Having just completed a 15 week sermon series on the 25 verses of the Epistle of Jude, I am definitely up on the New Testaments exhortation to "earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints". The opening line of my first sermon in the Jude series was this:
"War is hell! At least that is the way that General William Sherman described it. He served as a General in the Union Army under Ulysses Grant during the Civil War, and he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy."
What is interesting is that the very concept of literal Hell is what is being questioned these days and specifically in Rob Bell's new book: Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. In a promotional video for the book, Rob Bell asks provacative and leading questions that would leave one at least speculating that he has fully embraced a Universalist theology. With questions like these I might conclude that indeed he is a Universalist or he has constructed careful questions to stir the pot and sell a lot of books.
Rob Bell asks:
Gandhi’s in hell? He is? And someone knows this for sure?
Will only a few select people make it to heaven?
And will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell?
And if that’s the case, how do you become one of the few? Is it what you believe? Or what you say? Or what you do? Or who you know? Or something that happens in your heart? Or do you need to be initiated or baptized or take a class or be converted or be born again? How does one become one of these few?
The word in Jude 3 for contend is the Greek word epagōnizomai.The word comes from the athletic world – from the wrestling mat. It is a strengthened form of the word meaning “to agonize.” The prefix ep means upon or against. The word means to agonize against. This is a picture of that word:
Jude encourages all believers to "agonize against" for the gospel. The gospel is precious and has been placed in the hands of true believers in sacred trust. We must not become too complacent and comfortable to contend for the faith.
Those whom Jude warns about are men who have crept into the church unnoticed. The word for unnoticed in Jude 4 is the Greek word pyrasdunno which means to enter secretly, slip in stealthily. The idea of a stealth is that it’s undetected by radar. These men have come in by stealth, unnoticed. How? Why? Because they appear to be one of us. They appear to be spiritual leadership. They came in even as shepherds. Jesus gave a warning against those who appear to be true spiritual leadership.
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Shepherd’s wore clothing made from the sheep’s wool. These false shepherds wore sheep’s clothing. The false teachers Jude warns about were in the church. They were pastors, shepherds. Today is no different. The question I have raised in this blog is: Is Rob Bell a universalist (The belief that many or all will be saved without confessing Jesus as Lord). I don't know the answer to the question. But I guess we all will have a better idea of that when his book is released on March 15. In any event, I for one have been praying that the church would rise up and contend for the the true faith and present Jesus Christ to a "lost" and dying world.
By Charles Nestor II