This morning we conclude our study in the book of Jude.
Early into it I was asked why it might take four weeks on a book with only one chapter.
I now know why.
There is much that needs to be unpacked.
The letter is abounding in word pictures and indictments toward false teachers.
And it is also filled with wonderful truths of God’s grace and promised judgment to the unrepentant.
What was supposed to be a joyous letter speaking of God’s wonderful salvation had become a letter calling Jude’s readers to contend for the faith while describing the activities of the false teachers.
And so in recent weeks we have plumbed the depths of the depravity and teaching and lifestyle of these teachers.
Much of this material was weighty and bleak.
And it left us wondering where the hope resided.
So as we draw this letter to a close, we emerge from these depths and are reminded of the responsibilities of the faithful and the character of God.
This was where we began.
Jude identified himself as a slave of his Lord Jesus and wrote to those who had been graciously called by the God who loved them and kept for Jesus Christ.
And we will see a very close connection between where we started and where we will end up.
I’ve entitled the sermon *“Active Contention” *because Jude finishes his book with steps that believers can take in the midst of dealing with false teachers.
To this point he has largely provided characteristics and actions with which to identify them.
But recognizing that Scripture states that this will continue to be problematic until the return of Christ, we are not to sit back, point fingers and moan, but to continue to act on what we know to be true.
Let’s read the text as we get underway.
The first point this morning is *Constructive Contention.
*Our section begins with a “but you.”
In contrast to the actions of the false teachers, there is a proper response to those who are faithful.
“But you beloved.”
That’s where we started… “beloved by God.” Now, we have several participles here.
In these two verses (vv.
20-21), Jude includes “building,” “praying,” and “waiting.”
Some translations have given them command force – “build yourselves.”
But the primary sentence and primary command is to “keep yourselves in the love of God.”
The other participles show the */manner/* in which one keeps themselves in the love of God.
The first way that we constructively contend is to keep ourselves in the love of God.
Well, we know from verse 1 that believers */are /*loved by God.
And now Jude is saying to */keep/* ourselves in the love of God.
And we will see that in verse 24, it is God who keeps us and presents us blameless.
The first question we have to answer is this: “Is the love of God our love for him, or his love for us?”
This is the difference between an objective genitive and subjective genitive.
Basically, is God the object or subject of the loving?
I would answer with “yes.”
This isn’t just an evasion of a definitive answer.
I think that sometimes there need not be a clear distinction.
In this case and others, our love for God is contingent on his love for us. 1 John 4.19 says that “we love because he first loved us.”
The next question could then be raised, “does this mean that we can lose our salvation?”
My answer is “no.”
And here’s why.
In verse 1, Jude says that those who are called are beloved in God.
In the end I believe that those who are called will continue to “keep themselves in the love of God.” Romans 8:28–30, Paul says, “28 And we know that */for those who love God/* all things work together for good, */for those who are called/* according to his purpose.
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
Are we now glorified?
But we anticipate this because Paul’s words here indicate that the future is certain.
God will finish what he started.
Paul continues and says that Romans 8:38–39 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from */the love of God/* in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So those who have been called by God are presently justified and will be ultimately glorified and will never be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
However, this does not leave us without any responsibilities in growing our faith and persevering.
The command here is clearly that we are to keep ourselves.
How about these words from Peter? 2 Peter 1:10 “10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”
And Paul says in the letter to the Philippians to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
I think that Jude is laying out the biblical tension between God’s sovereignty and our responsibility.
And the bottom line, as I understand it, is those whom God elects */will/* make their calling and election sure and */will /*work out their salvation and */will /*keep themselves in the love of God.
To those who ask me if they are one of those God has called, I would respond with live your life everyday for Jesus Christ and show that you are.
Usually, if you are asking the question, you are on the right track.
So, what does this look like practically?
How do we live every day for Jesus?
I think Jude tells us.
It’s the first participle.
We keep ourselves in the love of God */by /*building ourselves up in our most holy faith.
This is synonymous with where he began.
Jude tells the readers to contend for the faith.
They are to continue to grow in their understanding of the truth of the gospel.
This is the teaching that was handed down to them – the “once for all delivered to the saints” faith.
Tom Schreiner writes in his commentary that “believers experience God’s love as their understanding of the faith increases.
Affection for God increases not through bypassing the mind but by means of it.”
This is what we have been experiencing as we have read and discussed “Dug Down Deep.”
I don’t know.
Maybe it’s just me.
But as I once again considered the doctrine of my sin and God’s grace in my salvation, it continues to rock me immensely.
If we have just a vague sense of sin and a dim view of God, it is unlikely that our love will be that significant or continue to grow.
If the message we receive is that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, you will likely view yourself too highly and God not enough.
Building yourself in your most holy faith will also equip you to be less susceptible to false teachings.
Those that remain infants in the faith are easy targets.
And this is not merely an individual pursuit.
I mentioned recently that we are undertaking our faith as a community project.
We build together.
Consider how this contrasts to false teachers.
In the previous verse (v.
19), Jude says that these false teachers cause divisions.
So rather than just pointing this out, believers are to strive together to build themselves up in the most holy faith.
The best defense is a good offense.
As all believers mature, they become more discerning and rooted in their faith.
Dug Down Deep!
We will continue on this theme of building and growing in the next two weeks as we consider /Gospel Growth.
/So be thinking through your Swordsmanship questions for the weeks ahead.
To be continued…
The second way to keep yourselves in the love of God is to talk to him – pray!
In the context, I believe this parallels most closely the words of Paul in Ephesians 6 where he exhorts the church to pray at all times in the Spirit.
The context is the armor of God where he tells them to put on shield of faith, helmet of salvation, etc.