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Survival of the Faithful [12-31-24]

[NOTE: Due to technical glitches, there was no livestream this Sunday]


December 31, 2023

Jude 22-23

“Survival of the Faithful”


Before we get to Jude 22-23, we’re going to recap verse 21. First, here are all three verses:

Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.


Jude has described for us the dangers of living in a broken, wicked, and fallen world. Most people are not devoted followers of Jesus Christ. That’s why we persevere, even joyfully persevere, because we are different, and it’s good to be different. But that’s not the worst of it. We can deal with unbelievers in our culture all day long. Jude’s biggest warning is about apostates…wolves in sheep’s clothing…within the church. They’re the 

biggest threat because they’re a threat to weak or wavering believers.


The first line of defense is to be firm in your faith. From verse twenty-one, here’s something you might want to write down:

KEEP YOURSELVES IN THE LOVE OF GOD.

We get the fullness of a wonderful promise when we hitch Ephesians 2:4-7 to Jude 21:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”


Where does Jude draw our attention? He draws our attention to the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ. That sees us through all kinds of trials, tribulations, temptations, and opposition. Verse twenty-one is about the mercy of all mercies. That is the promise keeping us from falling prey to 

the wickedness of this present age. It is the mercy of all mercies.


I love that phrase, mercy of all mercies. We remember the difference between grace and mercy:

  • Grace = Getting what we don’t deserve.

  • Mercy = No getting what we deserve.

You see the difference, right? We don’t deserve to go to heaven. No one deserves to go to heaven. As Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:15-17:

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

For both Paul and Jude, what is the mercy received? It is that we would receive eternal life.


That’s why Paul burst into a doxology. He proclaims, “To the King of all 

ages…” when he thinks of God’s merciful plan to bring us to heaven. And so, in verse twenty-one, Jude reminds us of God’s mercy. We will live in the cradle of that promise. We live our lives, in a sea of apostacy, facing hostility and opposition from unbelievers, persevering in God’s mercy. We are strengthened, secured, protected, and useful because of God’s mercy. We know that the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ brings eternal life. And so we persevere.


While we persevere, what, then, of those who do not?


Jude gives us approaches to two groups.


The first are the apostates…the wolves in sheep’s clothing…those who with wicked intentionality lead weak and vulnerable people astray. We are to separate ourselves from them. They are not to hold positions of leadership or teaching in the church. God will pronounce eternal judgment on them.


Here’s the in-betweenness of where we’re at. How far do we go to helping 

the vulnerable and how actively do we pursue keeping the false teachers at 

arm’s length?


I love this observation from British musician and Christian Nzube Udezue:

“I used to always try to correct people when I thought they were wrong, or seemingly unwilling to listen to new information. But there’s a lot of peace in allowing people to remain ignorant. You can’t save, help, or teach everybody. Nor is it your responsibility.”


Remember how Jude began. “To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.” It is God who saves. We cannot save ourselves or choose to be saved. It is God’s electing grace which saved us. Here’s how Jesus put it in John 6:65, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” 


The wicked apostates Jude talks about are not in that category. They are not the beloved saints of God. They are lost in their wickedness. In fact, they stand already condemned as they try to corrupt weak and/or marginal believers. So Jude gives us an action plan for helping those folks survive the onslaught of wickedness. Are you with me on that?

This is the group mentioned in verses twenty-two and twenty-three. These 

are the folks who are in jeopardy of falling away. Very kindly and compassionately, Jude says to be patient and gentle with them. When you are assured of your salvation…when you know you will be in the presence of the Risen Christ after you die…you will be confidently comfortable helping those faced with corruption by either false teachers or a wicked culture. Have mercy on those who doubt…save others by snatching them out of the fire. Here’s a plea from Isaiah 55:6-7:

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;    call upon him while he is near;let the wicked forsake his way,    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”


So, here’s what we do, at the end of 2023, in a small church in a small town in Michigan.


First, we hold the line. We don’t drift from Biblical truth. And if you or I 

drift from Biblical truth, we are open and honest about a course correction. We know how to do that. It’s in our church DNA from our foundation, back in 2012.


Here’s something else you might want to write down:

STAY FAITHFUL TO THE TRUTH – DON’T WAVER.

I love how Christian author Megan Basham captures it:

“If someone says you do not need to believe in Jesus to go to heaven, they 

are not a Christian. They do not affirm the creeds. I can’t believe I need to 

say this.”

She probably knows she needs to say that. There are pastors and teachers and authors who do that very thing. More than anything, someone who does believe that, by the grace of God, needs to be in a church like ours. They need to be shepherded by sound Biblical teaching. But they should not be in a leadership position of any kind. We cannot waver from the truth.


Simply put, the mercy that Jude talks about is part of how we never waver 

from the truth. Make no mistake. We all land somewhere on the spectrum 

of the journey of faith. So we do need to be kind and gentle with one another. Not the apostates. Not the wolves in sheep’s clothing. But since none of us is fully matured in the faith, so we ought to have mercy on one and all. Here’s how Charles Spurgeon put it:

“WE NEED TO BE CONTINUALLY BUILT UP – LEARNING MORE, LOVING MORE, AND LIVING MORE THE GRAND TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL.”

We’ll end here.  Until next week:

SOLI DEO GLORIA…

To the Glory of God Alone

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