Our next New Testament letter to look at is Jude’s letter to the Church. In this letter we hear from another sibling of Jesus who struggled to believe in who Jesus was, until after Jesus resurrected from the dead. Jude humbly introduces himself as a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. He is now a devoted brother and follower of Jesus, and is concerned about the direction the Church is headed.
False teaching was making its way into the Church and Jude writes a short letter to point them back to the basics of their faith and back to holy living. He reminds them in his introduction that they have been called by God, who loves them and keeps them safe in the care of Jesus Christ. He encourages them to be there for each other during this difficult time, to be concerned about their brother in Christ and encourage them to stay true to their faith.
But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. – Jude v.20-21
This was Jude’s advice for the church in the midst of false teachers and those who were trying to destroy those who have faith. The followers of Christ had been warned that there would be scoffers whose purpose in life was to satisfy their own ungodly desires, creating divisions among those in the Church (v.18). In the midst of those who were trying to make their life difficult, the believers were encouraged to build each other up, pray in the power of the Spirit and wait for the mercy of Jesus to bring them to their eternal home.
Jude also urged them to defend the faith God had entrusted to his holy people. There were people in the Church saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives (v.4), but Jude was warning them not to believe this false teaching. He used several examples of how God’s people were punished for their sins:
1. After rescuing the nation of Israel from Egypt, Jesus later destroyed those who did no remain faithful (v.5).
2. The angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God had given them are being kept securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment (v.6).
3. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire for their immorality and sexual perversion (v.7).
Jude describes these people as following their own natural instincts instead of following God’s Spirit within them (v.10,19). He warns us that those among us who are remaining in sin are like “dangerous reefs” that can shipwreck us or like “shameless shepherds” who care only for themselves. They are like “clouds blowing…trees in autumn…wild waves of the sea…wandering stars.”
John had a similar warning for the Church in his third letter:
Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God. – 3 John 11
But do not just write off nominal Christians and those who have completely turned away from the faith. Let your heart respond to their weakness and reach out to rescue them from the path they are headed down. In other words, love the sinner even while hating the sin they are living in.
And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. – Jude 22-23
Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me and keeping me safe in your care. You have called me, you love me and you have given me your Spirit to keep me from falling away. Today I will follow Jude’s words of guidance and build others up, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit and await your mercy.
All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. – Jude 25