Saturday, April 9, 2011

Assurance for Daily Living

The book of Jude is a very short Epistle with only 25 verses. The author was the man for whom the Epistle was named. He was a courageous and a non-compromising preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a need to fight against persons who had perverted the Gospel (apostates). Our lesson covers verses 17-25. As I studied the entire book, however, I decided a subtitle to this lesson entitled , "Christians on Trial" would be appropriate.

At verse 17 Jude reminded the Christians what the apostles had taught them. The apostles had predicted the rise of false teachers on a number of occasions. This can be seen in in the ministry of Paul (Acts 20:29, 30; 1 Tim 4:1-5; 2 Tim 3:1-9); Peter (2 Peter 2:1-22; 3:1-4); and John (1 John 2:18,19). What did the apostles predict about these false teachers? Whatever these false teachers taught had a twofold agenda. First, they wanted to divide the church. ...'These be they who separate themselves,...'verse 19a. Second, they did not possess the Spirit of God. ...sensual, having not the Spirit.'verse 19b. They functioned on what made sense to them. Today, we call that common sense. Such so-called common sense subordinates the Word of God and exalts itself. If the Word is given less than first place, then a person is free to develop a way of life that suits him or her. Jude is calling to the remembrance of the Christians how they had been forewarned so they would not stumble and lose their faith. Now that the apostasy is available for their witness, Jude's argument is for the Christians to be strengthened and not be offended as false teachers were foretold by the apostles.

Now Jude was tasked to present a solution for their daily living. This is where they also became 'Christians on trial'. The believer must live in an unbroken fellowship with God. At verse 20 Jude writes that the beloved must build themselves up on their most holy faith, which is the Christian faith. It is the body of teachings revealed to the apostles by Jesus Christ. We do this by studying the Word and obeying the Bible. Owning a Bible and never opening it is not enough. Reading the entire Bible in a year, but without understanding, is not enough. You must have a connection with God when you study the Word. Verse 20 also states the beloved will pray in the Holy Spirit. Having knowledge is not enough; they must be fervent in Spirit-filled prayer. In other words, the brethren must do what we so easily neglect - be diligent in prayer during public worship and in our secret devotions. The beloved were to keep themselves in the love of God. They should let nothing come between them and God, living a life of holiness. ...'Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord' Rom 8:39. Finally, Christians must look for the mercy granted us for eternal life. We must have a believing expectation of eternal life to be able to fight the snares of satan.

Jude then gives instructions as to how to behave towards those brethren who have fallen or are about to fall in apostate beliefs. We are to have compassion on some and make a difference. How is that? We must determine whether the beloved is weak or wilful. If they are weak, we try to show them the truth and calm all of their doubts in a very compassionate way.

Jude closed his Epistle with a beautiful benediction glorifying the all-wise God who alone is wise and is able to keep us from falling (stumbling). He is able to make us stand faultless in the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. He is our God and Savior, worthy of the glory and majesty, dominion and power, now and forever. These words of praise not only glorified God. The false teachers were put on notice and reminded that the Lord can keep His people from falling into error and preserve them throughout the terrible Day of Judgment.

Written by Deborah C Davis

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