“You have been singing –’ I belong to Jesus, I am not my own’. This is the most precious thought – you are not a free, unattached spirit roaming through the universe or the world. You are Mine and belong to Me and therefore I take the responsibility to care for you as My precious possession. Emily looks to you and feels secure because she knows deep down that she belongs to you. But what she does not know is that on your own you are unreliable. You can only give her as much security as you have in Me which is certain. So take into this day the comforting knowledge and feeling that you are Mine and I am yours and we belong together.”
I was led to read Jude this week because of a vague sense of similarity to 2 Corinthians and I have not read it is for some time. So here goes: The key statement pointing to the purpose of he letter lies in vs 3 “I felt I had to write to you to contend for the faith”.
But what does he mean by this? Contending brings to my mind physical combat or confrontation. However as we move into the letter we see that there have been “certain men” who have infiltrated the church secretly. These false teachers have led the people away from the true gospel, especially twisting the understanding of God’s grace. It is contending for true gospel which he has in mind.
I think the words in vs 4 ring down through the ages and that thought is very prevalent today. Many would presume on the grace of God. In their minds, Jesus has died for their sins and set them free. But their idea of freedom is not freedom from the law or sin it is an idea that they are now free to live a life which has no constraints. Jude says, “they have changed the grace of God into a license for immorality”. vs 4.
Jude then launches into a reminder of several instances of God’s judgement in the past as he focuses on the destiny of these men. Notably he starts with the judgement of the Israelites who died in the desert after being saved from slavery in Egypt. Ostensibly saved, yet falling back into their old way of life. He specifically mentions Sodom and Gomorrah because of the nature of their sexual sin and the complete judgement after that.
He then almost seems to be carried away with his sense of indignation and condemnation of these people, using some of the most fruity language in the next 8 vv. He comes to a climax in v 14 “See the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones to judge everyone and convict all the ungodly for all the ungodly acts they have done in an ungodly way…..” The ultimate description of ungodliness is perhaps the statement in v 16 “they follow their own evil desires”
At this point in the letter I almost felt he was going to write these people off, yet there is a distinct change here in vs 17. In vv 17 – 19 he reminds the readers that they should not be surprised by all this because the Apostles had warned of this type of behaviour which would come as the gospel era unfolded.
Just as a side note. he speaks of “in the last times scoffers will follow their own ungodly desires”. We need to remember the description “in the last times” does not describe only the period just before Jesus returns, it describes the whole gospel era. The gospel era was regularly referred to as “the last times”, the end times or the last days, for instance.
Now comes the surprise “but”. Instead of writing them off, Jude first warns the readers to not get distracted in their Christian walk and then in vs 22 he shows his attitude towards these people, whom he has described earlier in the most fruity terms, He tells the readers to be merciful and do everything they can to snatch them from the fire and save them. Show mercy, mixed with fear. They should hate all their actions (their very clothing stained by corrupt flesh”) but still love them as God’s creation.
Then he ends with the well-known doxology which reminds us that it is God who keeps us through Jesus from the same fate. To help us to stay in the faith and keep contending for it.
This letter has reminded me again of the need to be careful with my faith. There are many forces and temptations out there that seek to drag us away. Deep down inside us is still a core of sin which is often just ready to believe some of the nonsense out there.
In the forefront is the battle to understand and apply God’s grace. On the one hand there is the temptation to believe that because of His incalculable grace we can behave as we would like. His forgiveness has won us this. On the other hand there is a lack of appreciation of the true value of His grace which leads to a life of trying to please God by doing all sorts of things, like keeping the law. So that one can win some extra points for winning God’s love and His saving grace.
As we were warned by Paul in the letter to the Corinthians and here again, one of Satan’s main attacks on us as Christians and God’s holy church, is through false teaching. Especially today with the mass of information being poured out there are many who are seeking to twist the gospel, starting with something only small which escalates to a complete break-down of the faith and effectiveness of the church. Much food for thought as we look back into the past and see his has been happening from the very beginning.
So friends, I am going to read a few Psalms in the next few weeks till I decide which book to tackle next. May God bless you all.