Protecting Our Salvation
Jude March 6, 2005
“And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Ro 13:11 NivUS)
The book of Jude is not popularly studied nor commonly discussed. It is small but it is not insignificant. It concerns a critical threat to our salvation message common to all times and places – past, present and future. It is about the threat of false teachers.
Jude was written in about 65 AD to a group of churches perhaps in Syria.
Jude himself fills in the rest as he opens his letter.
“1 ¶ Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:
Jude and James; bros. of Jesus, radical – ethical.
“"Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?” (Mt 13:55 NivUS)
“3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” (Joh 7:3-5 NivUS)
“When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."” (Mr 3:21 NivUS)
“46 ¶ While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you." 48 He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."” (Mt 12:46-50 NivUS)
“13 ¶ But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Th 2:13-14 NivUS)
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1Pe 2:9 NivUS)
“7 ¶ Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1Jo 4:7-10 NivUS)
Kept: (see also Lk. 15; lost sheep/coin/son)
“While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” (Joh 17:12 NivUS)
“This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: "I have not lost one of those you gave me."” (Joh 18:9 NivUS)
“In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” (Mt 18:14 NivUS)
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."” (Lu 19:10 NivUS)
2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
If we believe vs. 1, vs. 2 naturally follows.
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.
Salvation: (see also 1Cor. 7:26 “due to the present crisis [marriage]”)
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed— not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence— continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” (Php 2:12 NivUS)
“6 ¶ I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Ga 1:6-7 NivUS)
“We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.” (Ga 2:5 NivUS)
i.e. – job/school/marriage
Once for all/Entrusted: (complete; not to be + or -)
“18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Re 22:18-19 NivUS)
There is something more urgent here than growing in salvation – keeping it alive. Some would make a different gospel.
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.
Major Threat: grace w/o agreement.
“26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb 10:26-29 NivUS)
“1 ¶ What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Ro 6:1-3 NivUS)
“15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey— whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Ro 6:15-16 NivUS)
5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.
Deny his authority/leadership.
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.
Deny his sovereignty/slander him.
7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
Deny his holiness.
8 ¶ In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.
9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"
10 Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals— these are the very things that destroy them.
11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
Balaam: Num. 22:4-20
Korah: Num. 16:1-3, 31-35
12 These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm— shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted— twice dead.
“11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” (Joh 10:11-13 NivUS)
Description of hell.
13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
14 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."
“Ungodly = not theoretical atheism, but practical godlessness.”
16 These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.
17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.
18 They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires."
“1 ¶ The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (1Ti 4:1-2 NivUS)
19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
Human responsibility and partnership with God.
21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Ro 8:35 NivUS)
“38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ro 8:38-39 NivUS)
22 Be merciful to those who doubt;
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Heb 12:15 NivUS)
23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear— hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
24 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 1:1-25 NivUS)
Give God glory for protecting you where you can’t protect yourself.
The best way to protect our salvation is not to pervert the grace of God.
Perverting God’s grace is an ungodly thing to do.
The message we heard last week on the little letter of Jude presented the Word of God on the subject of grace that may have been a little hard for some people to digest. Admittedly, he makes some radical statements.
He soundly condemned false teachers entrenched in the church who assumed that salvation by grace gave them the right to sin without restraint, either because God in his grace will freely forgive all their sins, or because sin, by contrast, magnifies the grace of God.
Jude believed that such a perverted understanding of the grace of God was a threat to the foundation of faith that forms the very basis of the gospel. Grace should lead us out of sin – not into it.
Listen to what the Word Biblical Commentary says about it:
Jude’s concern is especially with the moral implications of the gospel (not with doctrinal orthodoxy; hence the idea that “the faith” means a set of doctrinal formulae is quite inappropriate). No doubt he has in mind particularly the instruction in Christian conduct which accompanied the gospel in the initial teaching given by the apostles, but he refers to the gospel itself, ἡ πίστις, because it is the gospel itself for which his readers will be fighting when they remain faithful to its moral demand and resist the antinomianism of the false teachers. Antinomianism is a perversion of the gospel itself, and so just as Paul in Galatians opposes the imposition of circumcision as contrary to the gospel his converts first received from him, so Jude opposes antinomianism as contrary to the gospel his readers first received from the apostles.
Jude means that by refusing to obey Christ’s moral demands the false teachers are in effect, though not in words, disowning him as Master and rejecting his authority as Sovereign and Judge. “They regard themselves, not Him, as their Lord” (Luther).
The point is to prove that the libertine teaching and practice of these people puts them into a class of people who, according to Scripture, incur God’s wrath and condemnation, and that therefore they constitute a severe danger, which Jude’s readers must resist, to the churches.
He writes to urge his readers to continue the fight on behalf of the Christian gospel. In the false teachers’ attack on the moral implications of the gospel, Jude sees the gospel itself (“the faith”) at stake, and here he is at one with all the NT writers. God’s purpose in the gospel is to save sinners, not to promote sin.
Finally, they must live with their hope set on the Lord’s coming, when those who remain faithful to him will receive, in his mercy, final salvation.
But those who refuse to repent and continue, as the false teachers have done, to argue their freedom from accusations of sin, are a serious danger to Jude’s readers, who must exercise Christian mercy toward them only in conjunction with the greatest care to avoid being influenced by them. They must fear the judgment of God which they too will incur if they are infected by the sins of these sinners.
But he does not give up hope of their salvation:
Does all this mesh with the words of Jesus himself? Listen ---
“13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 15 ¶ "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 ¶ "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ 24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Mt 7:13-29 NivUS)
I believe the will of God here is to receive the transforming power of grace in your life. It is a process that begins the moment of confessing Christ as your Savior and Lord. It is the will of God that you be transformed, and Jude proclaims emphatically that if you have received the grace of God, you will be transformed.
What is grace anyway except the very existence of God’s law written upon our hearts. Either we will grow in obedience to it and prove grace – or we will ignore its implications, and its demands upon us, and disprove grace.
But all this gets complicated because grace is also free to us, unhindered, and paid for, without strings attached. It is where salvation starts.