Keep Yourself In the Love of God
Power Point LinkVideo Link
Word Doc Link
Text: Jude 1:20-25
20 But ye, beloved, building up
yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep
yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ
unto eternal life. 22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the
garment spotted by the flesh. 24 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, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and
majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Person of the Letter: Jude was the brother James, the pastor of the church in Jerusalem and also then the brother of Jesus through Mary.
Jude 1:1-2 1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: 2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 also name Judas or Jude and James as the brothers of Jesus. We don’t know a lot about Jude personally, but it is obvious that he was highly regarded in the church, perhaps as an elder, or a deacon and because of the regard his letter was also highly regarded, kept, copied and shared over the centuries by the churches as it is still today.
Purpose of the letter:
3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude’s short letter was written to Christian at large and is
referred to as a “general epistle.” He says, “to them that are sanctified by
God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called”
It was a letter of exhortation,
an epistle of encouragement and a writ of warning against the apostates of
Jude’s day. These were the false teachers, prophets and charlatans that
followed and still follow the Gospel wherever it goes.
Date of the Letter: The letter was written close to the same time as the second epistle of Peter around A. D. 64 or 65. It shares many of the same themes, warnings and examples as Peter’s second letter giving confirmation that they were written about the same time and perhaps after Jude read Peter’s epistle or after the two leaders of the first church discussed these things.
Jude writes to the Christians of his day and through the
inspiration and preservation of the Holy Spirit, he writes to the Christians of
this day, exhorting us and them to be on guard against evil men, apostates,
charlatans, liars, con men, who even the first days of Christianity were trying
to destroy it from the inside out. That warning is even more important today,
as those same ungodly men and women are even more numerous and deadly today.
Jude then points out the identifying marks that show these false teachers, false prophets and even false Christians as apostate.
They were ungodly (v. 4b). Jude uses this word often of
these he is warning the early Christians about. These men claimed to belong to
God, but in reality had no fruit or
doctrine that came from God. They were utterly ungodly in their teaching and in
their way of living.
As Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 1 This know
also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be
lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient
to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection,
trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are
good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers
of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from
such turn away.
James goes on and says that these false Christians and
teachers were deceitful (v. 4c). They had "crept in unawares." The
Greek word means "to slip in secretly, to steal in undercover."
They were also the enemies of God's grace (v. 4d). The so
called teachers were trying to turn the love of God, the grace of God into
something sensual, fleshly, lustful. The word lasciviousness means
"wantonness, absence of moral restraint, indecency."
Peter’s epistle which shares this them with Jude, warned that
these apostates would promise, "You are saved and free, so live anyway you
like. There is no judgment, only forgiveness."
2 Peter 2:13-15 13 And shall receive the reward of
unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they
are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they
feast with you; 14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease
from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous
practices; cursed children: 15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are
gone astray, …
Like the cultists, false teachers and false prophets of today,
they use the Word of God incorrectly with no attempt to rightly interpret or
discern it. They only turn to it to promote and defend their false doctrine and
Jude says these also denied God's truth about Jesus Christ
Here again we hear Peter echoing the same warning in 2 Peter
2:1-2 1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as
there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable
heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves
swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by
reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
Jude writes of "the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus
Christ" the One he was exhorting the church to stand with and stand for. The
Greek construction of the clause shows that these two names are referring to
one Person, The Lord God, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Here is part of that faith
once delivered to the saints, Jesus was God, Jesus was Lord, Jesus was the
But then just as now, the apostates try and deny this. They tell
us that Jesus was a good man and a great
teacher, but not that He was eternal God incarnate, God in human flesh. Or they
tell us that there is only Jesus, but no God the Father or God the Holy Spirit.
Anyone who denies the cardinal doctrine of Jesus diety, the
Godhead or the Trinity is a false teacher and must be rejected, no matter how good he or she may sound they
are apostates and under the judgment of God. No matter how excited they may be
as a speaker, or how wonderous is the new revelation they claim has been supernaturally
given to them, if they are wrong on the person of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit
then they are wrong on everything else.
Of these kind of people Jude tells us, they were ordained to
judgment (v. 4a). Jude did not say that these men were destined by God to be
apostate. That would make God responsible for their sin but instead he is telling
the church, that because they willfully turned away from the truth, God has
always ordained that such would be judged, condemned and punished harshly.
Throughout the rest of the book, Jude is creative in his
description of these ungodly, false teachers, and he is harsh in his
descriptions of their judgment,
They are ungodly men, Jude 1:4
They are these filthy dreamers that defile the flesh Jude 1:8
These are spots in your feasts of charity Jude 1:12
They are clouds without water Jude 1:12
They are trees with withered fruit, twice dead, ready to be plucked up by the roots; Jude 1:12
They are Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; Jude 1:13
They are Wandering stars, who have a reservation in the blackness of darkness for ever. Jude 1:13
They are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; loud mouthed boasters Jude 1:16
They are mockers, who walk after their own ungodly passions. Jude 1:18
They bring division, they are worldly, sensual, and they do
not have the Spirit of God. Jude 1:19
Sound like anybody you know? Sound like anybody filling the pulpit of America’s mega-churches or writing popular books about your best life ever or seed-faith giving or Word of knowledge, faith or divine healing? Sound like the hottest preacher on the internet who just resigned his church because it came out he was involved with multiple women in the congregation? What Jude, Peter, John and Paul warn about in their letters is what we are still dealing with and fighting today. We shouldn’t be surprise or disheartened, it has always been Satan’s tactic to counterfeit God’s word with His own poison pen letters and overshadow God’s pastors and evangelists with his own agents of espionage. Our reaction should not be shock, but to do our job, fulfill our calling. Jude is still telling us after all these centuries, know the truth, contend for the truth and share the truth. As he says in the opening of his letter, “ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1:3. That is our task, our job, our calling. It is what he first heard from the mouth of his brother and Savior when he gave the church the Great Commission, “teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have taught you.”
So after being confronted with such evil, such lies, such ungodliness what was Jude’s encouragement, his exhortation to the young Christians and fledgling church of Jesus Christ? And how can this letter be a message keeping with the theme of valentine’s day and love? Well it turns out that one of the ways you stand up and contend for the faith, is all about God’s love, right here in the verses of our text, vss. 20-21. Overall, it comes down to 4 short commands and if I could reword them into modern usage, those commands would be: Build Up, Power Up, Keep Up and Look Up.
Build Up - Jude 1:20
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith
Christians Build Yourselves Up
Jude, up to this point, has been like a thunderstorm filled with lightning striking out against the ungodly men, the false teachers of the church, then as he comes to the end of his letter he remembers his original purpose of encouragement and he switches from condemnation to exhortation, “But, ye beloved.”
He then tells them the first step in overcoming the evil and contending for the faith. They must build each up other up in you most holy faith. They are to edifying, encourage and exhort one another as they build up their church, member by member, on the foundation of that holy faith, the truth of salvation, the truth of God’s son, the truth of Gods word.
In vs 3 he told them, earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, Now he says build each other up on that same faith. Like bookends Jude begins with the faith and then closes with the faith.
The church could not build on a faith that was subjective to emotions or the changing circumstance of a sinful world, but they were to build each other up, and we build our church up on a faith that was “once for all” delivered to the saints. God’s word stands forever, preserved and perfect. That and that alone must be the foundation upon which our lives as Christians and our church as the house of God is built.
So Build Up the Faith
Transition: Next to contend with the ungodly Jude tells them to “Power Up In Pray”
Power Up - Jude 1:20
Praying in the Holy Ghost
Christians Power Up Through Prayer
The power all Christians must do, all that we must stand for, contend for and fight against comes from prayers. Jude pointedly qualifies this prayer as "praying in the Holy Ghost". He qualifies the power of prayer as being in the Holy Spirit because he has already described the ungodly charlatans in the church as those without the Spirit. They have no real power because they don’t have the Spirit of God, but the church, the true children of God, they have the Spirit and His power is unleased in prayers.
We must have both the truth that Jude tells us to build upon and the spirit that is needed to empower the work. Jesus said in John 4:24, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Truth and spirit are the legs that a Christian must walk through life on. One without the other cripples us. Truth without spirit leads to dead orthodoxy and legalism. Spirit without truth leads to emotionalism and heresy. You need both truth and spirit, the one to balance the other and that gives us the foundation and the motivation we need in this often wicked, wicked world.
The great Baptist, Scots preacher, Alexander Maclaren said when talking about this verse, “Brethren, the best attitude for building is on our knees.”
Jude said, Jude 1:20-21 20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Building on faith, praying in the Spirit brings us to “keep
yourselves in the love of God. The verse that brought me to this passage for
our message today. “Keep yourselves in the love of God” And so our third step of overcoming in this
world, Keep Up.
Keep Up - Jude 1:21
Keep yourselves in the love of God,
Christians Keep In God’s Love
As I was search for a text this past week, I searched for the phrase, “love of God” it occurs 13 times and in that specific order only in the New Testament. Now God’s love for the world and especially for His people and His church are all through the Bible, but that phrase “love of God” is only in the New Testament at least in the KJV. As I read through those 13 verses I came to Jude vs 21, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” What a wonderful thought, what a great encouragement for any day but especially on a day dedicated to the ideal of love. It is an expression that is a lovely as Judes description of the ungodly was terrible. I want to draw as much from this Holy Spirit inspired phrase as I can. What did Jude mean when he said, “keep yourself in the love of God.”
First I know what he didn’t mean. He didn’t mean keep yourself saved. No man can keep himself saved for only God can save and only God can keep. In the very first verse of this letter Jude told the early Christians that they were “sanctified by God the Father and preserved in, (preserved for) Jesus Christ.” This means we have been set aside by the Father and kept in and for our Savior. The tense of preserved or kept in Jesus is the perfect tense meaning an action in the past that continues into the future. Preserved once and for all. So Jude is not saying, keep yourself saved, such an idea is an insult to the power of God and blasphemy to the word of God.
Jesus said something very much the same in John 15:9 9 “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”
I think that Jude is putting these exhortations together as a simple but full ideal of the Christian life. First we build each other up in the truth, next we pray in the power of the Spirit and by doing these things we will be keeping ourselves in the love of God.
God’s love is most fully experienced as we contact God’s children, build one another up and it is renewed in power as we contact God in prayer. And as we do these two things we will be keeping ourselves in the love of God. How can we not, it will be all around us in our brothers and sister in Christ and pouring down from above as we pray.
Paul’s great opus on Agape Love, the Love of Christ, the Love of the Christian life in1 Corinthians 13 describes it like this. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.
That love is Jesus’ agape, self-giving, self-sacrificing love and it can only be exhibited and only be experienced when it is given to others, used to build them up in the faith. And it can only be inexhaustible, if is it empowered by prayer through the Holy Spirit.
You keep yourself in the love of God by letting God’s love flow through and around you into the life of others and you refresh yourself in that same love as the Spirit pours out God’s love in answer to your prayers.
Keep yourself in the love of God. What a wonderful thought. I read Alexander Maclaren’s sermon on this text as I was preparing for my own. I thought he captured the application of this commandment when he said,
And what a peaceful, restful life ours would be, if we could
thus be like John, leaning on the Master’s bosom. We might have a secret
fortress into the central chamber of which we could go, whither no sound of the
war in the plains could ever penetrate. We might, like some dwellers in a
mountainous island, take refuge in a central glen, buried deep amongst the
hills, where there would be no sound of tempest, though the winds were fighting
on the surface of the sea, and the spindrift was flying before them. It is
possible to ‘keep ourselves in the love of God.’ And if we keep in that fortress,
we are safe. – Alexander Maclaren
Illustration: Dwelling In Beulah Land
I think the writer of the hymn Dwelling In Beulah Land had this same inspiration, of keeping close to God, holding fast to Jesus Christ, to keeping in the love of God.” You probably know the song but listen to the lyrics now.
Far away the noise of strife upon my ear is falling;
Then I know the sins of earth beset on every hand;
Doubt and fear and things of earth in vain to me are calling;
None of these shall move me from Beulah Land.
I’m living on the
mountain, underneath a cloudless sky,
I’m drinking at the fountain that never shall run dry;
Oh, yes! I’m feasting on the manna from a bountiful supply,
For I am dwelling in Beulah Land.
Far below the storm of doubt upon the world is beating,
Sons of men in battle long the enemy withstand;
Safe am I within the castle of God’s Word retreating;
Nothing then can reach me—’tis Beulah Land.
Let the stormy breezes blow, their cry cannot alarm me;
I am safely sheltered here, protected by God’s hand;
Here the sun is always shining, here there’s naught can harm me;
I am safe forever in Beulah Land.
Viewing here the works of God, I sink in contemplation;
Hearing now His blessed voice, I see the way He planned;
Dwelling in the Spirit, here I learn of full salvation;
Gladly I will tarry in Beulah Land.
Jude then gives the last of his encouragement commands at the
end of vs. 21. It not over and though it may seem like there is not end, Look
Up for there is hope.
Look Up - Jude 1:21
Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Christian Look Up, See The Lord’s Mercy
Jude began with the need for the truth and putting that truth to work by building one another up in the faith. He then told those early Christians to found the power they needed though Spirit filled prayer. Then the core of his exhortations in the epistle, “Keep in the love of God!” Hold fast there in the midst of the whelming flood, hold onto, anchor into and keep in the love of God. And yet there is one more exhortation commandment. “Look up, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Jude 1:21
The other great Christian virtue that we need to stand strong and contend for the faith, is hope. Here we are in one of the first books of New Testament and already the theme of the Christian triad is being heard, Faith, Hope and Love. Paul’s codified it in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “Now abideth faith, hope and love…” but that same trinity of Christian living is all through the New Testament as we can see here with Jude.
We need hope. Jude knew that in the midst of the persecution from the Jews, the oppression of the Roman overlords and the lies of the false teachers we need to see that one day it will end and it will end in victory. We need hope. Faith is believing in what God has said in the past, but hope is believing in what God says about the future and both are essential. If we are to overcome then we must lift our eyes, we must look up, as Paul wrote to Titus 2:13 “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”
And again in 2 Peter we hear the echo of Jude’s word 2 Peter 3:12, “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God” We not only are looking up we are running up in hope of Jesus return.
The word “looking” in the Greek means “earnestly expecting, to wait with confidence and patience” It is the long-range forecast of the Christian life motivated by the sure promise of Jesus coming back. When He comes back in power and glory, when He comes back in judgment and wrath, when He comes back and calls home His children, then the evil of this world will end. The suffering will end, the sorrow will end, the pain will end. That is our hope, that is the mercy that we are looking up for, the final essential exhortation for the Christian, for you and for me. Look up in hope.
Conclusion: Sing Up
Christian Sing Praise To Our Savior
Jude ends his epistle with a short hymn, a doxology in vss. 24-25. It seems appropriate to end our sermon there as well.
Jude 1:24-25 24 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, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
If you think about it this also is a means to keep us in the love of God, by praising Him for all He has done for us. As all hymns do, they turn our hearts toward God and let us experience Him through the passion of praise. And you can hear that passion as Jude sing, , “Praise Him for His power will forever keep you from falling. Praise Him, for He will bring you into the glory of God the Father, and there present you, faultless and overflowing with joy. Praise the one who is our only wise God, Jesus our Savior. See Him in glory, and majesty, dominion and power. Both now and forever. Sing up to heaven and let the Lord hear your praise and know that you are keeping in the love of God.