Navigating our life and the world in which we live
Last week I used the closing from Jude in the blog. In that I said, “I look forward to thinking more with you next week about what is happening around us”. What had occurred is that I was drawn to this Epistle and saw things in it that give us an understanding of what was occurring in the church at the time of Jude’s writing. As is always the case with God’s Word, we should and are to learn from it and use it in navigating our life and the world in which we live.
Chuck Swindoll said when commenting on verses 17 and then 20-21 that-
Jude thought it important that believers stand against those working against Jesus Christ. Believers were to do this by remembering the teaching of the apostles, building each other up in the faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, and keeping themselves in the love of God.
It is no doubt there are those in the world who are working against Jesus Christ. As Jude mentions they were in the world and even in the church. This was true in his day and is as real in the world and the church in which we live today.
If you are like me, I find myself wanting to be as careful as possible as to what I say because I am a Christian. That goes for what I do and say as a preacher, too. So many today however are not so careful. When we experience it in the world around us as Christians we easily dismiss it as what the world does. So then what do we do when it finds its way into your church? That is exactly the reason Jude wrote this short but extremely important Epistle.
You would find that most outlines of Jude will look like this-
1. Greeting (verses 1-2)
2. Purpose (verses 3-4)
3. Judgment (verses 5-16)
4. Exhortation (verses 17-25)
When we read Scripture, it is not simply for the historical record. It is also to direct our lives and what we do and don’t do. Scripture is a historical record and is to be considered and understood in that manner. Yet, what is more important is how Scripture directs our lives and what we do or don’t do. Why? Because that is the reason God speaks to us through His Word. It is the history, which has been said, repeats itself. When I read God’s Word and in this case Jude, I see both the historical and the practical clearly.
I would encourage you to read and study for yourself this important and timely Epistle. Here is a link to Read Jude now and you will find it is in the New King James Version. You can change it to another translation if you choose. So in this blog today, I want you to consider with me how we can understand Jude from the historical and also as to the practical.
S. J. Joubert remarks in (“Facing the Past: Transtextual Relationships and Historical Understanding of the Letter of Jude” BZ 42 : 68):
“The actions of people, however contrary they seemed to appear to the divine will, were thus in no way outside the control of God. History has continued to run its predetermined course, in spite of various forms of evil and catastrophes. The false teachers in the midst of Jude’s community will therefore also not interfere with the divine plan”.
When Jude begins his writing, he greets them. This is not something that is uncommon even today. We greet others and depending on the relationship we may greet in different ways. As was the case with Jude as he greeted these believers, we would similarly greet a fellow church member. I know we have to be careful now with people because of Covid. However, I miss the time of embracing a brother in Christ and telling them I love them. My hope is that we don't forever lose the opportunity to greet one another beyond a wave from a distance. This is true for all of our relationships, even with those who are not believers. How we act toward all people is evidence of our understanding of God's Word. Remember in Matthew 22:37-40 Berean Study Bible
37 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Secondly, Jude writes about the purpose of this Epistle. He is writing about common salvation. One that is the same for all. Rich, poor, good, bad, it is the same. It is always by grace. When my father passed away and I was preparing to preach his service I used his Bible. Actually, it was the last one he was using at the time. He had many, as do I, from throughout the years. He had noted that grace is "God's riches at Christ's expense". Thus, the acrostic GRACE. I would later be on the radio for 7 years and the name of the broadcast was "In God's Grace". I still use and have social media accounts by that name and I sign all my correspondence "In God's Grace" and I always will.
Salvation isn’t cheap. Everyone doesn't have it, yet it is only one way. Not a different way for the rich or the poor. For the good, there is one way and the bad another, no. It has been said that we all come to God the same way. If it isn’t common salvation, it isn’t God’s salvation – and it isn’t salvation at all.
Of course, then he has to warn us of those who are creeping in and unnoticed. Let me say how important it is that we have our eyes and ears open. I remember a pastor who once said "all in the name of Christ, ain't". That is poor English but some really good preachin'. As real as it was in the time of Jude, it is maybe more true today. The second commandment says you are to ‘Love your neighbor..’ and in Jude verse 4 in the NKJV ...turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about grace and adding to it for any reason is wrong. Great care is necessary for our churches and for our personal lives that we do not add anything to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I say this with caution as to not attempt to single out anything particular. I do though want all to be careful and hear God's Word threw His Spirit as He directs us. Sergeant Phil Esterhaus would always close the roll call on Hill Street Blues with this encouragement, let me do the same for you today "Let's be careful out there."
Jude then speaks in verses 5-16 regarding judgment. As you read, you see clearly how God sees all of this and how He has no appetite for it in His world. Thus there is a judgment which He executes. Ungodly people, ungodly deeds in ungodly ways, and the ...harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him, are the reasons for which He judges. These verses are in reference to apostasy. This is a topic that I would say that you need to study on your own. There are some differing views as to what it is and is not. Thus for our time today, we can clearly state that apostasy is-The abandonment of true Christian faith. In contrast to heresy, which would constitute an aberration of doctrine, apostasy refers to the total renunciation of Christianity through either word or deed. If you study further, you will find why there should be great care taken in how this word is used. Ours is not to judge and in Matthew 7:1-3 NLT Jesus said-
1 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.
2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?
Finally, is the exhortation found in the NKJV, verses 17-25, and in them we are reminded to remember, just as were they
"17 ...words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:
18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.
19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
We are not to be disturbed by what is happening today. This is playing out exactly as God has said that it would. He is not surprised and really we should not be either. We are though, so surprised at what we see going on in the world. Then we look and see what is happening in what we call the church and what we call the Christian world. So what do we do? How do we reconcile all that is going on around us?
Consider verses 20-23
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction;
23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
There is a conclusion we come to and that is that the Christian life is certainly not to be a spectator sport. We are to be in the game each day. Careful and discerning. Focused and keeping our eye on the puck. The reason I used the word puck is so I could use this from Wayne Gretsky, the great hockey player (I don't understand hockey and as a Floridian have never played but I understand what he was saying) "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been."
Believer, you need to keep the main thing the main thing. Have a laser focus on the Lord and His Word. There is much out in the world, the church and Christianity in general that will distract you if you let it. Don't let it and remember to look forward to where you are going and not where you have been.
Jude's closing prayer in verses 24 and 25:
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.
"Let's be careful out there."
In God's Grace,