Luke was not writing about non-believers contending with believers. These were Christians debating among themselves. Jude had fellow church members in mind, too, when he wrote:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3 KJV)
Most often, though, writers use Jude’s verse in connection with debates with non-believers, ignoring Jude’s description of those creeping into the early church:
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4 KJV)
Jude was the subject of our Sunday School class for the past couple of weeks and will close this coming Sunday. The application is for our young people to read their Bible, discuss and understand the doctrine of the gospel. We want them to search God’s word for the astonishment noticed by those who heard Christ:
And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29 KJV)
We must contend with caution, though. There is no violence, nothing more than words to be used. Jude told of a spiritual conflict and how it was resolved:
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. (Jude 1:9 KJV)
When Christ was contending with Satan, He simply repeated God’s word and Satan was rebuked. Three times Satan misquoted or misused scripture, three times Christ responded with the correct scriptural answer.
How do we do that now? How do we rebuke? By knowing the scriptures and being able to quote applicable verses. Thus we teach. And, we pray that we will know the Word of God sufficiently that what we say comes from it:
But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Matthew 10:19-20 KJV)
When Jesus taught, when He was tried, when Peter contended with the Christian Jews in Jerusalem, when Paul preached and when he was tried, they never railed against their accusers. They spoke of their own experiences. They spoke of the prophecies in the scriptures. They gave praise and worship to God.
Why should we do any less?