Jude 1-7, 20-25
Stephen Caswell © 2005
New York’s Riverside Church spent $100,000 a year for its security program — more than the entire budget of most smaller churches — because of the growing crime problem.
We are standing at the beginning of 2005. The Tsunami disaster shocked the world at the close of 2004. What lies ahead of us? Is this world falling apart? Will terrorists strike in our land? Can we have eternal security? Is God able to keep us from harm? Or are we vulnerable to Satan and wicked men? This was an issue when Jude wrote his epistle to the early Church. Jude reminded the Church of God's past judgement and His sovereign ability to Keep. In Jude's day wickedness abounded and threatened to corrupt the Church, from within. The Roman Empire persecuted the Church from without. Today I would like to look at God's ability to keep. God keeps the wicked for the Day of Judgement and the righteous for Heaven with Himself. Three points Jude makes about God's power; Kept for Judgment, Kept in God’s Love, Kept by Christ.
1. Kept For Judgment
Jude 6: And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;
Story Of Al Kapoen
During the prohibition in America in the nineteen-twenties and nineteen-thirties there was a gangster named Al Kapoen. He evaded the law for quite some time. His crimes included murder, moonlighting, illegal gambling, protection rackets, and tax evasion. It was this final breach on which he was convicted and sentenced to Alkatraz. Alkatraz was escape proof. Situated on an island off New York City, strong currents swept down the river and made it impossible to swim to safety. To make it even more difficult sharks infested the river as well. History records that no one ever escaped alive. This prison had excellent security and the backing of the U.S. government. If one was sentenced to Alkatraz to serve time you served it, to the last minute. Alkatraz was a man made and man secured prison. However the prison spoken of in Jude was made and is guarded by God Himself.
Jude 6 states that God has kept the Angels that sinned in everlasting chains under darkness for the Judgement Day. If men can securely hold criminals in prison, then how much more is God able to keep the wicked? If there was no escape from the judgement of men, and the term is enforced, surely God is much more able to punish the wicked that disobey Him. God has power to confine the wicked in prison to punish them with eternal fire. They are currently being held in prison awaiting their final judgement. These people: are reserved for judgement, will stand before God's judgement, will be condemned to hell.
The Bible lists their disobedience. Their works are described throughout Jude as a warning to all who would live that way. Jude 4: For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
a. Licentiousness, immoral people. v 4,7,8,10,12. Such people abound today. TV reflects this.
b. Unbelief, people who choose not to believe. v 4-5,10. The majority today reject Christ.
c. Rebellious, people that speak evil of authorities, law-breakers. 8,11. People hate authority.
d. Blasphemous, people who speak evil of God. v 15,16. Take His name in vain, curse Him.
All those who practise such things have been reserved by God for Judgement. Jude 14-15 The day has been set and God has shown us the Man who will judge the world by raising Him from the dead. Acts 17:31:
Will you be among those condemned at that time? God is keeping the wicked for the day of judgement. Unless you receive a pardon from Jesus Christ you will be condemned. If you don't know Christ this evening you should seriously consider giving your life to Him. God has judged in the past and will do so again in the future. Are you being kept for judgment?
2. Kept In God’s Love
Jude 21: keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Love story of Jim and Mary
The story is told of a young couple who were engaged to be married when the war broke out in 1939. Mary was a school teacher and Jim was in the Air Force. He was posted to England early in 1940. They had promised each other to write and remain faithful till Jim came home. Time rolled on and they wrote to each other at least three times a month. When Mary had the opportunity she would ring on the phone.
They carried each others picture with them where ever they went. They longed for the day that the war would finish and they could be reunited. They spoke to their friends and workmates all the time about their loved one. By doing these things they found that their love grew more each day even though they were apart. They kept their love alive and fresh by thinking about each other often. Mary longed for Jim's return and their future lives together as man and wife.
This love story has a parallel for believers. In Jude 20-23 we are given some guidelines on how to keep our relationship with God fresh and alive.
Jude 20b: praying in the Holy Spirit,
The first parallel I would like to draw is that of communication. To keep our love for God fresh we need to keep in contact on the phone. We don't have the problem Mary did, because we can ring at any time. The prayer line is always open and Christ longs to hear from us. Jesus is never to busy for us to talk to Him. In verse 20 we are commanded to pray in the Holy Spirit. We should pray regularly and keep in touch with Christ our Heavenly Bridegroom. If we don't keep in touch our love for Him will grow cold and die.
When we need help with decisions we should take it to the Lord in prayer. A good relationship is built on regular communication. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we read Pray without ceasing. Philippians 4:6 says, Be anxious for nothing , but in everything by prayer and supplications, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and it goes on to say and the peace of God which passes understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Prayer is an important part of communication with God. Another important part is reading letters.
b. Bible Reading Jude 20a: But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith,
Gods Word can build us up as we obey it. Just as Jim and Mary wrote to each other sharing their lives, we also need to read the letters that our Beloved has sent to us. We are betrothed to our Heavenly Bridegroom who loves us and longs to share so much with us. The letters given to us in the Bible tell us so much about Him. Reading God's Word deepens our love for Christ and draws us closer to Him. This is the only real way we can know about Him. The Bible also tells us how we should live to please our beloved. God is interested in us and knows all about us. If we truly want to know Him then this is the only way. God makes His Word available to us so that we might know Him and grow more like Him. This is another important way God communicates with us.
c. Personal Witness
Jude 22-23: And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
When you love someone you don't want to hide it. Jim and Mary told all their friends and workmates about their love. That was a natural response for them. They cherished their loved one. In the same way we should share the good news about our relationship with Christ. Our Heavenly Bridegroom is so wonderful and we need to introduce others to Him. Some may scorn us, others will only listen, but some will want to know Him themselves. In verses 22 and 23 we are told to reach out to others with the gospel message. Jude tells us to save the lost and lists them in different groups. He describes them as the doubters, the ones almost in the fires of hell and the ones polluted by the world. We may need to be careful when sharing with some, so we are not ensnared by their sin. But just the same we need to tell them the good news that Jesus loves them and wants to save them.
Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 5:20: Now we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
d. Keep Our First Love. Jude 21a: keep yourselves in the love of God,
Jim and Mary kept their first love by focussing their attention on each other. This also kept them from being distracted by others. They chose to keep themselves pure. Keep yourselves in the love of God is the command we are given in verse 21. We need to develop our relationship with God and let Him be the focus of our attention. In Revelation 2:1-7 we are told about the Ephesian believers who were serving the Lord faithfully. But God had this one thing against them they had left their first love. They were told to repent and do the things they had done at first. They had let their love grow cold, even though their service continued. We need to serve the Lord out of our love for Him and not as a replacement for it.
If our relationship with the Lord doesn't grow and develop it will wither. To keep ourselves in the love of God we need to focus on Him. This will affect our behaviour as we don't want to hurt our beloved. We must not allow anything to come between us and the Lord.
e. The Blessed hope
Jude 21b: looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Mary longed for the day that Jim would return from the war. She longed to be his wife and spend their future together. They had made exciting plans and lived each day with them in mind. When he came back they would never be parted again. When this happened they would see each other face to face and freely talk when ever they liked. Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ is the message of Jude 21. Are you looking for His coming, are you ready? We need to be ready at any moment for His return.
By Faithfully serving our Lord we can be ready at any time. Our whole life should be lived with this thought in our minds. Christ's return is the most exciting event awaiting believers. When He comes back for His bride we will always be with Him. In 1 John 3:2-3 we read: Beloved now are we the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope keeps himself pure, just as He is pure. If we focus on our love for Christ and His return, we will want to keep ourselves pure.
Are you keeping yourself in God’s love? Do you spend time talking to Him in prayer? Do you read the letters He has sent you in the word? Do you tell others about your Saviour? Are you snatching them from the fire? Are you looking for Christ’s return? Are you keeping yourself just for him? Or Have you lost your first love? God loves us and is keeping us for heaven. Are we keeping ourselves just for Him?
3. Kept By Christ
Jude 1b, 24: To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
The Story Of Fort Knox
The United States Government needed a very secure place to protect something of great value. They needed a secure building in which they could place the gold reserves of many countries. They constructed a special vault and placed it inside a secure building. You would know this place as Fort Knox. It has a permanent guard of soldiers surrounding it. The premises are fitted with the most sophisticated surveillance equipment. It has been fitted with time locks on the vaults and there is an emergency back up of armed guards. The U. S. Government gives its backing to the people in charge of the facility. The secret service agencies inform them of any developing threats they become aware of. The gold is precious and no expense is spared to make sure it is kept secure.
In the Scriptures believers are referred to as a peculiar treasure. In Malachi 3:17 believers are called jewels. Every believer is very precious to God and He personally takes care of them. The Lord watches over the righteous and protects them from harm. Nothing catches Him by surprise, He knows all that will happen long before it ever does. God's secret services are second to none, He knows everything about everyone. Because of this nothing comes into our lives without being cleared by Him first. Satan cannot take us away from God.
Jesus said that no one can snatch us out of His hand. Then He went on to say that His Father was greater than Himself and no one could snatch us out of His Father’s hand. That's double security. How is God able to do this? Because He has all the information to know what is happening. He also has absolute power to enforce His will. God is always present to shield us from all harm. The Lord is with us wherever we go. As Paul said in Romans I am confident that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Paul of all people should know of God's protection. His life was in constant danger, yet he knew that he was invincible till God said it's time to come home.
2 Timothy 4:17-18: But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. Nothing can touch us without God’s permission.
Lauren's Bicycle With Trainer Wheels
I remember when Lauren had her fourth birthday. One present she received for her birthday was a purple bicycle. But Lauren didn't know how to ride yet. So we put some trainer wheels on the bike. That helped her to keep her balance as she learnt to ride. One day when she was riding she fell over even with the the trainer wheels on the bike. I wondered how this happened, until I saw her do the same thing again. If she leant to one side whilst turning a sharp corner she fell off. So I told her to sit in the middle of the seat when turning.
Kept From Stumbling
I would like draw a parallel to the Christian life from this story. When we become Christians God does not leave us on our own to live a godly life. He sends a helper to teach us how to live the way we should. He helps us to keep our balance and prevents us from falling. The helper of course is the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Yet, we can still fall if though if we ignore His leading. This happens when we turn off the path and lean in the direction that we want to go. He will not leave us there but picks us up and points us back in the right direction. And God has guaranteed to get us to our final destination.
In 1Corinthians 10:13 we read: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. In Philippians 1:6 we read: Being confident of this very thing that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
So as our text said in Jude that God is able to keep us from stumbling and make us stand in His presence blameless and with great joy. God can keep us in time, through death, and into eternity. And what's more He will present us blameless before His glorious presence.
1. We are Called by God to salvation through Jesus Christ.
2. We are kept for him. The Church is His Bride. Jude: 1, Rev 19:7, 1 Pet 2:9, 2 Cor 11:2
3. We are His inheritance, that shows that we are worth something to God. He gave His Son.
To summarise GOD'S keeping of HIS saints we can say the following:
a. God is able to keep you from stumbling. He can deliver us out of temptation.
b. God will make us stand in His presence blameless.
c. God will make us stand in His presence with great joy.
d. God our Saviour has Glory, Majesty, Dominion and Authority.
Our GOD is absolutely sovereign.
God's Power To Keep
The last verse gives some of God's credentials. He has Glory (that is His radiant presence), Majesty (that is only given to Kings) and He is the King of Kings, Dominion that is the extent of His kingdom (which is everything in and outside the universe), Authority (that is the power to rule) His power is over all. His power is absolute.
As Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:12: For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.
To conclude we can see that God keeps the righteous from stumbling and will bring us safely into His heavenly kingdom. He has made every provision for our eternal security. Nothing can touch us without His permission. This should give us great freedom to serve Him fearlessly. I trust this morning that we have grasped more fully God's sovereign ability to keep you. Both in time and eternity.
This morning we have seen God's ability to keep. Keep the Wicked for Judgment, Keep us in God’s Love, Kept For Christ.
Jude 24-25: Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.