Scripture Text: Jude 1: 20-25
Introduction: we come today to the end of our study in Jude. Jude had sent his letter to a church struggling with the dangers of apostates, unbelievers who claimed to be believers and had infected the church. Jude warns church leaders to “contend for the faith.” He told them how to recognize the troublemakers and explains how the words of the apostates can spread the deadly attitude and ideas and create divisions within the body. Now, we come to the point where Jude explains how the believers must protect themselves and reach out to influence others in the church. I call the message, “Self-defense for Church Defenders,” and our TEXT is Jude 1:20-25. Please PRAY with me before we go on.
I.PRACTICE SELF-PROTECTION (20-21)
- “dear friends,” Jude reassures his readers that his message is born out of love and his desire is for their safety. He then adds 4 things they must do to keep themselves safe as they fight for truth in their church.
- “build yourselves up in your most holy faith:” It is a call to exercise their spiritual foundation. Notice it calls for their taking the initiative and doing the work. The “holy faith” is a reference to the faith that has come to them from the beginning. It is “holy” because it is different than any other faith. It is “set aside” by God to be the means of salvation. Only through Jesus Christ can they be saved and free to live in truth. What would they do to “build up” themselves in that matter? First, it has to be a conscious decision to focus on and devote intentional effort to understand the teachings and example of Christ. It must be a disciplined action learning from their teachers and from the Bible and from one another. They must take care to know and walk in obedience to the teachings of the Lord. It cannot be just a weak attempt at being involved, learning just enough to get confused. The apostates were more involved and knew how to mislead anyone who was not well founded.
- “pray in the Holy Spirit”, Seek the Spirit’s guidance in how to pray and what to pray for. Just routine prayers, “religious words,” are not enough. Those are prayers used as excuses for not being more devoted. True prayers must be from a heart seeking to know and obey the will of God at all costs. To pray in the Spirit means to pray so as not to quench the Spirit, a prayer out of a heart that hopes the spirit will not ask for some difficult action from the pray-er. Nor is it to be a prayer that grieves the Spirit, a prayer that the pray-er knows is not in the will of God. It is to be a honest prayer of recognized need, humbly asking for help, and a willing heart to follow where God leads.
- “keep yourselves in the love of God,” Review the promises of God that assure you of His love. For those early believers it would have been to reflect and memorize Scripture like Ps. 91:11 which says, “For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.” For us it might be Rom. 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded that [nothing] can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Commit such things to memory to encourage and protect yourself. Also, spend time with others in the faith who can share God’s love by encouraging and praying for you.
- “expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life,” Christians should thank the Lord every day that we are saved and cannot slip away because we are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” The world uses little expressions like “Live every day as though it’s your last day.” All they’re thinking of is that time is short don’t waste it on trivial things. But Christians ought to live with that fervor, expecting the Lord at any time, knowing we must be both urgent and passionate about spreading the gospel to the world.
- These are things we must do if we are to be able to successfully battle those people who try to destroy our churches with their foolish attitudes and false faith. We must be prepared.
II.RESTORE THE WEAK AND REACH THE WANDERERS. (22-23)
A. Now Jude calls his readers to provide help for those who have already been infected and are headed for confusion and mistakes in life. He lays out 3 directions for action.
1.) “Have mercy on those who doubt,” It is common for young believers to struggle with doubt. They are not yet well-founded in the faith and, when introduced to difficult questions, it can scare and intimidate them. They wonder if they made a mistake. Jude says we are to “have mercy” which means we are to identify with those strugglers and understand their fear and uncertainty. Then we must go to them and encourage them with love and truth from Scripture and our own witness to God’s love.
2.) “Save others by snatching them from the fire.” To”save” is not referring to bringing them to know Christ, but keeping them from their own ignorance and ungodly choices. They are believers who have listened to false teachers and have begun to waste their lives by living by the world’s standards and neglecting their spiritual growth. They talk about knowing God, but live as though they do not know Him at all. They are the “Prodigal children of the church.” They fail to be with God’s people and end up in a pig pen of life. They are some of the most tragic of people, having true treasure but living like spiritual paupers. Defenders of the faith must try to heal their blindness by having a spiritual intervention, exhorting them to return home to the Father. First Corinthians 3:15 speaks of such people saying, “If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he[she] will be saved, yet it will be like an escape from fire.” The defender’s task is to help them not to live in misery but in victory.
3.) “have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Jude points out that, as Christians, we must love all people – even those who make themselves our enemies! The people who come into a church and, either knowingly or unknowingly, lead the church away from God’s truth into worldly living, clearly need help. Some might have such hard hearts they cannot be reached, but some, like the Apostle Paul had been, might be reached with the Gospel and turn to Jesus. To be merciful means to respect them as human beings with feelings and needs. At the same time, such efforts must be done with an understanding of the danger. Some of these people may attempt to destroy your reputation or accuse you of wrongdoing, and if you have been around them, their charges might be accepted as true by others. Also Satan may use the arguments of these apostates to confuse and mislead you – if you are not properly prepared and fully wrapped in the armor of faith. To “hate the garment” means to be fully devoted to the fact that you will not even consider getting close to an apostate by practicing any form of his/her false doctrine. In 1st Cor. 9:22, Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all people, so that I may, by every possible means, win some.” The same passage says Paul is careful in doing this, that he does not fall into sin.
These are things believers in the church must do to offer God’s grace to reinforce weaker brothers and sisters so they are not deceived by the false teachers and in so doing rebuild unity within the body. It is the positive side of contending for the faith.
III. RECEIVING THE GREAT BENEDICTION. (24-25)
A.This is the most well-known part of the entire book of Jude. It is a benediction often used by many church groups. A benediction is really a final blessing. This one does 2 things:
- It explains the working relation believers have with God. “Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand.” Because we are saved by grace, many believers live as though God provides everything we do to live, and we just go about our lives and let it “wash over us.” That mistaken idea causes a lazy church and a mediocre Christian life. It tends to keep many in the infant stage of faith, never growing to maturity and doing very little to enrich the kingdom of God.
We have just gone through several commands as to what action the believers are to do to accomplish God’s will in the church and in their lives. Here we are told that God protects us from stumbling in our walk and provides us the right to live with God. So who is responsible for what?? James 2 teaches that “faith without works is useless.” Thus, we must believe AND work. We are saved by grace through faith alone. God cleanses us and keeps us so we can enter eternal life before a holy God. But, to accomplish the will of God while we live on earth, we are to work by keeping the commands of the Lord.
ILLUS: God may provide the farmer with land, seed, sun, and rain so crops can grow. But the farmer must till the soil, plant the seed, protect it from pests and drought, and finally bring in the harvest. The essentials are God-given and certainly God sometimes must enter into the process in a supernatural way, but the process is on the farmer. Success is a cooperative process! God provides the truth, the guidelines, the power, the product and its eternal warranty, to a church. But the church must reach out to people, teach the Scriptural truth, mentor the seekers and young believers, OR the church will grow weak and eventually die. It is not enough to just belong to a church – you must work to build and prosper the church. Otherwise, we are not keeping our side of the bargain.
B.This benediction leads us to worship God because:
1.) He saves us and brings us into to be “blameless, and with great joy” before the throne of God.
2.)There is “only (one) God, and salvation comes only through the [predestined) plan of Jesus Christ.”
3.) God deserves “glory” (to be recognized as the Source of all things);
“majesty,” (to be held in awe for His beauty, His unchanging immensity, and His greatness over all things);
“power,” (omnipotence, unchallenged, undefeatable, ability to accomplish all things);
“authority,” (He is in charge over all things and all truth is His, to rebel against Him is to destroy oneself.)
Jude teaches us that us that ever church may be subject to invasion by apostates, false believers who, through their selfish involvement, lack of respect for authority, and negative conversations, can weaken and even kill the church. Therefore, church members, and especially leaders, are to stay alert for such things and fight them when they appear. The apostates must be exposed and separated from the church. Those infected and weakened by their negativity and lies must be restored with mercy. Leaders must be sure they are spiritually protected and prepared to stand against the false believers. Jude is not giving suggestions. He is diligently laying out battle plans that must be followed. Otherwise, Christian lives may be brought into misery and the church may become weak and die. To fight such things is to defend the worship of the only true God who deserves all obedience.