For several months in 2017 I preached through the book of First Timothy and will preach the book of Jude over the next two Sundays. Jude and Paul deal with similar subjects in their address to the letter’s readers, namely the infiltration of false teachers within the church. Upon a review of the New Testament Epistles, one might quickly draw the conclusion that the early church had its fair share of issues, one dominating theme being that of unbiblical teaching. For the Church of Ephesus as well as the recipients of the letter of Jude, the reality that a false gospel was being promoted within the walls of the primary place in which good doctrine should be upheld was both alarming and appalling.
The same might be said about the current state of the American Church. The Church has been polluted by false doctrine, misguided information, liberal theology, and emotionally therapeutic false teaching for quite some time, running more rampant than ever in the very place good theology and doctrine should flow freely. The very place in which Scripture should be held to the highest authority has unconsciously (or consciously) rejected the Word of God as the standard by which the entirety of the Christian life and the Church should be measured, trading it for man’s fleeting and finite opinions.
Why? Why is this the case too often within our Churches today? I think Jude alludes to the answer in verse 3 of his letter. A good portion of American Churches and a good portion of American Christians have stopped contending for the faith. Jude writes in an appeal that believers “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (ESV). To a degree, the Church has stopped contending for the faith. It may be out of ignorance, cultural relevance, fear, or comfort, but the Gospel has been lost somewhere in the mix. Because of this, immorality reigns within God’s Church, Scriptural exhortation and correction is viewed as suggestion instead of fact, and individuality is held high above discipleship.
Consider for a moment that this issue affecting the American Church of the twentieth and twenty-first century is not a construction of the times, but is a carry over from what began at the start of the Church. Why? Primarily because the Church is composed of sinners that often give way to their own flesh rather than to the Spirit. While this is true, this cannot be an excuse to allow the condition of the Church to continue. The Church must return to the Word, acknowledging the sinful inclinations of all people, even those who have been redeemed. The Church must pursue holiness, holding high the Word of God, living out their faith in fellowship with other believers in the local Church, practicing repentance on a daily basis. God’s Church should reflect God’s Word. When this does not take place, repentance is necessary and reconciliation must happen.