Month: March 2020

What about the others in life Jude?

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Jude was passionate for the spiritual quality of believer’s lives. He was not a man for wasting words or dulling down truth so that the reader could not understand what he was talking about. Likewise, Jude did not over state facts in order to sound more impressive. He simply allowed truth to be truth. Even though Jude has majored on correction in this short letter, he concludes with a refreshing exhortation targeted at three groups.

What about the others in life Jude?This is a wonderful reminder for all Christians, that in the muck of life, keep your eyes open for the God given opportunities to show mercy. Jude :22-23 “And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” For the genuine believer in this Church, Jude says to watch for: (a) the doubters, (b) those who need pulling urgently from the flames of sin, and (c) those engrossed in sinful living who need nervous mercy.

Up until verse 22, Jude has only addressed the apostates and the authentic believers. In a church which obviously had extreme personalities and behaviours, you could be forgiven for thinking there were only the bad guys and the good guys. But no, mingled in the middle of the wicked and righteous extremes were three types of people needing merciful attention. We too, need to watch for these three groups of people which cross our paths from time to time.

First, are the doubters. These were sincere people who were legitimately questioning and possibly confused by the pretenders who had “crept in unnoticed” (:4) to spread their poison. These genuine people are often the soft-hearted ones who should be treated with compassion. They often assume the best of everyone and find it difficult to accept bad news about someone they know who is spreading biblical error or evil behaviour. God’s people need to show them patient kindness while firmly pointing them towards a solid faith in Christ.

Second, are those who need pulling urgently from the flames of sin. These are people who most likely appear genuine with their words, yet because of their unbelief they have become seduced into error and sinful living. These people often have a tenderness toward the gospel when spoken to directly by God’s Word. These still experience conviction. Therefore, snatch them from the coming judgement as your rescue mission for the Saviour.

Third, are those deeply engrossed in sinful living who need to be approached with nervous mercy. These people are typically insincere towards the Lord. They may laugh much of the gospel truth off as irrelevant. These have been well and truly lured into a lifestyle of sensual, worldly thinking and living. Jude is clear, approach them with caution!

While they are not beyond hope, be aware that they will try to swing the faithful believer into a life sin. They still require compassion from a soft hearted yet strong believer who steps into their world with Christ. They need a biblically decisive gospel call to repentance of sin. A call that says the Lord is returning “to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (:15).

Christian be encouraged, during these uncertain times, you are an ambassador of God’s mercy to all three groups of people. Prayerfully be on the lookout to rescue them for Christ.

Jude’s building project

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Jude spends sixteen of his twenty-five verses identifying scoffers who sneak into the Church causing trouble. He also dedicates nine verses to equipping believers “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude :3). Jude summons “those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” (:1) to the battle for gospel truth. To actively engage in defence of biblical truth which defines “the faith.”

Jude’s building projectAn integral part of this battle is the need to be proactively “building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 1:20-21). Jude spells out spiritual preservation for his weary readers. Jude is not speaking of selfish withdrawal from spiritual battle but of taking responsibility to strengthen yourselves for more effective battle.

Notice that Jude writes here in the plural, “yourselves.” There is nothing individualistic about his exhortation. This is a call for unity within the body of Christ and for humble agreement in the Scriptures. This is a call for those who wish to be faithful to the truth to come together in Bible study, discussion, and selfless prayer enabled by the Holy Spirit. Such prayer “in the Holy Spirit” seeks to “glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:6), to bear witness about Christ (John 15:26), and all at the expense of self (John 3:30).

Unity in God’s Word is the beginning of keeping “yourselves in the love of God” (:21a). Love is the evidence of authentic faith in Christ. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” (Galatians 5:22-23) which is always present when unity in the faith is alive. Selfless love is always the first working of the Holy Spirit to vanish when someone chooses to step out of unity. Love for others is to be nurtured, spoken of highly, and practiced frequently. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9). Therefore, self-centred desires, actions, and “I centred” speech gets removed for love to prevail.

Jude is not calling for believers to isolate themselves from God’s people because they can’t see eye to eye on everything. Instead, they are to lovingly sacrifice self for Christ to be evident in their relationships. This loving heart attitude which serves others recognises “how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalms 133:1).

Next Jude directs faithful believers to do all the above while “waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (:21b). Obedient, Christ centred living in unity with God’s people generates a powerful sense of expectation for the Lord’s return. Jesus’ return is the next supreme expression of His mercy believers wait for, bringing their eternal life to ultimate fulfilment. Again, this should be spoken of frequently, and prayed for earnestly as Christians encourage one another in spiritual purity and perseverance.

The point is this; God’s people are to be people of mercy, just as their God is a God of mercy. While waiting for Christ to return, believers enthusiastically live in and express the mercy of Jesus Christ.

Be encouraged my Christian friends, a congregation united in “the faith” is powerfully loving, mercifully expectant, and undeniably a force for Jesus Christ.

Jude’s warning of scoffers

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God’s Word has much to say for those who come to church with false teaching, hearts laden with sin, and worldly behaviour. Today, as in New Testament times, Jude reminds his readers of the warnings Jesus’ apostles issued, how that “in the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit” (Jude 1:18-19). These people did not have short-term lapses into bad behaviour. They had not stumbled into sin for a season. No, these were committed disbelievers who insisted on attending church.

Jude’s Warning Of ScoffersJude writes possibly the most concise and confrontational warning to protect believers from these troublemakers. He writes as one who feels both the pain and the offence caused by those deserting Christ yet stubbornly remaining in church attendance. Due to the seriousness of the damage inflicted by these agitators, Jude writes with a tone of exhortation for faithfulness, appealing for them “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude :3). God’s standards for Christian lifestyle has not changed.

These were religiously motivated people who had never repented, never died to self, never confessed Jesus as their Lord, and never been indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Jude lists the behaviour of these who had somehow “crept in unnoticed” (Jude :4), which reads more like a medical diagnosis of a body ravaged by malignant cancerous tumours.

They “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desires” (:7), “relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones” (:8), “blaspheme all that they do not understand” and behave “like unreasoning animals” (:10). They spoke “harsh things” against the Lord (:15). “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favouritism to gain advantage” (:16). These people fulfilled the apostle’s earlier warnings, being “scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit” (:18-19).

Can you imagine being one of these people when this letter from Jude gets read to the congregation? Whoever this Church congregation was, it had been infested by the enemy. Jude calls the believers to spiritual warfare in protection of gospel truth and the purity of Christ’s bride (the Church). Warfare is always messy, always has casualties, and always leaves scars. However, spiritual warfare also paves the way for times of healing, restoration, and purity in Christ. Cleansing brings an increased sense of identity in Christ, growth in unity of God’s Word, and richness of fellowship that could never be experienced without the pain of battle.

When the Church becomes infested, we believers realise that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The necessity to “put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11) becomes even more obvious.

Over the next couple of weeks, we shall explore the weapons Jude calls faithful believers to use in their defence. Jude never envisioned a passive or cowardice response, nor did he call God’s children to fight dirty. Instead, he calls for “the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left” (2 Corinthians 6:7), spiritual weapons which win spiritual battles with spiritual victories.

Wise words from brother Jude

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Jude only wrote one short letter in the New Testament, yet his words drip wisdom just as relatable today as when penned. He was the younger half-brother of Jesus, the full brother of James (Matthew 13:55), and a non-believer until Jesus resurrection (John 7:5; Acts 1:14). Jude is the only New Testament letter given wholly to confronting those deserting Christ while remaining in church attendance. These pretend believers spread their disbelief and sin like malignant cancer (Jude :4, 8, 10-13, 16-19).

Wise words from brother JudeWhat’s unusual about this short letter, is that Jude changed his mind as to the subject he would write about. “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude :3). Jude’s passion was to write of the salvation that all believers shared in Christ. However, Jude knew the more urgent matter was to exhort his readers to “contend for the faith.” Notice that Jude does not say “for their faith.” The primary thing being challenged by these fraudulent people was not their personal expression of belief.

No, these troublemakers were attempting to change the very nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This other gospel included a host of the worst sins imaginable being portrayed as acceptable behaviour. So, Jude wisely begins by placing three foundational, unmovable, doctrinal truths on a pedestal to encourage and affirm the saints. “…To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude :1b). Sovereign election, adoption, and sovereign security.

Confused, struggling believers need, as we all do, the rock-solid truth which “the faith” stands on. The apostle Paul penned a similar verse with the same truths, which will assist our understanding of Jude’s choice of words. Romans 8:30; “those whom he (God) predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Those God calls to salvation have already been predestined by God for salvation. I suspect John Calvin would refer to this as ‘Irresistible grace,’ when the Lord opens the eyes of blind sinners to salvation in Christ alone by faith alone.

Paul and Jude assure Christians; since you are called by God, understand that God has personally taken full responsibility through predestination to ensure you arrive through the gospel at faith in Christ. The Almighty has left nothing to chance, his invitation to you was not wasted, you responded in faith as intended.

Next Jude affirms that those who are ‘called’ arrive in the most privileged relationship imaginable, justified as beloved in God. The sinner is declared innocent through faith in Jesus substitutional death, and the Father welcomes them not as an enemy but as beloved children. What a breath-taking transition, from cursed to beloved. Christian, it does not get any better than this!

Finally, Jude tells the weary believers that they are “kept for Jesus Christ.” What God begins; He finishes. We sinners could not get ourselves saved, we cannot keep ourselves saved, and we cannot deliver ourselves at salvations destination, which is in Christ in heaven. God the Father intentionally designed every step of our salvation with the predetermined goal of glorification. So, we conclude with the reassuring words of Paul; “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

I encourage you to praise God for the certainty you have in Christ. From His calling to an unchangeable glorification prepared in heaven with His Son, you are safe in Christ.

  • Sundays @ 309 Welcome Bay Rd, Tauranga (Welcome Bay School Hall)