JUDE’S DOXOLOGY – PART 4
24. Now to the one who is able to keep you from falling and to make you stand joyful and faultless in his glorious presence.
We have been on a journey from our present state to the time when Jesus presents us faultless in the presence of His father and in His own presence.
We have determined that there are two processes involved, the first being justification, which I believe to be a one part and permanent movement from a position of guilt and condemnation to one of being declared as not guilty and completely forgiven. This, we have seen, is none of our doing but results completely from the work of Jesus at Calvary where He paid our debt against sin, that debt being death, the death of a perfect sacrifice not contaminated by sin.
Justification, for us, wipes the slate of sin completely clean.
But we also saw that another process is involved, that of sanctification, or holiness and this is achieved in 3 parts, the past the present and the future.
The Bible declares that through Christ we have been sanctified and from God’s point of view He sees us as completely holy, again because of the forgiveness, cleansing, spiritual healing and reconciliation we have through Jesus.
But we also saw that in practical terms, as we currently live the Christian life in this world that we are not holy and we fall into sin, which needs to be confessed. But we also saw that it is our responsibility to move forward to greater levels of holiness as we journey along toward the end of our time on earth. And the challenge is this, “Are we making progress?”
So what about the future. Is there a problem? Yes there is. The problem is this physical body in which we live. Remember it is under the curse of Adam’s sin. It is the domain in which we stumble and fail to reach, or to maintain a faultless existence. In its present form our body is destined for decay. It will not live but it will die. It is mortal.
I believe that it is for this reason that when we die, while our souls and spirits return to God our bodies are left behind. They are not fit to enter God’s presence or His heavenly home.
27. But nothing that is impure will enter the city, nor anyone who does shameful things or tells lies. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of the living will enter the city.
So does God have a solution? Before we deal with that let us look at what happened to Jesus after His death.
We know that on the third day He rose again from death. But we need to be clear about the details of His resurrected life.
Here is the first point.
3. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
What came out of death? Was it something completely new? No, it was that same body in which He moved about each day. It was the same body that hung on the cross. It even had the scars of Calvary still visible.
27. Then He said to Thomas, Reach your finger here and behold My hands; and reach your hand here and thrust it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.
But while it was His same body, yet in some ways it was different.
Mary thought He was the gardener and two other disciples had this experience.
12. Later, Jesus showed himself to two followers while they were walking in the country. But Jesus did not look the same as before he was killed.
Another translation says this.
12. Later Jesus appeared to two disciples as they were walking to their home in the country. He did not look as he usually did.
Now I cannot deny that He may have deliberately prevented them from recognising Him because we read this in the Gospel of Luke.
31. Then their eyes were opened, and they knew who he was. And he vanished from them.
But notice that He suddenly vanished. This resurrected body had supernatural capabilities.
Listen to these verses.
19. Then the same day at evening, being the first of the sabbaths, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, Peace to you!
26. And after eight days the disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said, Peace to you!
Yes, it was His own body but in some way it had been changed. They even thought they were seeing a ghost and they felt afraid
36. While they were all talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and told them, “Peace be with you.”
37. They were startled and terrified, thinking they were seeing a ghost.
But look at Jesus’ response to their terror.
39. Look at my hands and my feet, because it’s really me. Touch me and look at me, because a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
40. After he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
41. Even though they were still skeptical due to their joy and astonishment, Jesus asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”
42. They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
43. and he took it and ate it in their presence.
But Mary’s experience was quite different.
17. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.'”
And in this same body that had in some way been changed He went back to heaven and re-entered the very presence of God.
19. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
Now I know that on different occasions during His ministry His physical body had some similar qualities.
2. And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
29. Their city was built on a hill with a cliff. So they got up, forced Jesus out of the city, and led him to the cliff. They intended to throw him off of it.
30. But Jesus walked right by them and went away.
But the changes that were apparent after the resurrection appeared to be permanent rather than of a temporary nature.
And having triumphantly entered heaven He makes this bold declaration.
18. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
And that is where the solution to our elevation to faultlessness will come from. He has victory over death and the grave and He will deliver that victory to us as well.
But those corrupt decaying bodies presently in the grave will have to wait, because it will be a one-time solution.
22. We know that everything God made has been waiting until now in pain like a woman ready to give birth to a child.
23. Not only the world, but we also have been waiting with pain inside us. We have the Spirit as the first part of God’s promise. So we are waiting for God to finish making us his own children. I mean we are waiting for our bodies to be made free.
God will in one action deal with all bodies in the grave and will at the same time deal with the need to sanctify and make fit for heaven all of us who remain alive, who are at present living a physical life in our defective bodies here on earth.
That solution will come with a resurrection of our bodies to a new life, a different life.
We know these verses so well. They are referred to at almost every funeral as we place a believer in Christ’s earthly body in the ground. But let us visit them again.
13. But we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve like other people who have no hope.
14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus God will bring those who have died with him.
That means that their souls and spirits will be brought to be reunited with their bodies.
15. For we declare to you what the Lord has told us to say: We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have died.
16. With a shout of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of God’s trumpet, the Lord himself will come down from heaven, and the dead who belong to the Messiah will rise first.
17. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
I believe that as with Jesus our resurrected bodies will not be some new body but these same bodies in which we now live, though as we shall see they will be dramatically changed, just as Jesus’ body was. Will they have distinguishing features such as the scars that Jesus had? Well, I don’t know, but it is possible. Will these bodies look young, in their prime, as it were? Again I don’t know. What do you think?
But this is what one Bible verse says –
49. As we have worn the likeness of the man who was made from the dust of the earth, we will also wear the likeness of the man who came from heaven.
Another says this –
21. He will change our humble bodies and make them like his own glorious body. Christ can do this by his power. With that power Christ is able to rule all things.
In what way will we be like Him? Will that include our appearance? We are not given the details.
And did you note that these changes will happen because Jesus has the power to do these things, even to overpower death itself, in fact by His own resurrection He has already done that. And don’t forget that He has already, during His time on earth, raised individuals from death. Can you name them?
And here are some things that I do know because they are revealed to us.
We already have life, a special life that lasts for ever.
24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
51. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
But for those promises to be brought to fruition our bodies will need to undergo change because they are not fit for the perfection of heaven and they bear the curse of death because of sin. And as we have seen that will happen at the resurrection. And please note the precision and rapidity with which these changes will occur.
50. Brothers and sisters, this is what I mean: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. What decays cannot inherit what doesn’t decay.
51. I’m telling you a mystery. Not all of us will die, but we will all be changed.
52. It will happen in an instant, in a split second at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will come back to life. They will be changed so that they can live forever.
53. This body that decays must be changed into a body that cannot decay. This mortal body must be changed into a body that will live forever.
54. When this body that decays is changed into a body that cannot decay, and this mortal body is changed into a body that will live forever, then the teaching of Scripture will come true: “Death is turned into victory!
55. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?”
Yes, our mortal bodies are going to become immortal. Our corrupt bodies are going to become incorrupt.
42. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption:
So when the writer to the Romans cries out in frustration and desperation –
24. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is infected by death?
We have the answer. It will be Jesus Who will do the rescuing and it will be by resurrection
Not only death which is the consequence of sin but all the other consequences that go along with that will be eliminated as well.
4. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Can you imagine that? There will be no more aging, no more disease or disability, no more temptation or guilt, no longer disputes and separation. Everything will be made whole. Man will be restored to his initial perfection. No wonder one of our hymns says, “What a day that will be.”
We will be able to communicate with God as in the beginning. And how was that?
God would come into the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening and He would talk face to face with Adam. We will have that direct contact while in our changed bodies as it was in the beginning before sin destroyed man’s relationship and communication with God. There will be no shame but only joy.
So is this the end. Is our cleansing complete?
I believe that there is still at least one more step
10. God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.
We will be rewarded for how well we have succeeded in completing these God organized tasks. You see, while our bodies have been changed we still have to give an account for the actions we carried out while living in our old bodies on earth. Some of them are good but some of them are not.
We are told that we are to build on the base of our salvation, namely Christ, and that the additions will be of varying qualities.
11. For there is no other base for the building but that which has been put down, which is Jesus Christ.
12. But on the base a man may put gold, silver, stones of great price, wood, dry grass, cut stems;
13. Every man’s work will be made clear in that day, because it will be tested by fire; and the fire itself will make clear the quality of every man’s work.
14. If any man’s work comes through the test, he will have a reward.
We will all come before what is commonly called the judgement seat of God or the bema
10. Why, then, do you criticize your brother? Or why do you despise your brother? For all of us will stand before the judgment seat of God.
11. For it is written, “As certainly as I live, declares the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will praise God.”
12. Consequently, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
10. For we all have to come before Christ to be judged; so that every one of us may get his reward for the things done in the body, good or bad.
So we will all come to this judgement seat, which as the Bible states is all about our rewards and not our salvation. Some will come with a small pile of good works and some with a large pile. Unfortunately, though, some who come with a large pile will go away with a very small pile. One type of person who comes with this kind of pile is the make-it-happen-in-your-own-strength kind of person. A person who is busy, but not busy in the right way. People who have spent hours on programs, in developing skills and techniques, in the psychology of attracting their fellow human beings, on advertising and financial resourcing. Such people have a tendency to want to move too quickly and operate in their own strength and skill.
Listen to what Solomon says –
5. Put all your hope in God, not looking to your reason for support.
6. In all your ways give ear to him, and he will make straight your footsteps.
7. Put no high value on your wisdom: let the fear of the Lord be before you, and keep yourself from evil:
Remember that Ephesians tells us that God has already prepared the things He wants us to do. It is our job, surely, to find out what they are, not to busily go about creating new plans which may not be what God wants us to be involved in.
10. God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.
Then of course there will be some with only a small pile of good works because they have sat back and done little for God. They have not been good stewards of all the gifts and resources that God has given them. How sad that they will receive, in return, little reward. How sad that they will not receive a commendation from Jesus Himself, “Well, done good and faithful servant?”
So all the unacceptable behaviour carried out in our Christian walk on earth will be eliminated and only what was God honouring and in accordance with His plans will remain and our final cleansing will have taken place.
We will now be as Jude puts it faultless but the word in fact means without blemish.
It has always been God’s intention to restore us to a state of perfection.
4. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
22. But now Christ has made you God’s friends again. Christ did this by his death while he was in his body. Christ did this so that he could bring you before God. He brings you before God as people who are holy, with no wrong in you, and with nothing that God can judge you guilty of.
27. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
It was always His aim that all the polluting elements of the flesh and the defilement of our bodies be removed
How will that perfection be demonstrated? I believe it will be in the garments we will wear.
In Jude v.23 Jude speaks about the spotted, the stained, diseased, filthy garments of evil people, but our clothing will be unblemished and white.
Pure white garments are a distinguishing feature of the perfection of heaven.
When Jesus was transfigured before a number of His disciples this is what we read.
2. And after six days Jesus took Peter and James and John and led them up into a high mountain, apart by themselves. And He was transfigured before them.
3. And His clothing became shining, exceedingly white as snow such as no fuller on earth could whiten them.
There were angels at the empty tomb and they are described in this way –
3. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
12. And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
And as Jesus ascended into heaven we read this
10. but as he went up, they kept looking up into the sky. Suddenly two men dressed in white clothes were standing there beside them.
That, I believe is how we will be attired. And there will be faces that reflect the glory of God, glistening with innocence and purity.
Many things that appear white are no longer seen to be so when exposed to true whiteness.
I always believed sheep to be white until one day I was travelling by car from Tara heading for Roma. It was a cold morning and the whole countryside was covered in frost, the ground, the grass, the bushes, even dead branches, everything was pure white, well almost everything was white, because there were these sheep and when exposed to the pure white frost they were so far off being white that they looked almost black.
But pure snow or bright sunlight will not reveal any blemish or spot in our purity. We will have even greater scrutiny than that because we will be exposed to the blinding presence and the Divine glory of God Himself and still not a mark or blemish, not one shade of off whiteness will be seen. We will appear in unsullied purity, free from any defilement in the sight of God.
And what is more wonderful is that that purity will be permanent because nothing that defiles can ever enter God’s heaven to spoil our perfection. Our attire will always remain the shining robes of immortality and glory. Not even our greatest accuser, Satan, will be able to point his finger at us. We will be unreproveable because we will be perfectly holy.
If I were to present a pure white background with one small black dot on it, what would you see? It would not be the white background but the small black dot. One commentator describes our state as “perfect, immaculate sinlessness”. There will be no back dot to object to. We will be morally perfect, absolute and complete.
And of course those pure garments are merely indicative of our new spotless and perfect nature. Yes we will be like Jesus Himself. Even the remotest tendency to evil will be taken away. In fact we will at last be free from the very presence of sin. Sin will lie behind us and be an alien power that has no influence over us. What a joy that will be.
So let us return to our picture of a royal banquet in heaven.
At the door, as it were, is Jesus introducing the guests one by one. And now it is my turn and Jesus says, “I present to you Noel Christensen!” And in I come and the light and beauty of God shine on my costume but not a mark can be seen. It is perfect. My face is radiant. I may even have some of my rewards on display. Maybe there will be a crown or a badge or some form of jewellery.
Some of the other guests who knew me on earth gasp. In fact my own mouth is agape. This wasn’t the person they had known on earth. He was a long way from being clean, in fact he was rather dirty and his moral clothes quite shabby. This surely couldn’t be him. But, yes, it was and the One who had cleaned him up and clothed him is such spotless robes was none other than Jesus Himself. What a marvellous transformation. But this was no surprise to the host, God, because he had seen Noel Christensen dressed in these perfect clothes for a long time because of the righteousness, the perfection, of Christ accredited to him.
But how wonderful that Christ should take people such as you and me and by slow education and patient inspiration, through wise provision and merciful forbearance could mould and cleanse and quicken and lift us, at last, to perfect purity. This surely is one of the greatest things that God has ever done for us and is our ultimate salvation.
Let us rejoice in these future prospects.