A calling out of all false teachers

by Mike Ratliff

3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4 NASB)

Carefully read the passage above my brethren. The writer of the Epistle of Jude is the brother of James, the well-known leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21;18; Galatians 2:9) and, therefore, the half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. In v3 we read that Jude had intended to write a letter on salvation as the common blessing enjoyed by all true believers. This intent was probably to emphasize unity and fellowship among believers as he reminded them that God is no respecter of persons, however, his plans were changed. He doesn’t say why he “felt the necessity” to write something else, but what we have in this letter is actually a call to battle for the truth in light of the appearance and infiltration into the Church of apostate teachers. 

3 Ἀγαπητοί, πᾶσαν σπουδὴν ποιούμενος γράφειν ὑμῖν περὶ τῆς κοινῆς ἡμῶν σωτηρίας ἀνάγκην ἔσχον γράψαι ὑμῖν παρακαλῶν ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι τῇ ἅπαξ παραδοθείσῃ τοῖς ἁγίοις πίστει. 4 παρεισέδυσαν γάρ τινες ἄνθρωποι, οἱ πάλαι προγεγραμμένοι εἰς τοῦτο τὸ κρίμα, ἀσεβεῖς, τὴν τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν χάριτα μετατιθέντες εἰς ἀσέλγειαν καὶ τὸν μόνον δεσπότην καὶ κύριον ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἀρνούμενοι. (Jude 1:3-4 NA28)

The word translated as “contend” here is ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι the present tense, infinitive mood, middle voice form of ἐπαγωνίζομαι or epagōnizomai, which pictures a soldier entrusted with a sacred task of guarding a holy treasure. That is the dedication and “earnestness” we have the privilege by the grace of God to possess as believers that we my stand in the gap and not give way to apostates (cf 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7). What is this precious treasure that we are contend earnestly for, that we are to guard zealously? It is τῇ ἅπαξ παραδοθείσῃ τοῖς ἁγίοις πίστει or, literally, “the once having been delivered over to the holy ones faith.” This is the whole body of revealed salvation truth contained in Sacred Scripture (Galatians 1:23; Ephesians 4:5, 13; Philippians 1:27; 1 Timothy 4:1). Here is v20, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” This is a call to know sound doctrine (Ephesians 4:14; Colossians 3:16; 1 Peter 2:2; 1 John 2:12-14). It is also a call to be discerning in sorting out truth from error (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22), and to be willing to confront and attack error. This is what it means to contend earnestly for this holy treasure, which is the faith delivered once for all to the saints.

The phrase we have looked at couple of time already here about how the faith we are to contend for was “delivered once for all to the saints” speaks of God’s revelation delivered once as a unit, at the completion of the Scripture, and is not to be edited by either deletion or addition. Scripture is complete, sufficient, and finished; therefore, it is fixed for all time. Nothing is to be added to the body of the inspired Word because nothing else is needed. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of believers now to study the Word, preach the Word, and fight for its preservation.

Who are these apostates? They are false teachers pretending to be true. They attempt to sell themselves as legitimate Christian teachers and preachers and leaders, and they may appear to be so on the surface, but their intentions are to lead God’s people astray (Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29; Galatians 2:4, 5; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Peter 2:1, 20; 1 John 2:18-23). These false teachers are Satan’s counterfeits and their stealth makes them very dangerous to the Body of Christ. This is why God has equipped some of us with the discernment it takes to hear and read them and “discern” that they are false. How do we do this? It is by comparing what they say and write with what the Word of God says. This means that to contend earnestly for the faith in this we must know the truth. When we are intimately familiar with the truth, the false stands out and is easy to spot. The hard part is getting those who have been deceived to listen to the warnings and hear the truth.

I listen to or read some false teacher’s sermon at least once a week and it is something that I detest, but it is amazing how God uses that process to show me all these layers of false teaching I have absorbed in all those years in the SBC as a Deacon and Sunday School Teacher, et cetera. However, when I listen to these fellows now it is incredible how they use the Bible incorrectly. They may read the text, but they twist it. They take it out of context. They force their own meaning over it. They make it fit their sermon topic even though that part of the Bible isn’t even remotely about that. You see, these are all signs of a false teacher. Does your preacher do this? Do you listen to any well known preacher on TV or Radio or Podcast or whatever that does this? Well, you are being setup for deception. You are being fed poison and this keeps you from being able to contend earnestly for the faith.

Soli Deo Gloria!

9 thoughts on “A calling out of all false teachers

  1. Dear Mike,

    The reason most people can not discern the Truth is because they do not know it. We are each responsible in our relationship with the Lord to ask Him to help us desire His daily bread (The Word of God). All my relationships and interactions are adversely affected when I have not renewed my mind in the Scriptures.

    Your post: https://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/2014/09/14/for-the-word-of-god-is-living-and-active-and-sharper-than-any-two-edged-sword/ explained this very well.

    May God in His mercy grant us a deep desire to be zealous for His precious Word. May He also give us the ability through the Holy Spirit to read it, rightly divide it and lovingly share it with a lost world. Finally, with the knowledge of His Truth, may we carefully, thoughtfully and respectfully, defend His Great Name Sake and ultimately glorify the Father.

    By the way, I am currently reading “Redemption Accomplished and Applied” by John Murray (1955 edition). It is not an easy read but it is so rich and has pricked my mind to think so much more deeply about what Christ has done for me. This has been a tremendous blessing.

    Blessings to you and your ministry, charisse

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen!

    They are also intentional deceivers. That is the plan for the great apostasy we see. It’s amazing how many ‘teachers’ out there are false teachers. It takes being anchored in God’s word to detect it. No one wants to hear how their pet bible teacher is teaching heresy, they love them more than God’s word. Remember also, the Truth as well as the Word of God are titles of Christ. All who are on the side of the absolute truth hear his voice.


  3. Reblogged this on The love of God and commented:
    Contend earnestly? Of course. But isn’t it true that so many people nowadays, some who we know personally will not be taught? Do we then waste our words? No, because the word of the Lord stands for ever.


  4. Those who are deceived or will be deceived don’t know the truth and/or don’t want to search the scriptures for themselves. But Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. . .do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” 2 Tim 4:2-5


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