The early days of Christianity has seen a decline in faith and obedience that leads to godliness. Within a few years of gospel proclamation many that believed in the Lord began to inculcate themselves with the ways of the world. They took the joy and strength of the Spirit for granted and brought Satan’s interference into their lives. Though it seems surprising that only after a few years of Christ’s death and resurrection the church should face spiritual descent, it is a realistic consequence that ungodliness takes its roots when freedom in Christ is taken lightly. Living by the grace of God for Christ should be a life of simplicity and purity. When Christians neglect focusing on Christ and what He is able to offer, life loses its straightforwardness. Many other things take prominence. As this was the case in those days, the Spirit had to lead Paul into saying, “I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me” (2 Cor. 11:1).
Paul had to again teach them the basic principles of Christ. It is sad that those Christians had to again lay a foundation for repentance. They were saved and yet, needed instruction. He deliberately calls it foolishness, since they chose the foolish things of the world over the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. They had the Word, were gifted, filled and blessed. Still, all these did not seem as riches of Christ for glory. They deviated to obtain other things that would malign God’s name among the nations. If the gospel of Christ is already foolishness to the perishing, what would be the words of its servants for those that believed and take godliness lightly, but foolishness? When we realize what Paul has seen and known Christians to have lost, the present day Christianity is a reflection of it. The simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ has declined and in many cases been lost.
Much of today’s Christianity revolves around the proclamation involving fleshly things and unfounded principles. Sadly, the term gospel gets added to that proclamation. It appears that anyone can proclaim the gospel in any way as long as they do it in the name of Christ and the God that sacrificed Him. The forces faithful Christians fight these days are not dissimilar to what Paul and the rest fought in their days, except that the number of the ungodly now is vast. Ungodliness crept remarkably into the churches. Believers are becoming stagnant for Christ while unbelievers and their principles are taking great prominence in the church. More and more believers are becoming ineffective for Christ, as they are unable to devout themselves to Him. Jesus does not use men and women who do not pursue simplicity and purity of devotion to Him — simplicity as in singleness and purity as in chastity. So, we can deduce what He wants. Christians are to detach themselves from all dross including sexual promiscuity when they are of Christ. Yet, with such instructions from the Spirit, many are not bearing in mind the seriousness of the message; it has become foolishness to them.
Part of the problem is that the churches are filled with the unsaved. These have not tasted God’s sacrificial love that comes through proclaiming the wisdom of the gospel. The other part is that believers are being lured into the lifestyle and teachings of the unsaved. So, there needs to be a solution for restoring and establishing the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. A man of God spells it for us, who are saved by grace through faith in Christ. “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Pet. 3:17). His words in the Spirit ought not to be considered difficult. They are for upholding us in Christ. If his message seems superfluous to any, it is to those who consider him as foolish; for he is one without learning, a fisherman.
There are more chances of coming across unprincipled men these days than one who is of Christ. Hence, we must be alert. It means to constantly have the knowledge of the truth and the guidance of the Spirit, even His gifts that we are able to judge. How important to you is your steadfastness in Christ? I am sure you heard it before. Yet, allow me to remind you. It is for your glory and joy; it is for your peace and tranquility; it is for all the blessings and provisions God has stored for you; finally, it is for you to be a living sacrifice for Christ. So, be filled with the Word and the Spirit, who alerts you of the error of unprincipled men. For many being apart from them could not resist the world and became stagnant for Christ. So, the servants of Christ often took the opportunity to remind believers of salvation’s worth. “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” (Jude 1:3).
How significant are the words of Jude to the present days! Although his intent was to speak of the greatness of our common salvation, he saw an even greater need to make an appeal for faith. We can surely see the reason for it. It is the fear that Christians might lose their intimate relationship with Christ. He then goes on to write what and who is responsible for leading the believers astray. The most important part we must grasp is contending earnestly for the faith. The word ‘contend’ here implies striving. It is not an act that is performed once, but a continuous one. It should be our business to strive sincerely for faith. Faith is the avenue that made us God’s children. It is the attribute for steadfastness in Christ which means all things we receive for being steadfast is through it. It helps us to oppose the ungodly in our hearts and at times openly. It acts as a shield to protect our intimacy with Christ. So, Jude goes on to say of it as that which was once for all handed down to the saints. The faith that leads the saints or the saved to all the things of God never changes. When we possess this knowledge, we can restore and establish the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. And, John said, “And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people” (Rev. 14:6).
John in the Spirit saw what would take place later. He was speaking of the believers, us, whom Jesus chose to proclaim the gospel. Obviously, it is not the angel that would proclaim it. It is a figurative speech to relate Jesus’ intent. Nevertheless, angels are ministering spirits to provide service to all who receive salvation. Just as Paul and Peter, we too will preach the gospel to unbelievers and believers, who need to come away from being stagnant; both are in the churches. Each one will do it by the measure God gives. John’s words contain the conviction that this will happen no matter what. It is because he did not see what men are capable of doing, but Christ’s intent. He saw His power through what he saw and was convinced He will fulfill the vision. And, it has indeed become true for we are chosen to proclaim the gospel that accomplishes all things to every nation, tribe, tongue and people.
Many have done it before and we have come after them. And they all had one command in mind and so shall we. “Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’” (John 21:22). Each one independently followed Jesus. Although they all received a purpose from Him, they were called to follow Him by themselves; for it is His power that enables them to fulfill their purpose. It is utterly important that each one of us follow Him just as we were called; each was called from a different condition. Then, He will accomplish great things through us for God. The reason He desires we follow Him independently is because to each He avails a measure and His power strengthens us for it; no one is made inferior to another or made to envy another. When every believer follows Christ only, his or her purpose becomes all the more effective. For example, when He told Matthew, the Levi, to follow Him, “And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him,” (Luke 5:28) his purpose became extremely effective for the Kingdom.
As a tax collector, he worked for the Roman government that demanded unreasonable payments. So, he was considered unclean by the Pharisees and their scribes. But, Jesus calls him and he leaves everything and follows Him. It is clear that Matthew heard of the Messiah and was eagerly waiting for Him. That he left everything denotes he left the sinful work he was doing (the source of earning for him and his family), the fleshly desires and his duty toward the Roman authorities. He yearned for Jesus and Jesus took care of him. But, what was his purpose for God? We do not see him extensively in the book of Acts or elsewhere as Paul, Peter or John other than being at Pentecost with the 120 in upper room. Yet, he had a significant purpose from Christ. It was to pen the gospel, which we now call after his name. Imagine the wisdom he was given and the Spirit that was bestowed on him for it. Some of the details in his book are even unique and found nowhere else. Christ Jesus uses everyone He calls fully and appropriately. Sacrifices will have to be made according to His will that our life is with simplicity and purity of devotion to Him. May Christians realize it! For He said, “every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted’” (Matt. 15:13).