the Spirit Watch
A Study In The Book Of Jude:
Earnestly Contend For The Faith
by Jack D. Jackson, Rolling Hills Church of God, Wichita, Kansas
"The apostle and martyr, the brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. Being sent to Edessa, he wrought many miracles, and made many converts, which stirring up the resentment of the people in power, he was crucified about the year 72."
Foxes' Book of Martyrs, 1833 edition
JUDE 1- 2
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: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
It is interesting to note that in the salutation Jude gives to this letter, he refers to himself as the servant of Jesus Christ, and the brother of James. The Greek word interpreted in the King James as servant is doulos, a slave, one who is in a permanent relationship of servitude to another, his will being altogether consumed by the will of the other. He does not mention that he is the half-brother of Jesus. Instead, Jude refers to himself as the brother of James. Brother James had been a leader of the church at Jerusalem for twenty years.
We find three blessings in his salutation, corresponding, I believe, to the Trinity. First he says we are sanctified. We have been converted, and we are set apart for a sacred purpose, by God the Father. Secondly, we are preserved in Jesus Christ. This means that He observes us, individually, keeping His eyes fixed upon us. And last, we are called. We have received a great and divine invitation, the Holy Spirit working in us to bring us to the Father. If we accept the invitation, we are washed, consecrated, set apart according to the Fatherís purpose. We are covered by the blood, and preserved in Christ.
The second part of Judeís salutation contains three graces God bestows on His children. The first of these is mercy. We deserve judgment, sorrow, and death. Jesus in mercy gives us pardon, joy, and eternal life. Since we have received mercy and not justice, we are now at peace with the Father. Peace is the paramount blessing of the redeemed. We were at enmity with God, but now we are reconciled unto Him. We were His enemies, and now we are His children, showered with His agape love, the love of God. The writer prays that these graces be multiplied unto you. Where sin did abound, grace did much more abound. The song says mercy rewrote my life. Jesus gives peace beyond anything this world can offer. All three of these graces reveal your relationship to the Father. Because of His love, mercy flows from the throne. Jesus has signed the peace treaty between you and the Father in His own blood.
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.
Jude had a desire to write to the church about the common salvation, the salvation we all share. But he felt there was something more urgent that he must address. I must send a message of exhortation. It is needful that I alert you to dangers facing the church, and remind you of your responsibilities as defenders of the faith. The Lord has entrusted us with His glorious gospel. This is going to be a hard fought battle. You will face attacks from many different fronts. You must be sober and vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. This same enemy is transformed into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). Paul was so concerned about those that would pervert the message that he admonished, "but though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8). Fight the good fight of faith. Put on the whole armor of God. Remember that Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it" (Mat. 16:18b)
JUDE 4 - 7
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.
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
What had taken place to cause Jude such concern? Certain men have crept in unawares. In the NIV it says, "For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord". These people come into the church under false pretenses to sow discord. They are ungodly men, without fear and reverence of God. They actively practice the opposite of what the fear of God demands. Their judgment and condemnation has been settled and recorded in scripture. Grace is seen as the elimination of righteous standards. Every man is free to do what is right in his own eyes, thereby robbing Jesus of His sovereignty and Lordship.
Jude reminds us that God brought the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. They witnessed the dividing of the Red Sea. They ate the manna, followed the cloud by day and the fire by night. They drank water from the rock. But later Jehovah God destroyed those that did not believe. What doubt caused such destruction? They did not believe that God would judge sin. They had the idea that they could make their own gods, and worship as they pleased. They chose leaders who would tell them what they wanted to hear. Jeremiah 2:13 says, "For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water". Do you thirst for the living water, or are you satisfied to drink at polluted wells and broken cisterns?
Jude is endeavoring to impress upon us Godís extreme displeasure with those that would corrupt the gospel. He speaks of the angels who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation. There are at least two trains of thought on this verse. One is that the verse refers to those angels who chose to follow Lucifer in his rebellion. Others believe that the reference is to those angels who had relations with the daughters of men. Whatever the case, the fallen angels have already been judged, found guilty, and are held in chains of darkness until death and hell are cast into the lake of fire. It is important to understand that God is not limited to the Great White Throne judgment and the Judgment Seat of Christ. He can and does pronounce judgment whenever His holiness demands it.
Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them were judged for immorality and perversion, or homosexuality. God in His wrath sent down fire and brimstone and destroyed every person in these cities. When we read of churches anointing gay pastors and bishops we should remember Godís response to this sin in days of old. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil. The word woe is synonymous with anathema, or cursed. To this day the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah are suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. If God spared not these cities, why should we think He would excuse America?
Perhaps it is time to revisit the theme of this book. Jude is exhorting the church to earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. The reason for his concern was that these terrible sins had been brought into the church. Certain men had crept in unawares. Why were we unaware? Were we complacent? Were we given to compromise? Did we substitute tolerance for diligence? Jude is issuing a warning to church leaders to be sober and vigilant about the enemy of our souls, and that warning is specifically aimed at people who come into the body of believers to carry out the work of Satan. They may try to sow discord. They may suggest compromising our standards. They may subtly and slowly distract from the sovereignty of God. They may deny the deity of Christ. The Word speaks of people who would heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. There are many ways that the enemy will use people to rob the church of its power and its glory. If he can get our focus off Christ and onto the latest gossip, cliques, splits, or whatever divides us, he has accomplished his purpose. If he can make you doubt that Jesus is Immanuel, God With Us, then he has robbed you of your access to the Father. If he can get you to compromise and excuse sin, he has stolen your robes of righteousness and replaced them with filthy rags. Since he will attack in so many ways, is it any wonder Jude was compelled to exhort us to earnestly contend for the faith?
JUDE 8 - 9
Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
In the midst of this rally cry to the armies of the Lord, Jude takes time to remind us of how we should respond to our enemy. Michael the archangel was disputing with Satan about the body of Moses. Michael no doubt had been witness to some of the greatest battles in the history of spiritual warfare. He was there when Lucifer was kicked out of Heaven. He saw the fall of Adam and Eve. Perhaps he was there when God told the serpent that he was cursed. Yet Michael did not rail against the devil. He did not call him names. He did not ridicule. He made no accusations. He simply said the Lord rebuke you. What an example he gives to believers in the church. It is foolish for us to shout at the enemy, or to sing silly songs about him, or call him names. We are deceiving ourselves when we belittle him. One of the most important aspects of warfare is to know your enemy. When we speak of Satan as having no power or intelligence we leave ourselves open to attack and deception.
In James 4:6-10 we are admonished to submit ourselves unto God, resist the devil, and he will flee from us. This is a military connotation. We are reporting to our commanding officer. He gives us orders for resistance, and as we follow His orders we see the enemy fleeing from us. James tells us that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. God made man subject to vanity, or frustration. We may battle with all our might against the enemy and make no progress. We use all our intellect, our wisdom, our formulas, and our strategies. Still the enemy comes again and again, and we continue to struggle. But doesnít the Word tell us that He made the way so plain that a wayfaring man though a fool need not err therein? I believe there is a simple solution to our dilemma. Again we refer back to the military application. The scripture says to submit yourself therefore unto God. We must recognize that we are subject to:
The God of spirits To His law To His righteousness To His governmental authorities To His prophets and ministers To His church To His order of things.
How will we resist the enemy? First we must go on the offense. Take a strong stand against sin in your personal life, in your home and family, in the church, in the community, and in our nation. The gates of Hell will not prevail against the church of the Living God. There are great victories to be won, but we must say like Caleb, "Give me this mountain". We must be prepared to take enemy territory. There will be casualties. When the battle is hot and fierce, then we draw nigh to God. Stay close enough to hear His whisper, to feel His breath. David said, "In the covert of Thy wings will I trust." The covert feathers are the downy feathers that cover the ends of the quills of the wing feathers.
James gives us further instruction for preparing ourselves for battle. He tells us to cleanse our hands and our hearts. This is a reference to righteousness, the works of our hands, and holiness, the condition of our heart. Be afflicted and distressed at the sin around you. Endure hardship as a good soldier. Keep yourself unspotted from the world. Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets you. Then James gives profound words of wisdom. "Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up." True humility is recognizing that God is seeing the Lord high and lifted up. It is absolute surrender to His will and purpose. It is trusting Him regardless what comes your way. He will promote you in due season.
But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
After his brief discussion of the fallen angels, Jude returns to his discussion of why we must earnestly contend for the faith. I find it interesting that he did not address our battle with Satan except as he works against the church through people. The devil is capable of many forms of attack, but he works primarily through those who have given themselves over to ungodliness. "But these speak evil of those things which they know not". Remember we are earnestly contending for the faith. Jude is speaking of people who have come into the church. They justify their evil ways by condemning the righteous. You can hear them singing, "I did it my way." Beware of people who are governed by emotion, opinion, and worldly standards. We must understand that there is a time for witnessing, a time to defend the faith, and a time to stop, lest we be guilty of casting our pearls before swine.
How do people determine what is right and wrong if they are not following the leadership of the Holy Spirit as He opens to them the Word of God? They revert to animal appetites and their own carnal nature. They are corrupted and they have corrupted themselves. They listen to voices and make choices. They hear the Word. You have witnessed to them. But they also hear advertisements, see the example of entertainers and other worldly influences, they associate with other people without spiritual guidance. Eventually they develop passions and lusts that become the controlling forces in their lives.
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
Again Jude pronounces woe to them. "They have gone the way of Cain". Cain thought little of Godís instruction. He accepted the idea of sacrifice, but felt he should be able to determine for himself what should be acceptable as the sacrifice. I can do it my way. He was sincere, but wrong. "They have run greedily after the error of Balaam". He was indeed a prophet of God, but fell into the clutches of greed. How can I use this opportunity to make some money? How many preachers have abandoned the gospel of grace for the gospel of greed? "The love of money is the root of all evil." God deliver us from pastors and leaders that have greater concern for laying up treasure here and now rather than laying up treasure in Heaven.
Jude completes this trio of failure by reminding us of Core. This man, along with Dathan, Abiram, and On, rose up with 250 men against Moses. Those who followed Korah were princes among the tribes, men of renown. Jude mentions Core, or Korah, so we may assume that he was the leader of this rebellion. This band reasoned among themselves, and made their case to Moses, that all the people were holy before the Lord. Moses had no special claim to the blessing of God, and had appointed himself a priest over the congregation. And where is this land that flows with milk and honey? When Moses heard it he fell on his face. He determined to settle the issue on the morrow. Korah, his family, and the others were swallowed up when the ground opened under their feet. The 250 who participated in their rebellion were consumed by fire.
There is little doubt that many today would label this as extreme and violent, not in keeping with the idea of a loving God. We must understand that God is Holy. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. What should the church today garner from the Lordís judgment on the gainsaying, or rebellion of Korah? First, God regards rebellion as the sin of witchcraft. Second, We must honor the man of God, whether or not we agree with him. Third, there is a great responsibility placed upon those that are leaders in the church. Not only are we not to tolerate rebellion and those that sow discord, we must take an active stand against them. Paul instructs us to mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them (Rom 16:17). Paul even withstood Peter to his face when he separated himself from the gentiles in a display of church politics.
We must discern the difference between a spirit of criticism and rightly judging according to the Word of God. Paul lays down guidelines of behavior in the church. There is to be discipline, with everything being done decently and in order. It is the responsibility of the pastor and elders in the church to maintain discipline and order. This is not in violation of the scripture that says judge not lest ye be judged. The admonition is that when we are in positions of leadership that we must keep ourselves unspotted from the world, examples of the believer. But we must be very clear on this one thing. It is extremely important that pastors be prepared to withstand those who would come into the church to sow discord, to spread compromise or false doctrine, or to stir up rebellion. He should handle such situations with love and dignity, but he must be resolute in his defense of the gospel and of the church. The church is admonished to earnestly contend for the faith. In Ephesians Paul reminds us that in times past we all walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. That spirit is still at work today. Some have not escaped the clutches of the enemy, choosing to remain in their sin and rebellion against God. When this spirit comes into the church, we either recognize it and deal with it, or it causes division and splits the church. God is not pleased when we stand aside and allow the enemy to destroy His people.
JUDE 12 - 13
These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Jude goes on to describe these people as spots in your feasts of charity. One writer said they are rocky reefs that will cause you to be shipwrecked. They eat with you, both in the natural and in the spiritual. They have lost their fear of God. They operate solely on the basis of satisfying their own appetites. Please understand this is not a vague analogy about something that happens in remote places. We are talking about people that have come into your church and caused discord in your congregation. We are talking about compromising the holiness of God in your own family of believers. These people come in seeming to possess great power with God, and present themselves as spiritual giants, having the direction of the Holy Spirit. Seemingly they present great promise, but they are clouds that produce no refreshing showers. They are carried away by passions, greed, and ego. They are trees without fruit, looking beautiful, but diseased. Jude even says they are twice dead and plucked up by the roots.
This is the warning issued by the brother of Jesus and of James. These people are raging waves of the sea. They will sink your vessel unless you have a truly great captain. They cause great turbulence wherever they go. Boisterous, noisy, and clamorous, they may make you seasick. But be assured they will be forgotten when you reach safe haven. They are wandering stars. They seem to offer light, but they are soon vanished. You cannot fix your compass by stars such as these. They offer no steady course. They have made reservations in the blackness of eternal darkness. This is why you must be so very careful about who you follow. Paul said follow me, even as I also follow Christ. You cannot follow the contrary leadership of many captains. You are absolutely bound to go off course.
JUDE 14 - 15
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having menís persons in admiration because of advantage.
What will be the end of these filthy dreamers, of those that pervert the gospel or sow discord among the brethren? When the writer alludes to ten thousands of His saints, he is saying a myriad, an innumerable host. Myriad originally meant ten thousand, but the writer made this an unknown plural of ten thousands. They will come with the Lord to execute judgment. This is the military victor conducting a tribunal of the vanquished.
Who will stand in the court of the Captain of the Hosts of the Armies of the Lord? He is coming to judge the ungodly. He will judge them accoding to all their ungodly deeds. The idea of judging each of their ungodly deeds certainly points to degrees of punishment. Four times in this one verse Jude uses the word ungodly. It certainly expresses the anger of the Lord against these people that Jude has described in this epistle. Specifically, he is referring to those who have sinned against God by mistreating His church.
I am hard of hearing. It is vexing to me for people to whisper. Can you picture a person speaking in a whisper, partially hiding his mouth to avoid being overheard? It is unlikely that he is sharing words of comfort or praise. Most often he is gossiping, backbiting, and slandering. Then we must deal with people who constantly complain. This person is never satisfied, and the churches must have at least one of these folks on every board. It seems there is a call upon them to be negative about everything and everybody. God included these malcontents in His list of people that He will judge.
How do you personally determine what is righteous and holy and worthy of your participation? Romans 8:1 tells us, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Are you following the Spirit in your choices of entertainment, friends, and appetites? Jude spoke of people who walk after their own ungodly lusts. This means that they allow the lust of the flesh to dictate their standards of decency and morality. Right and wrong is determined by opinion, this is how I feel. The Bible says their conscience has been seared as with a hot iron. Indulgence overwhelms judgment. Ask yourself, is the Holy Spirit or the lust of the flesh more likely to influence my decisions when it comes to choosing what book I read or what movie I watch?
Have you ever had to deal with a person who speaks very highly of you, telling others how wonderful you are, and then when you are not around, they criticize and lie about you? This person is quick to flatter if there is an advantage in it. This same person is given to hero worship. Who is the star of the day? This is not limited to the entertainment world or the sports arena. These hero worshippers are often active in the church. "Our pastor is the best preacher, the most gifted leader ever to come to our church." Then they are gone. Some other pastor is now the beneficiary of their attentions. Why do you think Jude included this category of people in His epistle? Remember we are earnestly contending for the Faith. We must be aware of these people and not allow them to have positions of authority in the church. That sounds harsh. Jude was harsh. Such discernment exercised without the unction of the Holy Spirit and the compassion of Jesus will always cause hurt and division. Even with the most loving and caring pastor it is inevitable that some will be offended. We must always walk softly before the Lord in these situations. When your pastor is confronted with these issues, it is your responsibility to support him in intercessory prayer. Love and compassion must be balanced with wisdom and the integrity of the church. Compromising the standards of holiness for the sake of unity is not an option. We pray for those that despitefully use us, but we do not promote them and cover our eyes to their transgressions.
JUDE 17 - 19
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
Remember the words of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. Their message is always Jesus. Paul said I am determined to preach nothing among you save Jesus and Him crucified. The message of the cross is central to everything we teach and preach. The apostles warned us that in the last days there will be mockers. This word means scoffers, or false prophets. They will not preach as "Thus Saith the Lord" but will teach according to their own ungodly lusts. "These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." Beware of the person who starts a church, bible study, etc. because he or she has a better revelation. Remember God does not have to cause discord and division to spread the gospel. Jude refers to these people as sensual, living according to the natural, fallen instincts of man, rather than being led by the Holy Spirit. If they speak in tongues, they still have not the Holy Spirit. If they give great and wonderful prophesies, they still have not the Holy Spirit. If they give messages in wisdom and knowledge, and seem to have great discernment, they still have not the Holy Spirit. You are required to judge them by their fruits. Be not blown about by every wind of doctrine. Be a part of the church.
1 John 1:1-4 reads; "beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." We are instructed to try the spirits, whether they be of God. How can we do this? What if the person in question is claiming to follow Christ? What if they seem to be doctrinally sound but they cause strife and discord in the church? We cannot label them as apostate if they are doctrinally sound. That does not mean that we should ignore the problems they cause, nor tolerate their sin. We simply have to follow the example of Paul and mark them that cause discord. We may even have to identify the person openly before the church and let everyone know that causing division within the church will not be allowed to continue.
The scripture in First John gives some guidelines for identifying cults. If they deny that Jesus is the Christ; Immanuel, God with us, they are not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist. Please keep in mind that John is speaking of these people being controlled by spirits. This is the spiritual warfare alluded to in Ephesians chapter six. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this present world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. It is incumbent upon us to recognize, or discern, these spirits as they operate in the lives of people coming into the church. We do not want to start labeling people as having this spirit or that spirit and becoming convinced that every disagreeable activity is a sign of demonic activity. But we must not be ignorant of Satanís devices. We are given authority over every power of the enemy. We must exercise that power with wisdom, compassion, and discretion.
JUDE 20 - 21
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Finally, Jude presents a contrast. There are those who come into the church to bring discord and strife. There are those who would compromise the gospel, and discount the importance of holiness. It was necessary for the writer to exhort us to earnestly contend for the faith. In light of all these attacks on the unity and the integrity of the church, you need to build yourself up. We must be different than those that Jude has exposed. We are the beloved, the agapetos, united with God in the bonds of holy love. We have drawn close to Him, and He has whispered to our spirit, "I have loved you with an everlasting love". The thing that separates us from those Jude described; we have accepted the agape love of the Father. We are pleased to sit at the kingís table. We find great comfort in His promise that I will never leave you nor forsake you. Take all the love of all the sweethearts, from Adam and Eve to the present. Add all the love of every mother who ever held her baby to her breast. Multiply this by the love of every soldier for his homeland. Factor in all the love of every child who felt the warm embrace of mommy and daddy. Combine all the love of any kind from beginning until now, and hear Jesus say, I love you more. You are my beloved. I love you with my whole heart. I love you with all my mind. I love you with all my strength. I loved you before the worlds were framed. I will love you when time shall be no more. There has never been a time when I did not love you, nor will there ever be, no, not for a moment. If you truly believe and understand that the God of the universe, the very God of Heaven and Earth, loves you personally, singularly, individually, completely, unconditionally, and eternally, then you will trust Him.
Accept His love. Allow Him to lavish His love on you. Take comfort in it, moment by moment, day after day. You are His beloved.
Beloved, you are a holy temple, an edifice, built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. Jesus Christ Himself is the Chief Cornerstone. All of us fit together, making up a habitation of God through the Spirit. Build yourselves up. David encouraged himself in the Lord. Paul admonished us to be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. In building up ourselves we must take care to build up or edify one another. We are instructed to build upon our most holy faith. Another way to phrase it is to build upon faith in the most holy. Now faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Get into the book. If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, it will grow and spread to great dimensions, as you allow Him to open to you the Word. The more intimate your relationship with Christ, the greater your faith will grow.
Romans chapter eight gives the pattern for such faith-filled prayer. "We know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Praying in the Holy Ghost involves worship, adoration, exaltation, praise, and thanksgiving. Praying in the Holy Ghost elicits repentance, contrition, Godly sorrow. These things should precede our petition, but not preclude it. We are exhorted to come boldly before the throne of grace. Jesus said ask and you shall receive. Praying in the Holy Ghost involves listening, taking time for the communion of the Spirit. Intercession, travail, praying for the needs of others should be central in praying in the Holy Ghost. Surrender to the move of the Spirit. Be free to cry, laugh, dance, bow, stand, whatever He directs. All of this will be dictated by worship. This is not your goodnight prayer or your blessing on the meal. This is the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous. If you truly desire to build yourself up in the Lord, you will find your way to the sanctuary.
You will get alone with God. David said, "Early will I seek Thee, my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee." Do you hunger and thirst for the presence of the Lord?
Keep yourselves in the love of God. Never lose sight of His love. When you fail, and you will fail, donít allow the enemy to convince you that God loves you less. Run back to the cross. The song says, "Kneel at the cross, leave every care. Kneel at the cross. Jesus will meet you there." We are earnestly contending for the faith. We have focused on our offensive attack on the forces of Hell. Reality tells us that the enemy will fight back. There will be times when your faith seems weak. The enemy will come in like a flood. Someone that you love has hurt you deeply. You experience grief and sorrow seems to overwhelm your soul. Keep yourself in the love of God. This trial may last for a very long time, but it will pass. The Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against the enemy. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. One thing we often fail to do in times like these is to call upon the church. Find a friend, even if it means calling and being rejected several times by several people. Keep searching, and God will give you someone to share your load. And if you are the one to receive the call for help, be available. Be ready to listen, more than you are ready to talk. Donít be afraid to cry with the one who is hurting. God may use you to help restore the joy of the Lord for one of His beloved.
"Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." The original text says, "Eagerly awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life". We are anxious to hear the shout, we are listening for the voice of the archangel. Our eyes are fixed upon the eastern sky. The disciples stood gazing into the heavens. The angel asked them, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seem Him go into Heaven." We have the promise that Lord Himself shall descend. We will be caught up to meet Him in the air. The enemy may accuse, and bring to mind past sins and failures. He will insist that you are not worthy of the promise. But you will continue to listen for the trumpet. You will search the clouds and wonder, is the cloud Jesus is coming back on? We are eagerly awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Justice says I must die for my sin. Mercy says the debt is paid in full. Satan demands that I be held accountable. Jesus says the old account was settled long ago. His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting. "I am free from the fear of tomorrow. I am free from the guilt of the past. I have traded my heartache for a glorious song, and Iím free, praise the Lord, free at last."
We are so blessed to be recipients of the boundless mercy of God. It should be the natural consequence of being shown such mercy that we would want to demonstrate that mercy to others. One of the most powerful words in all of scripture is compassion. Jude encourages us to have compassion on some. It seems inconsistent that he would limit compassion to some, and not all. Perhaps some will be reached with compassion, while others will take compassion and a great urgency. Oliver B. Green, a great Baptist preacher of years gone by, used to conclude his prayer with these words: "Lord save that soul that is nearest Hell." Are you looking for opportunities to show the mercy of the Lord?
Have you ever really considered what it means to be lost? Perhaps the best way to answer that question is to consider what it really means to be saved, and then realize that the lost person enjoys none of these blessings. As a Christian:
1. I have the love of Christ. Jesus loves the lost person, but that love is rejected.
2. I have the peace of God. The lost person sees God as his enemy, there is no peace.
3. I have the joy of the Lord. The lost person can only enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season.
4. I have the Comforter The lost person grieves alone.
5. I have the hope of eternal life. The lost person has no hope without Jesus
6. I have a home in Heaven The lost person has a reservation in the Lake of Fire
7. I will spend eternity with Jesus The lost person will spend eternity with Satan and the damned.
Are there other comparisons that I have omitted? We could talk about the provider, the fellowship the church, the wonders of the Word of God, the protection provided to the believer, etc. etc.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Is that way you and your spouse got together? You met and immediately knew that you were meant for each other. You agreed that you would be married, and set the date. It was all peaches and cream without any problems or disagreements. If that is the story of your courtship then you are indeed a most remarkable couple. For many of us it was more like the theme of this series of lessons. One or both of us had to earnestly contend for the faith. Ladies, did he ask you out and were so smitten with his charm that he just swept you off your feet, or did you play hard-to-get? Some of us may have had to convince Miss Congeniality that she had found Prince Charming. You may have dated for some time before she realized what a prize you are. Ladies, did you say like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, "We always get our man?"
Jude 22 - 23
And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Now letís look at the lost person for a moment. He may be lonely and afraid. She may have been hurt many times, and when you come with another offer of love and security, she just feels she has heard it all before. Consider the child that has been abused and neglected, forsaken by family, an outcast. What does he or she understand about a loving Father? "I am not even sure who my father is, and the guy who raised me beat me and abused me for as long as I can remember".
That teenager that seems so rebellious to you may have received all his understanding about love and trust from what he sees on television. Think about the elderly person living alone, forgotten by the family she raised. Her husband has been gone for years. She is afraid to go out at night, she worries about the cost of prescriptions, and no one ever calls to see how she is doing. Who knows what fears and turmoil your neighbor is facing every day? All these people are lost. We are going to talk about reaching some of them.
Earlier we talked about how you won the affections of your beloved. Now we are going to talk about winning the affections of the lost. Even as it is rare to experience love at first sight, even so it is rare that you make a convert in your first contact. You had to earnestly contend for the love of the person you eventually married. We must earnestly contend for lost souls. We canít expect a military conquest to bring them in. We wonít reach them with conventional weapons. The methods we have used up to now have not worked. How many people have been added to the Rolling Hills Church of God over the last year as a result of our witness? Pastor Wright said recently that unless we do something differently than what we have done in the past, we will only repeat our failures.
We are in competition with the world, with other churches, with the cares of life. What can we do that will impact lives, reach souls for Jesus Christ, and add them to the Kingdom? If we continue to evangelize the people in the pew, how can we expect to win the lost? There is something that we can do with every person to whom we witness. We can show compassion. We must let them know we care.
The word compassion has two components. Com = together, and Passion = suffer. It implies sharing in the suffering of another. Zodhiates defines eleeo: "To show mercy, to show compassion. Extend help for the consequence of sin, as opposed to being hardened. The general meaning is to have compassion or mercy on a person in unhappy circumstances. Ė Implying not merely a feeling for the misfortunes of others involving sympathy, but also an active desire to remove those miseries." In Matthew 9:36, speaking of Jesus, He was with compassion. How will we demonstrate the compassion of Jesus? We will tell others about his love and mercy. We will listen with concern. We will keep our promise to pray. We will provide assistance where possible. We will cry with the hurting. How long will we demonstrate compassion? How long will this person be lost if we donít reach them with the gospel? How long did it take them to get this far from God? How long will the Spirit seek one of His lost sheep?
How far will we go to reach a lost soul? Are we willing to suffer inconvenience: Will we continue trying to reach them in the face of anger, rejection, apathy, etc? What if this person has started and failed many times? I am so thankful that the Lord didnít quit reaching out for me after I had failed
We will show compassion by treating the lost person with tenderness. Paul instructed us, that if we saw a brother overtaken in a fault, to restore such an one in a spirit of meekness, considering ourselves, lest we also be tempted. It is time for the church to revive the ministry of restoration. We cannot restore anyone with a spirit of judgment and censure. If we are proud, haughty, or aloof from the person who has fallen, we will only drive them further from the cross. A hug, a smile, a tear, a card in the mail, a call on the phone are all little things that can make a world of difference in the life of one that is hurting. Remember that this is all about them and their need. It is not an opportunity for you to share your autobiography.
It will take a different approach to reach some. You may have to seek the face of the Lord, and fast and pray until the Spirit reveals a way that you can make a difference in the life of that one who is lost. Some you must put into the hands of the Lord, and allow Him to send someone else to reach them. Matthew Henry instructed pastors and others to preach hellfire and damnation. There are some who wonít be reached any other way, but you must be sure that you are led by the Spirit, moved with compassion, and let them know that not only is there a hell to shun, there is a heaven to gain. Remember, regardless how far down a person has gone, you are not there to condemn them, but to reach them with the gospel. Always remember the objective. I am not trying to demonstrate my knowledge or wisdom. I am not trying to prove a person wrong. I am not replacing God as the judge. I am trying to reach the lost with the good news that Jesus saves.
Jesus told us to lift up our eyes and look on the fields for they are white unto harvest. Rachel cried, "Give me children or else I die!" "Oh hear the call of lost men dying, oh hear their cries of deep despair. Oh brother hear the master calling for you to pray the laborerís prayer". What is the laborerís prayer? Here am I, Lord, send me. He told us that some would have to be saved by pulling them out of the fire. Some are so close to eternity that you donít have time to woo them. These people are in the depths of sin. Jude gives us a glimpse of their depravity by telling us to hate even the garment spotted by the flesh. This garment has been spoiled, defiled, spotted. It is a shameful thing. We hate the garment, but not the person. One of the greatest tragedies to befall the church is that we have lost our hatred of the garment. We no longer see the urgency of deliverance from sin. If we truly hate the garment we wonít ask to wear it.
Letís go back for a moment to the theme of this study. "It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." Jude 1:3. When Iím going through the fire, and the enemy is attacking from every side why should I earnestly contend for the faith? Jude said it was needful for him to write, and exhort. I believe he knew that would be times when we would feel like our backs are to the wall. There will be times when we feel like giving up. Jude is exhorting us to keep on fighting the good fight of faith. You might ask, whatís in it for me? Why should I care about others when I am struggling to stay above water? The Greek word for exhort is paracaleo Ė para, to the side of; kaleo, to call. It means called along side to help. Keep on fighting. Keep on trusting the Lord. The Holy Spirit has come along side to help. You can roll your burden over onto Him. Allow Him to carry the load. A similar Greek word is Paraclete, which encompasses the work and ministries of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, I will send you another Paraclete. Remember the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Even when it seems that all hope is lost, there is still Jesus. So when the enemy comes in like a flood how will you respond? Keep yourself in the love of God. Build yourself up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost. Look for opportunities to show the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Demonstrate compassion, even if it means pulling them out of the fire.
JUDE 24 - 25
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, To the only wise God, our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
"Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling." Picture yourself walking up a steep and rocky path. It is unfamiliar to you. There are dangers all around. If you fall it will cause great injury or even death. But include Jesus in the picture, and know that He is holding your hand. You will have no fear of falling.
Joshua 1:9 says, "Have not I commanded thee?" Isnít it interesting that this is the end of the sentence? It could have been written, Have not I commanded thee to be strong and of good courage. Now I understand that the punctuation was added later, but I think that the structure is correct. The Lord is speaking to Joshua and reminding him that Moses was not his commander those forty years in the wilderness. It wasnít Moses that divided the Red Sea. It wasnít Moses that provided a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Moses didnít bring down manna from Heaven. Moses didnít keep their clothes and shoes from wearing out. Moses was Godís anointed servant, and was a great man in the eyes of the Lord. But Joshua was reminded that it was God that had been his commander these forty years, and that had not changed because Moses had died. So stay with the captain. "Be strong and of good courage. Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest".
1 Corinthians 10:13; "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 2 Timothy 1:12; "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." You may be going through the fire right now, but keep on contending for the faith. There is a crown of righteousness laid up for you.
Not only is He able to keep you from falling, but He has promised to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. He will present you to the Father as a spotless lamb, without blemish. There will be nothing in you to render you unworthy. There will be no accuser. The spots are not covered. They are not hidden. They are gone. Psalm 103:12; "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us." Micah 7:19; "He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquites; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. You will stand before the Father without spot or blemish or any such thing.
"Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." Romans 8:18 says it this way, "For I reckon (an accounting term) that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." You will stand in the presence of the Most High God, and you shall be holy. You will ride out on white horses, following that one who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He has promised to demonstrate the wonder and wisdom of His grace unto principalities and powers by work He has done in you.
"To the only wise God, Our Savior." Who else could have devised such a plan as this? From everlasting to everlasting Thou art God. "Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle." "Be glory and Majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints. Keep on fighting, child of God. Keep on fighting church. Keep on fighting faithful pastor. You victories are being recorded.
Jack D. Jackson a member of the Rolling Hills Church of God in Wichita. Kansas, and teaches an adult Sunday School class. This exposition of the book of Jude is based upon his original 9-week study for that class.
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