The Vigilant Shepherd

September 10, 2020

Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write, appealing to you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For some people, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into sensuality and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.

Jude 1:3-4

Written by Marlin Keel from the Woodbine Campus

No children’s Christmas pageant is complete without a full complement of pint-sized shepherds coming in from the fields adorned in over-sized bath robes, sandals, a head wrap, and carrying an improvised staff. Such was the case in the mid-1950s in a little church in the Scottsboro community. We all knew our place, and more importantly, we were happy not to have any lines to memorize.

The image of the shepherd is a powerful and pervasive image throughout the Bible. God called great leaders like Moses and David from the fields where they were tending their sheep to become leaders of much larger flocks.

In John 10, Jesus gives a detailed description of a good shepherd. He clearly states that the threat to the flock does not come from within, but from the wolf that threatens from the outside. The situation becomes critical when the wolf breaches the gate and enters the flock.

Jude writes that certain ‘wolves’ had infiltrated the flock of the early church. These wolves posed a great threat to the faith of the early believers by perverting God’s grace and denying that Jesus was the only way to salvation. This threat was so imminent that Jude shifts from discussing the salvation believers share to an exhortation for believers to ‘contend’ for the faith, to stand firm against the attack by false teachings.

The church today is no different. The body of Christ needs good shepherds in the form of wise and faithful believers whose relationship with Christ compels them to be vigilant to ‘guard the flock.’ They must watch for external threats that can infiltrate the congregation and be willing to defend the faith by contending against false teachings and false doctrines. This tremendous responsibility requires a significant level of spiritual maturity and wisdom.

We know that gospel conversations are effective in helping individuals come to know Jesus and to develop their relationship with Him. It is apparent from Jude’s writing that gospel conversations are also needed to exhort individuals to protect the flock. Each of us needs to love the body of Christ enough to be willing to defend the faith when we are called upon to do so.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. It would be interesting to read what Jude may have written about the “salvation we share.”
  2. Jude mentions perversion of God’s grace and false teachings regarding Jesus as threats to the faith of the early church. How do we recognize false teachings that are not quite so obvious, but equally sinister?
  3. How well do you know and recognize the Truth? Read John 14:6-7.

Family Activity
Pass out a piece of paper and a pencil to each family member. Explain that each person is to write down three things they know to be true about Jesus. Allow each person to share their truths with the family. Take time to discuss the truths shared. Ask each person, “What would you say if someone asked, ‘How do you know those things about Jesus are true?’” Allow each person to respond. Finish the activity with reading and discussing 2 Timothy 3:16.

Missions Prayer
Pray for believers in East Asia, as the political and social climate has become much more difficult for Christians. Pray for the gospel to flourish and for believers to faithfully disciple others. The Hope for the World offering helps bring about Scripture translation projects, global worker sending, and special ministry projects in East Asia.