Viciously Contend for the Faith?

Jude verse 3

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

I was just listening to a KJO, IFB “preacher”.  This man was “preaching” from Jude that we are to “viciously” contend for the faith… It seemed to me that earnestly was not a strong enough word to this “preacher”.  This is particularly disturbing as over the years I have begun to notice just that exact thing in the IFB movement;  a viciousness toward those of the SAME FAITH but different persuasions.  To this end I thought that I would share my thoughts on Jude…

In the book of Jude God gives several warnings.  We are told that Jude had at first desired to simply write of the wonderful doctrine of Salvation in Christ alone.  Then as he sat down to write, it seemed as though his heart and hand were moved to write something different. We should all know that was the moving of the Holy Spirit.  He was to write and epistle of warning. A warning against false teachers.  He goes onto give a vivid description of said teachers. The first thing he says is that they have crept in unawares.  Unaware to the church but certainly not to God.  God knew that they would come and it even says that he ordained them to condemnation or ultimate judgement.

The first definition that we have in this passage is that the men are ungodly.  They have taken the doctrine of grace and have used it for an occasion of the flesh.  By the way, it isn’t that they misunderstood the doctrine, but that they purposefully twisted it.  They are fleshly, sensual and flat out evil in their hearts.  They are not simply deceived people, or mistaken people; they are the deceivers, purposefully excusing their actions and claiming grace encourages  or excuses such behavior.  They are anti-Christ in nature and action.  These evil ones turn the Word of God on its head for their own benefit.  They do not have the spirit of Christ within… Grace truly defined saves from the penalty and power of sin and day by day, month by month, year by year transforms the believer into the likeness of Jesus.  Grace never excuses and encourages sin, but it covers sin and empowers us against sin’s influence in our lives.

The Lord goes onto to explain that such teachers have existed for thousands of years and that God will have the  ultimate victory!  From the Wanders to the fallen angels to Balaam to Sodom and Gomorrah, to Cain and to Korah we are assured that these false ones will not escape the judgment coming their way.  In the middle body of the letter we are also exposed to more specific characteristics of these false teachers.

  • They deny the Deity of Christ.
  • They are lustful and sensual without regret or restraint (they excuse their behavior twisting grace).
  • They are filthy dreamers who defile the flesh.
  • They despise authority other than their own; particularly spiritual authority (an example here is that even Michael the Archangel didn’t rebuke the devil on his own authority, but relied on the authority of God. In Colossians 2 we see the same behavior in false teachers that forget the HEAD of the church is Christ.)  These men revel in their own supposed authority.  A true man of God understands that his authority is limited by God and His Word and that his authority indeed comes from God and should NEVER be abused.
  • They speak evil of things that they don’t understand.
  • They rely on their own natural understanding to guide them and they corrupt themselves by this worldly wisdom.
  • They are rebellious against the Word of God as was Korah (though remember they masquerade as religious teachers).
  • They are greedy for filthy lucre just as Balaam.
  • They have no fear of God and they should.
  • They are without substance.  Clouds without water, they look impressive and may sound impressive, but they lack that which brings life – water (the Spirit does not flow from them).
  • They are without fruit – which I believe does not indicate the fruit of another believer, but the fruit of the Spirit!  Without LOVE, and all that comes with it!
  • They foam out their OWN shame.
  • They have HARD speeches against the godly and against Christ (how many pastors would invite Christ into their pulpits?).
  • Murmuring and complaining define their character!
  • They are all about SELF promotion and glory!
  • They are adept at mocking and character assassination.
  • The SEPARATE themselves and do not have the SPIRIT.  (How many of the separatists sight this verse for their “holy” separation?) These men create divisions in the Body of Christ!
From here on God through Jude displays what we should be and look for in our teachers and ourselves!
  • Earnestly (NOT VICIOUSLY) contend for the Faith
  • Build yourself up in the most holy Faith!  Dig in the Word and learn of CHRIST for He is meek and lowly.
  • Pray in the Holy Spirit.
  • KEEP yourselves in the LOVE of God.
  • LOOK for the mercy of Christ (not for ways in which to show no mercy) live in anticipation for the coming of the Lord.
  • HAVE compassion on those that need it, that are confused and doubting.
  • For others, reach out with the fear the Lord, being careful not to be pulled into sin as you reach these lost people.
  • Loathe sin.
These are the warnings and admonishments from the book of Jude.  Preacher how do you and I measure up?  How do the the men you are listening to and reading measure up to these things?  The closing of the letter really sums up what it’s all about.  JESUS.  His life for mine. No excuses, no rationalizations, simply Christ alone is sufficient to save and to keep all those that come to Him.  He is GOD, He is majestic, He is worthy of worship and praise and He is worthy to follow.  HE is POWER and DOMINION and He will ultimately judge even those that claim to speak in His name.
Now for the tie in with the “preacher” that I mentioned in the beginning.   It is noteworthy that these type of “preachers” cling to the KJV as the “inspired, preserved Word of God for English speaking people” they use the “inspired, preserved (tongue firmly in cheek)” Websters 1828 Dictionary.  Said dictionary defines the KJV word “earnestly” this way “with fixed attention; with eagerness.” Vicious is defined this way “Corruptly; in a manner contrary to rectitude, moral principles, propriety or purity…” This “preacher”  then went onto use Proverbs 22:28 and 23:10 stating that these verses  refer to the Faith.  I can abide by that, but then he goes onto ridicule (mock) people (whom he calls liberals) that like that “contemporary” stuff, insinuating that they are abandoning or moving the landmark of the Faith because they like this new contemporary stuff.  The problem is, either the landmarks and old paths he refers to are examples of the Faith or they are examples of the culture.   He calls out several amen lines against such things that are not clearly defined only called contemporary, using Jeremiah now to call us back to the “old paths” of traditionalism.  I have to admit that this is disturbing.  If we follow his logic, we should only be using Hebrew music from that century, and we should also only be using the very first, oldest English translation (not that modern KJV) or else all learn Greek and Hebrew.  We should also be wearing robes and sandals and such. To be clear, it’s this silly type of preaching that is driving me from the IFB movement.  In this message the “preacher”…
  • Changes the Word of God that he claims to revere from earnest to vicious.  In this very message he has the audacity to accuse “contemporary” preachers of changing the Bible.
  • Calls anything new to be evil… calling out conferences that do not mimic his.  Uses Sunday School as an example of an old fashioned unmovable thing, even though in contrast to the 2000 year history of Christianity it is fairly new.
  • Mocks and ridicules those of other preferences and encourages others to do the same.
  • Instructs a bunch of young men to hold tightly to their OPINIONS and not to change from them.
  • Changes the FAITH to OPINIONS and to a passed and dead CULTURE instead of what it is.
  • Represents Jude’s Epistle as something it is not.
  • Relies on his own understanding of contemporary “stuff”.
  • Is mean-spirited in his delivery.
  • Considers being unmovable from unbiblical things a good thing.
  • Exalts himself, “you may not see it but trust me”.
  • etc…
Food for thought to those of you still in this movement.  I wish it would change and I have tried to stay within it to help it recover from such men.  However, I am coming to the conclusion that such a recovery may be too late.

This idea that the FAITH is anything more than the Doctrine of Salvation through Christ alone and those other things found in the BIBLE is false. To mock and marginalize men that disagree with your music, dress, translation and other man-made “standards” seems to me to follow fairly close to Jude’s description of false teachers.

3 Responses to “Viciously Contend for the Faith?”

  1. Pastor Davis says:

    Hi Josh,

    I enjoy your Facebook posts, you usually bring a smile to my face. I also thank you for the grace in your response to my post. I am not yet what I would consider a scholar but I am trying to move in that direction. I hear what you are saying concerning the IFB as a movement being full of individual churches and pastors and painting the whole because of a few is a difficulty. However, in my experience, the way the churches in the IFB are structured, for some reason seems to invite abusive and mean spirited arrogant pastors, at least in many ministries I have been familiar with.

    Your points I think are well enough made, so I will try to answer each one… I am fairly new to blogging, so please be patient with me.

    1. I understand that one word among many can be either mistaken or poorly chosen (I’m not sure I could stretch earnestly contend to viciously contend, as my studies show at most fervently or even angrily contend but to be vicious? I think not.). As to your admonition concerning context, that is the point! In this man’s opinion, anyone that isn’t as “fundamental” as he is, is either a false teacher or is heading that way, the problem is his definition of fundamentalism includes things that aren’t fundamentals, that aren’t the Faith once delivered to the saints. However in my post I also alluded to the misuse of Proverbs and Jeremiah as well. It was a message with plenty of amen lines and plenty of ridicule for those which are even in the IFB movement but with differing opinions. It was a typical separatist message, but separating good from good. In my experience one of the most divisive sects of Christianity is the IFB. I have been IFB for well over 20 years, I have seen its underbelly. I was spoken to by another pastor because my stand on the KJV was not strong enough and so he would not attend a function I was preaching at. More to the point he said he would likely not see me again… this type of behavior I really believe is rampant. I have seen pastors abuse the bride of Christ and have been subject to said abuse. I have heard thousands of messages and so very many skewering the context and culture of the passage to “defend the faith” which was not the Faith but was instead their illusions of standards and their brand of legalism.

    2. “In fairness, I may be reading tone incorrectly, but I do not think that a KJVO IFB pastor is a “false teacher” because he used a synonym for a word that you disagree with.”. You have missed my larger point. While I did imply that this preacher certainly seemed to in line with what Jude warns us about, it was not solely derived from said word change. The use of the word earnest vs. vicious was but one example of a sermon rife with poor exposition of Scripture. It was as typical a message as I have ever heard in an IFB pulpit. It was wrong. The use of the word vicious was just a fortunate occurrence to enable me to point out how very vicious many IFB preachers can be. Am I being vicious in my post? I hope not, I called all of us to examine ourselves in the light of this passage.

    3. As to judging another mans servant, well, I may be guilty of that, however, I am also simply asking the question, does he look like Jude’s description? Yes he “refrains from eating meat”, etc… If you want to use that as a text for the support of enforcing extra biblical standards on people, but please remember that those with such understanding were considered weaker brethren, were novices and as such should not be in our pulpits spewing out hate filled diatribes influencing the next generation of preachers, they should certainly not be pastoring our churches. I don’t despise him, but he is not a new believer that is offended by my meat eating, he is teaching others to be offended by my meat eating as it were. He is in a position of authority and as such must be looked at in light of Scripture, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus alone if applied would very likely disqualify him simply on the merits of his bullying from the pulpit those under him.

    4. You refer to the two times that I use the poor word choice as the reason I believe what I do about a movement. Once again it was simple good fortune he used such an excellently descriptive word;-) you seem to have missed the two references to Proverbs and one of Jeremiah. My experience and reading and listening to preachers in our movement is wide. It isn’t this one word, it is his and others doggedly branding anyone with differing preferences as ungodly or liberal. My theology is quite possibly indistinguishable from his, yet because I will be moving to a blended service and because I have relaxed my dress standards I am either a heretic or I am moving in that direction. I absolutely get what you are saying about bigotry, especially since you still carry the name (as do I, though I did scrape “fundamental” off my sign). The problem is, a reputation is just that. No, not all in the movement are bad. I have good friends to the right of me and to the left. The trouble now is, as Paul Chappell recently alluded to, when does a name cease to mean what it once did? The Fundamentals, alluded to by some in the IFB edited by R. A. Torrey never supported KJV onlyism; yet this 60 year old man-made doctrine is a cause for ridicule and separation. A movement isn’t a race Joshua; it’s just a movement, one that is being more and more defined by the many negative elements from its pulpits. It is indeed full of just people who are flawed in many ways. But the Scripture gives us criteria and qualifications to judge men of God by, and I have found many wanting and arrogant. The IFB movement seems to thrive on putting harsh bullying men in the pulpits. Not strong men, but weak men with strong personalities. They are excused of ungodliness in the name of contending for the faith, or of being like an Old Testament prophet etc… Well I think if we applied these Scriptures to our pastors we would see many pulpits emptied. I used to be that way, and think that way. What I did was shame the name of Jesus to the lost. Is it bigoted to call a movement out? To try to change its course? To cry out against the ill use of Scriptures? No not the one word change but the Proverb and Jeremiah travesty? Is it bigoted to say that what I have seen in our movement and what many others have seen, needs to stop? I don’t know. I want to be more graceful in my commentary, but I come from within this movement and have seen the widespread devastation that it can bring. It breaks my heart that there are so many churches in bondage to a type of legalism and arrogance, that though they preach salvation by grace, they follow up with Galatianism. As to my agenda? I do have one, to bring healing to the many wounded believers out there and to if possible challenge believers to hold their pastors to a biblical standard.

    I hope that helps… I’m sorry if I was offensive or if I haven’t done well in explaining myself.

    In His Grip,

    Eric Davis

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  3. JasonS says:

    Re: The issue of liberty. There are various ways in which to consider this. For some it is indeed a matter of curtailing liberty for the sake of the weaker brother. In some instances, however, it is a matter of the weaker brother making said issue related to the gospel and thus perverting the Gospel. We must stand against the perversion of the gospel, and do so without fear.
    I have written concerning some of these things, and you can find the posts here

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