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I raised a couple of questions in my previous post, Cracks in the Church, concerning Jude’s observation that false teachers had entered the church unnoticed by the body of believers to which he was writing. Those questions were:
- How could these people get into a position to teach a false doctrine while surrounded by believers?
- How can we prevent these cracks in our churches today?
I really enjoyed reading the responses submitted by those who read that post. There were some who pointed out that this crack has always existed in the church. And others offered their views on who is responsible for preventing these type of cracks in our current church. This responsibility was placed on everybody from the preacher to the body of believers. I suggest you take some time to read through those responses when you have a chance.
When I proposed that there was a crack in the church, I wasn’t referring to the false teachers. Instead, I was pointing out the path by which these false teachers get into a position to have followers within the church body. The sneak in through cracks. I want to use scripture to support my opinions on this matter so bear with me for a few moments as I step through this quickly.
First, we have evidence from Christ in His letter to the church at Ephesus as recorded in Revelations, that the crack need not exist:
I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;
And then we can look to Jude as he encourages the members of the church he is writing to close the crack:
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.
He tells them to contend for the faith. One of the uses for contend that I found in the dictionary is this – to assert or maintain earnestly. So Jude is calling them to assert the faith. Now we need to look at the Greek word that is behind the word faith so that we understand what it is that he is asking them to assert. The word is pistis and the following is a lexicon entry for this word:
I like how that first definition starts, conviction of truth. He is telling them to assert their convictions of the truth. He alludes to this truth in the beginning of the letter when he refers to the readers as those kept for Jesus Christ and he juxtaposes the false teachings with this same truth in verse 4 of the book when he points out that these false teachers “deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Based on this quick review and read through the first 4 verses of Jude, we can make the following statements:
- The letter was written to all believers located within the church that Jude wrote
- This church failed to maintain a strong sense of basic theology AND/OR did not test the beliefs of those who sought to teach within their body against this basic theology
- Their failure resulted in blind acceptance of heresy
The crack in that particular church occurred when the people (both leadership and laity) failed to care about what it was that they believed. Maybe they never had a firm grasp of the doctrine or maybe they had become lazy. In either case, they were the crack and this is why they were unaware of heresies coming into their midst.
This crack can only be prevented when the membership of a church has earnestly contended for their faith.
Do you know what you believe and why you believe it? If not, you are in danger of being a crack.
If you are in church leadership, are you equipping your saints through steadfast teaching of the full gospel – both grace and truth?
If you are in the church body, how are you holding your teachers and preachers accountable?
I fear that there is much that is going unnoticed in the contemporary church.