We have been considering Jude’s doxology. We have seen that a doxology consists of words ascribing glory, in the case of the Bible of ascribing glory to God, but we need to also acknowledge that these verses, as we will see, also include glory for us as well.. We have determined that as Jude comes to these last verses of his epistle his whole mood changes from one of negativity to one which is positive and encouraging. He has taken our eyes off the evils of the intruders and has focussed them on the One who is able, the Almighty God who can do what is impossible for man to accomplish. And that same God is also absolutely willing to use that power on our behalf. His power is what brings us salvation and it is that power that keeps us and protects us on our Christian journey.
And I want us to see that the next little pronoun is very significant and absolutely encouraging for us. He could have made these verses very general and applied them to “the beloved”, one of his favourite terms but no, he gets very specific and uses the word ‘you”, referring to his readers. I find that very exciting that he would want to talk directly to you and me.
Perhaps we thought that these verses did not apply to us. Perhaps we thought that we were not worthy to be included in such a dialogue. But there it is. He is talking about you and me. So take these verses personally because that is what Jude meant them to be. They are for you. They are for me.
And what he has to say to us is in direct contrast to what he says about the evil doers of the earlier verses. We learnt, that for them, judgment is reserved, but for us the direct opposite is the case. Let us then take heart as we look more closely into these words that Jude has written because they are for us.
Again, we now come to something very specific. We have seen that we are kept by the power of God, but now Jude narrows that keeping down and outlines one of the things that God will keep us from. Many texts tell us that He is able to keep us from falling but the idea is rather more like stumbling, a word we could define as being about mistakes that may lead to a fall. The word used occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means properly, “not stumbling” as of a horse. It means to not take or make a false step, to not fall into a hole of sin.
Picture for a moment a nervous susceptible horse slipping and sliding over the smooth rock in a sweat of terror, and the owner laying a kindly hand and a firm one on the reins, and speaking soothing words of encouragement and leading it safely so that it doesn’t slip. That is the imagery that Jude is presenting here.
God kept Israel like that. And in reference to the Red Sea and the journey through the wilderness we read this –
13. He led them through the deep, like a horse in the wilderness, so that they would not stumble.
And in the same way God is able to lay hold of us when we are in perilous places and when we cry, “My foot is slipping!” His mercy will hold us up.
18. When I felt my feet slipping, you came with your love and kept me steady.
Listen also to the words of Psalm 91.
11. God will command his angels for you, and they will protect you wherever you go.
12. Their hands will catch you, so that you will not hit your foot on a rock.
Oh, yes! He can keep us from falling but He can also keep us from stumbling. And let me remind us all today that that is no easy task. God keeps the whole universe under control with His power. But the universe displays nothing but absolute and unresisting obedience to His laws and commands but with man that is not the case. Even the best of us often exercise a free, rebellious and determined will to resist God’s beneficial desires for us.
The allusion that Jude uses could also be likened to a toddler beginning to walk. God is like a strong and able and willing parent who keeps watch over us, so that we do not stumble or fall.
But for the parent’s ability to be of assistance the toddler must be willing to trust so that the parent’s ability becomes an actuality. This lack of trust in One with a completely abundant ability is the reason that we often do in fact stumble and fall. Remember that Jude told us that we have responsibility to build ourselves up, to keep ourselves in the love of God, to pray in the Spirit and to look forward with hope to the future.
And again, in the area of standing and not stumbling we have a responsibility as well. If the toddler were to make no effort on his or her part then there would be no standing and no walking.
So what should we do to keep ourselves from stumbling? If Christ is our life as Scripture says, then our life should be a reflection of the life of Christ.
4. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
So we should do our best, to make it our one aim to be more like Him, to strive with a single-minded resolute determination to reach the goal of likeness to Christ
13. Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead.
14. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.
Yes, if we declare that we are abiding in Him then we should walk as He walked.
6. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked.
These are our instructions.
21. Prove all things, hold fast to the good.
22. Abstain from every appearance of evil.
Other Scriptures also tell us these things.
13. Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong.
13. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
But as we have seen our success is determined by confidence but primarily that confidence is not in ourselves but in God. It is His efforts and not ours that ultimately prevent stumbling.
4. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or he falls. And he shall be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
5. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
But nevertheless we must obey His command to stand and not to stumble. And when we, in spite of our best efforts are in trouble we reach out and grasp, no, rather allow Him to grasp our hand.
So what does Jude mean when he talks about God keeping us from stumbling? It involves a preservation from evil and a diligent, trusting and humble perseverance in obedience to Christ.
But like God’s people the Jews, we, too, love to stumble, we love to wander
10. Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.
And there are dangers for us, just as there were in the early church.
Let us think of a boat with its planks loose, its sails rent, and its pilot ignorant and half blind; and then place it among shoals and rocks, with a storm raging – there is a picture of the Christian’s, of our condition in the world.
Dangers and temptations abound, particularly in the areas of false teaching and error, and a lack of spirituality, and we need help to preserve us from falling into these pitfalls, from yielding to temptation, and dishonouring our God.
When we think how every day, every new incident, every connection we form, introduces us into untried circumstances, we have no means of anticipating what effects they may have on our welfare, spiritual or otherwise.
But in the example of the boat we described above, just suppose that I were to tell you that there is an invisible Being watching over it and determined to preserve it; one who can steer it just as He will, and do whatever He wants with those stormy winds and foaming waves, making those waves roll as He pleases, or, if He pleases, not roll at all – what would you say then? I am sure that your reply would be that that boat is safe. And what would you do? You would delight in looking at it in the middle of its dangers and you would delight in reflecting on the power which is so wonderfully preserving it. So it is with the believer, with us. We can examine our own circumstances and see that God is demonstrating the strength of His power through our weaknesses.
What are some of the dangers? Some have said they include the following – error of doctrine, or a lack of love, discernment or belief, fanaticism, conceit, neglect of duty, ignorance, idleness.
We fall, we stumble, when we fall from godly principles, indulge in any sinful affection or persist in a doubtful habit. Coupled with these less obvious things are outward sin and backsliding. All of these will be marked by attitudes such as unbelief, lack of sincerity, worldly-mindedness, carelessness or being lukewarm. We fall, we stumble, when we experience anything that is prejudicial to the welfare of our souls. These things define stumbling.
And as we have already seen there is no sure refuge to be found in the church or in our private closet. And experience provides no certain safety. Noah falls after six hundred years’ experience. Lot falls when an old man, And David, who passed so safely through the snares of youth, falls in mature age. However we need to understand that experience may be of some help. As we grow to know our own frailty and liability to sin, as we get to realise that there are many surrounding temptations and attractions, we begin to understand that we can’t keep ourselves. Adam couldn’t do it. The angels couldn’t do it. And sinful, imperfect humans cannot do it because we lack both the knowledge and the power to achieve it. Yes, it is certain that we are in need of God’s ability and assistance
It is then that we begin to fully understand that the only one with the power and ability to preserve us is Christ. He is our only sure refuge and we can take great confidence in the fact that In spite of the greatness of the threat, God is greater still.
However, we need to stay connected to Him. Just as a novice climber is attached to one of experience we too need to be connected to Christ so that if we fall we will be kept safe. Remember that Jude says in v.1 that we are preserved in God.
But we ought not to see trials and afflictions as part of stumblings. They ought to improve rather than injure and increase our dependence on the only power than can keep us safe. They ought to prepare us for new conquests rather than overpower us. They ought to increase our confidence that God has the power, the ability to keep in every, and any circumstance.
At this point, Jude introduces the small word “and” which indicates that there is more to come. It is like the advertisement isn’t it? “But there is more!” they insist. But with God it is more and more and more. It reminds me of a hymn which says this –
More and more, more and more,
Always more to follow!
Oh, His matchless, boundless love!
Still there’s more to follow!
And now, while what we have already considered has been exciting it gets even better still.
Again Jude uses the pronoun “you” which refers to his readers, to us, and so what he has to say involves you and it involves me so we ought to pay attention, we ought to listen.
And again as in other parts of Jude there is this marvellous contrast. You see we are about to enter Scene 2. We now shift from earth to heaven.
Now as we are speaking about heaven where time has no place I am not sure whether the idea of an order of events is appropriate. We see things in sequence. I don’t know whether sequence applies in heaven. So with a poor human mind, governed by time I have wrestled with what might happen in heaven. I have tried to imagine what if might be like. I have tried to understand the words that Jude uses.
I may well be wrong by I am thinking that while our entrance into heaven at death will be special that Jude may well be speaking about another even more spectacular event, a special gala event when we are presented, or introduced by Christ to God. The word used means to set or stand and it would seem that Jesus is going to take each of us and set us or stand us before God
As I thought about this I thought about gala events such as we have here on earth.
First there is a red carpet leading to the entrance to the event and to get to walk that red carpet is very exciting.
After walking that carpet, the invitees arrive at the entrance. Their tickets are checked and if valid their names are announced to the host and they enter the event. These events are usually glamorous, exciting and joyous and to have communication with the host would be a wonderful experience.
I can’t help thinking that it may well be the same in heaven. I walk the red carpet leading to this presentation carrying my ticket. What it might say, I am not sure. Maybe it will say “In Christ” or “No condemnation”. Maybe you could think of something else but I am sure it would carry the words “Paid in full” somewhere on it. The validity of my ticket is checked and I am cleared to enter. I notice that further up the line several people were rejected because they had invalid tickets. Their tickets apparently read, “I did it my way”, or “Paid for with good works” or some similar wording.
Jesus spoke about this category of persons in the Gospel of Matthew.
22. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your name, and through Your name throw out demons, and through Your name do many wonderful works?
23. And then I will say to them I never knew you! Depart from Me, those working lawlessness!
But my ticket is valid and I am cleared to enter the gala event. My name is now announced out loud and I am presented or set before the host so that my presence is made known.
Now maybe it won’t be anything like that but that is what I think it might be like. Why don’t you give it some thought as to what you think might occur?
I believe that the one presenting me will be Jesus Himself. An angel could do it, no doubt, but I can almost hear the pride in Jesus’ voice as He says, “Father, I present to you Noel Christensen” And this pride has got nothing to do with anything good about Noel Christensen but due to the fact that Noel Christensen is one of the great multitude rescued from spiritual death by what Jesus Himself did
Yes, it will be a time of exceeding joy. Jude doesn’t make it clear who will have the joy, whether it will be you and me or Jesus or God, but does it matter? It will be a time of great joy for everyone. It certainly will be for me and it will be for you as well.
We will see what makes it possible to have such joy next time, but in the meantime let us examine why there will be such great joy. For me and for you it will be chiefly for two reasons. One has to do with the past and the other to do with our future.
Our joy will result from the leaving behind of weariness and struggles, of danger and fear, sin and fightings, partings and deaths.
10. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
We will be eternally out of the reach of the possibility of falling. We will have no more enemies. Satan will not be able to accuse us or resist us any more. Yes, we will be rescued from all that is associated with sorrow, sin and death.
22. It is the same with you. Now you are sad. But I will see you again and you will be truly happy. You will have a happiness that no one can take away.
We will be saved from the evil in our hearts and even the mortality of our bodies. This will a time of intense delight. We will not have to slink awkwardly into God’s presence. It will be a time of victory and celebration.
But the other aspect of our joy relates to what will be our eternal experience.
Firstly, there will be a never before experienced face to face communion with Jesus and God. Imagine what that will be like.
4. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; yea, on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.
And heaven will be our eternal home. Our joy and rejoicing will be for ever, never to be interrupted.
And don’t forget the joy of reunion with loved ones as well.
So, yes, our joy will truly be exulting joy. It will be joy we can never experience on earth.
It will be joy that makes us want to shout out. It will be joy that makes us want to jump up and down. Maybe there will be group hugs with everyone jumping in unison.
We will sing for joy. We will sing about our redemption, about relocating from earth to heaven. And our song will be somewhat exclusive. A hymn in the Redemption Hymn Book says this –
3. Then the angels stand and listen, for they cannot join that song,
Like the sound of many waters, by that happy, blood-washed throng;
For they sing about great trials, battles fought and victories won,
And they praise their great Redeemer, who hath said to them, “Well done.”
Holy, holy, is what the angels sing.
And I expect to help them make the courts of heaven ring;
But when I sing redemption’s story they will fold their wings
For angels never felt the joys that our salvation brings.
4. So, although I’m not an angel, yet I know that over there
I will join a blessed chorus that the angels cannot share;
I will sing about my Saviour, who upon dark Calvary,
Freely pardoned my transgressions, died to set a sinner free.
There will be one more joy for us. It will be the joy of meeting those who are there because of our sacrifices and service for God.
19. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming
20. For ye are our glory and joy.
Some present at this great occasion may claim that the Lord involved me in their entrance into God’s kingdom and I wasn’t even aware of it. What a joy that will be!
I am always encouraged by the words of this song called Thank you for Giving to the Lord.
I dreamed I went to heaven
And you were there with me
We walked upon the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name
You turned and saw this young man
And he was smiling as he came
And he said friend you may not know me now
And then he said but wait
You used to teach my Sunday School
When I was only eight
And every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start
And one day when you said that prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart
Then another man stood before you
And said remember the time
A missionary came to your church
And his pictures made you cry
You didn’t have much money
But you gave it anyway
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today
One by one they came
Far as the eyes could see
Each life somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done
Unnoticed on the earth
In heaven now proclaimed
And I know that up in heaven
You’re not supposed to cry
But I am almost sure
There were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
He said, my child look around you
For great is your reward
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave
And the angels will have joy as well. They delight in what pleases God.
10. Likewise I say to you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
And I could well imagine that on this occasion that their praise and worship and their joy in God will be more intense than ever because here it is not just one person involved but a huge number.
But what about the joy that Jesus and God the Father will have. One commentator declares that it is this joy that Jude is speaking about and that our joy will not even begin to compare with that of God and His Son. Here God and Jesus will witness the culmination of the whole great plan of salvation. And we must not overlook the convicting power of the Holy Spirit either that led us to have faith in the sacrifice of Christ. This victory is why Jesus had to experience the suffering of earth and death as a substitutionary sacrifice on the cross. And He could see beyond His suffering to this very time.
2. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
11. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
In the gospels we have a picture of the Shepherd, representing Jesus who brought home one lost sheep. He was so overjoyed that he called all His friends and neighbours to celebrate the rescue. So what exceeding joy do we suppose Jesus and God and God’s Spirit might have when the whole flock consisting of millions of people is brought home?
Have you ever thought about the number who will be in heaven? We know that Jesus could have called ten thousand angels to His rescue if He had wanted. But what about humans? Will aborted babies be there? Will children not old enough to understand the way of salvation be there? If true these in themselves will be a huge number. How many Old Testament saints will there be? And what about those from the whole of the Church Age?
One commentator has said that Jesus could hardly claim victory over Satan if there were more in the lake of fire with him than in heaven with Jesus. In fact he claimed that the margin for Jesus would need to be substantial and not primarily made up of some of the young ones listed above. What do you think?
God no doubt will rejoice in the fact that the sheep will never wander again.
Yes, then our God shall rejoice over us and the joy of our Saviour be complete. The work of salvation will be truly finished. Satan is finally and eternally defeated. The sinful nature inherited from Adam a thing of the past, forever gone. How wonderful. Surely all of these thoughts should bring excitement to our beings. If it doesn’t then I would think that nothing else would or could.