Christians are often criticized for arguing amongst themselves. Discussion and debate within the Body of Christ is healthy, it keeps us focused and learning. However, bickering and backbiting are to be heartily avoided. We should concentrate on the essentials not the peripherals.
Many times, when the statement is made that Christians should not be arguing about peripheral issues, someone will bring up Jude 3, which says,
to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (NKJV)
They say that we are commanded to 'defend' sound doctrine and to confront error wherever we find it. However; neither this verse, nor the rest of the book, can be used to support such a view.
Jude is a rebuttal against those who "turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (v.4), and who, "defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries" (v.8). Jude defends the gospel, the truth about Jesus Christ. He is not giving us marching orders for one Christian to attack the beliefs of another.
The disruptive people in Jude who had "crept in unnoticed" (v.4) were 'ungodly' (v. 15) people. They were not merely Christians with differing views on non-essential issues. These were people living in outright sin and teaching others to do the same. They were unapologetic in their rejection of Jesus Christ and His Lordship.
Moreover, not only did they reject Jesus Christ, but they also grumbled, tried to find fault in others, caused divisions, and followed their own ungodly lusts. They mocked, spoke arrogantly, and used flattery to gain advantage over other people (v.16).
It is obvious that these were not godly people. They were controlled by their own lusts because they did not have the Holy Spirit living in them to empower them to live as a Christian should (v. 19). The Bible says that:
if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (Romans 8:9 NKJV)
These troublemakers were not Christians at all.
The debate or disagreement in Jude was not over peripheral issues; rather it concerned the fundamental condition of the hearts of people claiming to be Christians. This debate was over essential issues, issues that determine and reveal whether one is or is not really a follower of Christ.
To be continued
(C) 2010 Robert Driskell
Seeking to introduce people to Jesus Christ and to help them become "transformed by the renewing of their mind."
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