“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Jude 20–23

Jude was the half-brother of our Lord. His book is thoroughly in keeping with the heart and mind of the Savior for he is zealous for the faith and righteously opposed to apostates. Just as his book contends for the faith, so he urges his fellow believers to do the same. There is a good deal of fire to the book because a pure understanding of the faith is of vital importance to every man, woman, and child.

Early in the book he writes, “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 3f). He then proceeds to skewer the apostate teachers and agitators using biblical illustrations of errors and vividly identifying sinful behaviors. Against such stalwart errorists there must be vigilant defense and resolute advancement of the truth.

Just how is the average church and church member, supposed to earnestly contend for the faith? Jude answers the question at the end of his book. Verse 20 calls upon the faithful saints to spring to action, building up ourselves in the most holy faith. Of course, there are three general categories of faith in the New Testament—body of belief, saving faith, and living faith. Two of the categories seem appropriate to the context. Since Jude is speaking to the “beloved,” saving faith is already operative and whole. Once a man is born again, and aided by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, empowering, and illuminating ministry, he is capable of discerning biblical canons of truth and applying them to his personal life in a practical way. It would seem the faith to be built up is a firm grasp on doctrinal truth and a faithful lifestyle in keeping with faith.

Jude uses the phrase “building yourselves up.” The Greek word for building up is epoikodomeo—building upon a foundation, or above a foundation, or fitting on a foundation. The word implies following a plan with predesigned (predefined) specifications. The word appears just a few times in the rest of the New Testament. Ephesians 2:20 illustrates the fine points of the meaning of the word, “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone.” 1 Corinthians 3:10ff uses the word four times in admonishing that great care be invested in how every man builds up his life since his building has great effect on usefulness and eternal reward. Colossians 2:6f further embellishes the picture, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”

Jude assists in our understanding by listing five building materials that are available to every saint as he builds upon the foundation of faith in Christ:

  • The first is “praying in the Holy Spirit.” This signifies the imperative of total dependence upon God for direction, instruction, and success in all spiritual endeavors. The saint must pray “in the sphere of” the Holy Spirit, in other words, along the lines of how the Holy Spirit will lead a saint, through the Word of God. A Spirit-led life is a life lived filling each day with Spirit-led decisions. There will be no earnest contending for the faith if you are not spiritually built up in it. Pray!
  • The second building material is “keep yourselves in the love of God.” Keep is to keep watch over, preserve. This is a demand for vigilance on the part of every saint to ensure his behavior is dead-center of God’s love. This requires obedience to His commands and faithfulness in looking after the Lord’s interests in his life. Any contending for the faith must be done in such a way that the smile of God still rests upon the saint. Obey!
  • The third building material is “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” The saint must keep a light hold on things of this earth and maintain a heaven-ward focus. Faith building requires a heart that is released from earth-bound thinking to heaven-bound expectation. Focus!
  • The fourth and fifth building materials relate to disciple-making. The fourth is “on some have compassion, making a distinction.” Any saint who lives each day remembering he is a recipient of the mercy of God will have no trouble remembering he must show mercy to others, particularly in their condition of doubt. Contending for the faith means speaking about it out of mercy and with absolute clarity. Teach!
  • The final building material is “others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Holy fear of sin and its corrupting, corrosive influences is necessary and a great prompter to contend for truth. Engage!

Build yourself up in your faith today by employing these basic building materials and Acts 20:32 will be your experience in life! Trust and obey.