Jude exhorted Church members to earnestly contend for the faith against false teachers. He described false teachers and counseled the Saints to build their lives upon the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jude is traditionally understood to be the half brother of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 13:55). Jude was apparently an active Church member of high esteem in Jerusalem.
Read the following scenarios aloud, and invite students to consider how they would respond:
On a social media site, a friend posts a statement criticizing the Church’s position on same-sex marriage.
A neighbor learns that you are a member of the Church. He tells you that he has read the Book of Mormon and feels that it is uplifting literature but not the word of God.
During a class discussion at school, a peer argues that viewing pornography is harmless and should not be discouraged.
What are different ways a person could respond in these situations?
Invite a student to read Jude 1:3–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jude warned Church members about.
According to verse 4, what did Jude warn Church members about?
Help students understand that “ungodly men” with evil intentions had subtly entered the ranks of the Church. These Church members promoted corrupt, immoral practices by teaching that the doctrine of grace allowed for a complete license to sin because God would mercifully forgive. They also rejected certain truths about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The phrase “who were before of old ordained to this condemnation” (verse 4) means that the condemnation of such people had been written about long ago.
In light of the false teachings and corrupt practices these people were spreading, what did Jude exhort faithful Church members to do? (“Earnestly contend for the faith” [verse 3].)
Explain that “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (verse 3) refers to the gospel of Jesus Christ—the truths, laws, and ordinances taught by the Savior and His Apostles.
What truth can we learn about the responsibility of Jesus Christ’s disciples in dealing with false teachings and corrupt practices? (Students may use their own words to identify the following truth: Disciples of Jesus Christ should earnestly contend for the gospel of Jesus Christ against false teachings and corrupt practices.)
What do you think it means to earnestly contend for the gospel? (We are to boldly teach and testify of the gospel. However, we should not be unkind, overbearing, or contentious as we do so [see Alma 38:12; 3 Nephi 11:29].)
How can we contend for the gospel without being contentious?
Remind students of the situations presented earlier in the lesson.
In these and similar situations, what are some ways we can contend for the gospel against false teachings and corrupt practices?
Invite a student to read the following account given by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for how the young woman contended for the gospel.
“Recently, I spoke with a Laurel from the United States. I quote from her email:
“‘This past year some of my friends on Facebook began posting their position on marriage. Many favored same-sex marriage, and several LDS youth indicated they “liked” the postings. I made no comment.
“‘I decided to declare my belief in traditional marriage in a thoughtful way.
“‘With my profile picture, I added the caption “I believe in marriage between a man and a woman.” Almost instantly I started receiving messages. “You are selfish.” “You are judgmental.” One compared me to a slave owner. And I received this post from a great friend who is a strong member of the Church: “You need to catch up with the times. Things are changing and so should you.”
“‘I did not fight back,’ she said, ‘but I did not take my statement down.’
“She concludes: ‘Sometimes, as President Monson said, “You have to stand alone.” Hopefully as youth, we will stand together in being true to God and to the teachings of His living prophets’” (“Spiritual Whirlwinds,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 19–20).
How did this young woman contend for the gospel?
When have you or someone you know contended for the gospel of Jesus Christ? What did you learn through that experience?
Ask students to ponder what they can do to earnestly contend for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Encourage them to follow any promptings they receive.
Summarize Jude 1:5–7 by explaining that Jude compared these rebellious Church members to people in Old Testament times who rebelled against God and suffered His judgments. These people included many of the children of Israel who were destroyed in the wilderness and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who were destroyed by fire. Jude also compared rebellious Church members to those who rebelled against God in “their first estate,” or premortal existence, and were cast out of His presence (Jude 1:6; see also Abraham 3:22–26).
Write the following heading on the board: Characteristics of False Teachers.
Explain that in Jude 1:8–16, we read Jude’s description of many characteristics that would help Church members recognize those who were spreading corrupt philosophies and practices in the Church. To illustrate this idea, point out the phrases “clouds they are without water, carried about of winds” and “trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit” in Jude 1:12.
How might false teachers be like clouds without water and fruit trees without fruit?
Divide students into groups of three or four. Instruct students to read Jude 1:8, 10, 14–19 with their group members, looking for additional characteristics of false teachers. Invite students to consider marking what they find. You may need to explain that “the last time” (verse 18) refers to the period of time in which Jude lived as well as the last days in which we live.
After sufficient time, invite students to come to the board and write a characteristic of false teachers they found. Characteristics students might write include the following (you may need to use some of these statements to help students understand what they read):
How does not having the Spirit lead to the development of the characteristics listed on the board?
Why is it important to recognize the characteristics of false teachers?
Help students understand that not everyone who has one or more of these characteristics or who teaches something incorrect is necessarily a false teacher as described by Jude. Such a person may be innocently mistaken in his or her understanding of a subject. However, these characteristics can help us recognize false teachers whose intent is to weaken the faith and obedience of others by deceiving them and promoting evil.
Invite students to review Jude 1:17–18 silently.
Who had previously warned Church members about false teachers?
What truth can we learn from these verses about how apostles and prophets can help us in our efforts to contend against false teachers? (Students may use their own words but should identify a truth such as the following: Apostles and prophets warn us of and help us recognize those who seek to weaken our faith and obedience. Write this truth on the board.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for how his statement reflects this truth.
“Today we warn you that there are false prophets and false teachers arising; and if we are not careful, even those who are among the faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will fall victim to their deception” (“Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 62).
Considering this truth, why is it important to study the words of apostles and prophets?
What are some false teachings that modern prophets and apostles have warned against?
Write the following incomplete statement on the board: We can remain true to the faith by …
Invite a student to read Jude 1:20–21 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jude counseled the Saints to do to remain true to the faith. You may need to explain that “praying in the Holy Ghost” means to pray with the assistance of inspiration from the Holy Ghost.
According to verses 20–21, how would you complete the statement on the board? (One way students might complete the statement is as follows: We can remain true to the faith by building our lives on the gospel of Jesus Christ.)
How can following Jude’s additional instruction in verses 20–21 help us build our lives on the gospel?
Why is remaining true to the faith worth the effort?
How has living by Jude’s counsel helped you or others you know remain true to the faith?
Invite students to write in their scripture study journals or class notebooks one way they can improve in following Jude’s counsel. Encourage them to apply what they wrote.
Summarize Jude 1:22–25 by explaining that Jude counseled faithful Church members to assist others who were spiritually struggling, possibly due to the influence of the false teachers, and he offered praise unto God.
Conclude by sharing your testimony of the truths discussed in this lesson.
Assign each student a different scripture mastery passage. Instruct students to write a real-life scenario on a piece of paper in which the doctrines and principles contained in their assigned scripture mastery passage could be applied. After students finish writing, collect their scenarios. Read a few scenarios, and invite students to share how the doctrines and principles in scripture mastery passages could be used and applied to each scenario. You could present some of the scenarios at the beginning or end of lessons during the coming week.