“To those who are the called, beloved of God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ… contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” This is how Jude began his letter. He was writing to the Church charging them to fight for the faith. He did not want people just showing up to church – Sunday Christians were of no use to his mission. His mission was to fight for the faith. He needed individuals committed to this calling and committed to Jesus, because the opposition was great. Even among those who claimed to be a part of the church there were those who were not real Christians. They perverted the grace of God into a license for sin, and hated that Jesus is Lord. These individuals were rebellious, and comparable to the likes of the unbelieving Jews in the wilderness, fallen angels, Sodom and Gomorrah, unreasoning animals, Cain, Balaam, and Korah. Even Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied about the judgment that these rebellious individuals would face. These individuals were hidden dangers seeking to tear down the church, and remove its doctrinal foundation.
The situation has not changed today. All around us there are those who mock Jesus, and follow after their own lusts. These individuals want to lead us into sin, and cause division within the Church. We must fight the lies of these individuals with the truth of the Gospel just as Jude commanded. This is clear to even the newest of Christians. However, what is not so clear is how we are to fight. We can’t just go around and beat everyone who disagrees with us over the head with our Bibles (even though that is pretty close to what Nehemiah did!). So what are we to do? This is exactly the question that Jude addresses in this last section of his letter. In verses 17-19 we learned that since the beginning the apostles have been warning the church about these wolves in sheep’s clothing, and we must remember that warning. Here in verses 20-21 Jude will give us even more instruction on how we are to fight for the faith. In these verses there is one command (keep yourselves in the love of God), and then three phrases that teach us how to keep ourselves in the love of God (building yourselves up in the holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit; and waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life).
They key to this passage is found in verse 21 where Jude commands his readers to “keep yourselves in the love of God.” This is the main point upon which this passage is built. As we study this passage we will learn what it means to keep ourselves in the love of God, and how to keep ourselves in the love of God. By understanding, and applying Jude’s command we will then be able to fight for the faith.
I. Jude’s command: Keep yourself in the love of God
a. What does it mean to keep?
Jude’s command in this passage is to keep yourselves in the love of God. The question is, what does it mean to keep yourself in the love of God? To answer that question we need to start all the way back in verse 1. There Jude referred to Christians as those who are kept by God for Christ. This is the doctrine of the preservation of the saints, and it simply means that because God is sovereignly in control of all things we can know for certain that He will keep us spiritually safe until the return of Jesus. True Christians cannot loose their salvation. Additionally, true Christians have been saved unto good works. This is why I believe that when Jude says that Christians are kept for Christ he means that true Christians are preserved by God for Christ’s coming kingdom. We are have been saved so that we can be a part of God’s kingdom, and so that we can participate in the work of God’s kingdom. Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches us that Christians have been saved by grace through faith, and this salvation is not of our own works. Ephesians 2:10 then goes on to tell us what we have been saved unto, or to put it another way, we are being kept for:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
So we have been saved so that we can glorify God with our good works, and we will keep that salvation so that God will be glorified in through the fulfillment of His promises.
So, when Jude commands us to keep ourselves in the love of God (v. 21) he is simply commanding us to act like Christians and demonstrate that God has changed us by His grace. In verse 1 we saw the Divine aspect of being kept, and here in verse 21 we see the aspect of human responsibility. Jesus spoke to this responsibility in John 14:15-17:
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you
Here we see that keeping the commandments of Jesus demonstrates that the Spirit is abiding within us. Thus, the human act of keeping demonstrates the Divine work of keeping.
Within this same discourse in John Jesus also said:
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:9-10)
Here Jesus commands us to abide in His love; He then goes on to explain that we abide in His love by keeping His commandments. From the last passage we know that when we keep His commandments the Spirit will abide in us; and thus when the Spirit is abiding in us then we are abiding in the love of God.
When Jude tells us to keep ourselves in the love of God he is essentially telling us to live like real Christians, and demonstrate God’s work in our lives through God-glorifying actions.