Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Little Book of God: Jude

Jude is a great little book. A short letter from Jude. It gets caught up in a wrangle with 2 Peter since much of 2 Peter 2 is very similar to Jude. Did one copy the other? Peter writes explicitly on the basis of his eyewitness testimony saying he's not making up what he's writing. Jude has his own purposes. Personally I don't have a major problem with the same thing being said in different places. The purposes can be different which can make it necessary. And if we're going to say both are scripture then we are at the very least saying the same Holy Spirit inspired both of them.

Jude is a book I've taught a few times to illustrate pastoral care to my student leaders.

(1-2) To the kept
The letter is written to those kept in Jesus. Being kept is an idea that repeats later in the letter.

(3) Content for the gospel
Jude had wanted to write on other matters but there is a need to contend for the faith. The faith delivered to them in the past. The message that is passed on from one generation to the next.

(4-16) …because it’s under threat. From whom?
(4-8) The threat comes from people who pervert the grace of God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (v4). These people twist the gospel and deny Jesus' authority. Jude then illustrates from the fate of those who were rescued from Israel but failed to believe the gospel, from fallen angels and Sodom and Gomorrah. They faced eternal punishment. Jude loves to call up many examples - "this is like" - to help us understand. Sometimes the examples are strange and obscure but they are clear enough as illustrations.
(9-13) The threat also comes from dreamers who reject authority and speak in ignorance. A dispute over Moses body is cited (strange!) but we get the point. They stumble around lookig for gain. And as the illustrations stack up in v12-13 we have some fantastic images. Waterless clouds (empty), Fruitless trees in autumn (useless), foaming waves (contentless), wandering stars (lost). Their future is darkness forever.
(14-16) As Jude explains the threat to the gospel a third time the word ungodly repeats four times in v15. Get the point! Grumblers, people who follow their own sinful desires (rather than desiring God), boasters, people who show favouritism to get ahead. They are in it for themselves entirely.

(17-25) so keep yourself & others, Jesus will keep you
(17-19) Remember… The apostles predicted such sin. The apostles said there would be scoffers who would follow their own ungodly desires. They are Spiritless divders.
(20-21) Action… Build yourself up. Keep yourself in the faith. Pray in the Spirit. Keep in God's love - waiting for Jesus' mercy and eternal life.
(22-23) Action… Rescue others. Keep others in the fiath. Different action for different people. Be merciful to doubters. Snatch others from the fire. Show mercy to those stained by sin but hate their sin. Too often we're tempted to permit sin because we're afraid to confront each other, afraid in a tolerant age to say someone else is wrong. But we must look out for each other. We must agree to fight our own sin and each others. Our lives depend on it. God does not sanction sin neither ought we, and we hurt each other and offend God when we do.
(24-25) Remember… Fear not! Above all remember that Jesus will keep you. He can keep you blameless "before the presence of his glory with great joy". And so to Jesus be glory, majesty, dominion and authority (it cannot be rejected) forever!

Sin is shown for what it is - an offense against the glory and rule of the Lord Jesus. And as a danger to people. Too often we forget one or the other. Sin offends God. Sin takes grace and perverts it. And sin's final destiny is eternal punishment. For that conclusion and in this life sin is also destructive - burning people like fire because it's not what we're meant for.

But - let us be kept in Jesus. Contend for the faith and remain in him! We keep ourselves. We keep each other. He will keep us for the glory of his name forever!