In the introduction to his epistle, James’ brother Jude tells his readers, “although I was very eager to write you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing you to contend for the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
In Jude’s day, much like in ours, false teachers declared that God did not exist and, thus, we could live our lives in whatever way we chose without fear of being accountable to a God that will judge humanity for their sins.
Today, “false teachers” prefer haughty titles like “skeptics” or “free thinkers,” promising freedom from the tyranny of religion and liberation to pursue the passions of our hearts while using their unbelief as an excuse to rebel against the God who created them.
Even inside the Church, false teachers deny the gospel of Jesus Christ and replace it with a cheap message of health, wealth, and prosperity. God, they say, is more concerned with his people being happy than he is with his people being holy. Proponents of the prosperity gospel tickle the ears of their congregations with books like “Your Best Life Now” and exploit their spiritual hunger for their own financial gain.
False teachers undermine the truth of the gospel
Whether the assault comes from within the church or from without, one thing is certain: false teaching about the person and work of Jesus are destructive heresies that separate vulnerable people from the grace and peace that Jesus purchased for us on the cross.
God didn’t break into human history in the person of Jesus and nail himself to a cross so we could go on living in ignorance and rebellion against Him; he broke into human history to pay the penalty for our rebellion and point us back to the holiness of God.
He didn’t lay down his life for your happiness; Jesus sacrificed his life for your holiness, because without his atoning work on the cross to pay for your sins and mine, we would still be spiritually dead in our sin and eternally separated from our Creator.
The truth of the gospel comes at too high a price to let it be abused by false teachers.
As Christians, we must learn to recognize false gospels when we encounter them and be prepared to clearly and persuasively present the Good News of Christ. We are called to “contend for the faith” because the truth of the gospel comes at too high a price to let it be abused by false teachers.
If, for some reason, you’re reading this and you’re not a Christian, I hope you’ll examine critically that which is presented as “truth” and “reason” in our culture today. Many would-be prophets make a lot of noise about being “free,” but when you examine their lives, are they walking the walk, or are they just talking the talk? Look at Dawkins. Is he really happy? Is he really free from the oppression of religion, or has he just created a religion of his own?
Then look at the life of Jesus, the man who claimed to be God, who laid down his life so that you could be set free from the corruption of the world, and who demonstrated that he was who he claimed to be by walking out of a sealed tomb three days later.
Who has a greater claim to authority?