Jude 17-25 – 2023 Dec 07

The writer reflects on their journey through the Scriptures, recalling starting with Galatians pre-pandemic and now reaching the end of the New Testament. They discuss the transformation of a friend they were trying to reach through the gospel, who has now turned to faith. The writer also discusses the false teachers spoken of in Jude, emphasizing the importance of recognizing their traits and resisting their influences. Furthermore, the author stresses the retaining of faith, emphasizing compassionate interaction with dubious believers, and the relentless pursuit of God’s love. They reveal their next study to be the Book of Revelation.

Here we are in the final verses of Jude, and I find myself reflecting on our walk through the Scriptures to get here.  We started before the Pandemic in something like 2017 in Galatians, and here we are, closing off all the epistles of the New Testament this evening!  We started with Galatians because it was a mini-Romans, and I wanted to use it to preach the gospel to a friend.  That friend was saved, and also baptized, and is now in BC with his father at the moment.  He got in touch just a few days ago, and we’re planning coffee when he returns to Ottawa.  Here we are in Jude!  Some of you have been here for Most of it, and a lot has happened.  Does anyone remember Paul Kambanjani from Zambia?  His daughter still worships here!  And in the middle of the letters of John, Michael and Sandy have joined us, and Mingyang.  All of my children have made professions of faith!  My wife can discuss reformed theology with the best of us!  So much has happened since we began our studies of the Scriptures, and I personally have learned a lot, and hopefully communicated at least a portion of it to you.  Praise the Lord for milestones!  Now, into the text.

We need to remind ourselves that Jude has been speaking about the false teachers that he was encountering and what the Lord inspired him to tell the churches about it.  Where we stopped last time is really our own artificial division of the letter, so that we wouldn’t be here until two Thursdays from now.  There really is that much content in the passages we made, and I’ll take responsibility for that, I should have made them smaller.  I don’t know how I could have done that though, so here we are.

Jude was explaining the lifestyle of the false teacher so that we would be able to identify the false from the true teachers of God’s word, and I can sum up that difference in a few words:  Proud, selfish, and with no self-control.  They are always in it for themselves and at your expense.  At the stage of history we seem to be at, this has gained WIDE acceptance in Christendom among particularly Pentecostals and Charismatics, and that would include Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox practitioners who are fed up with the deadness and are looking for something more dynamic.  These false teachers and their so-called “secret knowledge” that they could only impart to those acolytes who financially supported them (does the model seem familiar) fly in the face of those who would bring the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.  In just a few words, Jude has shown us how these people operate and what they are really after – us.  Forewarned is forearmed.  Because if you know they are coming, you can be armed with the truth.  Jude is even going to talk about how that is implemented this evening, and we’ll say more about that in our second thought unit.  That’s the context we bring from the last study. 

I broke the text down as follows:

KV20:  But you…

20:  But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

17-19:  Remember what the Apostles said

20-23:  Build yourselves up in the faith

24-25:  Remember for Whom we do all this

The last few studies have focused on what can largely be viewed as more negative text, but of necessity.  We cannot avoid the bad or negative things that the Scriptures have to say to us.  To do so is no different than King Jehoiachin cutting out the bits he didn’t like with a Scribe’s knife.  Too many so-called believers do this.  You cannot really accept the good news until you understand the bad news first.

The bad news is that you are a sinner, and you have sinned in the sight of a holy God, who is also just.  He MUST punish sin.  That means he must punish us ALL because we have transgressed His laws.  The penalty for sinning, or violating God’s holy laws and commands, is death.  Even then, it will not clear the account, because one who is without sin must atone for the sinner.  We are without hope without a direct intervention of God. 

As it turns out, God in the person of His Son became a human and lived a perfect life that was without sin for us!  And then, at the perfect time, He gave up that perfect life for us, and He became our perfect atonement, perfectly wiping out our sins before a perfect and holy God.  That’s the Good News, and that’s what our Lord Jesus Christ did for us when He died on the cross for us to pay for all of our sins.  Let’s get into the text here.

KV20:  But you…

20:  But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

With all of the negative instruction about false teachers and how bad they are and how they are trying to drag us to hell with them, Jude has a bit of refreshment for our souls at the end of his letter.  Two times he says this phrase, and both of these statements encourage us toward something.  Let’s get into the text and find out what that is.

17-19:  Remember what the Apostles said

Here we see through Jude what the Holy Spirit is saying to the churches.  That single phrase, “But you, Beloved…”   Jude reminds us that our track is not the same track as all those who would attempt to lead God’s chosen people astray.  Their track is tear-filled outer darkness.  Our fate is decidedly different because all of God’s chosen people will ultimately live with Christ forever.  Let’s see what Jude is saying.

17:  But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,

  • In the first of the uses of that phrase, Jude reminds us that we are not alone and defenceless before these false teachers.  For all of the false authority masquerading around with their fanciful false doctrine to lead us astray, there are men who had real authority–the Apostles.  These were men that the Lord Jesus Christ separated with a call to teach what He commanded them, and then sent them out as His representatives on that mission, the very definition of the word Apostle.  Fourteen men bore that responsibility.  Only one was unfaithful in that calling, that being Judas Iscariot.  He was replaced with Matthias, who was then numbered with the Apostles, and then Paul, who our Lord Jesus stopped short while he was on a mission of destruction, and made him the Apostle to the Gentiles!  Jude tells us that we need to remember what they taught us.  What did they teach us?

18:  that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.”

  • Well, they told us that these false teachers were coming, to put it simply.  Paul confronted them many times.  He wrote his entire letter we call 2 Corinthians to deal with those men directly.  Can you imagine such a humble man being required to defend himself and his service to God?  And he STILL didn’t blow his own horn for the sake of blowing his own horn.  Peter dealt with these men in his second letter to the churches.  John mentions them in all of his letters in specific applications.  Even our Lord said false teachers would come and how to detect them.
  • The question becomes, “Are we really in the last time?”  John answers that question definitively in his first letter!  1 John 2:18 reads, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”  If we take that literally, the last hour has taken 2000 years or so, but if you think of it, we are ALL in our last hour no matter what the era of the world.  We all will die, Beloved.  And that brings with it a caveat.
  • “In the last time, there will be mockers.”  The Greek word for “mocker” [empaiktes] means to make sport of or to ridicule.  These ridicule what seems like everything there is to ridicule and a few things we don’t seem to think of.  “What do you mean I’m a sinner?”  “What do you mean I can’t help myself?”  “You think I am not capable of fixing my own issues before God?”  Or how about, “I’ve never felt the need to admit that I’m a sinner!  I’m not a sinner.  I’ve never sinned.  I have nothing to apologize for.”  “What makes you think I need to apologize?”  Ultimately, they all say some version of “There is no God [to whom I am accountable].”  They mock God and anyone who speaks for Him.  They even insist that God is female or something else that God did NOT identify as in Scripture.
  • They do something else either as cause or effect, and I can make the case for either, so I suspect both are true: They follow after their own lusts.  What this means is what they desire.  They pursue whatever it is that they want.  The Greek word here is a form of epithumia, which means whatever it is they covet.  Coveteousness is more in view here as a wider context, it is not just speaking of sexual desire, though that is certainly included.  Some of them, and we have even named them in past studies, clearly want money.  Is that all they want?  No, possessions, relationships with others either sexually or non-sexually, or political or religious power are all in view for this.  These things are the motives that drive their mocking.  These are driven by their coveteousness for whatever it is they really want.  I’ve heard it said this way–they are driven by their own insatiable appetites.  And because what they want is not blessed by God, it will never be enough.  They will pursue it and never find enough to satisfy themselves.  Little is much if God is in it.  Remember that, Beloved.  Jude has more to say.

19:  These are the ones who cause divisions,  worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.

  • As a further statement of identification, Jude tells us that these people as a lifestyle will try to cause division where none is needed.  Why do I put it like that?  Well, in our denomination, the prevailing view is egalitarianism.  I am decidedly complementarian, and I think that is a division that is an example of one that is needed.  I know not everyone agrees with that, and haven’t in CBOQ since 1972, BY VOTE OF THE MEMBER CHURCHES.  Why am I here?  Because this is where God put me.  Outside of that, I don’t have a reason, sorry.  Or how about if someone wants a particular sin, like our euphemistic car thieving, to become acceptable and even honourable behaviour in our midst?  That’s a division that NEEDS to be made.  Jude is speaking about divisions that do NOT need to be made, like who the better teacher of the Scriptures is, like Paul, or Apollos, or even Jesus.  Paul said it didn’t matter in 1 Cor. 1, and it still doesn’t.  I heard one once that I still think is funny.  Should a sister in Christ be allowed to wear makeup?  Those who would cause division here would say “No!  Not ever!”  The divisive knee-jerkers (and you know who you are) would say, “Yes!  They must!”  And there is your division.  Here is why it shouldn’t matter.  Some women need it, some do not.  My own take is, sister, if you need it, dab it on!  Their very focus is on the rules that they can use to cut out the things they don’t like and include the things they do like, because it is the thing they desire.
  • This is an individual who is not walking in the Holy Spirit or His instruction and fellowship.  Jude says that this kind of individual is “worldly-minded.”  The Greek word?  Pseukikos.  That which belongs to the soul, or I would add is in the realm of the soul, of the self, as opposed to the Spirit of God.  In other places, this word is translated as sensual, natural, or animal.  Vine says that in this reference here, it relates “perhaps more especially to the mind, a wisdom in accordance with, or springing from, the corrupt desires and affections…” in his Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.  Paul puts this in a different way.  He calls it walking in the flesh.  And if we walk in the flesh, we are not walking in the Spirit of God. 
  • Jude also says that these individuals cannot walk in the Spirit because they are “devoid of the Spirit” in the New American Standard Bible.  The margin says that the literal Greek can be rendered, “…not having the Spirit.”  What that means is that these people ARE NOT SAVED!  John puts it this way in 1 John 4:6–“We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”  Why is this?  Those who do not have the Spirit of God (that is the Holy Spirit) have a spirit of error and are not from nor do they have God.  They are not real believers, no matter how much they protest that they do!  Jude is going to explain in our next paragraph how to treat such individuals, and it may not be what you think, because this tends to make some of us, myself included, angry at those who would insert such ungodliness into the people of God and call it a good and loving thing.

Now I can hear some folks out there who are in the back row of the internet, which I will lovingly call the “rumble” seat (love you Rumble family), asking why I’m being all hard about this.  Friends, this isn’t me.  This is Jude, and he is telling us to remember what the Apostles taught.  Isn’t that the first thing we should be doing as believers?  Studying the Apostles’ Teaching?  You better believe it.  It’s the very first anchor of our faith mentioned in Acts 2:42 which reads, They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and  to prayer.”  That was after Peter preached the very first ever gospel sermon of the brand new that morning church age.  Remember what the Apostles said.  Moving on.

20-23:  Build yourselves up in the faith

It was an appropriate time to comment with Acts 2:42 here.  In fact, I’ll read it again.  “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and  to prayer.”  Beloved, I wrote a book about this!  You can get that book for $4 on Amazon!  This is how you build yourself up in the faith!  Jude goes into some detail about this here, and even talks about how to “edify” [meaning to build up!] others with this as well.  Let’s get right into it.

20:  But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

  • Here is the second use of this phrase, “But you, Beloved…”  The second thing that Jude says here is to be about the activity of building ourselves up in our most holy faith.  This is called edification, and should always be our goal in everything we say to other brothers and sisters in Christ at a minimum, and I think that it extends to everyone.  We are to be a fragrance of Christ to people.  To believers, a reminder and a help in that building up, and to unbelievers an attraction to the joy and peace of that most blessed life the Saviour of all died to give us.
  • Then Jude says, “…praying in the Holy Spirit.”   Because of all the distortion brought by the Charismaniacs about prayer in the Holy Spirit, I will say a word.  This does not mean “praying in ‘tongues'” by any stretch.  Jesus Himself taught His disciples to pray.  Matthew 6:9-13 says this:
  • Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

‘Your kingdom come.

Your will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

‘Give us this day our daily bread.

‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from  evil.

[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]

  • This is the kind of thing we should pray about.  Notice the address is to the Heavenly Father.  It recognizes that He is holy!  It recognizes that His kingdom is coming.  It asks for HIS will (not ours) to be done on earth as it is always done in heaven.  It makes humble request for our own needs (not wants or demands), and recognizes that we are not to hold grudges and that we are not perfect, so will forgive grudges BEFORE others forgive us.  It also asks that the Lord of heaven and earth guide us away from evil’s path but rather would deliver us from evil.  That last line may or may not have been in the original so I’ll skip it for the moment, though it certainly does fit.  We are to ask the Father, in the authority that Christ gave us as a result of His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection, and by the power supplied (along with the interpretation for wordless prayers) by the Holy Spirit!  That is what it means to pray in the Holy Spirit.  Only the regenerated (a word Paul uses) are capable of this kind of prayer.  This also is one of the ways that we build ourselves up in our most holy faith.

21:  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

  • The Jude tells us to “keep” or “guard” ourselves in the agape of God.  The word for “keep” here is a form of tereo, tersate, the aorist active verb.  That means WE are to do it, and we are to KEEP doing it continually.  I find it a joyful thing that the thing in which we are to continually guard ourselves is the love of God, agape.  Given that it is God’s love for us, and that He must put that within us, and does if we are His, all we must do is apply it.  Those who do not belong to God are not able to do so, and this is one of those points that we can draw people with.  God’s love, remember, is divine and self-sacrificing, putting the needs of others ahead of your own.  Remember that.
  • Jude also tells us that we should “wait anxiously” for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that will result in eternal life.  That Greek word means “accept favourably,” which is not what the world means when we say “anxiety.”  This means to look forward to it with great expectation!  Why?  That love that God has for us and gives to us represents the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ on us, and because of which we will be given eternal life, zoe, life as God has life, both its quantity (eternity) and its quality (divine).  Why?  Well, we have work to do.

22:  And have mercy on some, who are doubting;

  • We are to take that mercy that God gave us His great agape love for us and we are to give it to everyone else.  It mentions three specific groups of people, by the way.  Not all of them are believers when we meet them, beloved!  This first category that Jude talks about may be saved or may not be.  It says that they have doubts.  That means from the form of the Greek diakrino that they do not know how to think about or judge something [dia, asunder; krino, judgement].  What that means is that in our meandering path to glory, we will encounter people who just are not sure or do not know what to think about Christ, or about what His word says.  We are to extend mercy, or literally, have compassion for them.  I’m not saying do everything for them, that isn’t compassion.  TEACH them to know or do so that they learn for themselves.  Doing such makes them a better person.  Yes, there is a point at which you should not do things for people who have been sufficiently shown, but I’m not talking about that here.  Compassion meets needs, and the one who does not have needs to learn how to have it and gain it themselves, whatever that situation may involve, these ones that do not know or have doubts, instruct from compassion because that is how God deals with us.

23:  save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

  • The second category of individuals that Jude introduces us to here is those who need to be saved.  “Save them!  Pull them out of the fire!”  It is my opinion that Jude here is referring to those whom we meet who are in need of salvation.  Most times, this is obvious, and has an obvious answer.  When someone is clearly an unbeliever, then tell them how Christ paid the price for their sins on the cross and rose again to prove it!  However, sometimes a brother or sister can get themselves in over their heads spiritually speaking, not from sinful behaviour but because they didn’t know better.  Save them too.  Snatch them from the figurative fire as it were.  Usually, you need to listen carefully and then give appropriate help.  Oh, this is important–they don’t get to decide what “appropriate help” is, that’s your department in consultation with the Lord via His word.
  • Usually though, if they are in over their heads that badly, and they don’t want the kind of help you are offering in Jesus’ name, then it is because they are not walking in the Spirit.  Welcome to the third category of individuals Jude says we should have mercy on.  On these, you should STILL and maybe even ESPECIALLY have mercy, but it’s okay to hate the situation they are in.  Jude refers to the “garment polluted by the flesh.”  Sometimes, that’s a literal thing, but usually it’s worse than just having unclean clothes.  I don’t want to talk about stories I’ve heard here, but I can tell you I’ve heard a few.  These folks are usually stubborn, don’t listen, get angry with you, demand certain kinds of attention that aren’t going to help them, and sometimes feel like they have to leave your company because you didn’t meet their unreasonable demands of what they call help.  Have mercy and compassion on them anyway, even if, no, especially if they make you angry at times. 

The bottom line in all of these people groups is that everyone needs the Lord Jesus Christ.  First, they need Him for salvation in the first place, and then we all need Him for our continuing work of sanctification, like it or not.  As we learn and are made holy through that process, we will encounter others who need our help with similar issues.  Beloved, that’s your cue.  Go and have mercy on them also, and in doing so, you will be guarding yourselves in the Love of God.  Onward.

24-25:  Remember for Whom we do all this

I want you to really understand this, so please concentrate here.  The way in which we serve the Lord here on this earth is how we will serve Him in heaven.  I know we hear this as a glib proverb from those who either do not understand or who want to convert this into money to fund their lascivious lifestyles, but the Lord really does love you and has a wonderful plan for your life, even if that involves hardship, poor health, having no money, and having very few friends.  For some, it involved being devoured by wild beasts in a public spectacle.  For some it involved torture and death.  Isaiah was sawn in two lengthwise by order of King Manasseh.  Jeremiah was stoned by the congregation in Egypt because he would not stop telling them bad news about the things they wanted and not what God wanted.  Paul was beheaded.  Peter was crucified upside down.  I could go on.  These things do not mean God does not love you!  Rather those things are designed to bring you to perfection as you learn to be content in WHATEVER situation He brings you through.  So hear what I say carefully:  The way in which you serve the Lord here will be how we serve then.  Our suffering in that light means very little.  It is not our honour for which we serve, it is His.  Let’s look at the text, and see what the Lord says through brother Jude.

24:  Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,

  • Jude, after all that instruction about the false teachers that the church will face, and the people that we are clearly supposed to help who will not appreciate the effort for the most part, at least not at first, breaks into doxology, the giving of glory and praise to our King and God.  Why?
  • First, He is able to keep us from stumbling.  When we are confronted with the terrifying prospect of facing down a false teacher (and it is a frightening prospect if you do not like conflict, and I do not know a single man of God who does), we will be able to face them down by the grace and mercy found in Christ Jesus.
  • Second:  I’ll begin this way.  It is a very difficult day in which to serve Christ, and it isn’t getting easier.  It’s getting harder because the cost is becoming higher.  Men like James Coates and Tim Stephens have been arrested simply because they would not commit to things that would compromise the men and women in their care as under-shepherds of the Great Shepherd, our Lord Jesus.  They were thrown in jail because they could not stop being pastors.  That’s a pretty high bar.  But!  Jude tells us that He is able to MAKE us stand.  That’s one of my fears.  The time will come and I will not be able to stand.  Beloved, He can MAKE you stand if you trust Him.
  • Third, where is it that we will stand in the end?  In His glorious presence!  That place where no sin is welcome or permitted!  And we will have great joy because He is able to make us BLAMELESS!  How will He do it?  How will He take a coward like me and make me stand as bold as a lion to face down the monsters behind the people that come at us?  (You must understand that we do not fight against people, but against spiritual forces of wickedness.)  I do not know the details, but I take great encouragement that He will.  However, I think we have a part to play in that by making the little choices for Him as we go along now.  Don’t say no when God says go.  Like that.

25:  to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

  • In the end, like Jude, all we who remain faithful and walk with Him in His Holy Spirit will stand and worship with Jude in the presence of the only God our Saviour.  He is Holy!  He will have made us holy!  We will stand in His presence with great joy before Him because of Him, our Lord Jesus Christ!  We will praise and sing to His glory alone, to His great and pure majesty, that His dominion is over all and is an everlasting dominion!  That He is the final and only authority over everything and everyone in creation!  That He has been this way since before all time began, after all time ends, and to the ages of the ages!  Amen, Jude, Let it be so.

And THAT is what I saw in the letter and our text this evening.

Now, as planned, we will be taking the rest of December off from this study, starting up again on Thursday, January 11, 2024.  Our next book of study will be the Book of Revelation.  It’s the next in order, and I think I will have enough of a break that I can plan the schedule for this book.  It has 22 chapters, not that it means a lot, because most chapters we have been dividing into at least three parts, and there are some of those that will take more than that, and there will be study tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years to keep this stuff straight.  I don’t know if you know this, but the book of Revelation is the only book that has a blessing pronounced by it just for reading the book! 

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