Pastor Randy’s Top 66 – Jude
“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ….To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Jude 1, 24-25
Today’s verse/verses are sandwich verses, and by that strange moniker I mean that these three verses are the opening (verse one) and the closing (verses twenty-four and twenty-five) verses of the Book of Jude. The fact that the Letter of Jude opens and closes with significant verses, that are confirming of one another, tells us that the message found within the two pieces of bread of the sandwich is certainly important, but the two slices are reaffirming an important truth that shouldn’t be ignored or lost because of the ‘meat’ in between. I know, I know, that was a weird beginning, but I think it will not only make sense to you in a moment, but you will be glad I mentioned it!
The Letter or Book of Jude is one strange little Letter! Jude is one of the brothers of Jesus, and in humility he doesn’t mention it (he’s not into name dropping), but instead tells us that he’s the brother of James, who just so happens to be a brother of Jesus as well (Matthew 13:55; Matthew 12:46; Luke 8:19; Mark 3:31; Acts 1:14; Galatians 1:19). Jude’s original intention, according to verse three, was “to write to you about the salvation we share”, but because of the false teachers (see, I told you that false teachers were a problem in the early history of the Church!), Jude “felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people”.
Jude then goes on to talk about the destiny of those who have distorted the grace of God; who are denying the full deity and full humanity of Christ; and are involved in and are encouraging others to walk in blatant immorality. Jude shares a plethora of unusual Old Testament references to prove his point concerning God’s judgment on wickedness; and even throws in a reference or two that are not found in the Bible at all! But here’s why I’m sharing the verses that I am, and why it is significant that Jude started and ended his short Letter the way he did.
With all of this talk of false teaching, especially in regards to some of the major doctrines of Christianity, some of Jude’s Christian readers may become fearful about their own salvation, or the assurance, or lack of assurance they may have in the Lord’s perfect redemption of their souls. For that reason Jude opens and closes his Letter with three powerful verses of assurance that should bring a spirit of peace to each of the true believers that read or hear Jude’s Letter.
The funny thing is that the opening verse is the ‘greeting’ and most folks just breeze over the opening (and closing) because they just think it’s the writer’s way of saying hello and goodbye, but in God’s economy, no word in the Word is ever wasted. Look at how Jude begins his Letter:
“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,
To those who have been called, who are loved in God
the Father and kept for Jesus Christ….”.
Okay, I don’t mean the Jude, servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James. Those are important words – absolutely – but let’s move on to the rest of verse one.
Who is the Letter going to? To those who have been called. In this little “Top 66” series I have mentioned this theological word ‘called’ a number of times. “To be called” doesn’t just refer to the calling of someone’s name and that person may or may not respond. In God’s Word it is very clear that there is an outward call of the Gospel, and an inward call of the Spirit. The outward call is the preaching of the Gospel that goes forth, or is supposed to go forth unto the entire world. Every time the pastor preaches the Word he should be sharing or explaining the Gospel. By this I don’t mean that every sermon in its entirety has to be an explanation of the Gospel, but no matter what portion of Scripture the pastor is preaching from, Christ ought to be somehow the focus (since Christ IS the WORD!). So, all are to hear the Gospel because it is through the preaching/teaching of the Word that the Holy Spirit brings salvation. We read in Romans 10:12-15,
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the
same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for,
“Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.”
How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed
in? And how can they believe in the One of Whom they
have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless
they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the
feet of those who bring good news!”
Apparently preachers – or anyone who shares the Gospel (which should be all of us) have good-looking feet!! Anyway, we see here that the primary means the Lord uses to bring people to salvation is through the preaching of the Word, so that’s why the outward call of the Gospel is essential.
But it must be obvious to all that not everyone that hears the Gospel comes to faith; many reject it. So, how does one come to a saving faith in Christ if they are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1, 5), and incapable of coming to faith on their own (Romans 8:7)? It has to be the work of the Lord – the Holy Spirit, by grace, imparts life – Christ’s life – into spiritually dead bodies (Ephesians 2:4-5; Jonah 2:9; Titus 3:4-8). This is what is referred to as the “inward call of the Spirit”. This is the moment – in God’s grace – that the Lord chooses to bring life – speak life – into our dead spirits. He crucifies our spiritually dead sinful nature (old man, old nature – Romans 6:6; Colossians 2:11-15, 3:3).
In my younger years I went to church and regularly heard the outward call of the Gospel. My church didn’t necessarily preach evangelistically – teaching that I must be ‘born again of the Spirit’ – so I just assumed I was a Christian because I believed the fundamentals, went to church as often as I could, and was basically a good boy. But it wasn’t until I was nineteen years old, when I was sitting in a little Nazarene Church in town with a pretty girl named Becky that I heard the ‘inward call’ of the Spirit, which brought spiritual life into me. All that I knew and cognitively believed from my past ‘training’ became real, and as John Wesley famously said, “My heart grew strangely warm and I knew then that I had been forgiven of my sins”. The Lord spoke His life into me. It wasn’t a wild and emotional experience for me – I just knew that I knew that I knew that Jesus was real and that He truly died for me and that He had just spoken His life – His Spirit – into me. I ‘heard the inward call’.
Oh boy, I have to get moving along here because I’m just starting with this verse from Jude!! And although the verse doesn’t explicitly say or mention the Holy Spirit, we know from throughout God’s Word, it is the person of the Holy Spirit that brings spiritual life – that ‘calls’ us to salvation (Ezekiel 36:26; Romans 5:5, 8:11; Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:3). I tell you that because the rest of the verse reveals the Trinity’s work in our salvation! Verse one continues:
“…who are loved in God the Father…”.
Here we see that Jude is reminding the Christians that despite the heresies begin taught by the false teachers, not only have they been eternally called into a place of salvation by the Holy Spirit, but that calling finds its genesis in the electing love that God the Father has for us. Of course, all humans are made or created in God’s image, so all human life is valuable – so in the sense of God’s common grace, God loves all of mankind. Yet, it sure seems apparent from the Scriptures that the Lord has a unique love – a saving love – a love that a Father has for His children – an agape love – that is reserved for those whom He has spiritually called or chosen to be His children.
Don’t ask me (well, you can if you want!) why the Lord God chooses ANYONE to salvation, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and by nature we are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). However, according to the Lord’s good purposes and pleasure (Ephesians 1:3-10) He saved us – and not a single one of us deserved that salvation, and as I said a previous time, the Lord was not obligated – because of His holy and righteous justice – to save any of us. But He did and for that we are thankful. And again, we see in Ephesians 2:4-5 that….
“…because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in
transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”
God’s agape love – His unconditional, selfless, and eternal love – called us into spiritual life – into a spiritual relationship with the Triune Godhead – and that kind of love doesn’t waver, doesn’t spoil, doesn’t grow bored or tired, but lasts forever. We read these encouraging words of assurance in 1 Peter 1:3-4,
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His
great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.
This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…
Our salvation will never perish, spoil, for fade….and look what it then says in verse four, which leads nicely to the last part of Jude 1 –
This inheritance is kept in Heaven for you…
And then we read in Jude 1, “…and kept for Jesus Christ….”. We are “kept for Jesus Christ”, we are spiritually ‘kept in Heaven”, according to Colossians 3:2-4,
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
We are ‘hidden with Christ in God’!! Kept for Jesus Christ; kept in Heaven; hidden with Christ in God; that sounds pretty secure to me! So, Jude begins his Letter of warning to the Christians about the heretical false teachers by assuring them that they have been eternally called by the Holy Spirit; eternally loved by the Father; and kept for and by Jesus Christ. Again, he shares this so that the Church will not worry about the false teachings of these heretics.
And then let me just quickly mention the other slice of heavenly bread (hey, and Jesus is the Bread of Life!) that completes the Book of Jude – verses twenty-four and twenty-five:
To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”
Jude wants to end his Letter by giving glory to the Lord God our Savior – Father and Son are referred to as Savior – but Jude adds this beautiful phrase to start His doxology (song of praise): To Him (the Triune God), who is able to keep (there’s more ‘keeping’ assurance from the Lord!) you from stumbling (keep us from permanently falling away from saving grace), and He will absolutely ‘present you – as Christians – before His glorious presence – in Heaven – without fault (we are guiltless because of the righteousness of Christ), and with great joy! Our salvation and the Lord’s presenting us before the Lord for all of eternity brings Him great joy!! How wonderful, how amazing, how humbling – that our Lord would do such a thing for a sinner such as me!
So, I am secure in Christ – not by my own strength – and this certainly doesn’t give me a license to go and sin all I want (since that would indicate that I was never saved in the first place!) – but I know that if and when I fall/sin (and I will), the Lord is merciful and gracious BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN CALLED BY THE SPIRIT – LOVED BY THE FATHER – KEPT FOR AND BY JESUS. Thank you Lord.