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Wonder and Joy [12-3-23]


December 3, 2023

Jude 8-10

“Wonder and Joy”


How did you learn to swim? When I was a little kid, my dad threw me into the pool, hoping for the best. At least, I hope he did it hoping for the best. Anyway, I obviously survived. By God’s race, I’ve never been afraid of the water. Afraid of my dad…perhaps…but not the water.


Nothing like full immersion as a healthy life-strategy.


When faced with bad theology or degenerate theology, we need to be steeped in what is good and right and true in order to recognize wickedness. When we are fully immersed in the wonder and joy of God’s Word, the wrong-headedness of false teaching will be like water off a duck’s back to us.


I hope you’re with me on that. We don’t get upset or bent out of shape when people who aren’t devoted followers of Jesus Christ criticize the faith or the faithful. It makes us no never mind. We’re not offended or bothered or challenged by those kinds of things. Why would we be? If we know our names have been written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life, why would we care what a pagan thinks or says? The only thing we care about is what happens within the Body of Christ. Foremost in our hearts and minds is what is taught and held dear by the people of Covenant Church, as we are connected to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. When we are fully immersed in the truth of the Bible, nothing but joy and happiness flows into and out of our lives.


Cling to the truth. Persevere. In the midst of an onslaught of untruth thrown at us, hold fast to all that unbelievers reject.


One of the blessings of the Christmas season for believers is that it gives us an intense focus on the beauty of what we believe. Instead of the sweet sentimentality embraced by our culture, we resonate with the wonder and

the joy…with the true beauty of who Jesus is and what he was born to do.


At the other end…far away from where we are spiritually…are those Jude refers to as these dreamers.


What are the dreams of pagans? What are the dreams of unbelievers? What are the dreams of people who reject God’s Word? First and foremost, they base their teachings on their own experiences…on their own intuition…on their own deluded minds…on their own cryptic insights. They come up with their own truths. How many times have you heard someone say, “I have to live my own truth?” They have just made themselves their own god.


Here's something you might want to write down:

THESE DREAMERS BECOME THEIR OWN HIGHER AUTHORITY.

And they are driven, primarily, by two basic things. Love for sin. And rejection of God’s authority.

With that in mind, we get this absolutely beautiful twist from Jude. After he makes his pointed jabs about their arrogance and wretched physical excesses, he pulls back, saying it’s not his place to pass judgment. I love that. He’s called by God to speak Biblical truth. Jude is there to love the true believers in the church. Together they pursue the wonder and joy of walking with Jesus Christ. They have their thing to do.


In the same way, here at Covenant Church, we are living our authentic Christian lives in the specific ways God has called us to live. We are loving and joyful and peaceful and patient and kind and good and faithful and gentle and self-controlled. Our worship reflects what Paul once said, rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. We love our community in tangible ways. We don’t just talk about who we are or what we’d like to do. We do it. Whether it’s our tutoring ministry, The Learning Cove, or Celebrate Recovery, or the 101 boxes filled with Christmas cheer you were a part of through Operation Christmas Child, we are this delightful little church that does what we can to help others. We love each other. And we hold fast to Biblical truth. Like those Christians Jude addresses, we’ve also got our thing to do.

And so Jude leaves judgment up to God. They’re too busy living out of their wonder and joy to take the time to get carried away with what disobedient people do. Remember what I shared several weeks ago. Pagans gonna pagan. We can’t let that overshadow or steal our joy. Jude says God is going to deal with them.


I love this from Zechariah 3:1-2:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”

Who does the judging? Who does the rebuking? Who does the condemning? Not us, that’s for sure. God is the judge. We ought never give wicked people too much space in our minds. We’ve got too much wonder and joy going on in there to bother with them. Leave the final result up to God. Amen?


In the face of those who defile the flesh and reject the Lordship of Jesus

Christ, what do we do? We encourage each other. We double down on

faithfulness to God’s Word. We refuse to get taken in by false teaching.


Here’s how one of my favorite Christmas songs centers us:

O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining It is the night of our dear Savior's birth Long lay the world in sin and error pining 'Til He appears and the soul felt its worth A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn Fall on your knees; O hear the Angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born O night, O Holy night, O night divine!

How wonderful is that? You would have to be some kind of fool to go thinking you can make your own rules or create your own religious belief system or trust your own deluded nature to make right your place in the world. No thank you. We trust in Christ and Christ alone.


That’s what I love so much about our church. We’re not stuck in the

sometimes sentimentality of Bethlehem. We are driven all the way to the

foot of the cross. That’s where Jesus died for our sin. It is only in the cross that the manger finds meaning.


Finally, as strongly as Jude believes false teachers pose an ongoing threat, he never gives them more power than they deserve. He ultimately falls back on two key things:

  • Sound Biblical teaching.

  • And the judgment of God.

Focusing on those two things keeps us rooted in wonder and joy. God is going to feed us. Let Him take care of the rest.


We’re going to stop on that point. We ought to be unconcerned about what unbelievers think, say, and do, as it relates to our security in Christ. Instead, our primary focus ought to be on holding fast to Biblical truth and being a helping and joyful presence in the lives around us. God, in His sovereign wisdom, will address unbelievers.


Jude reminds us of what is most important.

How many of you know who Josh Dobbs is? If you’re not a football fan, the

answer is probably you don’t. Dobbs is now the starting quarterback for the second greatest team in the NFL…the Minnesota Vikings. Prior to last month, he got shuffled from practice squad to practice squad. Then last month, Kirk Cousins suffered a season-ending injury. Cousins’ back-up was then injured, so in came Dobbs.


But that’s not the most important story about Dobbs. Here’s what he says about the most important day in his life:

“That’s the day I got baptized and went public with the decision of shedding my old life and putting on the new and starting a relationship with Jesus Christ…The day will come that I won’t be part of any football team. But the decision I made during my sophomore year in high school – to be a part of Team Jesus – I’ll be part of that team for the rest of my life, and for all eternity.”


With the help of Jude, we grow in our understanding of Biblical truth. And

as we grow, we love each other, we help others, and we worship God in

beauty and light. We’ll close with where Jesus directs our hearts. It’s from

Mark 5:14-20:

The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Jude keeps us in our right mind.


Next week, we’ll take a little excursion to what Charles Spurgeon thought

about Christmas. Until then…

SOLI DEO GLORIA…

To the Glory of God Alone


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