Guest Posts

Guest Post: Dependence- It’s What’s for Dinner

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in my “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat about it.

Dependence- It’s What’s for Dinner
by Jennifer Buck

It’s not hard to find in Scripture the responsibilities of a wife and mother. We know what it is that we are and are not to be doing. The struggle comes when that which we are to be doing… for example, being the keeper of the home, doesn’t come naturally and we don’t easily find fulfillment in it. Often, those things that we are not to be doing… giving all our energy and attention to things outside of the home at the expense of caring for our home, does come more naturally and seems more fulfilling. What’s a woman to do?

We understand that the Lord created us with our specific talents, abilities, and natural inclinations. We also understand that the Lord created us for a specific task: being our husband’s help-meet and caring for the home are our first priorities. I am not saying a woman cannot work outside of the home, but even in that, she still has a God given sphere of responsibility first and foremost to, and in, the home.

So, why do we not all, as believing women, have natural talent and interest in cooking, child-rearing and helping our husbands? Sin obviously clouds our senses and that must be dealt with, but even beyond that, many women who desire to want those things… just don’t.

God did not create me with a flair for cooking, nor with a desire for all things kitchen related. Even as a kid, I would do the task my mother told me and after finishing the job I would immediately back out of the kitchen with an “OK, job’s done, you don’t need me anymore, right? OK, I’m gone now…” attitude. I hated the kitchen. When I looked forward to marriage, I knew that I would have to prepare meals, but I was content to wait until I had to. And I did. Early on I learned to cook and did what was necessary. My family was not showered with Martha Stewart meals and exotic desserts. We ate, and we ate well, but it didn’t go far beyond that.

Soon, however, that ol’ “I-hate-the-kitchen-and-kinda-resent-that-I-have-to-do-this” attitude crept in. I was a bit jealous of my friends who loved cooking, and kept the house well, and kept their kids doing all kinds of fun stuff, while I’m over here just wanting time to enjoy opportunities to do what I felt was more natural to my talents and desires.

Then one day, it finally hit this thick skull of mine. God has called me to a task. God did not give me the natural talent or desire to do that task to which he has called me. Do you know why? Because He determined for me that this task was to be my area of dependence upon Him. It certainly is only one of many, but this was not an area I would pick for lesson time. But, He picked it for me. It has become my opportunity to depend on God to find joy performing the tasks I dislike. This means as soon as the thought of “What’s for dinner?” hits my brain, right on its heels must be the prayer, “Lord, equip me for what You’ve called me to do, and give me joy in serving my family.” Every. Time. “What’s for dinner?” has become a trigger to prayer for me.

For those of you who approach the kitchen the same way I do, God did not deal us a bad hand. He has not withheld from us a necessary element for finding joy in our role. He did, however, fashion us in such a way that that joy will only be realized by depending on Him. This is actually a very good thing. Not only do we have the opportunity to find a deep appreciation in serving our families, we also learn how to depend on God. That’s the best 2-for-1 sale I can imagine!

So, my dear look-a-likes, don’t begrudge the Lord’s lesson of dependence. For those of you who delight being in the kitchen, you have your own areas of struggle. You have an area to which you are called and it competes with that to which you are drawn. That is your area of dependence. Learn it, and learn it well. You will not regret it, and your family will reap its rewards.


Jennifer and her husband, Tom have been married for 33 years and have 3 children. For the last 15 years they have been serving in Lindale TX, where Tom is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church. Jennifer loves to teach and encourage women in the truths of Scripture.

Guest Posts

Guest Post: The Blessing of a Bothered Conscience

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in my “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat about it.

The Blessing of a Bothered Conscience
by Cale Fauver


The Infused Courtroom

The Apostle Paul unfolds for us in Romans 2 that even the Gentiles who don’t have the Law actually know it by nature because it “is written on their hearts” (2:15). Paul then communicates to us the global, natural purpose of this God-infused courtroom in the heart of every man: to either accuse or excuse (2:15b). Therefore, everyone knows God’s Law (literally: con [with] + science [knowledge]). Every sin, every trespass against God’s moral Law expressed in the 10 Commandments is a known sin, i.e. the sinner knows that when he lied, committed adultery, stole, blasphemed God’s name, etc. it was wrong, and his conscience will either accuse him or excuse him. The unbeliever knows with absolute certainty that it is sinful to lie on that paperwork at the office, and so does the one who has been born again. So, what is the difference?

Bothered, or a Holy Bothered

Perhaps one of the most concrete examples of this distinction can be found in the life of Joseph in Genesis 39. At this point in Joseph’s life, he has been bought by Potiphar (the captain of the guard in Egypt) as a slave to work in his house. Thus, after some time he moves up the ranks and is now in charge of Potiphar’s house and is entrusted with the care of it all.

Enter Potiphar’s wife who finds the very handsome Joseph, handsome (v.6-7). She throws herself at Joseph and Joseph responds thus: “[Potiphar has not] kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (39:9).

According to Romans 2, the typical unbeliever might respond with thoughts similar to Joseph’s, but different. And the distinction is an eternity of difference.

If Joseph were a pagan, he may have initially responded the way he did with, “No, I’d better not, you’re the boss-man’s wife.” But then he could think, “Well, Potiphar is a jerk. And his wife is here alone with me. And who would find out anyway?”. It is possible to keep sin enclosed and secret for a lengthy amount of time if there is the utmost precaution. The sinner’s conscience would be, by the Apostle’s authority, bothered. It would accuse him for doing that to someone. Adultery against another man’s wife, even to a pagan, is pretty messed up at the least, especially considering the husband becoming angry if he finds out (cf. Proverbs 6:30-35).

Even unbelievers can have a bothered conscience, but Joseph had a holy bothered conscience. His concern was that he had sinned – not primarily against his neighbor, but against God.

Signs of Life

Christian, consider your life. When you have the opportunity to (or are in the act of) sin, your conscience is going to sound like the tornado alarm, similar to a pagan’s. But, consider the strength of your conscience’s appeal – not to man, but to God. Yes, part of obeying our conscience is loving our neighbor as is summed up in the Law, but when we sin, the primary offense is always against God (cf. Psalm 51).

Do you know that loud, keeping-you-awake-at-night, bothersome conscience? Do you feel that holy bothered conscience? Thought it is painful, though it is strong, when you respond in repentance and faith in God’s Law and God’s promise and find your conscience clean before the Lord, rejoice! Rejoice that this is a sign of your being made alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5)! Your new and highest desire is to please the Lord, to fear God and to keep his commandments because they have been supernaturally written on your heart as part of the New Covenant (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34). Unbelievers do not feel any guilt about offending the God who created them because there is no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3:18). Their main thought in this process is one of great rebellion, as if God didn’t exist in the first place (Psalm 10:4).

When God’s Word convicts you and accuses you of trespassing against God’s Law, your conscience will loudly remind you and accuse you for your good. You have a fear of God before your eyes. It is good that this is your experience; this is a gracious blessing that the Spirit has worked within you. You are alive to Christ and his glory! How could you sin against that God?

Your Conscience Before the Court

The good news of the gospel is that as you stand before God, Christian, you can do so with a clean conscience cleansed from evil (Hebrews 10:22) because you are standing in the New Covenant. We can have full assurance that God has declared us righteous in Christ because of “the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19). Your final courtroom day before the Most High will be one of absolute freedom of judgment for your sins. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Therefore, your rest ultimately lies in Christ’s work for your rest and safety from condemnation and not in your conscience.

But, because of Christ’s work for us and his cleansing blood, we must listen to and work to obey our conscience when it accuses us before God and his Law. Seek renewal and direction from God’s Word by seeing more of his revealed will in the Scriptures. Desire wisdom and direction from your local church and your pastor when you are unclear or unsure about an issue. Trust your conscience by binding it to God’s Word. And may we sing with Charles Wesley:

Almighty God of truth and love,
to me thy power impart;
the mountain from my soul remove,
the hardness from my heart.
O may the least omission pain
my reawakened soul,
and drive me to that blood again,
which makes the wounded whole.

Cale is an MDiv student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Kelly live in Kansas City with their son, Jude, and baby #2 expected imminently. You can find some of his other writings at News From Afar, and follow him on Twitter.

Guest Posts

Guest Post: Long Line of Grace

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in my “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

Long Line of Grace
by Cale Fauver

The Book of Genealogy

When the time has come for you to begin reading the gospel according to Matthew, you start with this opening line: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). And then what is the next temptation we experience? To blaze through the genealogy of names given. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob….and then sooner or later we get to the ‘good stuff’ of verse 18 where the New Testament actually begins to take off. However, this inspired genealogy from the Holy Spirit means to tell us something about the world, about sinners, and about the God-centeredness of a sinful, human history — it is about the glory Jesus Christ.

The Centrality of Jesus Christ

Note the main focus of this line of names as bookmarked or bracketed (called an inclusio) for us: The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ…Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way…” (v.1 and v.18). The section starts with Jesus and ends with Jesus. Do you see the focal point of this chapter? Do you see God’s heart in the middle of human history, amidst many levels of personalities, ages, and types of people? Jesus!

The purpose of human history in a sinful world is the exaltation of Jesus Christ, the Lamb who  was slain before the foundation of the world (cf. Revelation 13:8). Paul writes, “For by him [Christ] all things were created…all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). The world, human history, and even the act of sinful rebellion exists for God to display his infinite mercy and grace through the sending of the Son to become man, to bear the wrath for the sin and guilt of many, and to rise again in power to rule from the right hand of the Father — this is the purpose of human history. So, when we feel the mundaneness of life; as if we were just another name in the genealogy of the world, rest. Remember Matthew 1 and the list of names that seem and look as a means to take up space. Know that you do not exist for yourself — you exist for the glory and renown of Jesus Christ, that he might display his perfect patience in you (1 Timothy 1:16). For from him and to him and through him are all things — whether life or death, we live to the glory of God.

He Will Save His People From Their Sins

In this line, we also see the common thread of humanity: sinfulness. We know some names, we know their ways; we know how they have fallen (in a few specific ways). They stand as great blemishes, it appears. And yet, whether or not we see it, something deep and omnipotent runs through this thread of humanity: grace. Men are not saved or brought to spiritual life by their own bloodline or will — God reaches down into history and rescues rebels by his power. He does this for the praise of his glorious grace (cf. Ephesians 1:6).

We look to Christ and his omnipotent power to save sinners to the uttermost. God chose Abraham, a pagan from the land of Ur. He was an idolator, a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel. And yet, God sovereignly chose Abraham. There are no sinners too far from God’s mighty power — he saves to the uttermost (cf. Hebrews 7:25). And this was the purpose of the Lord Jesus by coming to his own people as one of his people: to save them from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He will save his people from their sins. Grace doesn’t run naturally through a bloodline, so Christ entered into one.

In a long line of men and women the centrality of human history is Jesus Christ. We exist to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.


Cale is an MDiv student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Kelly live in Kansas City with their son, Jude. You can find some of his other writings at News From Afar, and follow him on Twitter.

Book Reviews, Guest Posts

Guest Post: A Review of Thomas Coutouzis’ “Agonizing for the Faith”

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in my “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

(In case anybody might be confused, a few weeks ago, the author of this book, Thomas Coutouzis, reviewed Jackie Hill-Perry’s “Bible” study on Jude for us. Today’s review is a review of Thomas’ book on Jude by my friend Jason.)


A Review of Thomas Coutouzis’
“Agonizing for the Faith:
A Biblical Exposition of Jude”

by: Jason Marianna

If there is any book of the Bible that speaks directly to most of the issues faced by the 21st century church, that book is Jude. The 21st century church faces a unique problem: The proliferation of media, primarily the internet, not only gives everyone a platform, but it gives the impression that all who have a platform deserve it. Christians are pulled in many directions and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of media – with each content creator doing his or her best to convince the Christian what they teach is worthy of their audience’s time. It is a perfect breeding ground for false teachers to slip into the church unnoticed and unquestioned. In this media environment, they thrive on the ability to communicate their message as effectively as true teachers. Many of the people bringing a dish to pass at your church’s potluck (or “love feast”, if you will) are under their influence in a variety of ways, both directly and indirectly.

Thankfully, God has given us the book of Jude. To read Jude is to understand the grave importance of recognizing false teachers and the subtle traps they lay for God’s people. Much like the elect, false teachers do not walk around with a stripe on their back so you can recognize them. They are instead the proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing. They go to church, they smile, they even talk a lot about the Bible. Nonetheless, the things that should honor God instead, for them, become a lure to separate you from your money, your joy, your holiness, and (if it were possible) your God. Jude wants God’s people to know these “hidden reefs” are all glitter and no gold – clouds without water. More than that, Jude wants you know how to answer them. He wants you to wage war against them, and all the while maintain a love, concern, and affection for saints under their influence. Jude asks you for nothing less than to “agonize” for the faith.

Yet, in my experience, Jude may be the most overlooked book of the New Testament. Never once have I heard a Christian remark to me that it was his or her favorite book. I never see it in the list of books that new Christians must read first. It is not ignored, but it is certainly not emphasized. In light of the aforementioned pitfalls of the 21st century environment, the church needs to know about the hidden dangers that lie just below the surface. Christians need to know now more than ever about the “unreasoned animals” that prowl around them so readily in our time. Today, perhaps more than ever, God’s people need the book of Jude.

Thank God that Thomas Coutouzis understands this. In his excellent commentary, Agonizing for the Faith, Coutouzis takes Jude’s 25 verses and causes them to blossom into a robust and substantial weapon in the hands of the believer. More than that, Coutouzis sounds the alarm about false teachers which, at times, sounds as much like a battle cry as it does a warning. He pulls no punches and takes no prisoners when it comes to the enemies of the faith; naming names and directing sharp, effective attacks. Yet, Coutouzis knows when to put the sword away and encourage loving concern and gentleness for the elect confused and oppressed by false teaching.

Biblical commentaries usually fall into three categories. The first is purely technical. These are commentaries on language, history, context, and culture. They say less about what the text means and more about what the text says. For teachers, these commentaries are invaluable as they help us understand the dead languages and the ancient situations that inform the idioms and peculiarities within the text. For the average believer just trying to understand what the Bible means, these commentaries are usually more hazard than help. Coutouzis in no way ignores the technical aspects of Jude. In fact, he not only demonstrates competence with the Greek language but also possesses the rare ability to explain it in plain, down to earth ways without sounding like an English teacher. Additionally, Coutouzis shows great skill in explaining the extra-biblical references Jude makes in verses 9, 14, and 15. Yet, it cannot be said that Coutouzis has written merely a technical commentary. Agonizing for the Faith is too readable and accessible for that.

The second kind of commentary is a devotional. The focus of these commentaries are application and practicality. Matthew Henry is the prime example of this type. Commentaries of this sort are helpful to the common believer and teacher alike. For the common believer, they are easy to read and speak directly to living the Christian life. For the teacher, they help to focus our lessons on how the believer can carry out what we teach after they leave the class or sermon. Agonizing for the Faith offers plenty of application. Coutouzis speaks to our present age and the real situations it presents for many believers. He often walks his reader through the everyday practical implications of what Jude is saying. Yet, it would be an empty compliment to call Agonizing for the Faith merely a good devotional book. Make no mistake, every believer will be edified to read it, but for reasons that go far beyond that of a typical devotional.

While it is important to remember that almost every commentary contains elements of all three types, it is the main thrust of the commentary that determines its category. Therefore, it is the third type of commentary where we must categorize Agonizing for the Faith. Coutouzis has written an expository commentary. An expository commentary is one that goes verse by verse and word by word to flesh out every aspect of the Biblical text. John MacArthur writes his commentaries in this way. The advantages of the expository method are on full display in Agonizing for the Faith. Coutouzis writes about every word and doesn’t allow himself to skip difficult passages. He goes where the text goes and allows it to speak for itself. Yet, Coutouzis’ perception and insight is on full display in the process. Jude is a densely packed seed of nutrition for the hungry believer. Under Coutouzis, it blossoms and grows.

While I have much good to say about Agonizing for the Faith, it was by no means a perfect book. On occasion, Coutouzis quoted from secondary sources when his text would have been bolstered by interacting with primary sources. While I don’t reject the usefulness of resources like CARM or the Encyclopedia Brittanica, citing them is beneath the high standard Coutouzis has set for himself. Once or twice I felt Coutouzis did not prove his point as thoroughly as he should have. On occasion, particularly chapter 4, it seemed he imposed upon his readers too much of his background research. Also, while I’m eternally grateful to every author that uses footnotes instead of end notes, Agonizing for the Faith has one glaring absence: A bibliography. Coutouzis misses an opportunity not only to give credence to the obvious great depth of his research but also to bless his reader with authors and books where they could learn more. It is my hope that subsequent printings will fix this – I consider it to be the book’s worst shortcoming.

Nonetheless, we should not expect every author to be perfect nor should we allow perfect to be the enemy of good – or in this case allow perfect to be the enemy of great! For while Coutouzis may have a few minor and forgivable shortcomings, he makes up for them several times over. Chapters 1 and 2 were exceedingly quotable. Chapters 5 and 6 were informative. I particularly found chapters 8 and 9 helpful in my own ministry, and chapter 10 was so rich that I made myself read it twice. In fact, as I flip through my copy, I find notes, highlights, and underlines on almost every page. This book blessed me, encouraged me, and just plain fired me up.

In particular, I want to point out one chapter that is the best display of Coutouzis’ excellence. Chapter 12 deals with verses 20-23 of Jude. When discussing verses 22-23, Coutouzis alerts us on page 142 “Every commentator that I have read believed that these groups are all unbelievers within the church…” and then goes on to make his most courageous and dangerous remark in the book “…while I don’t think that is the case for any of these three.” I remember pausing here to absorb what I had read. This is risky for an author, particularly in a book of this type. He was telling his reader “no one agrees with me”. He was asking his audience to trust him. Any author writing about Scripture who does this had better not only be right, he’d better prove it. It’s not as if “majority rules” when it comes to Scripture – truth rules – but a declaration that no one else agrees is to say that many intelligent and godly men who have gone before him are wrong.

What followed was not complicated nor elaborate. In fact, Coutouzis never once refuted the opposing viewpoints. Instead Coutouzis did what he had been doing the entire book: faithful exposition with rigorous exegesis offered with clever insight and humility. Step after step, word after word, idea by idea Coutouzis let Jude speak for itself; and in doing so he convinced me. He was right, and the cadre of commentators were wrong. Coutouzis does more than win an argument, he offers a convincing and consistent view that spurs his reader to love, concern, and caution for weaker brothers caught up in error. This master stroke of Coutouzis’ book should also be its legacy. We ought to rebuke false teachers, marking and avoiding them at all costs. Yet at the same time, our attitude toward Christians caught up in their error ought to be one that reflects our Lord’s: to love and endure much, and yet compromise nothing.

If my reader will indulge me, I wish to say a brief word about Christian literature and publishing. Agonizing for the Faith is a self-published book. What used to be called “vanity publishing” is typically exactly that – a vanity project. Most self-published books in the Christian world are not worth your time. While I’m glad there is an outlet for creative writers and other writers in niche interests, I also believe those in academic fields benefited from a vetting process that printers and publishers used to provide. Yet, Coutouzis serves as a reminder that the world of self-publishing is not entirely devoid of quality work. If the Christian publishing world can find time and money to publish garbage such as Joel Osteen and Beth Moore, some publisher somewhere should surely find the time to publish Coutouzis. Every Christian publisher that passes on him makes a mistake. He’s demonstrated through this book that he is worth their investment.

It ought to be your ambition to read material that edifies, books that feed your soul, authors that faithfully teach the Word of God. In every sense, Coutouzis’ book fits the bill. Agonizing for the Faith belongs in your library. As you soak up what it has to offer, you’ll be better informed, better equipped, and (God willing) eager to put its teachings into practice. Not only will it serve you well in your own spiritual growth, I also feel it would make an excellent book for a women’s/men’s study or a Sunday school class. It’s the best commentary I’ve ever read of Jude’s precious book. I enthusiastically recommend it to you and pray it will fire you up, as it did me, to agonize for the faith.


Jason Marianna was saved solely by God’s grace when he was 16 years old.  When he’s not leading Bible studies and teaching children in his church, he works as an automation engineer in Pittsburgh PA.  Jason is a father of 4 and is married to a woman he doesn’t deserve.  He and his wife have a heart for orphans, particularly foster children, and have adopted 3 of the 5 children they’ve fostered so far.  Jason is a freelance writer who wants to write for your blog or publication.  You can follow his opinionated and eclectic Twitter feed, or connect with him on Good Reads.


 

Book Reviews, Guest Posts

Guest Post: A Review of Jackie Hill-Perry’s “Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture”

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in my “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.


For more information on Jackie Hill-Perry, please click here.

A Review of Jackie Hill-Perry’s
“Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture”

by: Thomas Coutouzis

There is an old adage that says, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”. The implication is that the outward appearance of a book is not a reliable indicator of the content. This can be true at times, however, I have found more often than not that you actually can judge a book by its cover, probably more today than ever. In the case of Jackie Hill-Perry’s study on Jude, you can indeed judge a book by its cover. I will tell you why shortly.

I was asked if I would read the Jackie Hill-Perry study on Jude and write a review since I have written a commentary on Jude. I have studied extensively in Jude and have a passion for defending the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. Our Lord doesn’t need us to defend His truth or His name, but He chooses to use us and charges us to contend against false teaching.

I don’t know much about Ms. Perry. I saw her in the excellent documentary made by Brandon Kimber called, American Gospel: Christ Alone. In this documentary she and a multitude of other saints presented the tenets of the prosperity gospel and began to dismantle them piece by piece with Scripture until you could see the man-made anti-Christ teaching it really was. What was surprising is when she posted pictures on social media of her with a variety of false teachers. The first thought that immediately popped into my mind was, “How can you teach a study on Jude and then go and befriend those who preach a false gospel?” These two things cannot coexist together. After all, the apostle Paul said, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14. Not to mention that we should not even give a false teacher a greeting (2 John 10-11). My suspicion was that Ms. Perry didn’t fully understand the text and as I read and listened to our dear sister’s messages I found that this is most likely the case.

I started with looking over the cover first. As a person with an Ad Agency background I found that the cover missed the entire theme of Jude. Jude is a polemic epistle. Polemic comes from the Greek word πόλεμος (polemos), which means “war/battle/fight”. Thus Jude is a call to arms for the church to stand up and go to war with false teachers. In verse 3, Jude challenges the believer to contend for the faith earnestly (ἐπαγωνίζομαι – epagonizomai). It gives us our English word, “agonize”. The word denotes a struggle against a competitor or enemy. In this case, Jude is using the word figuratively to describe going to battle against an enemy. It is combat against a foe. The word is used in the present tense denoting that the believer is to constantly combat false teachers. False teachers will never rest spreading heresy, neither should we stop opposing them with the truth. With this said, the cover (image at the top of this article) was an intersection on a city street with three cross walks and various people making their way to and fro. This cover in no way encapsulates the theme of Jude. It is a misrepresentation of the message of this epistle. The theme of Jude is a fight against those wolves in sheep’s clothing who have sneaked into the church with the purpose of turning it away from God. My commentary has a shield with two swords on the cover. This sets the tone for what you are about to read. Unfortunately, the creative team at LifeWay and Ms. Perry missed the mark on the cover for this study.

In this study Ms. Perry did six teaching segments and one summary segment. That said, Her teaching segments skipped over verses 12-13 and 16-19 which are very significant to understanding the text. However, the book does cover these, but not in any depth. Ms. Perry is a godly woman who has a passion for her King. The Lord has saved her, like all of us, from a life of great rebellion. You can see the love and passion she has for Him as she presents each of her messages.

In listening to the first segment (Jude 1-2) Ms. Perry understands that Jude is starting off his letter gently for a reason. The words that follow are going to be strong so he wants to make sure that the elect understand that their faith is secure before he drops some hard words regarding apostates. She makes this point very clear. She also speaks to Jude reminding them that the elect’s faith is secure for all time.

What I believe was missing in her teaching and the book was the historical context for Jude. What ancient heresies were around when Jude wrote the book that would give insight to his remarks? How do we know Jude was Jesus’ brother and not Judas son of James? There are Scriptures that prove Jude was Jesus’ brother, but why were they not cited as proof to whom this was (Mark 6:3)? There are also Scriptures that point to Jude’s unbelief in Christ like John 7:5. These are all important not only in pointing to lineage and authorship, but that God redeemed him (Acts 1:14) from his unbelief and why he is so passionate to contend for the faith. How can we understand the book if we don’t understand the man’s roots?

In the section of the book that covered Jude 1-2 I was perplexed as to why there was teaching about how the ancients wrote letters. The book displayed a letter from a Roman soldier named Apion and wanted the reader to compare them to Paul’s greetings in Ephesians 1:1-2, 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, and John’s greeting in Revelation 1:4-5. It struck me more as a filler to take up space rather than to help the reader to understand what this letter means.

In verse 3, Ms. Perry does not define the Greek word for “contend earnestly” (ἐπαγωνίζομαι – epagonizomai), but she does speak to one aspect of its usage which was regarding a struggle in athletic contests. Fighting to win the wreath. Indeed, the people of this time would be familiar with the Olympic games and the struggle to win, but that is not how Jude is using this word. Epagonizomai” combines the preposition “epi” meaning, “focused on” and “agon” which means “a contest”. In Greek, a preposition intensifies the meaning of the word to show the ferocity of the fight. In this case, Jude is using it figuratively for military combat. A fight in which your very life hangs in the balance and you must fight until the last breath. This is your enemy, not a competitor. You shake hands after a contest with a competitor. In battle, your enemy will gloat over your dead body because he seeks your destruction. Such are false teachers. They seek your destruction. The term is in the present tense which indicates that challenging false teachers is a constant. The Christian is to do this until he breathes his last.

Jude 3 is the cornerstone of the epistle. If you incorrectly interpret this verse, then the meaning of the rest of the book will crumble to the ground. Ms. Perry misses the militaristic intent. This term would indeed be recognized by the hearer in the context of Rome and its gladiators who would “epagonizomai”. This misunderstanding might be why Ms. Perry has associated with apostates like Jenn Johnson. She doesn’t see them as a threat to her or Christ. If you don’t see your enemy as a threat he is going to lure you in and destroy you.

To further show where Ms. Perry misses the mark on this verse, she rightly posits in the accompanying teaching video (#2) that those who contend with hatred in their hearts are wrong. There are infamous discernment blogs out there that excoriate both apostate and brethren alike, attacking their character more than the error. There is no civility. She gives an example of people holding up picket signs “outside”. It struck me as a reference to the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. They certainly are filled with hatred, thus in need of redemption. Ms. Perry states, “It might be that these people have contended for the faith wrong because they have taken the imagery of contending and divorced it from love.” I believe she is referring to these people with picket signs who have hatred in their hearts and not to the church to which Jude wrote his epistle. It was hard to tell. Right after saying this she posits that because Jude called these Christians “beloved” and said “may love be multiplied to you” that Jude is telling them that they are to contend for the faith in love. She further explains, “So when he (Jude) tells them to contend for the faith, love is to be assumed as an active participant in how they do it.”

First, she is reading something into the text that is not there. This is eisegesis (reading one’s own bias into the text that is not the author’s original intent). There is no connection with Jude’s greeting regarding his love for them and love being multiplied to them that would imply that he is exhorting them to contend for the faith in love, especially with his gut punch to them in verse 3. When I first heard this it almost sounded as if she was suggesting that the recipients of this epistle were not contending for the faith in love, but as I listened to it for context a few more times I don’t believe that she was drawing this conclusion.

Regardless, the aforementioned eisegesis of Jude exhorting the church to contend for the faith in love stands. The believers in Jerusalem were passive toward sin. These Christians were allowing false teachers to be a part of the church, thereby allowing in heresy, and turning believers away to a different Christ. Jude is emphatically calling believers to arms to fight against these heretics who have sneaked in. They are going to need to start church discipline immediately because when Jude’s letter is read, they will recognize these wolves. Some of these apostates might be their friends with whom they must now have hard conversations. Relationships will be severed and hearts will be broken.

Ms. Perry didn’t really explain in depth what contending for the faith in love looks like. We certainly should contend for the faith without maligning the character of others or abusive speech. Ms. Perry didn’t distinguish the line other than hatred, cynicism, and cruelty. I was under the impression that there is no room for stern reproofs for apostates. I believe Titus 1:13 and some of Paul’s stern reproofs (See 1 Corinthians 5, 2 Corinthians 12-13, and Galatians) would not side with her. You can be loving and stern in a rebuke, especially when someone is extremely hard-hearted. Ultimately, we should care so much about others’ well being that they see our kindness and care for them, but this doesn’t negate that there might be a time when words need to be stronger in order to penetrate a heart hardened by sin.

This leads me to my next point. In terms of the depth of the study and application, I found this study to be severely lacking. The book’s subtitle is, “Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture”, but there are no examples of modern day apostasy. Jude clearly points out the attributes of apostates. These were not taught in the teaching video, but the book did scratch the surface of some of these attributes. Many of the study questions asked, “What do you think…?” instead of “What does the text mean?” The “What do you think?” questions lead to subjective answers rather than objective. The line between truth and error is blurred with subjective questioning. When we read a text we want to discern what God actually means.

Here are more examples:

Regarding Jude 6 and the angels that were having sex with women and spawning a super race: “Do you think God should have judged them? Why or Why not?”

Why would you ask that question? Of course they should have been judged!

What was so surprising is that there was no application as to how this relates to identifying an apostate. The study showed the demons in the abyss as a clear judgment from God, but did not relate it to the coming judgment of apostates who are like these demons. The book and teaching didn’t make the correlation that these demons went outside of God’s sexual boundaries that he established in Genesis 2:24. One of the easiest things to discern is that apostates live to go outside the boundaries that God sets with His Law. In this case, and in the case of Sodom, Jude is showing that apostates are the foremost of the sexually immoral. Where there is a sex scandal in the church, you will find an apostate. They will break every one of God’s sexual boundaries, whether heterosexual sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, polyamory, pedophilia, incest, rape, etc. Sexual sin is a judgment from God, but that is never discussed, nor pointing out that men and women in the church venturing outside of God’s sexual boundaries are most likely unregenerate.

Regarding Jude 8 when Jude refers to apostates as dreamers, Ms. Perry gives the transliterated word “enupniazomai”, but doesn’t define it. Why would you give the Greek word that Jude uses and no definition? It means “in a dream state/in a dream while asleep.” Jude is obviously using this term figuratively to denote that apostates are daydreamers. They daydream about sex, money, fame, luxury, and even revenge. Daydreams are a form of self-exaltation. Apostates will go to whatever end to get these things that they lust after; thus they defile their flesh. False teachers do declare divine revelation through dreams, but that is not what they are doing here because these dreams that Jude speaks of lead them to defile their flesh.

Regarding Jude 12-13, questions were asked like:

“What four elements of nature did Jude use to describe the ungodly teachers?” Questions like this will not aid the reader in understanding what Jude means when he says apostates are “autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;”.

There are many more examples that I could give, but it is not necessary. I don’t believe this study will thoroughly equip you for battle against apostates, not all of which are infamous false teachers like Steven Furtick or TD Jakes. Many are small town church pastors or congregants in our own churches that are either dormant or actively working to lead people away from God. They are regular church attenders like you and me.

With this study we can judge a book by its cover. It is not that the study is heresy, rather it barely scratches the surface of a potent book. I can only speculate as to why Ms. Perry after teaching a study on Jude would associate with those who meet all the criteria Jude gives for apostasy. This epistle should aid in our discernment of counterfeit Christians. If it doesn’t, then we are not heeding the necessity with which Jude wrote this book and commands us to contend earnestly for the faith until we are called home.


Thomas Coutouzis is the author of Agonizing For The Faith: A Biblical Exposition of Jude as well as an epic fantasy series that is partial allegory called Athanasia (The Great Insurrection (part 1) and The Unknown Lands (part 2)). Thomas resides in North Carolina with his wife and two children, is an expositional Bible teacher at his church. He welcomes you to follow him on Twitter.


Book Giveaway: Thomas would like to bless two readers with a copy of his book Agonizing For The Faith: A Biblical Exposition of Jude. To enter the giveaway, drop Thomas an e-mail at thomascoutouzis@gmail.com before 11:59 p.m., Friday, April 24 and let him know something you liked or learned from his review of Jackie Hill-Perry’s book. Thomas will choose the winners and notify them by e-mail.