Jude 1:3-4 ESV
“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.”
The church is the universal body of Christ comprised of the saints of God all throughout the world who are the called of God to be his holy people. We are those who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin and who have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We have been delivered from our slavery to sin so that we can now live as slaves to God’s righteousness.
[Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Ac 2:42-47; Rom 12:3-8; 1 Co 12; Eph 4:1-24; 1 Pet 2:4-6; Col 1:18; Col 2:19; Eph 1:22; Eph 2:19-22; Eph 5:23-30]
But certain people have crept into the gatherings of the church, largely unnoticed. They are ungodly people, people who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. And they have turned the church upside down and have turned it into something it is not. They have turned the gatherings of the church into businesses of men being marketed to the world like any other business.
And so the gatherings of what was once the church, the body of Christ, have largely been altered to appeal to the flesh of man and to the people of the world, at least here in America. So, rather than the church gathering together as the body of Christ to encourage one another in the faith so that we can go out into the world with the gospel, the people of the world are being brought into the gatherings, and now they appeal to their desires.
And in order to attract the world to “the church,” which is no longer just the body of Christ but a mixture of the world and the church, they have also altered and diluted the gospel of Jesus Christ and the grace of our God to make them more attractive and acceptable to the people of the world and to the flesh of man. And they have definitely perverted God’s grace into a license for lasciviousness, and they deny Jesus as Lord and Master.
Perversions of Grace
So, first of all, God’s grace to us is deliverance from our slavery (addiction) to sin so that we can now be slaves of God and of his righteousness. Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who died and was raised. And Jesus shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we would now honor God with our bodies.
[Rom 6:1-23; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Co 6:19-20]
But these who have crept in among us largely unnoticed have artfully and cleverly slipped lie after lie inside the gospel to where the vast majority are believing the lies over the truth. What they are teaching is that we can “believe” in Jesus (not defined), have our sins forgiven (past, present, and future), and be guaranteed heaven when we die regardless of how we live on this earth. And some even go so far as to say that once you receive Christ that you can never reject him.
What many are teaching is that we don’t have to repent of our sins, and we don’t have to submit to Christ as Lord, and that we don’t have to obey Jesus, for they say that is works salvation or Lordship salvation. So, their adherents are given carte blanche to continue in deliberate and habitual sin while promising them heaven when they die. Some are even teaching that God no longer sees when we sin and all he sees is Jesus and so he smiles on us even when we are habitually sinning against him.
What this is, though, is them perverting God’s grace into sensuality and it is denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ, for it refuses to bow to him as Lord and to obey what he says, and it refuses to forsake sinful practices. For it teaches that we can believe in Jesus and still continue in deliberate and habitual sin. What a mockery of what Jesus did for us on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness.
Contend for the Faith
So, we are to be those who contend for the faith. We are to be sharing the gospel with others, but we are to be sharing the truth of the gospel. For the truth teaches us that we are to be crucified with Christ in death to sin and raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him. Our old self is to be put to death with Christ so that we are no longer enslaved to sin but so we are now slaves of God and of his righteousness.
Now we are to walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. Daily by the Spirit we are to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh and we are to be following our Lord in obedience to his ways. And we are to put off our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
For if we don’t, but we continue in deliberate and habitual sin against our Lord, and against other humans, then we don’t have eternal life with God no matter what we profess. For Jesus said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. We have to forsake our lives of sin and follow Jesus in obedience if we want eternal life with God.
Also, we need to be gathering together with the body of Christ, with those of genuine faith in Christ who are not living in sin but who are walking in obedience to the Lord, and we need to be encouraging (exhorting, urging) one another to live holy lives, pleasing to the Lord. Now we can meet virtually on the internet or we can meet in person at a coffee shop or at the mall or in one another’s homes, etc., but we need to be encouraging one another so that none of us is hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
[Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Lu 9:23-26; Matt 7:21-23; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; Eph 4:1-24; Eph 5:17-21; Col 3:16; Heb 3:13]
We are the Church
By Donald S. Marsh, Richard K. Avery
The church is not a building,
the church is not a steeple,
the church is not a resting place,
the church is a people.
We’re many kinds of people,
with many kinds of faces,
all colors and all ages, too,
from all times and places.
I am the church!
You are the church!
We are the church together!
All who follow Jesus,
all around the world!
Yes, we are the church together!
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