Meditations in Jude
“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.” Jude 1-2
Note that Jude, the brother of James – either one of the apostles (Luke 6:16) or the brother of James and a half-brother to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:55 ) – simply calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ, claiming no position of authority as an apostle or as a brother to Jesus. So also we, whether pastor, teacher or lay worker, are all servants of the Lord Jesus Christ who seek to carry out His will and mission in this world.
Jude writes to those sanctified and set apart by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ and called to faith in Him. He writes to those who have graciously been brought to faith in Christ Jesus and are preserved in that faith by God’s working. Therefore, it is not to those who are Christian in name only but to those whom God has called and sanctified through faith in Christ Jesus that Jude addresses this letter.
And though we hear these words often, the blessing of verse two which Jude uses to greet his readers is worthy of careful consideration. It is not only a well wish but the prayer and blessing that God’s mercy in Christ Jesus, the peace of sins forgiven won by Jesus’ innocent sufferings and death, and God’s love which comes to us in His Son be multiplied and increase.
Oh, that we might know and grasp in faith the richness of God’s mercy upon us for Jesus’ sake! Oh, that we might know that peace of God which passes all understanding, and that we might begin to grasp the greatness of His love for us in sending His only-begotten Son to be the propitiation for our sins and save us from the wrath and judgment to come!
We thank and praise You, O Father, for the mercy, peace and love You have shown to us in Christ Jesus, our Savior. Grant that we hold hast to Him unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude 3-4
Jude’s original intent was to write of the common salvation won for all through the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Christ Jesus, our Savior; but the fact that men had crept into the church or churches undetected and were turning the grace of God in Jesus Christ into a license to sin and indulge in the desires of the flesh, and were denying the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, prompted him to write a brief letter urging his hearers to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
We don’t know the specifics, though similar warnings can be found in 2 Peter, 1 John and in the letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation. Could it be Gnostics who thought that what one did in the body really doesn’t matter? Or, was it a form of carnal Christianity which used God’s grace as license to indulge in sin since salvation is by grace and Christ paid for all sin? Are the words more broad because they are to be applied to all sorts of perversions of the Gospel?
Thus, we ask ourselves if there are those within the pale of churches today who abuse the grace of God offered and given us in Christ Jesus in order to indulge in the sinful desires of their flesh? Do we even use God’s grace as a license to sin?
Did Christ die for all sin that we might continue on in our sinful ways without consequence? What does the Bible say? “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2). “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:15).
And, does it ever happen that people become associated with churches who, whether by their teaching or lifestyle, advance such errors among believers and cause others to fall with them?
What was the faith once delivered unto the saints? Where can we find and learn its teaching? Remember that we “are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20). Remember that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Thus, for what faith are we to be earnestly contending? Are we to stand by when people within the pale of the church teach contrary to the Bible or attempt to change its meaning to accommodate their own sinful views or lifestyles? Notice also that those who abuse and pervert the true doctrine end up denying “the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Through the Scriptures, O God, You have revealed to me the faith once delivered to the saints. Give me the strength and the willingness to contend for that faith against those who would depart from the teaching of Your Word and turn Your grace into a license for sin and deny You and the Lord Jesus Christ. In His name, I pray. Amen.
“I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Jude 5-6
Can one have true and genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s savior from sin and yet continue in willful disobedience and rebellion against His Word? The apostle John writes: “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4). He adds: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him” (1 John 3:4-6).
Thus, Jude adds the examples of the children of Israel who sinned in the wilderness and of the angels who “kept not their first estate” but sinned against the LORD God who had created them to be His servants and to do His will.
So also, we should not be deceived into thinking that God will not judge and punish those who abuse His grace and turn away from Him and the salvation He provided for us in His Son. The writer of Book of Hebrews says (in Hebrews 10:29-30) of those who willfully turn back into sin: “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”
Keep me, O God, from the presumptuous sin of abusing Your grace and turning back to the sin from which You redeemed me. Grant unto me true repentance and faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus. In His name, I pray. Amen.
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.” Jude 7-10
Sad to say, even within the outward pale of churches, there are those who would imagine that there is nothing wrong with the sexual perversion of our day. They say the prohibitions of Scripture were culturally influenced and are not true reflections of God’s character or will.
But how do they answer the fact of God’s judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah and surrounding cities (Gen. 18-19)? How do they answer God’s judgment upon Canaan (cf. Lev. 18)? And, indeed, we might add other judgments upon cities and nations to the mix.
Yet, in spite of the Biblical records of God’s judgments upon cities and nations for their abominations, people today – even within the outward pale of churches – condone such sin and ridicule those who warn of God’s wrath and impending judgment. As Jude writes, they speak evil of those who oppose such abominations and they rail against them – something the angels of God would not even do when contending with the devil. What these people don’t know they ridicule; and what they know naturally as unthinking animals, in those things they corrupt themselves (cf. Rom. 1:18ff.).
How sad the conditions in the world today! And, even more sad, that such forms of thinking and lifestyles have come to be accepted among many who count themselves Christian!
God’s judgment is near. Now is the time to repent and look to the Lord God for mercy in Christ Jesus before it is too late!
O God, have mercy upon our nation and the churches and religious leaders of our land. Grant that we would heed Your Word and repent of our evil ways, looking to You for mercy in Christ Jesus. Give us boldness to contend for the true Christian faith in the face of such opposition to the truth. Amen.
“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” Jude 11-13
Will God judge those who pervert the true doctrine and use the grace of God as a license for sin? Jude describes them to have fallen into the sin of Cain, who turned from the faith and even killed his brother Abel who was counted righteous through faith (cf. Gen. 4). Like Balaam (Num. 22-25) who, for the sake of earthly gain, found a way around God’s word and commandment and caused the children of Israel to fall into sin and be cursed, so these hypocrites were quick to follow in such erring ways for their own gain. Along with Korah and those who spoke against God’s called servants (Num. 16), these are likewise condemned to perish.
Jude describes them as “spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.”
These claimed to be believers and Christians but had no evidence of faith in their lives. Their lives and teaching were a denial of their Savior and of His doctrine.
Do we have those today who only go through the outward motions of the Christian faith while their hearts are far from the Lord? Are there those who seek to explain away and get around the teaching of the Bible on subjects which are in conflict with current cultural views?
And, what about us? Are we guilty of the same things?
Grant that we hold fast to Your Word, O Lord, and not compromise for the sake of peace or worldly gain. Have mercy upon us and forgive us for our sins and failures. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 14-15
We know from Genesis 5 that Enoch walked with God by faith and that God translated him into heaven so that he did not die (cf. Heb. 11:5). From Jude’s letter we learn that Enoch, like Noah, also warned the people of his day of God’s coming judgment upon all who remained impenitent and lived in opposition to God and His ways.
And this prophecy of Enoch that “the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” applied to the hypocrites among the churches to whom Jude wrote and to the hypocrites and unbelievers of our day.
Our Lord Jesus will soon return in the clouds of heaven with His holy angels to execute judgment upon all who have not turned from their sinful ways to Him in faith. Those who repent and trust in the redemption Christ accomplished by His life, death and resurrection will be received into the eternal joys of heaven. But those who continue in impenitence and unbelief will be found guilty and condemned to the eternal fires of hell (cf. 2 Thess. 1:7-10).
Thus, judgment awaited those of Jude’s day who turned the grace of God into a license for sin; and the same judgment is coming upon those of our day who turn from Christ and His doctrine and indulge in the pleasures of sin.
Your Word warns us, O God, of Christ’s return and His judgment upon all who have not believed in His name. Grant that we truly repent and look to Jesus and His cross for mercy and forgiveness. And grant that we, like Enoch, speak the truth in love and warn our generation of God’s coming judgment upon impenitent sinners. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.” Jude 16-19
Should we be surprised at the unbelief of our day? Should we be surprised that, even within the outward pale of the church, people pervert the truth to support their selfish and sinful ways?
The answer, of course, is no. The apostles of our Lord Jesus warned us. The Scriptures tell us that persecution can be expected and “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:12-13).
Though they often champion unity in the churches, they are the ones who “cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned” and they “serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17,18). And it is for that reason that Christians who hold to the faith of the Bible are commanded to “mark” and “avoid” them.
In the days of drought following the prophecy of Elijah, Ahab said to Elijah, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?”(1 Kings 18:17) Elijah answered (v. 18): “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.” So also today, many would accuse those who contend for the faith once delivered to the saints of causing trouble in the churches and causing division. The real cause of trouble and division, however, rests on those who compromise the clear doctrine of God’s Word.
Thus, in Jude’s day, even if the churches must put out those who turned the grace of God into a license to sin, it was the unbelieving who separated themselves from the churches by their unbelief and sin.
It should be noted that those of whom Jude speaks use persuasive words and speeches and make use of personal and political connections to gain advantage, but they have not the Spirit of God. Instead of submitting to God’s Spirit and the God-breathed Scriptures, they walk after their own fleshly lusts and use carnal means to get their way.
Keep us from walking according to the flesh instead of yielding to the Spirit of God and to the truth revealed in His Word. Preserve us from their pernicious ways. Amen.
“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Jude 20-21
What did Jude direct his beloved hearers to do? Indeed, it is similar to what Paul commanded Timothy: “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:14-15). Jesus also said to the Jews who believed in Him: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
Since the Spirit sanctifies us through the Scriptures (John 17:17; Rom. 10:17), we build ourselves up in our most holy faith by continuing in the Scriptures and praying for the Holy Spirit to teach and guide and lead us into all truth. We keep ourselves in the love of God which moved Him to give His only-begotten Son to die for us and pay in full for all our sins (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10), and we look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ – His merciful gift of forgiveness and life everlasting.
In other words, we cling to Jesus and His Word. We hold fast to His promise of forgiveness and life everlasting for the sake of His innocent sufferings and death in our stead. We look forward to His glorious return and partaking of His mercy and pardon on that day. We continue to hope and live for the life eternal which Jesus will give to us when He comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
O gracious and merciful Savior, keep me in Your Word and grant that I cling to You by faith, trusting and looking forward to partaking of Your merciful gift of life everlasting in Your glorious kingdom. Amen.
“And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Jude 22-23
What are we to do while we await that day when Christ returns and, in mercy, receives us to Himself in heaven?
Like Enoch, we continue to warn the impenitent and unbelieving of God’s coming judgment upon all who continue in rebellion against Him. We warn those who use the grace of God as a license to indulge in their sinful longings and desires.
But we also show mercy. We have compassion on those misled and overcome by sin. We warn them of the consequences and offer to them the comfort of God’s pardon and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
Patiently and compassionately, we reach out to the lost and erring that they too might come to repentance and be saved through faith in Christ Jesus and His cross.
Some we “save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” We use the utmost care that we too be not drawn into sin and error through the weakness of our own flesh. We recognize the danger and consequences of sin – death. But, through the right application of God’s Word, we pull them from the impending fires of hell, hating their sinful deeds, and show them the right way – a life lived by faith in the Son of God.
God, grant that we might bear witness to Your impending judgment upon sinners but also to Your mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus, our Savior. Preserve us from our own sinful longings and desires. Keep us from temptation and deliver us from evil. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 24-25
What a beautiful doxology! Jude closes in words of faith and praise to the LORD God who has brought us to to know and trust in Christ Jesus and the salvation He won for all.
It is the Lord God, by means of the gracious working of His Spirit through the Word, who is able to keep us from falling into sin and unbelief. He is the only one able to preserve us in the true faith and present us faultless before the throne of His glory. And He does so with exceeding joy!
And “to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
The fact that we believe and are saved through faith in Jesus is entirely to the glory of God. We were dead in our sins, but God graciously raised us up to life through faith in Jesus and His blood, shed for us upon the cross (cf. Eph. 1:3ff.; 2:1ff.). And, “He which hath begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
All praise and glory be to You, O Lord Jesus, for redeeming me, bringing me to faith and preserving me in the faith once delivered unto the saints. Grant that I continue in your Word, hold fast to You and Your doctrine, and contend for that faith in this dark and sinful world. Amen.
1. Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress; midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head.
2. Bold shall I stand in that great Day, for who aught to my charge shall lay? Fully through these absolved I am from sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
3. The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb, who from the Father’s bosom came, who died for me, e’en me t’atone, now for my Lord and God I own.
4. Lord, I believe Thy precious blood, which at the mercy-seat of God forever doth for sinners plead, for me–e’en for my soul–was shed.
5. Lord, I believe were sinners more than sands upon the ocean shore, Thou hast for all a ransom paid, for all a full atonement made.
6. When from the dust of death I rise to claim my mansion in the skies, e’en then, this shall be all my plea: Jesus hath lived and died for me.
7. Jesus, be endless praise to Thee, whose boundless mercy hath for me, for me, and all Thy hands have made, an everlasting ransom paid. Amen.
Hymn #371, The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: 1 John 1:7 Author: Ludwig von Zinzendorf, 1739, cento
Translated by: John Wesley, 1740
Preparing for Sunday
Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 49; Leviticus 19:1-18; 1 Corinthians 3:10-23; Matthew 5:38-48. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship.
Sunday Adult Bible Class will begin its study of the Book of Genesis with chapter one.
Verse to Remember
“But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me.” Psalm 49:15
Remember to Pray
Remember to pray for our church and for all our members, that none be lost to Christ’s kingdom but that all continue in repentance and be strengthened and built up in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus through the hearing and study of His Word. We continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us – especially for Mel Boren – for our extended families and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. We remember the churches and pastors in the Philippines. We pray for those suffering and persecuted around the world. And we pray for our nation and its rulers, that our people would repent and look to God for mercy, forgiveness and direction.
Our next Pot-luck Dinner will follow our worship service on Sunday, March 2.
Lenten Services will begin on Wednesday, March 5, at 7 p.m. The Wednesday services will be preceded by a soup and sandwich luncheon at 6:20 p.m.
Church Council will meet at 7 p.m. tonight, Feb. 19, at the church.
[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]