Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)
The Bible is full of instruction for us. It is all relevant for us today as the New Covenant people of God. Even the Old Testament (especially the Old Testament!), if understood correctly, is full of accounts that are not just there for the sake of our historical curiosity; they are recorded as examples and warnings... for us!
Of course, given a choice, we will always prefer an example to a warning! I know personally, I always prefer to preach from passages that are examples of victory, deliverance, and overcoming faith. But the warnings are there for a reason too, both example and warning are recorded for us. We ignore the warnings at our peril!
The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. (Pr 27:12)
I was thinking about this as I was reading the book of Jude. Here was a man who, as one of the Lord's brothers, had grown up with Jesus. Just think of the insight and the revelation he could have brought and shared about the great salvation we have in Christ - something he was eager to do... Yet when he gets his chance to write to the churches, a letter that would (eventually!) become part of the canon of Scripture and be recognised as part of God's eternal, infallible, sufficient word to this world... he felt constrained by the Holy Spirit to go down another route.
We all love to hear the examples, but sometimes we need to heed the warnings. The Spirit constrained Jude to leave warnings, not just for the New Testament churches of his time, but for us. They are not written down to scare us, or bring us condemnation, but for our benefit. Warnings do us good because they help us to avoid the things that would harm us. They help us to recognise the fist signs that we are on the wrong path, and to turn around quickly!
Jude must have had particular insight into figures who by their mistakes are forever associated with warnings - he had to change his name because of one of them! (Mt 13:55) He mentions three in particular that are powerful warnings we do well to take note off....
The Way of Cain,
The Error of Balaam,
The Rebellion of Korah
I will look at each in detail in further posts.