Category Archives: Jude

Jude: When it’s Right to Fight

Sometimes, it’s RIGHT TO FIGHT. It would be nice if everyone always got along, and never disagreed. Whether it’s in the CHURCH, or in THE WORLD.

But sometimes you’ve got to take DRASTIC MEASURES. Sometimes the cause is so just, and what’s at stake, so VALUABLE, that it’s RIGHT TO FIGHT.

That was the message we heard last year about AFGHANISTAN coming from the Prime Minister, and the Federal Opposition leader, and the Chief of the Australian Defence Force. More Australian soldiers had lost their lives. It’s been tragic and terrible. But the united message was that there’s too much at stake to give in. That sometimes it’s RIGHT TO FIGHT.

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston was quick to argue against a withdrawal. He said coalition forces had just had their ‘most successful winter ever’. ‘Why would you pull out when you’re making the best progress you’ve ever made?’ ‘You’ve got the Taliban completely disrupted and on the back foot. ‘WE NEED TO STAY THE COURSE,’ he said.

And it’s even MORE important with the CHRISTIAN cause. WE NEED TO STAY THE COURSE. Because there’s plenty of people who want to drag you away, and hold you back.

And the message of Jude is that, sometimes, it’s RIGHT TO FIGHT.

I don’t particularly ENJOY preaching that message. It doesn’t come naturally to me.

Jude is such a serious and full-on letter. Full of threats and warnings about punishment and judgment. There’s colourful descriptions of Jude’s opponents that would land him in court on defamation charges these days.

That’s not really me, though. I’d much rather talk about NICE things. ENCOURAGING things. I’d rather be thought of as EASY-GOING AND ACCEPTING, rather than UPTIGHT AND MORAL AND LEGALISTIC.

It’s much easier to WOO people, than WARN them. To BUILD THEM UP, rather than REBUKE them for their sin.

And as tough and as hard-line as Jude sounds, I think he’s actually WITH me in this as well. He’d rather not be writing this letter AT ALL. Before he launches into all the tough talk, we get this insight in v3. Have a look at it with me.

3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

His plan had been to write ONE sort of letter. A nice encouraging, positive letter. But when he heard news about the danger his friends were under, he’d quickly picked up the pen to write something DIFFERENT.

And a much more SERIOUS, INSISTENT letter took shape. A letter urging them to CONTEND FOR THE FAITH. To go into BATTLE. To defend the truths they’d based their lives on. To stay the course.

Sometimes, it’s the only option. Sometimes the cause is so just, and what’s at stake, SO VALUABLE, that it’s RIGHT TO FIGHT.

John Dickson, in his book “A Sneaking Suspicion” talks about his first car, and looking after what’s VALUABLE.

“My first car was an orange Datsun 1200. It got me from A to B, but it really was a rust bucket. It only cost me a thousand bucks, so I didn’t treat it too well and had no problem lending it out to any of my friends. I figured that if they crashed it, it was no big deal. Suppose though, I owned a Porsche 968. I can assure you, I’D CARE FOR IT WITH MY LIFE and certainly wouldn’t lend it out. In my mind, SUCH A VALUABLE MACHINE DESERVES THE UTMOST CARE.

And that’s what Jude thinks about THE CHURCH. That’s what GOD thinks about his church. It’s SO VALUABLE, it deserves the utmost care. It DESERVES to be fought for.

You can see what Jude thinks about the church there in v1. And why it might MOTIVATE him to defend it so PASSIONATELY.

To those who have been CALLED, who are LOVED by God the Father and KEPT by Jesus Christ:

That’s a “Porsche” view of church. CALLED, LOVED AND KEPT. Like a beautiful car. Precious to God, and precious to Jude. If it was only a “Datsun”, you wouldn’t care so much.

So, for Jude, there’s TOO MUCH AT STAKE just to write his nice, encouraging letter. Now’s the time for FIGHTING. For DEFENDING.

The danger within (4-16)

And while MOST of the time, you defend against attacks from OUTSIDE. Sometimes the danger comes from WITHIN. Like for Lance Corporal Andrew Jones, shot last year by one of the allied Afghan soldiers he’d helped TRAIN. You might remember it. He was shot inside a safe compound, while both of them were on guard duty. Not even expecting it.

And that’s what’s happening here. For Jude’s readers, the danger’s WITHIN. Have a look at v4.

4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago HAVE SECRETLY SLIPPED IN AMONG YOU. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

This is no attack from OUTSIDERS. It’s not from the media. From politically correct bureaucrats, or public surveys or billboards. That’s EASY to deal with. This is people INSIDE THE CHURCH. Perhaps sitting right there as Jude’s letter is read out.

Like cancer, eating its way through the body. The body’s own cells turn on the body. You can’t SEE it, it’s HIDDEN. But it’s killing healthy parts, feeding off them, growing stronger, and gradually killing the body.

In a few verses Jude’s going to attack their BEHAVIOUR. But here, it’s their THEOLOGY that’s his focus. Because your behaviour – your ETHICS – is always determined by YOUR THEOLOGY. If you think a certain thing about God, and salvation. About what he’s like. That’s going to determine how you behave with RESPECT to him.

Like a class of kids when they know they’ve got a casual teacher, or a student teacher, instead of their NORMAL teacher. All rules for acceptable behaviour go out the window, along with books, chairs, and small children. What they THINK about the teacher determines how they TREAT him. And it’s the same with GOD.

And what do these godless men think about GOD? V4. They’ve changed the GRACE of our God into A LICENSE FOR IMMORALITY and denied Jesus Christ our only SOVEREIGN AND LORD.

They LOVE the idea of God’s GRACE. His free gift to undeserving people. But instead of grace compelling them to put off the old nature and put on the new (Ephesians 4). Instead of grace teaching them to say no to ungodliness (Titus 2). They’ve misunderstood it. They’ve seen it as an OPPORTUNITY TO SIN EVEN MORE.

They say, “God’s forgiveness is FREE. It doesn’t depend on what I’ve done. And I can keep coming back for forgiveness again and again. Great! I’ll just keep sinning. I can do what I like!” Doesn’t matter how dirty you get playing in the lovely mud puddle. As long as you have a shower at the end, everything’s fine!

Like those road-side fruit and vege stalls. They’ll sometimes work on an HONOUR system. A GRACE system. You take a bundle of spinach, two dozen eggs, and a bag of tomatoes, and you leave $10 in the box.

But some people take advantage of the good will of the farmer. They fill their boot, and drive off without leaving a cent! That’s changing GRACE into a license to sin.

And that’s the way these people were treating GOD’S grace. They like the idea of Jesus as their SAVIOUR. They’re just not too keen on the “LORD” bit. See it there at the end of v4? They “deny Jesus Christ our only SOVEREIGN and LORD”. They’ve got no problem with SAVIOUR, it’s the SOVEREIGN bit they’ll deny – Jesus as KING.

Is there anything of that in YOUR attitude to sin? You’re tempted. Perhaps the same sin you’ve fallen into again and again. And you take it a little EASY. You don’t FLEE it as you should. Perhaps you even ENJOY giving in. Because you know God’s forgiveness is always there.

If that’s you, then you need to take Jude’s warning SERIOUSLY. BE CAREFUL of that attitude.

He goes on to talk about how SERIOUS it is to turn away from God. To get God’s grace SO WRONG, you’re headed for ETERNAL JUDGMENT.

First up, v5. Don’t think you’re safe just because you’re sitting among God’s people IN CHURCH. It didn’t work for Israel.

the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later DESTROYED those who did not believe.

And don’t think you’re safe because of your POSITION. Not even ANGELS were safe. V6.

6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home-these he has kept in darkness, BOUND WITH EVERLASTING CHAINS FOR JUDGMENT on the great Day.

And then in v7, the notorious sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah serve as A RELEVANT EXAMPLE of the eternal punishment that comes for sexual immorality and perversion.

Just in case you were tempted to think that God USED TO get upset with sexual immorality. In the Old Testament. But not anymore. Now, in the NEW Testament he’s all about acceptance and tolerance and forgiveness.

Which, of course, is exactly what large swathes of the Christian church says about homosexuality. And all the debate about gay marriage. That it’s okay to practice homosexuality and be a Christian. Because the Old Testament doesn’t apply any more. And times have changed.

But v7 speaks to those ideas. It’s just as relevant TODAY as it was to the false teachers in Jude’s time. “Sodom and Gomorrah… SERVE AS AN EXAMPLE of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” God hasn’t changed, and neither have his standards!

And then from v8, we get some details about the sorts of things these people are doing.

8 In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.

“Dreamers” probably means they were claiming to have prophetic visions to justify their behaviour. “Polluting their own bodies” is about SEXUAL sin. And “rejecting authority” most likely goes back to v4 – they’ve DENIED Jesus as their Sovereign and Lord.

And then we’re told that they SLANDER CELESTIAL BEINGS. Which no one’s really sure about. Because we don’t know A LOT about celestial beings. But down in v10 it says they SPEAK ABUSIVELY against whatever they don’t understand. Which sounds like the same thing.

So perhaps they were making assumptions about angels, or spiritual authorities of some description. And then RIDICULING them. MINIMISING their importance or power. And talking themselves up at the same time.

But they’re not just TALKING themselves up. They’re PUTTING THEMSELVES FIRST at any opportunity. Down to v12. They’re

blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm-shepherds who FEED ONLY THEMSELVES.

The combined church lunch was supposed to be about enjoying each other’s company, sharing food, and expressing love. Appreciating how VALUABLE church was.

But the false teachers were a big black awkward STAIN on the meals. Like the drunk uncle M.C’ing the family wedding. Telling the off jokes, and leering at the bridesmaids. No shame. No consideration.

Shepherds were supposed to look after the sheep. But these leaders were only interested in shepherding THEMSELVES. In feathering their own nests. And doing it at the expense of their sheep.

Rather than a “Porsche” view of church, they thought it was a “Datsun”. They didn’t VALUE it, so they thought nothing of TRASHING it. ABUSING it. DISRESPECTING it. Using church for their own advantage. Like bashing around a cheap car.

V12. They’re like clouds without rain, they promise much, but deliver little. Like fruit trees in autumn. Big and impressive, but no fruit. And so they’re uprooted. Destroyed. Twice dead.

Or v13. They’re like wild waves. Storm swell. Foaming up with stormwater runoff. Full of disease and filth. Stirring up rubbish and spewing it on shore.

I remember going windsurfing once after a bad storm. It was in Botany Bay, and the wind was wild. It was a great day for windsurfing. But the water was also full of stormwater runoff. And I was sick as a dog for days afterwards. That’s the effect of these false teachers.

And they’re like shooting stars, or comets, that zoom off into the darkness of space. They keep going into the blackness of punishment. Just like they deserve.

They’re terrible pictures, aren’t they? Very vivid and powerful. It’s almost hard to imagine what sort of people are being described.

But the point is to show us their real character. Sometimes false teachers can LOOK so impressive. So beguiling and intriguing. So attractive. So politically correct. So reasonable. When the reality is they’re DEADLY POISON. And that’s what the images get across.

And then, from v16, we get a list of the sorts of things that might give away these sorts of false teachers. Not images any more. A bit more concrete. Their identifying marks. The calling cards of people who don’t understand the gospel, and who’re headed for destruction.

One. They GRUMBLE. “Things are terrible. Those in charge have got no idea. Things would only be so much better if only I was in charge.”

Secondly. They find fault in whatever OTHER people do. “Nothing anyone else does is good enough. No one does things the way they SHOULD be done”.

3. Third, they follow their own evil desires.

4. Fourth, they boast about themselves.

5. Fifth, they flatter others for their own advantage. They’ve always got an agenda. They don’t build up others for THEIR good, but only to suit themselves. To serve their own ends.

And then he finishes down in v19.

19 THESE are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

But you (20-23)

That’s the false teachers. The danger within. Jude’s urged the church to CONTEND for the faith. To FIGHT. And he’s described what the enemy looks like. Given the intelligence briefing.

And now he turns to the church. And shows them HOW to contend for the faith. The plan of attack. Verse 20 – A BIG CONTRAST – “BUT YOU!”. If you’ve got your own Bibles, put a line above it. Separate v19 from v20.

(Jude 1:20 NIV)  But YOU, dear friends, BUILD YOURSELVES UP in your most holy faith

CONTEND for the faith by BUILDING YOURSELVES UP in the faith. Solidify the defences. Know what’s RIGHT, so you’ll know what’s WRONG. That the warning lights will start flashing when someone says something dodgy.

Learn about your faith. Know it. Read theology. Ask questions. Listen. Watch. Copy. Memorise. Practice. Work.

And that’s a GROUP ASSIGNMENT, not just individual homework. “Build YOURSELVES up”. ENCOURAGE each OTHER. TEACH each other. Shepherd and challenge and correct.

And God himself, the Trinitarian God, is going to HELP us do that. From the end of v20

(Jude 1:20-21 NIV)  … pray in the HOLY SPIRIT. {21} Keep yourselves in GOD’S love … as you wait for the mercy of our LORD JESUS CHRIST to bring you to eternal life.

Build yourselves up by PRAYING IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.” In v19 the false teachers didn’t HAVE the Spirit. But God’s church has the Spirit who helps them pray, who gives them the power to fight.

And the power to OBEY. Which is what it means to keep yourselves in God’s love. Jesus says in John 15:9-10

(John 15:9-10 NIV)  “…remain in my love. {10} If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

Prayer in the Spirit, and obedience to the Father IN THE PRESENT.

As we wait for THE SON to bring us to eternal life. That’s the THIRD part of the battle plan. Having one eye on the finishing line is a powerful motivation to keep going. To be found WORTHY. READY.

That’s all to do with our relationship with God.

What about our relationship WITH OTHERS? We’re to have MERCY MIXED WITH FEAR (v22 and 23).

Defending the faith isn’t about A WAR AGAINST PEOPLE. Eph 6 reminds us our battle is not against flesh and blood. We’re not to DESTROY them. It’s God’s job to judge. We defend the faith by encouraging others to BELIEVE it. By being MERCIFUL. Verse 22.

(Jude 1:22-23 NIV)  Be MERCIFUL to those who doubt; {23} snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

While Jude was angry with THE FALSE TEACHERS, their VICTIMS – the people who’d been lead astray – were to be treated GENTLY. To encourage them back onto the right path. Be merciful.

How do you show that mercy? By showing them where they’re wrong. Snatching them from the fire before it’s too late.

If your garage caught fire, you might let your old Datsun burn. But you’d probably go to a bit more effort if it was a Porsche inside.

Do you have a “Porsche” view of CHURCH? How VALUABLE is it to you? Do you sit back and say nothing and do nothing because YOU DON’T VALUE GOD’S CHURCH ENOUGH?

What are you willing to risk to PROTECT it? To speak up? To stand up? Will you risk abuse, and a loss of respect from people, or a loss of reputation?

Do you show by your actions and words and thoughts that you value God’s church as much as HE does?

Be merciful to those who doubt.

But there’s a word of warning. Show mercy mixed with fear. Plenty of firemen get burned as they try to rescue people. The SAFE fireman is the one who maintains a healthy fear for fire. Who follows the necessary safety procedures.

And as we mix with those on the wrong path, we need to have the same healthy fear. Loving the sinner, but hating the sin.

And whether that be reaching out to homosexuals, or speaking to our Catholic neighbour, or Mormon co-worker. Or writing letters about abortion, or euthanasia or school ethics classes, or gay marriage. We defend the faith, by HOLDING FIRMLY ONTO GOD. Not compromising on what we believe. On what God has revealed to us in his word.

We defend the faith by loving the PERSON who’s been led astray. But hating their SIN. And hating the lies that confused them.

How do we keep that balance? By knowing what’s VALUABLE. By KNOWING what’s RIGHT. By clinging firmly to God. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Praying in the Holy Spirit. Obeying God in response to his love. And looking forward to Jesus’ return.

4. Kept by God (24-25)

And Jude finishes with some wonderful words. Some of the most beautiful and encouraging in the whole bible. A reminder of the One who has everything in control. V24. “To the ABLE ONE”. The one who’s powerful enough to achieve his purposes.

“Able to KEEP YOU FROM FALLING.” Jude ENDS the way he BEGINS. V1. The letter’s addressed to those who are KEPT by Jesus. And here at the END, it’s GOD who keeps you.

Despite the scary teachers, and the wickedness. Despite the battle and the fire. Despite all your best efforts, it’ll be GOD who keeps you. Which is a wonderful truth to cling to.

(Jude 1:24-25 NIV)  To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy– {25} 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 24-25: Kept and presented blameless

These days we’re not much for MEMORISING things. But kids in generations past grew up memorising things like “The Westminster Shorter Catechism”. A whole series of questions and answers about the Christian life. Written hundreds of years ago.

And the best-known question is the FIRST one. “What is the chief end of man?” In other words, what is the number one task, the goal, the purpose, of humanity? What are we here for?

And the answer? Does anyone know it? “The chief end of man… is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever. TO GLORIFY GOD, AND ENJOY HIM FOREVER. That’s what you were made for. GLORY, JOY, FOREVER.

And I hope these last few weeks have helped you to DO that. As we’ve looked at the closing prayers and benedictions and doxologies from some New Testament books. Helped you to get a picture of who God is, and what his purposes are in his world. And how you fit into that.

And today’s little passage is no exception. Jude 24 and 25. It helps us to GLORIFY GOD. Because it gives us FIVE REASONS to glorify him. And it shows us that when we DO that, there’s JOY involved. And it shows us that it will be something we’re doing FOREVER. Not just for the next few decades. To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

So that’s the question to be answered. WHY GLORIFY GOD? Why should we praise him and honour and respect him?

1. He is able to keep you from falling

And the first reason is there at the start of v24. We should glorify God because he’s ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM FALLING. It’s GOD’S power that enables you to persevere. To stick at following Jesus.

Jude’s spent the whole letter talking about being on your guard against false teachers. About being led astray into immorality. And he’s used some pretty colourful language to describe the danger.

And so it’s only natural to be concerned. Worried about being led astray. Wandering off the safe path. But Jude wants to finish his letter by reminding us that it’s GOD who’s able to keep you from falling. He’s the One who works all things for your good. Who leads you through the valley of the shadow of death. He’s the One who holds you fast. Even when you’re weak and wandering.

It’s a lovely little phrase – the One who is ABLE. He’s got it covered. He’s got the POWER. Nothing’s above him, or beyond him.

We saw the same phrase in Romans 16 a few weeks back. “To the One who is ABLE to establish you by my gospel.” In Eph 3:20 Paul says, “To him who is ABLE to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that’s at work in us.”

Which is right where the encouragement’s needed. Jude’s spent the letter giving commands and warnings. “Keep watch. Remember. Build yourself up. Be merciful. Snatch wanderers from the fire.”

And right at the end of the letter he gives us the only WAY we’ll be able, ultimately, to do those things. THE POWER OF GOD. Yes, we’re to be WATCHFUL. Yes, we’re to be actively fighting this good fight. But in the end, what is it that keeps us from stumbling? – “Him who is able.” That’s who. God alone is our hope and our refuge. It’s ultimately God who keeps and guards us. That’s the FIRST reason to glorify him.

2. He is able to make us stand before him blameless and with great joy.

And the second reason comes straight after it in v24. Because he’s able to make us stand before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.

There’s a PRESENT aspect to that power. And a FUTURE one. Sanctification AND glorification. God’s able to work in you NOW/ to KEEP you. To change you and break you and make you like Jesus. To protect you from stumbling. All so that in the FUTURE you’re presented before him blameless.

Jude’s thinking about the great Day of Judgment. On that day, when everyone stands before the living God, it will be HIS power that stands us before Him. Not our own efforts, not our own merits, not our own innate loveableness or our own love, but it will be God’s power.

And notice that God won’t stand us before Him on the last day in the JUDGMENT OF CONDEMNATION. No! We’re going to stand before Him in VINDICATION, in joy, in glory. BLAMELESS WITH GREAT JOY. On that day there’s going to be no flaw in you. He will have transformed you. Washed clean, sins wiped out. Forgiveness won by the death of Jesus in your place.

There’ll be GREAT JOY. YOUR joy at being with God. And God’s joy at welcoming you home. GREAT JOY.

And the other part of the description, I’m afraid I can’t help you with. BEFORE HIS GLORIOUS PRESENCE. No wonder we’ll be joyful. But I don’t have words to explain that one. It’s BEYOND telling. Perhaps go to the Book of Revelation, and meditate on some of the passages there. I can’t tell you in words what it’s going to be like in the presence of his glory… But you’re going to BE there. If you belong to Jesus.

You’ll be there because GOD is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before his glorious presence. That’s why God deserves our glory.

But what’s that MEAN for you NOW? What difference will these first two truths make for you this week?

One, it will give you CONFIDENCE as you face the week ahead. It’s GOD’S strength that will get you through, not your own goodness or perseverance or maturity. Your own application to detail, or preparation. HE’LL keep you and present you. He’s the rock you can lean on. The shelter you can rest in. So, be confident.

Second, you can STOP WORRYING. Perhaps about your kids – whether they’ll make good decisions, or whether they’ll keep following Jesus. Or about your own failures, and mistakes. Or the choices you make tomorrow.

Worrying is nothing more than a lack of faith. It’s saying to God, “You’re not big enough, or loving enough to LEAN ON!”

But he IS able to KEEP you and PRESENT you, so don’t worry!

Third, you can be JOYFUL in the face of trials. James 1:2

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Tough times won’t CRUSH you. Tough times are God’s design to strengthen, discipline, and shape you. The firm hand of a LOVING FATHER. God can see the final goal. With you presented without fault before his glorious presence with great joy. And whatever you go through this week/ is designed with that goal in mind. So be JOYFUL.

And finally, these truths make us PRAY. If it’s GOD who’s able to keep and to present, then we need to be ASKING him to do it. To keep and present our children, our family members. Those people from church who are slipping away. We need to do what WE can, but it’s GOD who’s able to do it, so let’s PLEAD for him to DO it. Pray consistently, and specifically, and faithfully.

3. He’s the only God and Saviour

Let’s move on. V25. The THIRD reason to glorify God is because he’s the ONLY God and ONLY Saviour. The God of the Bible, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Is the ONLY God.

It’s not a very politically correct thing to say. We’re rubbished in the media as intolerant bigots. Or mocked. Because the culture says that everyone can follow their OWN god. Choose their own path.

But the clear message of the Bible. Of God himself. Is that there’s only ONE LIVING GOD. It’s not popular. But it’s TRUE. One eternal, powerful, Creator. One living and active and involved Father. One pure, trustworthy, and loving Saviour.

And that’s why he DESERVES our glory. Rev 4:11

11 “You are WORTHY, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

And I want to say that if you’re here today, chances are you already believe that. Chances are you walked into these doors BELIEVING there was one true God, and you came to worship Him. But the challenge for us is to LIVE that way. Do we WORSHIP the one true God ONLY? Or do we worship our job, or our family, or popularity, or power, or prominence, or pleasure, or money? We might say one thing with our LIPS. But do we say the SAME THING with our LIVES?

God begins the Ten Commandments 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me”. You BELIEVE it. But do you LIVE it?

Not only is he the only GOD, but the only SAVIOUR. We normally think of JESUS as our Saviour. But Jude’s reminding us that God the FATHER is the source of our salvation. John 3:16 GOD loved the world so much he sent his only son.

He BEGAN the letter (v2) addressing it to those who’ve been CALLED and LOVED by God the Father. And He’s the one who SAVES us. And the one who keeps us and presents us faultless. He BEGINS the process, and sees it all the way through to the end. Cradle to the grave care. Actually BEFORE the cradle and AFTER the grave. It gives a new meaning to the phrase TOTAL PROTECTION PLAN.

And that’s the THIRD reason to glorify God. He’s the ONLY God and Saviour.

4. He saves us THROUGH Jesus Christ.

And the fourth reason is a bit further on in v25. God saves us THROUGH Jesus Christ. “To the only God our SAVIOUR be glory, majesty, power and authority THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.”

There’s some debate about what that last bit refers to. Is Jude saying that God SAVES US through Jesus? Or does God receives GLORY AND MAJESTY through Jesus? Well, they’re both TRUE. And grammatically, either could be correct.

The word order in Greek is actually;

To the only God our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord – glory, majesty, might and authority

In the end, I don’t think it matters. Because they’re really not that different. God SAVES us through Jesus. Through his birth, his obedient life, his willing death, his resurrection, his ascension to heaven, and now his reigning with his Father.

But it’s also THROUGH THOSE SAME EVENTS that God RECEIVES glory. As people RECOGNISE in Jesus / God’s love and holiness and justice and wisdom, they give him the glory and majesty and power and authority he deserves.

Jesus says “Whoever has seen him has seen the Father”. He’s the visible representation of the invisible God. It’s in seeing the sacrificial love of Jesus, we praise the love of God. In his suffering, we praise God’s justice and mercy. In Jesus’ resurrection, we praise God’s power over death. In Jesus’ ascension and reign, we see God’s wisdom and sovereignty over the Universe.

God hasn’t just left us to work out what he’s like for ourselves. He hasn’t even just delivered us a MESSAGE through a prophet. He sent us HIS SON, so we might know him, and give him glory.

Our praise of God isn’t simply emotional. We don’t SWITCH OFF OUR MINDS to have a religious and joyful experience. We glorify God, and enjoy him MORE, when we specifically and deliberately and intelligently recognise his qualities as they’re revealed in Jesus.

So what will that LOOK LIKE this week?

It will mean getting to know Jesus better. Reading the Bible, and Christian books, Listening to talks, or music. The more INFORMED you are about what Jesus is like, the better you’ll be able to give glory to God. The better you’ll enjoy him.

It will mean living for Jesus as Lord. Following his example. Making tough decisions because Jesus is WORTH IT. Putting sin behind us, because it meant so much to Jesus he DIED for it.

We show our appreciation for the WORTH of Jesus by VALUING him. Valuing his example, valuing his teaching, valuing his sacrifice. Living for him, loving him, and put him first.

Romans 12 says that IN VIEW OF GOD’S MERCIES, we’re to offer our bodies as living sacrifices which is our spiritual act of worship. That’s what shows the value we place in him.

That’s the fourth reason to glorify God. Because he saves us through Jesus Christ our Lord.

5. He is eternally worth it

And the FIFTH reason to glorify God is there right in the last verse of the letter. Because he’s ETERNALLY WORTH IT.

25 to the only God our Savior be GLORY, MAJESTY, POWER AND AUTHORITY, through Jesus Christ our Lord, BEFORE ALL AGES, NOW AND FOREVERMORE! Amen.

When we glorify God, PRAISE him. We’re not giving him something he doesn’t already have. We’re simply acknowledging something he already IS. Something he’s been for all eternity. God is inherently and ETERNALLY glorious and majestic and powerful and authoritative. We simply catch a glimpse of it, a snapshot in time, and DECLARE IT AS WE SEE IT. Just tellin’ it like it is!

That’s worship. Declaring the WORTH-SHIP of God to receive all our honour and praise.

God’s GLORIOUS. He’s brilliant and magnificent. Visibly magnificently valuable. The greatest treasure there is.

And he’s MAJESTIC. That’s to do with his kingly power. He rules over creation. The visible and invisible. Over natural and human things. Over individuals and nations.

And he’s POWERFUL. He controls it and sustains it all. Nothing outside his control.

And he’s AUTHORITATIVE. It’s HIS world, and not ours. He’s got the right to do things as HE sees fit. He’s the potter, we’re the clay. He’s the One who breathes life into US. It’s his right to decide when that STOPS.

And that’s something he’s had from before time began. Before the Universe had even begun, God was ALREADY all of those things. And when this world has been transformed into our eternal home, and a million, million years into eternity. We will STILL be recognising in him his glory and majesty and power and authority.

God is the gospel. The good news. It’s the title of a book by John Piper. It’s on the bookstall. And the point of it is this: If the good news we tell ourselves about being a Christian is that we escape hell, or that we have a purpose, or that we get to be with our loved ones in heaven, or that we don’t feel guilty, then we’ve MISSED THE POINT.

The good news, the gospel, is that, through Jesus, we receive GOD HIMSELF. HE is the treasure, the good news, the pearl of great price. All the other things are TRUE, but they’re fringe benefits of having GOD. Of knowing him. Of enjoying him.

An enjoyment that begins NOW. But that we’ll only FULLY appreciate into eternity.

It’s what you were made for.

What is the chief end of man? Can you remember? “The chief end of man (say it with me) … is TO GLORIFY GOD, AND ENJOY HIM FOREVER.

May these verses, this doxology. help us to DO that.

Jude: Stand up for the Faith

What do you do when people who call themselves Christians start to UNDERMINE what Christians believe? When the truths of the bible get THROWN OUT THE WINDOW? When the good news about salvation through Jesus becomes, “Yes, I believe it … BUT…”?

Sometimes it’s ADDING to the gospel. “I believe the Bible AND…”

For example the Catholic church. A guy called Karl Barth put it this way. “The greatest obstacle to the Catholic and Protestant churches getting back together is this very small word ‘AND’.

When we say “Jesus”, the Catholics say “Jesus AND Mary”. We seek to obey our SOLE Lord, Christ. The Catholics seek to obey Christ AND his earthly vicar, the Pope. We believe that the Christian is saved by the merits of Jesus Christ, but the Catholic adds, AND by his own merits, that is, his good works.

We think that the only source of revelation is the Bible, the Catholics add “AND tradition”

Or the Mormons. Have you seen the ads in the paper? There’s a picture of the Bible and the book of Mormon side-by-side. Under the Bible it says “What God said”. Then under the book of Mormon it says “What God said NEXT”. The updated version. The improved edition. The Bible AND the book of Mormon.

Or sometimes it’s TAKING AWAY from the gospel. Yes God loves us, Yes, Jesus died for us. But, I don’t have to do what he says. Or… Yes, God gave us the bible to guide us, but it’s really irrelevant these days.

For example the Uniting Church, and their view on ity. This is their official position on membership and ity. From the Assembly Standing Committee in 1987. Standing Committee minute 87.46. “All baptised Christians belong in Christ’s church and are to be welcomed at his table, regardless of their ual orientation”.

In other words, practising s are welcome in the membership of the Uniting Church. There are churches in Sydney that call themselves Christian. They like parts of the Bible, but not others. They like part of the gospel, but not all of it.

What do you do with people who claim to be Christians, but who either add to, or take away from, what the Bible teaches? From the truths of the Christian faith as we’ve had them for 2000 years?

Do we just shrug our shoulders, and pretend it doesn’t matter? That’s just the way the world is these days. Do we assume, or hope, that Christians are sensible enough not to get sucked in?

Or perhaps we’re tempted to listen just a little bit? After all, the bible is a REALLY OLD book. Perhaps we ARE just a little bit out of date. Perhaps we HAVE grown up a bit since those days. Grown a bit more enlightened. Perhaps things aren’t quite as black and white as they used to think in the old days.

But Jude doesn’t think that way for even a second. These things are much too important for that! They’re matters of life and . Eternal judgement.

He’s heard the reports. About false teachers leading his good friends astray. Making fun of Christ. Spitting in his face.

And he’s furious! He’s the attack dog. The pit bull. And he’s going for the throat.

His call is TO DEFEND THE FAITH. Don’t be embarassed by our history. Stand guard over the truths we believed. Because they’re under attack.

And that’s the call to us. Because to stand up for the bible isn’t too popular these days. To suggest that Jesus is the ONLY way to God isn’t really politically-correct. And to suggest that someone else’s lifestyle might actually be EVIL, or wrong in God’s sight, or heading towards hell, is just about the worst thing you can do.

So let’s listen in to Jude’s words. Because they’re words for US. For OUR time.

1. Defend the faith (3)

Let’s start at v3. His purpose for writing.

(Jude 1:3 NIV)  Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you TO CONTEND FOR THE FAITH THAT WAS ONCE FOR ALL ENTRUSTED TO THE SAINTS.

He’s pleading with his friends to stand beside him in DEFENDING THE FAITH. The facts they all believed were UNDER ATTACK. The facts that had been around since the start.

That God has spoken to us in HIS WORD, the Bible. And then, that he’s spoken to us in his LIVING word, his Son. That God sent Jesus to be born, that he lived. That he died for the sins of many. That he defeated by rising from the . That he ascended to heaven. That he sits at God’s right hand. And some day he’ll come back.

They’re the facts of the faith that Jude’s talking about. The faith that needs defending.

And look at what he says about the faith. Three things.

Once for all… entrusted … to the saints.

Once for all. God HAS spoken to us. His plan for salvation HAS been finished. It’s all in place.

There’s an element of finality there. There’s no looking around the next corner for the next piece of the puzzle. No throwing out the gospel because the latest book on psychology, or archeology, or ethics, or history says something different.

Because rather than measuring God’s Word by the standards of today, the OPPOSITE is true. Whatever ideas or philosophies mankind comes up with/ need to be compared to the measuring stick of God’s word. It’s the standard for today. Not the other way around.

The faith was ONCE for ALL. Complete. Final. Set in stone.

2. It was also ENTRUSTED to us. Signed over to us. God’s the AUTHOR, and he signs over the distribution rights to the church. We’re the publicity agent. It’s our job to the news, not make it up as we go along. Not to think that we know how to say it better.

And that means we’ve got a real responsibility. We’re the way God’s chosen to let the world know. That’s a serious task. So, we defend the faith with everything we’ve got.

Thirdly, it’s been entrusted TO THE SAINTS. In the Bible, saints refers to EVERY CHRISTIAN. It’s open to everyone. Public knowledge. It’s not a secret. That’s only available to those in the know. Standard Christianity has no secrets, or skeletons in the closet. We’re not scared of what the Da vinci Code, or some new archeologist might discover. Because it’s there for ANYONE and EVERYONE.

Defend The faith. Once for all. Entrusted. To the saints.

Well, who does the faith needs defending FROM?

2. Against condemned and godless men (4-16)

Against condemned and godless men. Look at v4.

(Jude 1:4 NIV)  For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

These are non-Christians masquerading as Christians. Inside the church. Hiding behind a mask of words and deeds. Wolves in sheeps’ clothing. They’re in the church, but Jude says they’re godless.

And look at the specifics of what they said. They change the grace of God into a license for immorality.

They understood that God accepted repentant sinners unconditionally. By his grace. Because of Jesus’ . And they thought that meant they could do whatever they liked. And then just asked forgiveness at the end. Doesn’t matter how dirty you get playing in the lovely mud puddle. As long as you have a shower at the end everything’s fine!

It’s the same argument I’ve heard from people today. “I won’t become a Christian yet. I understand everything. But I don’t want to miss out on life. I’ll ask for God’s forgiveness later. I’ll become a Christian on my bed”

But it’s misunderstanding grace. God’s grace is to REPENTANT sinners. To those who turn their back on the old ways. And are walking towards the new.

But for those who keep moving in the old direction, there IS no grace.

And Jude says that’s denying Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Our only MASTER and Lord. To head in the new direction/ is to pledge allegiance to Jesus. To recognise HIS right to rule. To tell us what to do.

And when we aren’t prepared to do that, that’s a true sign that we’re not headed in that direction at all.

They’re just like…

Jude goes on to describe what these people are like. All sorts of people from history who turned away from God. Who took their position for granted. And who God punished.

Like ISRAEL, Verse 5. Most didn’t believe. And God destroyed them.

Even ANGELS weren’t above punishment. Verse 6. They weren’t content with their position. And God’s got them kept in darkness, bound in everlasting chains.

Or Sodom and Gomorrah. Verse 7. Turned to ual immorality. And God destroyed the whole city.

And over in v11. Three more examples from history. Classic cases of disobedience and wickedness, and God’s punishment.

Cain, who killed his brother Abel in a fit of JEALOUSY.

Balaam, who was GREEDY for a king’s reward. And who’s donkey had more sense than him.

Korah, who REBELLED against Moses. Who thought he knew better than God.

JEALOUSY, GREED, AND REBELLION. Perhaps these were just general examples. Or perhaps these were the very things that the false teachers were guilty of.

And Jude’s point? Whatever the sin, they were all PUNISHED. If God’s people Israel, and even ANGELS, couldn’t escape. Who were THESE PEOPLE to think THEY could?

Judgement is real. It was THEN. And it’s just as real NOW. Look down at v14.

(Jude 1:14-15 NIV)  Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones {15} TO JUDGE EVERYONE, and to CONVICT ALL THE UNGODLY of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Whoever you are – judgment is coming. No one can escape.

And their judgement is deserved because of what they’re doing. Look back up at v12. Look at the pictures Jude uses to describe them. Five different images.

1. They’re shepherds who only feed themselves. Shepherds are supposed to provide for the flock. To look after their needs. But these shepherds. These teachers. Were more interested in serving their OWN interests. There was nothing to give the flock.

2. Secondly, also in v12. They’re like clouds without rain. They promise sweet, nourishing rain. But they deliver nothing. They just tease. Nice sounding words, but there’s no substance in them. No real meaning.

3. And they’re like autumn trees. No fruit. Nothing to show for the season of growth. And worse. They’re twice . No fruit, AND uprooted. There’s no fruit, because they’re not connected to the soil. They don’t really know God.

There’s no nourishment going IN, so there’s nothing to come out.

Christian leaders who try to minister without being connected to God very quickly dry out. Our own resources can never be enough.

These people had no relationship with Jesus. No roots in him. And so there’s no fruit in their ministry.

4. The fourth image is that of wild waves. Storm swell. Foaming up with stormwater runoff. Full of disease and filth.

I remember going windsurfing once after a bad storm. It was in Botany Bay, and the wind was wild. It was a great day for windsurfing. But the water was also full of stormwater runoff. And I was sick as a dog for days afterwards.

Not only do the teachers NOT grow GOOD fruit. But they produce filth instead.

5. And fifthly, their like stars, or comets, that zoom off into the darkness of space. They keep going into the blackness of punishment. Just like they deserve.

They’re terrible pictures, aren’t they? Very vivid and powerful. It’s almost hard to imagine what sort of people are being described.

Jude gives us one more list of descriptions. A bit more concrete. These are the sorts of things they DO. Their identifying marks. Their calling cards. And here they are in Verse 16. Five more things. How to spot them in your own congregation.

1. They grumble. “Things are terrible. Those in charge have got no idea. Things would only be so much better if only I was in charge.”

2. Secondly. They find fault in whatever OTHER people do. “Nothing anyone else does is good enough. Noone does things the way they SHOULD be done”.

3. Third, they follow their own evil desires.

4. Fourth, they boast about themselves.

5. Fifth, they flatter others for their own advantage. They don’t build up others for THEIR good, but only to suit themselves. To serve their own ends.

Does anything sound familiar there? Take careful note! And change!

3. By building yourselves up (17-23)

This would all be a pretty depressing letter if it was all warning. All negative, with no positive direction about what they should be doing. Jude’s alerted them to the dangers. He’s told them to defend the faith. He’s told them who to defend it FROM. And now he tells them HOW TO DO THAT.

Defend the faith. Against condemned and godless men. By building yourselves up. Verse 20.

(Jude 1:20 NIV)  But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith

Defend the faith by building yourselves up in the faith. Learn about it. Know it. Read. Listen. Watch. Copy. Memorise. Practice. Work.

Encourage each other to live by it. Stand firm in it. Don’t doubt it.

Relating to God

And he goes on to show HOW to do that. Another set of three. To do with our relationship with God.

(Jude 1:20-21 NIV)  … pray in the Holy Spirit. {21} Keep yourselves in God’s love … as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Pray in the Holy Spirit. It’s God’s Spirit who shows us how to pray. Who gives us the strength and the application to pray.

Keep yourselves in God’s love. Obedience to God’s commands is how we respond to God’s love. Jesus says in John 15:9-10

(John 15:9-10 NIV)  “…remain in my love. {10} If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

Prayer and obedience in the present. As we wait for Jesus to bring us to eternal life. Having one eye on the finishing line is a powerful motivation to keep going.

Notice how each of the three persons of the Trinity are mentioned? Pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourself in God’s love. Wait for Jesus’ return.

Relating to others

That’s all to do with our relationship with God. What about our relationship with others?

We’re to have mercy mixed with fear.

Defending the faith isn’t about a WAR against people. We’re not to DESTROY them. It’s God’s job to judge. We defend the faith by encouraging others to believe it. By being MERCIFUL. Verse 22.

(Jude 1:22-23 NIV)  Be merciful to those who doubt; {23} others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

While Jude was angry with the false teachers, the people who’d been lead astray were to be treated gently. To encourage them back onto the right path. Be merciful. How do you show that mercy? By showing them where they’re wrong. ing them from the fire before it’s too late.

But there’s a word of warning. Plenty of firemen get burned as they try to rescue people. The safe fireman is the one who maintains a healthy fear for fire. Who follows the necessary safety procedures.

And as we mix with those on the wrong path, we need to have the same healthy fear. Loving the sinner, but hating the sin.

And whether that be reaching out to s, or speaking to our Catholic neighbour, or Mormon co-worker. We defend the faith, by holding firmly onto God. Not compromising on what we believe. On what God has revealed to us in his word.

We defend the faith by loving the person who’s been led astray. But hating their sin. And hating the lies that confused them.

How do we keep that balance? How do we keep strong in the faith, when the world tells us we’re old-fashioned and out of date?

By clinging firmly to God. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Praying in the Holy Spirit. Obeying God in response to his love. Looking forward to Jesus’ return

4. And remembering the God who can give you victory (24-25)

And Jude finishes with some wonderful words. Perhaps the most beautiful and encouraging in the whole bible. A reminder of the one who has everything in control. And of who is powerful enough to achieve his purposes.

We defend the faith. Against condemned and godless men. By building ourselves up. And remembering the God who can give you the victory.

Verse 24.

(Jude 1:24-25 NIV)  To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy– {25} to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.