Contending for the Faith

A review of Jackie Hill Perry’s new study Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture

Jackie Hill Perry’s new Bible study Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture is a study I was curious enough about the buy and work through.( I have to admit that I am not doing the video part of the series, because that is an additional cost that I cannot afford at this time. I know that it would be adding to the study, but I am always amazed at how much I can learn just through the written work of many Bible studies.) I had never studied through Jude before, and if I am honest, I have never felt too compelled to read these twenty-five verses outside of my regular Bible reading program. However, something about this study was compelling to me.

I had been following Jackie Hill Perry on Twitter for over a year. Her name was mentioned in a tweet by another person I was following, as a woman of color that Christians should be following. After following her for a while, I noticed that she was speaking at a few events with a dear friend of mine. I reached out to that friend and asked if Mrs. Perry was someone I could trust for sound Biblical teaching. After the affirmation from that friend, I went ahead and bought the study.

You have to understand, that I am the typical “Christian white girl” who has completed almost all of Beth Moore studies I could get my hands on over the years. Yet something began to change in me the last couple of years. It is not that I don’t like Beth Moore. On the contrary, I think the world of her and of the teaching she does. However, I felt the need to branch out and listen to new teachers and begin to broaden my perspectives. Twitter had allowed me to listen to voices that I had never heard of before, and see viewpoints that had been out of my normal worldview. Whether or not I agree with all of them all of the time, I wanted to hear what others were saying.

I started branching out by reading Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson (which if you haven’t read it, go get a copy). Then my husband and I went through Trillia Newbell’s If God is For Us Bible study over Romans 8. As time progressed, I became a member of Mrs. Newbell’s launch team for her new book Sacred Endurance. I learned so much about enduring as a Christian through the difficult seasons of life by reading her words. I was even able to go attend the launch event for the book.

Still, in the back of my mind was this study by Jackie Hill Perry over the book of Jude. I was convinced that if I bought this study, that it would be barely 100 pages, because who could possibly write more than that over a book of the Bible that only has twenty-five verses? Since I was between studies, and hadn’t felt the pull of the Holy Spirit to study anything independently, I bought the study.

I was rather amazed that it was much longer study book than I thought that it would be (200+ pages). Yet, I was still wondering how you could write so much on so little. Oh boy, did I have something to learn. Mrs. Perry had my attention by the time I got to the third paragraph in the introduction of the study. This was going to be a study that took me through the history of the Children of Israel and one that didn’t mince words when it came to addressing the sin that I have in my life and the sin of those who intentionally seek to tear down our churches from the inside.

Now, if you are like I was and raised on a good Beth Moore study, then here are the big differences. First, Jackie Hill Perry asks questions and then makes you wrestle with the answers. There are not sentences explaining what you should have picked up from the passage. You have to read through the passage and the question, sometimes multiple times, to figure out the answer. I have a love for learning and enjoy the fact that my mind and reasoning are being challenged in understanding God’s word. You are also sent to find your own Bible dictionaries (free online tools are available) and read passages in different translations to better understand the context of the passages.

When I first started the study, I didn’t know how someone could spend a whole week looking into two verses of scripture, but when you begin to read the book of Jude, it becomes clear that there is a great deal of context that you have to understand to fully grasp what Jude was wanting his audience to comprehend. There are days when you read large sections of Old Testament, to understand what Jude’s audience would have already known from tradition.

Another great thing about this study is the amount of research and commentary you receive. Not a week goes by when you are not reading excerpts from different commentaries. When there is an unfamiliar word in a commentary, then know a definition will be following it, so you don’t have to infer a meaning of the word and possibly have confusion.

One of my favorite things from this study is a series of pages that show a graph of the essential doctrines of Scriptures that Christians must contend for: the essentials for Christian faith. Never had I seen these things so simply stated and clearly organized before. It is like Mrs. Perry gets that I am a person who loves simple organization.

Jackie Hill Perry doesn’t miss the fact that this study is work. She puts that best in saying “… but laboring in God’s Word will always bear more fruit than skimming through God’s Word.” (76). I thought those words were profound and encouraging as I take my time and work through this study.

As I began to think about writing this post about the study, I started putting in little sticky notes on pages where I underlined something that really spoke to me. If you can tell from the picture, I have found quite a few things to be worth marking and addressing.

Even though I have not fully finished the study yet, I am amazed and humbled by the challenges that Mrs. Perry’s words are bringing to me. Today’s lesson was so significant, that I had to stop more than once to pray through the conviction that I found in the pages. Of all things, this lesson was about how prayer is essential in our walk with Christ. I don’t like the idea of quoting a whole paragraph, but I fear that I cannot fully give the ideas without having her context for it.

“Prayer is a struggle for all Christians because dependence is a struggle for all people. It’s hard for us to pray simply because it’s hard for us to remember how much we need God. Jude’s appeal for them to pray in the Holy Spirit would have been an appeal for them to become people who didn’t depend on themselves or their intellect or aging wisdom to figure out everything. They could’ve been similar to us in that while building themselves up in the faith, maybe by studying biblical doctrine or by being busy in ministry, they’d soon forgotten that knowing a lot about God shouldn’t make you more independent of God. Jude wanted them to be a group of needy people that would be led by the Spirit in how they lived and how they prayed.” (130)

I am putting this study on a list to recommend to anyone who wants to read through God’s word and get a greater appreciation for the whole context of scripture. Jackie Hill Perry, thank you for your humble heart to teach and serve. I am thankful for your willingness to dive into a book that many would have easily overlooked.

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