Jude 1: 1-25
Pastor Kenny Lee
I want to talk you about the church since we are moving into a new building in two weeks. Our church is experiencing growth, which is wonderful. I say that with some hesitation because in my heart of hearts I don’t really care about how many people come in. I care about forming relationship. I am interested in raising up disciples. I am crazy about getting to know you guys more. I pray that as our church grows we never loose sight of that. This week and next week we will be talking about Scripture’s convictions about the church. I thought long and hard, I talked with Pastor Kwon and Pastor Brendon, and I did some praying about what we need. This led me to Jude.
A REASON FOR URGENCY
Who is Jude? He is the half brother of Jesus. “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.” We know James is the half-brother of Jesus, so that makes Jude one of the brothers of Jesus. Does Jude have something to say? Yes! He is desperate. He writes with a sense of urgency. I’d like to examine his urgency. Jude 1:3, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude would love to talk about salvation and he would love to talk about how God loves us. He would love to focus only on these pleasant things. “You wanna go hang out, yeah? Let’s talk about sports! Let’s talk about shopping! That would be great.” Trust me I would love to talk about those things. I have hung out with you guys and talked about that stuff. But, there are things urgent that you need to hear. There are subjects that need to be talked about like hell, insecurity, death, and everything leading up to these things. I’m afraid we cannot avoid these issues. If we did, I wouldn’t be doing my job. Same thing with Jude, if he does not talk about this he wouldn’t be doing his job as a Christian. Not me just as a pastor, not Jude as one of the apostles, just as Christians we wouldn’t be doing our job.
What’s the urgency? “4For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Certain people are coming to the church, including the leadership of the church, and are perverting the grace of God into sensuality. Back in those days and even now we hear, “There is freedom in Christ. We don’t have to keep up with those ten laws. God saved us once and for all. Jesus Christ died for all our sins- past, present, and future. It’s all right. We can do whatever we want.” Jude is asking, “Is that the reason Jesus Christ died?” These people who are infiltrating the church are perverting the grace of God into whatever they want. They were denying Jesus Christ. In other words, they were using Jesus Christ, and weren’t submitting under the teaching of Jesus Christ. They were taking advantage of God’s grace and setting aside God’s authority- picking and choosing whatever they like. Jude is talking about the leaders, but this applies to you too. You need to listen. You need to wake up. Jude is telling you that. I don’t care where you are in your spiritual walk. If you don’t have a spiritual walk, then you have issues. If you don’t have a spiritual walk I’d like to ask, why are you here? You’re not here because everything is going right in your life. The only reason why you are is because there is something not right in your life. “Oh well, my mom and dad forced me.” Yeah, there’s something not right because your mom and dad forced you to come. There is a reason why you’re here. For that reason alone, listen. I’m telling you, I’m not speaking out of my own authority. Just to prove it to you look at these words with me. Why is Jude talking to everyone here? If you are a Christian, you know that Jesus Christ is your Savior and saved you. Jude is reminding you, “5Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day- 7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, served as example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” Why does Jude write something like this? Even though you come to church, doesn’t mean you’re a Christian. Your salvation has nothing to do with whether your mom or dad is on church leadership. Just because you’re a pastor that doesn’t mean you’re saved. There are many pastors and church members in this world that are not going to make it. Don’t assume that. Jude is talking about this. Right now this is #realtalk.
CHARACTERISTICS OF OPPOSITION
What are the marks of these kinds of people? There has to be some tell tale signs. Jude gives them. In verse 8, “Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’ But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.” In our culture we see that as a reality. “I had a dream about you yesterday. Are you okay? God gave me a dream telling me you shouldn’t do this or that.” They go by their emotions and feelings. They somehow think that their feelings and emotions are okay. Don’t get me wrong emotions are not bad. God gave you these emotions. I’m an emotional guy. If I see a sad tale I might water up a little bit here and there. If you are led by your emotions and they guide your thoughts and actions, that’s not good. You hang out with your buddy 24/7 and it feels good, but it just ain’t good for you. Staying up late watching Youtube, it’s pretty pleasurable for some, but it ain’t good the next day when you have to go to school. They think that this flesh belongs to them somehow. If you are a Christian that means Jesus Christ owns you. Wake up! A lot of young people have pursuits of being a professional. I hope you get what you want. I would love to see your face then, because you’ll notice that it will be a bitter disappointment. Yesterday I saw a TED talk of this guy who wanted to tell you about your purpose in life. He graduated from Yale and had just gone to a 20th annual reunion. He had talked to his classmates and 80 percent of them were unhappy. All his classmates had their first career, second career, multiple houses, the perfect spouse, etc. At the end of it those classmates said, “I’m past midlife and I’m unhappy.” These people rely on their dreams and defile the flesh. They reject authority. They somehow think they know. They reject people God has placed in their life. They are contending with the devil. Eventually what happens is that they blaspheme God Himself, the ultimate authority. David Helm in his book says, “The message is clear when we succumb to the temptation of this world we find ourselves living however we like. We reject authority. We hate being told what to do. We won’t obey.” Look, I can’t force you to do anything. I’m a pastor. My job is to bless you, but I can’t bless you until you allow it.
C.S. Lewis in his book The Screwtape Letters writes about a senior demon talking to a junior demon. Uncle Screwtape talks to the younger demon and says, “Indeed, the safest road to hell is the gradual one. The gentle slopes, softer underfoot, without sudden turning, without milestone, without signpost… you’re affectionate Uncle Screwtape.” Do you know what that means? C.S. Lewis is saying the path to hell is very gradual. “It’s okay you don’t have to come to church on Sunday.” “You can skip Bible study.” “Yeah, those people are mean, you’re right.” “You don’t have to try, relax.” “You don’t feel like going, it’s just one Bible study.” These kinds of thoughts are infectious. That’s the reason why Jude writes this letter. These people are dangerous. We are dangerous! In verse 12, “These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead uprooted.” We have love feasts every week. A love feast is fellowship. Jude is saying that these people are “hidden reefs”. When a ship hits a bunch of reefs, they catch the ship and put holes into it taking down the whole ship. He also describes them as “waterless clouds.” What’s so bad about waterless clouds? If you lived in the Sahara Dessert a waterless cloud would be the worst. You see the cloud in the sky, but in the end it is useless. You’re still looking for rain. These people are useless. They are like fruitless trees. Jude is reminding them that these people are in their midst. They are bold in their teaching. They are only concerned about themselves.
A CALL TO WAKE UP
Jude is saying that they will be judge. I get a little scared when I see that. Jude is talking about leaders. I really think Jude is talking about Christians, because all Christians are leaders. Do you know that? All Christians are called to disciple. You are included in this. Listen! In verse 14 it says that God will judge, “It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Who are these people? They are grumblers. They are never satisfied. They complain all the time. They are malcontent. I know around this time people are coming to your mind. Get that out of your head. The person I want you to see is your face. Take a selfie. I want you to picture yourself. “16…following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouth boasters..” “Oh Look at me, I’m smart and amazing.” Stop doing that. Can we do that for you? Can you let the church brag about you? They show favoritism. In other words, they form cliques. You know why? They are so insecure. They have to feed themselves somehow. It’s so prominent that we have movies about it, Mean Girls. They have a genre of this because it’s so prominent. Their insecurities make them boast about themselves. Jude tells you to remember, “17But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He is telling us to listen and remember the words of Scripture, the words of God. Lean not on your own understanding or emotions. Here is the way it doesn’t work. In the world, our emotions, dreams, and desires lead our actions, which forms our thinking. Scripture tells you to look at what God wants you to do and think about it. “God loves me so much that he would send his one and only Son to die for me.” You see how emotional that can be. What if somebody loved you so much that he would die for you? That has to cause some kind of emotion. It is your thinking about God and what He has done that causes your emotions to overflow and act. It is the very opposite of what the world tells you to do. Obey the word of the Lord. Stop leaning on your own thinking. God places leaders and people over your life.
In verse 18, “They said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” That’s not a surprise. God knows that there will be scoffers who do what they want. He knows what they will chase after. Does that describe you? Probably. Because of that I’m telling you they are divisions. There are people who are for God and are against God. “19It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” Yet, Jude says this, “20But you, beloved building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22And have mercy on those who doubt; save other by snatching them out of the fire; to other show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” In one word this all means to work. I understand in our theological position, in our reformed theology of “once saved always saved”, we might think we don’t have to do anything. That’s not what Jude is saying. He is saying to work towards your salvation. I am 43 years old. I hit middle-aged. I can’t believe it. I feel like I was 20 yesterday. I have lived half of my life. It goes quick. You think you are going to stay young? Most of y’all lived a quarter of your life and you don’t even remember it. Judgment is coming quickly. Wake up! You have to work. But Jude is saying “beloved build yourselves up.” It’s an urgent plea.
My dear beloved CCC, build yourselves up, keep yourselves in the love of God, wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.” You see those action words. Faith requires action. Obey. Build. Keep yourselves. Wait. Be patient. Have Mercy. We read “have mercy on those who doubt” and think we should all be nice, and become so tolerant to a fault. There are times when you have mercy. They are times when you look at a person and snatch them up because they are doing something so harmful for them. They are times when you show mercy with fear. “You better do it because you’re going to hell. You better obey because judgment is coming.” You even hate the garments stained by the flesh. How do we gage that? You have to know them and build a relationship with them. That takes love and wisdom.
BLAMELESS IN CHRIST
I don’t want to leave you with just this and Jude doesn’t either. Jude redeems his status as the nice guy by saying one of the most beautiful words in all of Scripture, “24Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” He ends with a glorious word. Do you know that Jesus is able to keep you from stumbling? He is the Christ. He will present us to God as blameless. He will do that with great joy. How is Jesus Christ able to do this? When you have a relationship with Christ, you know that he died for you? He didn’t die for everyone. He died for you by name. He elected you by name. Come back. Are you ruled by Him? If you believe, you’ll submit and trust. He will keep you from stumbling. He will present you as blameless. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to His authority.