Text: Jude 17-25
Introduction: Dr. Paul Cedar, author of the commentary on Jude in the Preacher’s Commentary Series writes:
When I was a college student, my home town of Pollock, South Dakota, was moved from a beautiful valley to a lovely hillside some one and a half miles away. The little town of 350 people had to be moved for the building of the large Oahe Dam on the Missouri River. The reservoir, which was to become Oahe Lake, would flow into the valley where the old town was situated and would form a smaller lake to be named Lake Poccasse.
I had the privilege of being involved in the construction of the new town. And, subsequently, I also was a participant in the destruction of the old town. The demolition of many of the old buildings I had come to cherish, including the gymnasium where I had played basketball, was a very emotional experience for me.
Through that experience, I learned a lesson that will be helpful to me as long as I live. It is simply this: one can destroy in just a few hours that which has taken years to construct. But then he adds this: However, to be a builder is much more fulfilling than being a destroyer!
You know, he could have just ended it with: one can destroy in just a few hours that which has taken years to construct. But he didn’t, he added something very special to his statement. And how insightful it is: when one looks upon their work, it is so much more fulfilling to be able to look at what you’ve created.
I think that is the melodic line of this little epistle: one can destroy in just a few hours that which has taken years to construct.
- People, I wanted to write to you about our common salvation. But, I don’t have time for that, something greater needs to be addressed. We have a problem.
- You must contend for the faith! To underscore the problem, there is a bit of history from Scripture and extra-biblical material you need to bone up on. There is a history here that is repeating itself and you should be aware of it. Let me remind you; here are a few details about those stories.
- Now in light all that, here is what I want to tell you:
So a basic outline of Jude is:
- Contend for the Faith (1-4)
- Consider the Past – Learn from the past (these things took place… that we might learn; 1 Cor 10) – (5-16)
- Command to Follow Closely: Keep on Keeping on (17-25)
ill.: Last week there were more people who got up to leave at one time than I can ever remember. Even for those going to warm up the fellowship dinner! I’ve wondered why all week. I think it is because these stories are hard; even tedious. They’re sad.
Douglas Moo writes: Jude is known for his denunciation of false teachers. Because of this, many students of the Bible immediately think of this letter as bearing an essentially negative message – and one not very applicable to any Christian who is not engaged in false teaching.
app.: Jude, which of course wasn’t his original intent, had to get negative about these false teachers. It’s like, why? And we want to say to Jude something like: Hey Jude, don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better! Well, he does so here…
He does get more positive here as he addresses these believers. This passage mirrors his introduction in 4 ways:
- 1st, he uses the word: (agapetoi) Q.: Do you love those you serve? I love it when Johnny Beard uses it. I don’t think it’s a title alone – I think he really loves us.
- He uses the term “ungodly’ to refer to these certain men and their actions
- Both appeal to teaching in the past: 4 – who long ago were designated for this condemnation; προγράφω; Written before; V 17 – the predictions of the apostles;
- In v 3 he called them to contend for the faith; Here, he will command them to keep themselves in the love of the lord by building themselves up and praying.
In this last section, Jude gives them an action plan with three steps:
- Be Cognizant – You must remember the predictions of the apostles (17-19)
- Be Careful – You must remain in the love of God (20-21)
- Be Compassionate – You must rescue others who are lost (22-23)
t.s.: Let’s begin with the first step in this action plan
1 – Be Cognizant – You must remember (17-19)
exp.: rd v 17-19; You must remember – remember, when used in the Bible, is not just a mental reflection of something past. This isn’t just a mental exercise. To remember the prophets and the apostles is to take to heart what they said.
app.: The predictions of the Apostles of the Lord: Like when Paul said told the Elders from Ephesus: Acts 20.29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; or when he told Timothy: 4 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. and again 3 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
exp.: Jude isn’t saying he’s not one of those apostles; Remember what they told you; Interesting, these people are eyewitnesses to these Apostles.
t.s.: So as to review, Remember, be cognizant of what the Apostles have warned you about. 2nd step:
2 – Be Careful – You must remain in the Love of God (20-21)
exp.: two triads here: rd v 20-21
- The Trinity: Holy Spirit, Father, Jesus Christ
- Virtues: Faith Love and Hope
Textually, grammatically, there is one command, with three descriptions to help keep that command. The verb is “keep” – it means to guard (i.e., keeping watch); three participles then, describing just how you are to remain in the Love of the Lord. Keep yourselves in the love of the Lord has a ‘staying put’ kind of ring to it. However, these participles display action and involvement.
- Building yourselves up! – This is active discipleship. Do you realize that you are responsible for you? You and I are commanded to build upon or build up; to lay down a solid foundation and build upon it; Somewhere along the way, this becomes your responsibility. How do you build upon this “most holy faith”? I think the answer goes back to our 1st point – Remember. Turn to Deut. 8 for just a second.
I swiped this from Crawford Loritts and he swiped it from Moses. I’ve altered it a little bit, but the basic ideas come from him. Listen to what Crawford says. This story picks up at the end of the 40 years of wandering. I believe most everyone at this stage, 20 years and older have passed away. Everyone here is 59 years old and younger. But, they’ve been walking, literally, with God for 40 years (or so). I wish I had thought of this concept when I was working on my doctorate. Most of you know my doctoral work was in establishing turnaround churches. Anyway, Moses here has a ‘turnaround’ people. Those who rebelled are gone and Moses is trying to help them in ‘building themselves up’ so that they might ‘keep themselves’ in the Love of the Lord. Let’s look at what he tells them: Rd v 1; So the theme is obedience – careful to do. That they can go in and posses the land… and just how? Rd v 2a;
- Remember God’s Leading: how God has been faithful to lead you to this point. Don’t forget the answered prayer. Don’t forget the protection. Don’t forget the times He has been faithful. Remember He has led you faithfully to this point. Rd 2b;
- Remember God’s Testing: How God has tested you. Listen to Crawford Loritts, author of Unshaken: Real Faith in our Faithful God. Just before they were to march into the Promised Land, God reminded his people that they didn’t have a good record when it came to passing tests. But, you ask, how did that build their confidence? Look at the phrase “that he mighthumble ” The message was that failure should have taught them that they were inadequate and that they didn’t have what it took to consistently obey God and do his will. Wow! Great point! We are weak and feeble. We need God to take us through. We need to stay in him. Humble people do just that.
ill.: So many people live with regret and wish they could change things. Don’t. Remember God’s Testing. Understand that your failures compose who you are. Remember your failings and that you’re human and you need God. #3; rd v 3-4;
- Remember God’s Provision: how he provided manna and water and quail and everything they needed on their 40 year journey. I find this interesting; he humbled you and let you hunger. Note how God’s working: Obedience out of God’s leading; Humility out of God’s testing; Now, he let them hunger and then provided. Do you realize that your struggle may very well be what God is doing to build you up! I wonder if they cried out and grumbled when they were hungry? Exodus 16 – yes, they did! Aren’t we that way, too? But we don’t have to be – Moses is saying here – remember how God provided in the past? He will provide again. Rd v 5-6
- Remember God’s Discipline: This one is a no brainer. I feel confident that anyone who has walked with the Lord for any length of time can say they have experienced the Lord’s discipline. And through that, you know he loves you. Rd Deu. 8.7-11a; Now we go back to Jude…and the 2nd participle…
- Praying yourselves up! Rd v20b; and praying in the Holy Spirit; Jude is echoing Paul’s words in his segment on the Armor of God: praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Plus, I think Paul gives us a little commentary on just what this means: He says in Romans 8.26 – 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. It means praying according to the will of God. This is when the believer’s prayers are stimulated by, guided by and infused by the Holy Spirit (Michael Green, p. 184). Lightner says: It means that we pray in His strength and wisdom: He moves our hearts and directs our petitions.
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, and number three: waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
- Waiting on the Lord’s return – How do we describe waiting? It’s not patience, though patience is a part of it. Schreiner says it’s an eschatological term, focusing on the return of Christ. Like Simeon and Anna in Luke, who were watching and waiting for the birth of the Messiah. We get a sense that waiting for the mercy of the Lord is in the future (that is, eschatological). In v 2, Jude prayed that mercy would be multiplied to them – a very present experience. So, mercy isn’t a one-time deal. Jeremiah tells us that God’s mercies never end; they are new every morning. We were shown mercy when we repented that very 1st We are shown mercy every time we’ve repented since then. We’ve experienced it at various times when we needed it in the past. We are receiving God’s mercy in the present. And, we will be shown his mercy when he returns. And that mercy is what will usher us into eternal life.
app.: Can I add one final thought: I don’t think Jude is pushing a salvation by works theology here. We must remember that there isn’t any work we can do to save ourselves, but we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. So, let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify God who is in heaven.
t.s.: And that’s his last point to his epistle…Be Cognizant and remember, Be Careful and remain, and
3 – Be Compassionate – You must rescue others by the mercy and compassion of God
exp.: rd v 22-23; a simple way of looking at this is to understand that v17-19 were addressing the false teachers and v20-21 were addressing the readers. In light of these two, Jude now encourages these readers to reach out to those affected by the false teaching and maybe even to the false teachers themselves.
- To those who doubt (waiver) – those who are being led astray by the false teachers
- To those who’ve been led astray – and their standing in the trap, ready to be captured.
- To those who lives are defiled by the false teachers – Their garments are stained. But don’t be turned off by the filthy garments. Show them mercy and love them back into the fold. This could be meaning the false teachers themselves.
ill.: here’s the simple message; we’ve been shown great mercy in a most undeserving times. We’re called to be like Christ and show that mercy toward others in need.
God forgave my sin in Jesus’ name.
I’ve been born again in Jesus’ name,
And in Jesus name I come to you
To share his love as he told me to.
He said, Freely, freely you have received;
Freely, freely give.
Go in my name and because you believe,
Others will know that I live.
t.s.: I think that’s the message of Jude.
this is a great example of what Jude is asking of his readers here:
- Be Cognizant and remember the Apostles warned us of these false teachers.
- Be Careful and remain in the love of the Lord, building yourselves up and praying in the Holy Spirit. Then,
- Be Compassionate and rescue those who have been led astray.
These things take time. Be patient and keep your eyes on Jesus. Finally,
Application: So, let’s mark a few take-a-ways…
- Keep yourselves from sin – unstained by the world. If you’re wondering should I participate, don’t.
Ill.: I’m reading a wonderful book by Tim Coody: Meaningless words & Broken Covenants. In his book he talks about how people don’t keep their words – and so their words become meaningless: First to themselves and then to others. It starts with lying to ourselves about when we’re going to get up (but we sleep in) that we’re not going to eat the piece of pie (and then we do). Then we lie to our family (we tell our kids one thing and do another). If you do that I’m going to spank you. I’m counting to three. One two three. I mean it this time. Just wait til your father gets home. Etc.
App.: where has the conscience gone? Why don’t our words mean anything anymore? In keeping yourselves from sin – start with being honest with yourself. Stop lying to yourself.
- Men, stop with the Internet porn. Stop with going to those pages where the women are scantily clad.
- Women, move out from the day dreaming about what could be. Plant yourself where you are and be honest with yourselves.
- We’re just lying to ourselves if we say one thing and do another when no one is looking. Be sure a double standard is going to destroy you.
Ill.: I’m sure you’ve read about Josh Duggar and Ashley Morgan by now. There is a great illustration of someone who has been lying to himself. #1 Keep yourselves from sin.
- Keep yourselves in the fellowship – you need accountability. Meeting here for worship isn’t enough. This relationship is too shallow. Get involved. Get more involved. Let people get to know you – there is accountability in numbers. Remember, you are too weak to make it on your own.
- Keep yourselves in the presence of God. I think what I’m trying to say here is: don’t forget who you are. You’re a slave of the King. Indebted to his majesty. When you remove yourself from his presence, you begin to think more of yourself than you ought. Oh, I know He is omni-present. But how quickly we forget when we’re out there. Like the KVNE sign up the road said: take Jesus with you.