This is the final week of our study of the book of Jude. We have been looking at this short little book over the past few weeks. It has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride too with a lot of attention given to sin, and how God deals with sin. I know that many people in our day and age do not want to deal with or discuss the topic and reality of sin. But honestly, without an understanding of the source and cause of sin in the world, life would be very confusing, and indeed very dark.
Last week we were reminded that to keep ourselves in the love of God is to remember the Gospel. The Good News that Jesus came to take our place on the cross and to die or our sins, so that we could have His righteousness. This does a number of things for us who have trusted in Christ. 1. It should bring us a sense of freedom to not fear being wrong, or even sin, because our sin has ben dealt with on the cross. 2. It should give us an ever-present sense of humility realizing that all of the righteousness we possess comes not from our own works, but from Christ’s work on our behalf. Now, that is something that doesn’t always play out because as Christians we tend to grow in our ability to look more like a Christian, and we can have the tendency to look down on others who don’t have al the appearances of Christianity that we do. But, we need to maintain that humility if we are going to follow the word that Jude brings us this morning.
Lets read the text:
“22And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garmentfn stained by the flesh. 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 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.”
What I want to do today is begin with the 24th verse, and work backwards. Keeping in mind that the three most important thing in hermeneutics are context, context, context. Taken by itself, verse 24 could take a couple different directions in its interpretation, but we need to look at the verses that come before it if we are to get the full effect of what the Lord is saying through Jude. So, look at verse 24. the question that I want to ask you Now, as I often do, I am going to ask you a question. How does God keep you from stumbling? More specifically, is that something that happens inside of you, or with the involvement of others?
Well, how you answer that question will say a lot about how you view life, and your Christian faith, and the church. If your gut response to that question is that it is primarily an internal process, your are going to view the purpose of your church family very differently than someone who says it is something that God does with the involvement of others.
Now, the main point that I want us to understand form this text and from scripture is this. God’s primary way that He keeps us from stumbling is through His body, and that takes Humility on all parts. So we are going to look at three things that we are to partake in as Christians in the church.
Care for others with Humility: There is no mistake that right after Jude exhorts us to keep ourselves in the love of God, he turns to how we are to treat others around us. Now, you may not know this or believe it, but your relationship with God is not about you. Scripture’s overwhelming pronoun for the church is the second person plural. You, means Y’all, not you. SO it should follow that while the experience of becoming a believer is one that you cannot have for someone else, the experience of being a Christian automatically makes you part of a body, a people. So, part of our call to keep ourselves in the Love of God carries with it the call to care for others in the body of Christ. look with me at his instructions for us in dealing with one another. a. Have mercy on those who doubt… Here we see a posture towards those in our midst who may not have the strength of faith that you do. People who may question, or wrestle with a particular passage of scripture, or even whole concepts of God. They could be someone who is hurting and in a time of brokenness, and their pain has led them to doubt God’s goodness, or faithfulness. What those people need at that time is mercy, not stronger arguments. At times we may feel like we need to share our beliefs to assure them, and they may feel like we are being condescending. What they need is mercy, and room to question and doubt. An arm around the shoulder and an encouragement to keep seeking the Lord. b. Save others by snatching them… There are times in our lives when we see people in our midst heading down a path of destruction. Here we are called to snatch them from the fire. Here the word save is tied to leading them to salvation in Christ. So, we are to be looking around in our midst on Sundays, and Wednesdays, and other times and be looking for opportunities to share the love of Christ with people in our midst. c. Show mercy with fear, hating the garment stained by the flesh… There are many times as Christians that we are called to walk into difficult situations with our brothers and sisters who have serious sin that needs to be addressed. In those situations we must keep the perspective that remembers that we too are susceptible to the same sin, and we should not get comfortable with sin. We should hate even the accessories of sin, but this is juxtaposed to the person committing the sin to whom we are to show mercy. 2. Receive from others with Humility: Now the reason most people do not come to each other to care for each other is because they are not sure how that person will respond. They have been burned before or they have a fear of confrontation. So, in evaluating the understanding of helping one another, we must come to terms with the fact that we will at some time or another be confronted by a brother or sister who cares for us, and wants to share something with us. So, we need to be prepared in advance to receive from others when it comes to our stumbling. This takes humility. a. Humility to be honest with our doubt… b. Humility to admit we are headed towards the fire… 3. Give the Glory to God: This is Humility. So, here is where the rubber meets the road in this equation. Let me say this load and clear, God does not need us to keep each other from stumbling, but He chooses to use us to keep each other from stumbling. When we care for others with humility, and we respond to others with humility, we are making a very loud statement about the Gospel. Whenever we lay down our own lives for the good of others, we declare to the watching world that no matter what we are going through, no matter what we have done, making God look good is our number one task. We must decrease, that means caring for others with humility, and boldness, that means receiving from others with humility and where appropriate confessing and repenting for sin (allowing them to snatch us out of the fire). And when it is all said and done, who gets the credit? God does, because He did this work in us, He is able to keep us from stumbling, he is able to save us, He uses others, but He is the active agent, and so we must point continually to Him, and His work.
And the act that enables it all is the act that Christ completed on the cross…