Jude exhorted Church members to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3) against false teachers. He described false teachers and counseled the Saints to build their lives upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In your scripture study journal, list a few different ways you could respond in each of the following situations:
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.
Jude’s letter to faithful Christians came at a time when Church members faced fierce opposition. Read Jude 1:3–4, looking for what Jude encouraged Church members to do in the face of opposition.
Notice that Jude encouraged the Saints to “earnestly contend for the faith” (verse 3). This means they were to boldly defend, teach, and testify of the gospel. “Ungodly men” (verse 4) 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.
One truth we can learn from Jude’s instruction is that disciples of Jesus Christ should earnestly contend for the gospel of Jesus Christ against false teachings and corrupt practices.
Contending for the gospel does not mean we are contentious in spirit. We should be kind and bold but not overbearing as we defend and testify of the truth (see Alma 38:12; 3 Nephi 11:29). To effectively contend for the gospel—to defend, teach, and testify—also means we need to know what the correct doctrines and principles of the gospel are.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How can we contend for the gospel without being contentious?
Recall the situations presented in assignment 1. In these and similar situations, what are some ways we can contend for the gospel against false teachings and corrupt practices?
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared an account of a young woman who 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).
Think about a time when you or someone you know contended for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Consider what more you can do to defend and stand up for the truth. Commit to follow any promptings you receive.
In Jude 1:5–7 Jude compared the rebellious Church members to those who were unfaithful among the ancient Israelites who were led out of the land of Egypt; those who rebelled against God in “their first estate” (Jude 1:6; see also Abraham 3:22–26), or the premortal existence; and the wicked people in and around Sodom and Gomorrah who were destroyed.
As recorded in Jude 1:8–16, Jude described many characteristics that would help Church members recognize those who were spreading corrupt philosophies and practices in the Church. For example, he described them as “clouds … without water, carried about of winds” and “trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit” (Jude 1:12). How might false teachers be like clouds without water and fruit trees without fruit?
Jude may have referred to information found in the apocryphal books the Assumption of Moses and the Book of Enoch in his epistle. The Assumption of Moses describes “Michael the archangel … contending with the devil … about the body of Moses” (Jude 1:9). The book tells how Michael ultimately won, and Moses was translated at the end of his life (see Alma 45:19). The Book of Enoch contains a prophecy from Enoch about the Second Coming (see Jude 1:14–15). The Lord revealed that many things contained in apocryphal books are correct, and those who are enlightened by the Spirit can benefit from reading them. However, some of the books contain additions that corrupt the original text (see D&C 91). (For more information about the Apocrypha, see Bible Dictionary, “Apocrypha.”)
Read Jude 1:8, 10, 14–19, looking for additional characteristics of false teachers. You may want to mark or note what you find. In the accompanying chart, fill in the blanks based on what you learn in the verses. Some of the statements in the chart are given to help you understand Jude’s writing. (Note 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.)
Characteristics of False Teachers
Why is it important to recognize the characteristics of false teachers?
Not everyone with one or more of these characteristics is a false teacher. Nor is everyone who teaches something that is not correct a false teacher. They may be innocently mistaken in their understanding of a subject. However, knowing 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.
In Jude 1:17, notice that Jude reminded the Saints that the Apostles of the Lord had warned Church members about false teachers. From this verse we learn that apostles and prophets warn us of and help us recognize those who seek to weaken our faith and obedience.
Prophets and apostles today continue to warn us of false teachers.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “As Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is our duty to be watchmen on the tower, warning Church members to beware of false prophets and false teachers who lie in wait to ensnare and destroy faith and testimony. 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).
What are some false teachers or false teachings that modern prophets and apostles have warned against?
Considering what you have learned from Jude’s epistle, why is it important to study the words of apostles and prophets?
Read Jude 1:20–21, looking for what Jude counseled the Saints to do to remain true to the faith. The phrase “praying in the Holy Ghost” in verse 20 means to pray with the assistance of inspiration from the Holy Ghost.
Use the truths you learn in these verses to complete the following truth: We can remain true to the faith by .
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Why is remaining true to the faith worth any effort it takes?
How has living by Jude’s counsel helped you or others you know remain true to the faith?
On a separate piece of paper, write one way you can improve in following Jude’s counsel, and place the paper where you will see it often as a reminder to apply what you wrote. When you have done this, write Completed in your scripture study journal.
As recorded in Jude 1:22–25, Jude counseled faithful Church members to assist others who were spiritually struggling, possibly due to the influence of the false teachers. He also offered praise unto God.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignment in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Jude and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: