“Jude: Stay True to Jesus”
The greatest temptation in the history of the world revolves around trying to do right while being challenged to do wrong. Adam and Eve faced it in the garden. David faced it on the rooftop. Judas faced it in the garden. You and I face it every day. We would like to blame God, but it is really not His fault. We sometimes forget Satan is alive and well in this world. He actively tempts us to go against God. He tempts us to please ourselves and not the Lord, and sometimes it is hard to say no to Satan. It is hard to not give in to the temptations of life. The short book of Jude addresses that matter. This brother of Jesus encourages believers to stay true to the Lord. He inspires us to stand firm on the truth of God's Word and not be tempted to accept those who do not teach it. As we all know, however, that does not always happen. Sometimes we give in to that temptation and fall away. For the next few minutes, Jude's letter will offer some things to consider and put into practice as we deal with the temptations of life. He will also guide us as to how we can help those who are weak and who give in to Satan's seductive ways. Hopefully you will stay tuned to this station for the next few minutes as we look into this important and encouraging message. Please open your heart and your Bible as we now study together.
Throughout the years I have had the privilege of seeing many people come to faith in Jesus Christ. After being taught the truth, they recognize that indeed Jesus is their Savior. They make Him the Lord of their life, and they are then baptized into the name of Jesus as they start walking in His footsteps; and those are some very wonderful experiences. After a period of time, however, I began to follow up with those people to see how they are doing in their spiritual growth, and oftentimes I find that they have not stayed true to the Lord's teachings. They have gone back, perhaps even into the ways of the world in which they were living before they became a child of God. They are being led astray and they don't have much to do with the Lord anymore. It's sad to say, that seems to happen far too often. Well the next to the last letter, or book, in the New Testament addresses that very issue. A man by the name of Jude writes only 25 verses, but they contain a very powerful message. In a previous lesson here on "Key to the Kingdom," we looked at a letter called James, also in the New Testament. It's interesting to note that both James and Jude are brothers and they are brothers to the man Jesus Christ, God's Son. Yet both of them went from being very skeptical and questioning Jesus as God's Son, to being a follower of Him. That's the case here with Jude. In fact, he even identifies that in verse one. He says, "I am a servant of my Lord Jesus Christ." Yes, Jude was a man who followed Jesus, and he set a great example for others to follow. Tradition even has it that some of his grandsons were leaders in the early church. Well, Jude writes to Christians everywhere with two primary things on his mind. First of all, he writes this in verses 3 and 4 of this 1st chapter, "Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 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 as our only Sovereign and Lord." Jude wanted to write something, to share with these fellow believers, that would encourage them; and they would talk about their common salvation. But as he sat down to write, he evidently had a change of mind and he began to write something else. He wrote about how they could help each other stay connected to the Lord in the midst of all the false teaching that was going on around them. That was a big deal. Some people were teaching that which was not true and it revolved around taking advantage of God's grace. They were saying, "Well, you are a believer. You are a Christian, therefore you can live any way you want to live. It really doesn't matter what you say or what you do or how you live your life, God's grace is going to cover you." That's what Jude identifies here, it gave them a license to sin, a license to do whatever they wanted to do, believing God's grace would cover them anyway. Well that is false doctrine. That is false teaching. It is not true. In other words, they were saying that Jesus really did not come here to the Earth in the form of God, He was only God with God in Heaven. They denied the deity of Jesus in that he was the Son of Man while He lived upon the Earth. Now, these false teachers were teaching that kind of thing, and Jude warns his fellow believers about it. In fact, they are described in verse 16. Notice what he writes: "These men are grumblers and fault finders. They follow their own evil desires. They boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage." You know, these people are looking down upon others. They're saying bad things about those who are doing what is good and right, in order to exalt themselves. They find fault and they grumble, they complain about everybody else, all for the sake of drawing attention to themselves and to their own teaching. In verse 15, Jude calls them ungodly people, full of ungodly acts done in ungodly ways and are thus ungodly servants. Well, there's nothing good, there's nothing godly about these false teachers. Jude also reminds his fellow Christians how the apostles warned them that a time was coming when these individuals would show up and produce this kind of false teaching. Notice verses 17 through 19. "But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ were told. They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit." These false teachers were dividing people's minds between the truth and false teachings. They were dividing entire households. And here in these three verses, Jude identifies the danger these Christians are facing; ungodly, false teachers leading people away from the Lord. They are not even filled with the Spirit of God, which means they do not have God's endorsement for what they are doing and what they are teaching. No doubt their behavior will be punished. Going back to verses 5 through 7, Jude even identifies some specific Old Testament examples and he compares them to these false teachers. He asks them to remember how God brought judgment upon those who did not believe; for example, the unbelieving adults who died out there in the wilderness before they reached the Promised Land. He reminds them about those angels in Heaven who did not obey God and so they were cast out into darkness. God will punish these false teachers, just like He punished those evil people living in the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Now if all of that is not enough, he offers three more Old Testament examples. Listen to what he writes in verse 11: "Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain. They have rushed for profit into Baalam's error. They have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion." Now we won't take time to look at the details of those three stories, but the current false teachers are doing some of the very same things those people were doing. They're just like those evil men. They're consumed with selfishness and greed. They are filled with hate. And in some cases, they even rise up against God's leadership. Well, Jude doesn't stop there. He has more warning for his fellow believers. In verses 12 and 13, he identifies six things which characterize these false teachers. Let's look at that list. First of all, they are nothing more than "blemishes at your love feasts." Now, Jude does not specify the offensive activity, but evidently these false teachers were eating with the faithful followers of Jesus and that was not good. They did not represent God in those fellowship meals. God was not being honored, but rather He was being disrespected as they tried to share a meal together. Secondly, we notice these false teachers were like the "shepherds who feed only themselves." That is a reference back to Ezekiel chapter 34. The shepherds, or the leaders, of the Israelite people took no interest in the people they were supposed to be leading. They only took interest in themselves. They were only concerned about meeting their own interests and their own desires. And the spiritual needs of those individuals were going unmet, because the shepherds only fed themselves; and that was true with these false teachers. Jude also refers to some unnatural events. That's how these misguided false teachers really are. He writes, "They are nothing more than clouds without rain." You know, clouds in the sky promise something that is good. They promise some moisture. And for those who live in a dry place, those clouds are a welcome sight as that anticipation comes of rain falling down to the earth. But these false teachers are like those clouds that never rain and they never produce moisture. Other descriptions include, the false teachers are like "dead, fruitless trees which offer no value to anyone." They are also like "the wild waves of the sea" as they produce nothing but dirt and foam and all the debris that has washed up from the sea and the ocean onto the shore. Finally, these false teachers are like "wandering stars." The common belief was that the fixed stars and planets in the universe moved about in a very predictable fashion, and yet these leaders were unpredictable. They had no purpose. They had no direction. They seemed to move about without doing any kind of good, whatsoever. By using these illustrations, Jude's point is obvious. The false teachers are way out of line; they are misguided; they mistake dreams for prophecy; they are like irrational animals and their behavior is not normal. Now let me pause for a moment just right here. Some might ask the question, "Why does Jude go into such great detail describing the activity of these false teachers? Why does he identify all of their different characteristics and what they are doing and what they are like? What's the purpose of him spending so much time in this short letter, in only 25 verses, writing about the false teachers?" Well the point is this: these disciples, these followers of Jesus were to contend for the faith that was delivered or entrusted to them, as we read in verses 3 and 4. And that was the primary goal, to hold onto the truth of God's Word, to know what it said and to live by it. And when they were influenced by the false teachers, they were to know the difference between right and wrong and good and bad. Now, that's not all Jude has to address in this letter. There is something positive, there is something good and it is found in the last six verses. I want to spend the rest of our time looking at them. Let's begin with a reading of verses 20 through 23. "But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt. Snatch others from the fire and save them. To others show mercy mixed with fear, hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh." Jude offers some teaching about how these faithful Christians can avoid the false teachers and be an encouragement to one another. He identifies seven things which contradict the way of the false teachers and he wants these faithful followers to follow his advice and his counsel and to set them apart from the false teachers who are not teaching the truth. First of all, he writes "build each other up in the faith." Well that was important for these believers. They were being led astray. In some cases, they were being persecuted. More than anything else, they needed someone to come alongside them and to encourage and build them up and keep them focused on the truth of God's Word. Secondly, they were to "pray in the Holy Spirit." Again, that was in contrast to the false teachers. The false teachers believed and trusted in their own speaking abilities and their own ideas, but Jude writes "No, we pray in the Holy Spirit and depend upon Him to lead us." Perhaps the best way to do that is number three, to "dwell in God's love." Jude wants these people to remember how much God, indeed, loves them. He loves them to the point that He offered His one and only Son to save them and to bring them into that right relationship with Him. Because of that, they could now "anticipate the Lord's coming." Oh, there was coming a day when Jesus would return and make all things right. Set things in order. There's a day coming when He will gather unto Himself all of those who belong to God's family, and these Christians were to anticipate that day. Until that day came, however, they were to "show mercy to those who doubt." There were some people who were doubting their faith in Jesus. They were doubting and wondering whether or not it was really worth it to stay connected to the Lord, or could they go over to the other side and benefit from that? These faithful Christians were to come alongside of them and not judge them, not speak with condemning words, but rather, help them; to show God's mercy to those who are doubting. Something else we notice: they were to "rescue others from destruction." Evidently there were some that were already so influenced by the false teachers, they were drifting away from God. They were on the verge of being swallowed up to the point of no return. So, Jude encourages them to go and help those who are slipping away, before they are completely destroyed. Then finally, one more thing: They were to "demonstrate mercy to those who are being destroyed." Perhaps the best way to describe that is simply to love people. Yes, there were some who were so overtaken by that false teaching, they were in the grasp of Satan. They were drifting away. They had reached the point of no return. And Jude said, "Go and love those people. Remind them of God's love for them, and hopefully they will return." You know, these were some ways in which these fellow Christians could help one another and encourage one another in the midst of all of the false teaching that was out there. As they were being misled and mis-taught, they needed to know that what they had held onto and what they were taught was the truth and they were not to turn their back on it. That truth had been entrusted to them, as we noticed there in verses 3 and 4, and that was the only thing that could bring them and keep them in the family of God. As I think about these statements, I think about how that might apply to us today. There may be people we know who are doubting their faith. There may be people we know who have believed the truth at one time in their life and yet they are wondering if it's really worth it. Do they really want to hang on to the love of God and the salvation of Jesus Christ; or, is there something else out there? Is there something out there that might be just a little bit better? Is there something out there that might be a little bit easier; something a little bit more convenient that does not require that kind of commitment to God? And so they're doubting and they're wondering and perhaps they're exploring some different ideas that do not line up with the truth of God's Word. And maybe they need someone like you to go and offer an encouraging word, and to help them; and not judge them, but to mutually encourage one another.
Then I think about that second thing. There may be some who are being taught that false teaching and who are being led astray and they're wondering, "What's happening to me?" They're wondering, "How far am I going to go with this? How far away from God are these false teachers going to take me?" And they're on the verge of drifting away to the point of no return. Maybe it is to some of those people that we are called to go and to remind them of God's love,to pray in the Holy Spirit and to say, "God bring me back into your loving arms." Then finally, there may be some people out there in our life who are reaching out for someone to help them. They're on their last leg, we might say. They don't know for sure if they're going to make it or not and Satan is sweeping them away and they're anxious about their eternity. Maybe they are just waiting for someone and longing for someone to come into their life and say, "No, let me remind you of how much God loves you and what He has done for you through His son, Jesus Christ." And as we think about those things, perhaps we can see ourselves somewhere in one of those categories. Where do we fit? How can we be a blessing and encouragement to those who are doubting, to those who are drifting and to those who are being destroyed? Perhaps the greatest part of this letter, or at least for me, is found in the last two verses, as Jude wraps up his message in verses 24 and 25 with these words: "To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, the glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord before all ages now and forevermore! Amen." You know, life is hard; isn't it? Every day we face Satan. Every day we are tempted to drift away from God. Every day he wants us to follow him instead of the Lord, who is our source of salvation, our God, our Savior. And it's hard to say no, sometimes, to Satan. It's hard to put up our stop sign and say, "No more Satan, go away from me." And yet we are encouraged to do that over and over again throughout Scripture; and we need help doing that. Obviously, we cannot do it on our own all the time. That's not going to work. Obviously, we're going to need some help from others, as Jude has pointed out, but that still may not be enough. And so Jude concludes with these words, "Our ultimate strength relies in the Lord." He is the one who is able to keep us from falling. He is the one who is able to present us to God without any fault, without any sin, because we have been walking in the light of Jesus Christ. And so we put our trust in Him. We rely upon Him to deliver and to redeem and to set us free from the grasp of Satan. You know, the challenge Jude's letter presents to us is in two parts. Number one, we are to be aware of and to resist the false teachers. And yes, there are false teachers in this world today. Yes, there is false teaching being done, and we are to know the difference between the truth and that false teaching. We are to cling to that truth that has been entrusted to us and know of the saving grace that we find in the Lord. But then secondly, we are to encourage and help those who are trapped in the grasp of Satan, to do whatever we can to be that encouragement and to rescue them and bring them back into the arms of God. But let us know that all of that is done when we rely upon the strength that comes from God's one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
The brother of Jesus states his purpose at the very beginning. He wants all who read his letter to defend the truth of the Gospel message. Jude calls on Christians to go on the offensive, without being offensive, and to stand fast for Jesus Christ. Now to do that, believers are to pray, to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to resist all kinds of false teaching. Yet, Jude realizes there will be some who turn away from the truth. When that happens, faithful Christians will come alongside and offer their help and encouragement. They will show them mercy and love, they will also seek to do everything they can to bring them back to the Lord. Jude's letter addresses some real issues we deal with on a regular basis; that is, remaining strong in the faith while standing against the false teaching of the day.
Thank you for watching "Key to the Kingdom." Even though it is one of the shortest letters found in the New Testament, Jude is one of the most important and practical messages. When we trust in God's power, we can stand firm for Jesus in the midst of false teaching. This message, along with others, is found on our website. I encourage you to visit keytothekingdom.com and download any that might be of interest. A Bible study and other resources are available that are designed to assist you in growing closer to the Lord. I hope you will take a few minutes to look at what is offered. Are you interested in a free Bible study? If so, call the number listed on the screen and leave your name and address. We will send the six lesson series to you by mail in the next few days. Many have already done that and have been blessed by studying it. Remember it is free from any cost or obligation. Other ways to access our ministry include a free phone app for your smart phone and a dedicated channel on Roku® Television. They're easy to download and convenient to use. I hope you will take advantage of these opportunities. We are just about finished studying through each book or letter of the New Testament. If you have missed any of these messages, I hope you will find and listen to them through our website. Each one is designed to give you a brief and practical overview of that particular book. It has been a privilege to share these short summaries with you and I hope they will assist you in your own personal study. Thank you for tuning in to today's program. I invite you to watch again next week at this same time, as we continue to study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."