and then the end will come.”
M AT T H E W 2 4 : 3 -14

Jesus warned us that the serpent’s preachers would rise up, men and women who, as
Jude says, are scoffers who follow their own ungodly passions (Jude 18). “It is these who
cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit” (v. 19). “But the one who endures to
the end will be saved,” promises Jesus (Matt 24:13). Because we know this is true, we
must persevere.


As the only sure way to keep us from falling astray, Jude admonishes his readers to “keep
yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). To guard our faith and “have nothing to do with
irreverent, silly myths” (1 Timothy 4:7). Instead, through prayer and study, we “building
[ourselves] up in [our] most holy faith” (Jude 20), or as Paul wrote, we “train [ourselves] for
godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7).

We keep ourselves in the Word of God, studying the Scriptures, seeking to better know the
One to whom they testify and what He says. We seek to ground ourselves in sound doctrine.
It’s essential that we understand this. While there are people out there who say silly things
like “doctrine divides,” this is anything but the case. Sound doctrine unites believers,
humbles us, & grows us in our love for Jesus. It causes us to become those upon whom God
will look, “he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at [His] word” (Isaiah 66:2).

It is as we ground ourselves in the Scriptures that we begin to “work out [our] salvation with
fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).


But keeping a firm grasp on our doctrine isn’t enough. Jude tells us that we are to “have
mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show
mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 22-23). This is where
things can get unpleasant because it means we have to apply our doctrine.

We are to have mercy for everyone, in all circumstances, even for people we don’t like. And
very often, this means having some hard conversations.

We have to share our faith with people who aren’t Christians. This is not something I’m
good at because I’m a chicken a lot of the time, but think about it—we don’t know when our
time on this earth is up, but we do know that it is “appointed for man to die once, and after
that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Whose that person you’ve not shared the gospel with?
What would happen if you shared the gospel with them today or tomorrow? It is possible that
they will be one who is saved as though snatched out of the fire. Should we not then show
this mercy to them?

We are also to show each other mercy with fear. Do you have people in your life who are
willing to call you on a sinful pattern of behavior or a strange idea you might have picked up?
Can someone come to you and say, “Hey, I see this in your life. What’s going on?”

If not, I would encourage you to find them, soon. And be willing to accept that what they say
might be true. We do not want to shy away from truth, and we cannot tolerate sin in our lives
and the lives of those we are in community with. Whether it’s gossip, pride, greed, sexual
immorality, anger, harsh words... None of it is acceptable. God hates these things, and so
must we. Showing mercy to others (and having mercy shown to you) is confronting these with
love and fear.

This does not mean that people will listen when you speak, and you may be required to
break fellowship with an unrepentant brother or sister in the hopes that they will be led
to repentance.


In the end, as in the beginning, Jude reminds us that it is God alone who keeps us from
stumbling. Christ will save those who are His. We are “called, beloved in God the Father and
kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude 2).

It’s not because of our works. We couldn’t do enough to earn God’s favor even if we tried. We
will sin, we will be confused, we will have errors in our doctrine... But God “ is able to keep
[us] from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great
joy” (v. 24). We will be saved and presented blameless to God because of the mercy and grace
of God in Jesus Christ.

It’s because it brings Him great pleasure to do so.

And that is something worth contending for.


1. Why should we not be surprised that there are those who scoff at sound doctrine?

2. How do we “keep ourselves in the love of God” (v. 21)? What are some of the ways you do
this in your own life?

3. Jude tells us to have mercy on those who doubt and to save others by snatching them out
of the fire (v. 22-23). What does that look like for us today?

4. Jude also tells us to “show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh”
(v. 23). How do we do this?

5. Share an experience from your life where you’ve shown mercy in the way Jude describes.

6. What do you do when you’ve said all you can and it appears to go unheard?

7. Examine Jude 24-25. What encouragement can we take from this conclusion?

8. How has your understanding of contending for the faith changed?

9. What changes do you need to make in your own life as a result of this study?



Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears
Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris
Knowing God by J. I. Packer
All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon
The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies
Love or Die: Christ’s Wake-Up Call to the Church by Alexander Strauch

God Wrote a Book by James MacDonald
“Fundamentalism” and the Word of God by J. I. Packer
The Canon of Scripture by F.F. Bruce


The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D. A. Carson



Raised with Christ by Adrian Warnock
Fifty Reasons why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper
The Future of Justification by John Piper
Death by Love by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears
Pierced for Our Transgressions by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey & Andrew Sach

Tim Challies—
The Resurgence—
The Gospel Coalition—
Ligonier Ministries—
Desiring God—
ESV Study Bible—


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