Jude 17-25, “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
Jude is a Christian pastor, likely another name for Judas, Jesus’ brother. Jude is authoritative even if short! He is writing to “those who are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ” (v. 1). Christians are supposed to remember the end goal of being presented to Christ to whom we belong. Implied in this is that we should be living accordingly in the meantime. (John 17:20-25—Jesus’ prayer that we will be with Him; 1 Cor. 6:19-20—we have been bought).
However, Jude gives an important warning that there will be people among the Christians who do not keep this in mind and will lead some astray. That is why they must “contend earnestly for the faith” (3). It is a fight (Paul encouraged Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith,” in the midst of people who will not hold onto “doctrine conforming to godliness”— 1 TIm. 6:3-12). Jude is reminding Christians to remember the words (teaching / doctrine) that was “spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” (17).
v. 18—The words of the apostles were warnings of mockers in the last times. The Greek word for “mocking,” by implication, means a false teacher. They are one who takes the name of Christ but misses the spirit of the message, maligning the truth. They are more interested in their own gain (“lusts”). Part of this gain is getting a following —see verse 16.
The “mockers” being spoken about in Jude’s time were physically present among the believers. In our information age, we may see this in more indirect terms. (famous preachers, ideologies, etc.)
The Seriousness of the Charge
vs. 19—These mockers “cause divisions” are “worldly minded” and “devoid of the Spirit.”
vs. 20-21—“But you…” We are supposed to be different, but how? Unlike the mockers, we should be unified, heavenly-minded and full of the Spirit. Jude outlines some specifics which speak to those principles.
-“building yourselves up in on your most holy faith…” This is not just an individual exercise, but one we do in COMMUNITY. There is only one true faith—that which trusts fully in the grace of God in Christ Jesus—unlike those who “turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny our only master and Lord, Jesus Christ…” (vs. 4). To build ourselves up means to strengthen our resolve to love and obey the Lord in everything. If we do that, we will not have any divisions, but experience true unity!
-“praying in the Holy Spirit…” We can only do that through the spiritual discipline of prayer. He has given us power to overcome our flesh and worldly influences. We must have our mind set on understanding God’s will. This speaks to our individual devotion—our relationship with the Lord—which informs us how to build up others.
-“keep yourselves in the love of God…” Christ’s love is the source of our life. He is our identity—nothing in this world. I must remember His love constantly and seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance on how to more fully experience his love, sharing it with others.
-“waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” This speaks to Christ’s return and our full experience of the eternal life we have already been given. This is a certain promise which we need to remember. If I am anxious for the return of Christ, then I am not content with this world!
Again, we are being Kept for Christ. Is this what is on my mind most? Jude’s exhortation is to not be distracted by anything that would cause me to forget Christ’s finished work. Rather, we should be proactive in reminding one another to live out our faith—holiness unto the Lord.
Kept for Christ, Build Up One Another
As I meditated on these verses, an illustration came to mind. WHITEWATER RAFTING. Having gone rafting a few times, I can speak to the adventure, thrill, fear and triumph of the experience. First, there is a raging river with various dangers to be avoided. There is a raft which a guide takes us on. We each have a PFD, a helmet and a paddle. The guide gives us instructions beforehand and gives orders while on the raft. Sometimes one side of the raft has to paddle and the other has to stop in order to avoid rocks and strainers. We have to trust the guide’s instructions. One of the instructions is to keep both hands on the paddle. if we don’t do that, we could lose it or misuse it by hitting someone accidentally! If we don’t use the paddle at all, we can fall off the raft more easily. The best way to stay balanced is to keep cutting through the water with the paddle.
The raging river is this life. There is an end destination but we have to stay in the raft to get there intact. The raft is the love of Christ which we are to keep ourselves in. The Guide is the Holy Spirit. We must follow His instructions. The paddles are the Word of God. We must put it to use—and properly. Keeping both hands on is a picture of our faith. If we lack “most holy faith,” we can misuse the Word of God and inflict harm on others. If we lack faith, we miss the love of Christ, and actually fall into worldly patterns, like falling off the raft into the river. You can see why Jude so strongly encourages believers to “Contend earnestly for the faith!”
There are different types of rafters:
—The Faithful…listen to the Guide and build others up—Know and Show Christ
—The Doubter…misuse God’s word, inflict harm on self and others
—The Swimmer…fallen into patterns of this world / sin
—The Self-er…don’t identify with Christ OR they serve in self-strength
The Call for the Faithful
1) Mercifully and gently help and correct those who doubt in various ways. (KEEP YOURSELF IN THE LOVE OF CHRIST). Most who misuse God’s Word don’t do so knowingly. The false teachers and teachings have them in their grasp. God has promised a full experience of eternal life. FIX YOUR HOPE ON HIM.
2) Seek to save those who are worldly—INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE CHURCH. But BE CAUTIOUS. We should not join them in their activity, but lovingly show them a different way to live.
—IT CAN FEEL GOOD to be in fellowship with these people. “Bad company corrupts good morals”
—As those who experience the love of Christ, point people to HIM—NOT YOU.
TAKE HOLD OF THE WORD OF GOD AND THE LOVE OF CHRIST. By the Power of the Holy Spirit, go to work with your faith.
REMEMBER WHO CHRIST IS
If I am truly holding onto Christ and His promises, I will realize the power of His salvation, past, present and future. That is the truth punctuated by verses 24-25, and it is all wrapped up in who HE is!
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!