Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 8 2013 - Jude – Kept from stumbling

The letter of Jude, like that of 2 Peter, is quite dark. Much of it is devoted to the subject of judgment. But I want to pick up a couple of bright notes from this letter; one from the beginning of the letter and the other from the end.

Jude begins by addressing his letter, "To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ" (Jude 1:1). Christians are the possession of the Triune God: The Father has loved us and planned our salvation; the Son gave himself to make us his possession and will not let us go; the Spirit has drawn us to Jesus Christ and continues to call us on in following him. We are blessed beyond measure; mercy, peace and love are ours in abundance (1:2). It is good to have this lovely picture of all that God had done and is doing for us before the dark portrait of judgment that is reserved for those who turn back from following Christ.

Against the background of that dark portrait, Jude exhorts his readers to keep themselves in the love of God by building themselves up in faith and through prayer empowered by the Holy Spirit (1:20-21). We need constantly to encourage and pray for one another that we will go on following Christ. But will we manage to keep ourselves?

Jude provides great encouragement in the doxology with which he closes the letter. God calls us to be serious and consistent in our discipleship, but he also promises that he is the one who has the power to keep us. Our triune God has planned and accomplished our salvation. Christ who died for us is now risen for us and has gone to glory to prepare a place for us. Having laid hold of us by his grace, he will never let us go.

We are called to keep ourselves in God’s love, not in the sense that we can stray beyond the reach of God’s love, but rather that we are to live in and from the knowledge of his great love for us. We are to live as secure and much loved children, revelling in all that he has done for us and seeking to discover more of the riches of his grace. We are to live in conscious dependence upon him – a life marked by prayer prompted by the Spirit within us through whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ This is how we build ourselves up in the holy faith once for all entrusted to God’s Holy people. This is how we build ourselves up in Christ and resist the enticements of the evil one who would seek to draw us away from him.

Paradoxically, we keep ourselves in the love of God in the recognition that we have no power in ourselves, the power is to be found entirely in him. It's not about us, it's all about him.

Father God, we thank you for your great love for us, set upon us before the world began. Lord Jesus, we thank you that you loved us so much that you left your place in glory to come into this world to save us. We thank you that you have made us your own through your death for us and have given us life through your resurrection from the dead. We thank you for the gift of your Spirit, assuring us that we are much loved children and giving us the desire and the power to go on following you. We praise you, our Triune God, with the words with which Jude concludes his letter; "To him who is able to keep [us] from stumbling and to present [us] before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen" (1:24-25).

Peter Misselbrook