Jude - Third in a series
Jude warns his brothers and sisters about so-called Christians who have infiltrated their church to pollute and overthrow it, and urges them to contend for the faith.
To ready them for this alarm, he begins by reminding them of their stature as members of the body. It is this stature that the Evil One wildly despises. Believers are:
- sanctified, loved of God,
- preserved in Jesus Christ, and
- called. (Jude 1:1)
As we saw in the previous post, the love of God that sanctifies is welcoming and faithful though all others forsake us, not permissive or short-sighted, but forgiving, upbuilding, and it is unending.
The second concept, that of being preserved in Christ, is, like the first, expressed in the Greek "perfect tense" which as in English, "describes an action… having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated." (ref, studylight.org Interlinear Bible)
Some Bible translations read kept for Christ and others, preserved in Jesus Christ. If I am kept for Christ, it is the Father who works, but if by him, then it is Christ working— so which is it?
Here is a reply from the "Divines" who joined together in the 17th century to ruminate all of Scripture and distill the essential doctrines of the Christian faith in what we now call The Westminster Confession. Our preservation is assured because it is based on:
- The unchangeable mind of our loving God: Those whom he predestined he also called, and those who are called he has justified, and those who are justified are glorified. (Rom 8:30)
- The merit and intercession of Christ. (John 3:16; Heb 7:25)
- The abiding of God's Holy Spirit in our hearts. (John 14:26) (See Westminster Confession, Chapter XVII, www.reformed.org)
The summary statements in a good Confession and their attendant scriptures are helpful as a defense against those who would overturn the church in any century whether they be humans or rulers of darkness (Eph 6:12).
A good illustration in Scripture of a believer who was preserved by and for Christ is Peter. Though he denied Christ at the critical moment, he was forgiven and became a church leader. Preservation does not equal continually abiding but God is faithful.
Jude's third word for believers in the KJV is Called, however it precedes the other two in practice as well as in many Bible translations. The Christian's heart is awakened by God's Spirit calling him or her to come near and to follow closely. This call must provoke a certain fear and result in a thirst for finding out what is in God's Word. It will engender a desire to pray and to hear more from God. Eventually, it will lead to a hunger for friendship and community with other believers.
Of course, this last phase is often disturbed by the situation Jude describes, where certain people creep in to spoil the fellowship as we will see. This is why studying Jude’s letter is as relevant now as it was in the first century, for our security in Christ will be menaced and can be eroded when we are off guard.