Apostacy and God's Elect
Book ( Epistle) of Jude:
A. The Analysis of the Epistle
The book of Jude is probably one of the most neglected books in the Bible. In spite of its short length, it is extremely important. The beginning of the Church Age is described in the Acts of the Apostles; its end is dealt with in the Epistle of Jude (which somebody has titled, "The Acts of the Apostates"). The book of Acts describes the deeds and teachings of men of God who began to build the church, and Jude, the last New Testament epistle, relates the deeds and teachings of evil men who will be living when the Church Age comes to an end. In fact, it is the only book in the Bible that is devoted to discussing the great apostasy (departure from the faith) that is to come before the return of Jesus Christ. In the gospels, our Lord predicted that people under the name of Christianity would turn their backs on the truth. Paul, Peter, and John, along with Jude and James explicitly state or imply the reality of that apostasy. The Epistle of Jude plays a very important part in developing a complete understanding of that event. It details God's attitude toward those who depart from the faith.
In Luke 18:8, the Lord asked, "...when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" In other words, when the Lord returns, will there be anybody left who still believes in the truth? Sometimes we wonder. In 1 Timothy 4:1, the Apostle Paul indicated that "in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith...." In 2 Timothy 4:3, he said there would come a time when people "will not endure sound doctrine but, after their own lusts, shall they heap to themselves [false] teachers...." Much of the New Testament talks about apostasy, and Jude is the climax.
The current widespread denial of the Bible as God's authoritative revelation is nothing but a prelude to the final and terrible apostasy referred to by our Lord and the New Testament writers. It is important for us to understand the Epistle of Jude because of its application to our day, when the waves of apostasy keep rolling in higher and higher. It is a tremendous warning against the moral and spiritual degeneracy of the professing church that departs from the truth.
B. The Author of the Epistle
The first verse of the epistle tells us that Jude wrote it. The Greek name is literally Judas. I am sure the King James translators, who originally called it Jude, didn't want to call it "Judas" for the obvious reason that the name Judas is so despised. The title of Jude has appropriately remained in use in the more recent English translations. It is ironic that the one book in the New Testament on apostasy has the same name as the greatest apostate in Scripture--Judas Iscariot.
1. HIS IDENTITY
Jude identifies himself as "the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James" (v. 1). Who was that man? There are five men in the New Testament named Judas. Two of the five were apostles: Judas Iscariot and Judas the son of James (Lk. 6:16).
The other are not as well-known. Let us take a brief look at each one.
a. Judas of Damascus (Ac. 9:11)
The Lord instructed Ananias to go to Judas's house to find Saul of Tarsus after his conversion on the road to Damascus.
b. Judas Barsabas (Ac. 15:22)
This man was a leader in the early church. He accompanied Silas to Antioch to tell the Christians there what the Jerusalem counsel had decided about the relationship of the Gentiles to the law.
c. Judas Iscariot (Mt. 26:14-16)
This Judas was the apostate of all apostates.
d. Judas (not Iscariot) (Jn. 14:22)
This Apostle is also known as Lebbeus and Thaddeus (Mt. 10:3). He is identified as "the brother of James" in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13 in the King James Version. Therefore, some people think that he is the one who wrote the Epistle of Jude. The problem with that conclusion is that the word for brother does not appear in those two verses in the Greek manuscripts. The Greek is best rendered, "the son of James" (literally, "Judas of James"). The Apostle Judas was not the brother of James. Rather, he was the son of another man named James.
Knowing that those Judases were not brothers of James, we come lastly to...
e. Judas, the Lord's Brother (Mt. 13:55)
1) The Evidence
The Lord Jesus had brothers in spite of the fact that many people get very upset when you admit that. In Matthew 13:55 we meet four of them: "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And His brethren, James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Judas?" Those four were half brothers of Jesus, because our Lord was virgin born. They were the children of Joseph and Mary. Although we don't know anything more about Joseph and Simon, we know a lot more about James. He became the head of the Jerusalem church and wrote the epistle bearing his name. We know a little about Judas, the brother of James and half brother of the Lord Jesus. He is best understood as the one who wrote the book of Jude because of his identification with James, the Lord's half brother, who would have been the only James (besides the previously martyred Apostle James) that Jude's readers would have easily recognized. In Mark 6:3, we even find that Jesus had sisters as well: "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joseph, and of Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?..."
2) The Explanation
a) The Servant of Jesus
Some people have wondered why Jude, if he was the brother of Jesus, didn't say so in his epistle. Why did he identify himself as the "servant of Jesus"? The answer is simple. The death and resurrection of Christ had the effect of changing all the people who were related to Jesus Christ in a drastic way. All family relationships were set aside. Christ became to them a spiritual Savior, not a physically related individual. In Mark 3, Jesus gave a preview of that spiritual relationship. He was teaching in a particular house that was crowded with people. When His mother and brothers arrived and called for Him outside, Jesus made a startling statement: " Who is My mother, or My brethren? And He looked round about on those who sat about Him, and said, Behold My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and my sister, and mother." (vv. 33-35). Jesus was saying, "It's fine for a while to think of Me in a family relationship, but all of that has to change." Eventually Jesus' own mother and half brothers and half sisters had to see Him not as their brother anymore, but as their Redeemer.
Furthermore, I think Jude was a humble man. For him to announce that he was the brother of Jesus may have sounded like bragging, so he restrained himself from doing that. Jesus was not only Jude's brother; He was his Savior and Lord. Jude was therefore Jesus' slave (Gk. doulos). In his new relationship with Christ, the natural ties diminished.
b) The Brother of James
James, the brother of Jude and the half brother of Jesus, was the leader of the Jerusalem church. When Jude identified himself as the "brother of James", he immediately acquired a lot of credibility, because James was a well-known man and an outstanding leader. That would help people listen to what he had to say.
I think it is an interesting footnote that when James wrote his epistle, he humbly said that he was "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ..." (v. 1). He too, was the half brother of Jesus, but he didn't draw any attention to that fact. Like Jude, he recognized that the family relationship didn't matter anymore.
The brothers of Jesus didn't consider themselves servants of Jesus until they had experienced a major change in their lives. Apparently, the brothers had grown up resenting Jesus. John 7:5 says, "For neither did His brethren believe in Him." Jesus' brothers mocked Him in verses 2-4, not really believing that He was the Messiah. Yet, their lives were transformed at some point, for both James and Jude changed from those who resented Jesus to those who were willing to be His servants. Somewhere along the line, they were converted. I believe it probably happened after the resurrection. Jesus appeared to James after He rose from the dead according to 1 Corinthians 15. That appearance must have finally convinced the two brothers, who then saw themselves as servants of Jesus Christ.
2. HIS INTENT
a. Salvation Sidetracked
As Jude began his epistle, he apparently got sidetracked from what he intended to say. He started out by saying, "...to them that are sanctified by God, the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: mercy unto you, and peace, and love be multiplied. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith..." (vv. 1-4). In other words he said,
"3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. " .
b. Security Stressed
The Epistle of Jude begins and ends with tremendous statements on security: "...to them that are sanctified [or `beloved,' according to the best Greek manuscripts] by God, the Father, and preserved [or, `kept'] in Jesus Christ, and called: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love be multiplied" (vv. 1-2). The reality that is emphasized in those verses is the security of the Christian. A believer in Christ is one who has been called, beloved, kept, and blessed by God. The epistle also closes with that theme in verses 24-25: "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." In effect, Jude is saying, "Christian, I am telling you at the beginning and I am reiterating at the end that apostasy will have no affect on you. There is no need to fear the decline of the faith and the rise of heresy, because you are kept by God." Jude surrounds his comments on apostasy with two great promises on the security of the child of God in Jesus Christ. When we see people rejecting Christianity, we might wonder what would happen if some Christians were dragged away into the terrible apostasy. Jude's answer resounds in the first and last statements of his epistle: "A Christian is kept by God." Can a Christian lose his salvation as a result of apostasy? That is the issue that Jude deals with.
In the opening verses, Jude gives four great truths that give security to the Christian: they are called, loved, kept, and blessed by God. Let's begin with the fact that Christians are...I. CALLED (v. 1d)
"...to them that are...called"
Notice that the word called appears at the end of the verse. That position in a sentence was used by the Greeks for emphasis. When translated into modern English, called should come first, because we emphasize what is first. Thus it should read: "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are the called ones." A Christian is somebody who is called. That is the first great security of the Christian. He has been called by God. A Christian's salvation isn't something that he dreams up on his own; rather, it is an act of God. A. The Analysis of the Call
In relationship to salvation, the word called has two meanings. The general external call and the efficacious internal call are both found in one verse: "For many are called, but few are chosen" (Mt. 22:14). There is a difference between them so let me begin by describing...
1. THE GENERAL EXTERNAL CALL
The Bible refers to the general call as the preaching of the gospel:
1) Isaiah 45:22--"Look unto Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth...."
2) Isaiah 55:6--"Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near." That was the heralding cry of the prophet to all who would hear.
3) Ezekiel 33:11--"...I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn from your evil ways; for why will ye die?..." Again, we see the general call to the people of Israel to return to God in faithfulness.
4) Matthew 11:28--Jesus said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
5) John 7:37-38--Jesus stood up in Jerusalem while water was being poured out at the Feast of Tabernacles, and said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink....of living water."
6) Revelation 22:17--"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
7) Romans 10:17-18--The Apostle Paul said that faith comes by hearing a message about Christ. He indicated that Israel had heard the message of the general call: "But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went out into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world" (v. 18).
However, that general, external call, whether given by a preacher, a prophet, or Jesus Himself, can be...
It is common for people to resist the general call of God. Many examples are recorded in the New Testament alone:
1) Luke 14:16-23--Jesus told a parable to the lawyers and Pharisees about how Israel had rejected the call of God. "Then said He unto him, A certain man gave a great supper, and bade many. And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it; I pray thee, have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee, have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and, therefore, I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor, and the maimed, and the lame, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." When Israel as a nation rejected God's call, God extended it to anybody who would come.
2) Matthew 23:37--Jesus looked over Jerusalem and said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them who are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Jesus had offered the Kingdom to the people of Israel, but they rejected His call.
3) John 5:40--To the Jewish leaders who sought to slay Him (v. 16), Jesus said, "And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life."
4) Acts 7:51--"Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit...." The Jerusalem council rejected the truth of Stephen's indictment and stoned him to death.
The general call goes out over the world. People can reject it or accept it. They should hear the gospel and accept the call of God it contains. Hebrews 12:25 says, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth [Moses], much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven." Rather than resisting the call, we should obey it when we hear it. Those are the only two responses. Second Corinthians 2:16 says that the preaching of the gospel brings about a fragrance of "death unto death," or a fragrance of "life unto life." The preaching of the gospel, if rejected, takes a man from bad to worse. If it is accepted, it takes him from good to better. So a man can listen and receive the general call, or he can reject it.
Those who receive that external call are then given a second call:
2. THE EFFICACIOUS INTERNAL CALL
a. Romans 1:7--"To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints...."
b. 1 Corinthians 1:2, 23-24--"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints....we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness; but unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God." It is obvious that the call in those verses has to be different from the general one, because it says that all who are called discover that Christ is the power and wisdom of God. Therefore, that second call is the call of salvation.
c. 1 Peter 1:15--"But, as He who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of life." There Peter is talking about the call that brought about salvation.
The people who respond to the second call are called the elect in the Bible because they have been chosen by God.
d. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14--But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, unto which He called you by our gospel...." That is the efficacious, internal call that results in salvation and cannot be rejected.
1) The Divine Call
God moves into a life that has accepted the general call, and brings about salvation. According to the previous verse, the Father is the source of the call, and the Holy Spirit is the agency.
2) The Human Response
The efficacious call also involves a human response. When God moves to change a life, there will be agreement in a person's heart. We will accept the call of God and obey it in coming to Christ. Revelation 17:14 refers to Christians as the "called, and chosen, and faithful." God chooses and calls, and we respond with faith. God's efficacious call cannot be resisted. When He calls a person to salvation, that person is hooked for eternity!
e. Romans 8:28-30--"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (v. 28). The called experience all things working together for good. That requires the call to be the equivalent of salvation. People can't be called and therefore not saved, and yet have everything work out for their good. If all things work together for good to them that are called, then the ones that are called are saved.
In verses 29-30, we see why that call cannot be resisted. "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified." The called are the saved who will be glorified.
Romans 11:29 says that "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." God doesn't change His mind. Somebody might ask, "What if God calls, but you change your mind and want out?" No, you wouldn't change your mind, because God's call is irresistible, and God certainly wouldn't change His mind because His callings are without repentance.B. The Application of the Call
1. ITS PURPOSE
If you are a Christian, it is because of two things: First, at some time you heard the external call of the gospel; second, you responded to the internal call of God that redeemed you. Those who are efficaciously called by God are set apart for Him. That calling is stated in a variety of ways: 2 Timothy 1:9 calls it "an holy calling"; Philippians 3:14 calls it "the high calling"; and Hebrews 3:1 calls it "the heavenly calling." The Bible describes that calling in beautiful terms. It says that a Christian is:
a. called to fellowship with the Son (1 Cor. 1:9)
b. called to inherit a blessing (1 Pet. 3:9)
c. called to freedom (Gal. 5:13)
d. called to peace (1 Cor. 7:15)
e. called to holiness ( 1 Thess. 4:7 )
f. called to a worthy walk (Eph. 4:1)
g. called to one hope (Eph. 4:4)
h. called to eternal life (1 Tim. 6:12)
Those things comprise the call of God and bring about a sure salvation. For whomever God calls, He justifies; whomever He justifies, He will glorify! There are no gaps in that divine process. That is why Jude is saying, "Don't worry; you are the called. If God preordained you to be called in eternity past, then He will also glorify you." Our first security against being washed away in the tide of apostasy is the fact that we are the called. God doesn't change His mind.
2. ITS PICTURE
Spurgeon, a famous English preacher of the 19th century, said, "The general call of the gospel is like the sheet lightning we sometimes see on a summer's evening--beautiful, grand--but whoever heard of anybody being struck by it? But the special call is the forked flash from heaven; it strikes somewhere. It is the arrow shot between the joints of the harness." When a person hears a general presentation of the gospel, he can accept it or reject it. But when the Spirit of God moves in and transforms a life, the person responds to that efficacious call and becomes one of "the called." Galatians 5:13 says, "...ye have been called unto liberty...." The shackles of sin are broken; a person is set free when he receives the effectual call of God. It is an eternal call, and God promises that everybody who is called is justified and also glorified-- nothing can break down that process.
What if I'm not called?
That's a fair question. Spurgeon was once asked, "Why don't you just preach to the called, the ones who are elect?" He said, "If you will pull up everybody's shirttails so I can see if they have an E stamped on their back, I will." Only God knows if someone is called. But don't let that discourage you because John 6:37 says, "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." Jesus said, "Don't worry about whether you are called or not. If you want to come, I'll take you." That's a beautiful truth. I admit its hard to understand. I don't fully understand how my personal decision for Christ relates to His absolute divine sovereignty in the calling process. But that's His problem and I'm going to leave it with Him. People are always trying to resolve the paradoxes involved in predestination. It can't be done. If you try, you may end up under your bed saying the Greek alphabet! Our finite minds can't fully comprehend every divine truth, so just accept it. But I'll tell you one thing: I am glad He didn't say, "All of you that are the called, please come." Rather, He said, "Anybody can come who wants to. I'll take care of how that works out in the sovereign decree. Don't worry about that--just come to Me."
We're the called. Isn't it great to know that when you do come, you can have the assurance of knowing that "He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4), and has set you apart for His glory forever. What a security!
Let's look at the second security:
II. BELOVED (v. 1b)
...to them that are sanctified by [beloved in ] God, the Father..."A. The Expression of God's Love
One of the most fantastic things to realize is that God the Father considers me beloved. The better Greek manuscripts use a word that means beloved rather than sanctified. Beloved is a perfect participle. The perfect tense is used to express past action with a continuous result. That tells me that God loved me in the past and that His love has continuing results--it can't change. Do you know that before I was ever born--and even before anything was ever created--I was first loved by God? He set His affections on me and then demonstrated that love at Calvary when He sent the Lord Jesus Christ to die as my substitute. Again He manifested that love to me the day I came to trust in Him, and He forgave my sin. It's exciting for me to know that I am one of the beloved of the Father!
1. JOHN 14:23--"Jesus answered, and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." I've kept the words of Jesus by accepting His truth and acknowledging Him as my Savior.
2. JOHN 16:27--"For the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me...." If you love the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are one of the beloved of the Father.
3. JOHN 17:22-23--"And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me." How much does the Father love me? As much as He loves Christ.
4. EPHESIANS 1:6--I have been "accepted in the Beloved." He loves me because I am in Christ, and He loves me in the same way that He loves Christ.
5. EPHESIANS 2:4-5--"But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath made us alive together with Christ...." God's love is a supreme kind of love beyond what we could even dream.
Why you can't lose your salvation
God takes care of us because He loves us. People sometimes ask, "How do you know that you are secure and won't lose your salvation?" I know that because of two things: God loves me just as much as He loves Jesus Christ, and therefore doesn't want to let me go. Second, He has the power to hang on to me. So with the combination of absolute power and absolute love, I have absolute security. If He loved me when I hated Him, and sent Jesus to secure my salvation when I hated him, then surely He loves me enough to keep me now that I love Him, even though I fail Him. He loves me enough to make me His son and then keep me as His son-- and has the power to do it. What love!B. The Extent of God's Love
God's love is exhibited in the death of Christ. I can't imagine that He would pay such a price to love me, but then lose me along the way. His love is permanent. We learn that from such verses as:
1. ROMANS 8:38-39--He is not going to grow cold in his love for me. He'll always love me the same, because He always loves Christ the same, and I'm in Christ. That verse says, "For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation, shall be able to separate us from the love of God...." There isn't anything that can separate us from the love of God. Not only are we called, but we are loved by the Father.
2. JEREMIAH 31:3--This is a great statement about God's unending love: "The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore, with loving-kindness have I drawn thee."
3. ISAIAH 49:15-16--"Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have engraved thee upon the palms of My hands...." God says, "Would a mother ever forget her nursing baby? Not likely. But even if she did, I would never forget you, for you are My children, and your names are in My hands."
What shall separate us from the love that the Father has bestowed upon us? Absolutely nothing. We're secure in the midst of apostasy. Heresy may come and go. False teachers may flood the world. You and I, as Christians, are secure because we are called, and whoever is called is justified and glorified. Whoever is beloved of God in Christ is beloved forever. Romans 5:10 says, "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." In other words, if the death of Christ could save us, then the life of Christ can surely keep us. If a dead Savior hanging on a cross could take away our sin, then imagine the power that a living One has!
III. KEPT (v. 1c)
"...and preserved [kept] in Jesus Christ..."
That phrase can be translated in the dative or the instrumental case. I prefer the latter, which would render the word, "in" as by--"kept by Jesus Christ." The Greek verb is tereo, which means "to watch, stand guard over, or keep." It stresses a watchful care to guard something as cherished as a priceless treasure. Do you know how secure I am? Just as secure as the power of the Lord Jesus Christ who keeps me. That is a fantastic concept! This keeping is permanent, as the following verses show:
A. The Evidence
1. JOHN 10:28-29--Referring to those who believe in Him, Jesus said, "...they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, who gave them to Me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand." If you ever have doubts about your salvation, then you will also have doubts about the power of Christ.
2. 2 TIMOTHY 4:18--"And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom...." Now that's some preservation! The promise of God is that He will keep us.
3. 2 TIMOTHY 1:12--"...for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."
4. JOHN 17:11--In His high priestly prayer, Jesus said, "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me...." Do you think Jesus ever prayed out of the will of God? No. Then if Jesus prayed "Father keep them," that was God's will, and we know that God accomplishes His will. In verse 15 of the same chapter, Jesus similarly prayed, "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil one."B. The Explanation
It is an exciting thing to realize that we are kept by Jesus Christ. You say, "But how does He do it?" The book of Hebrews tells us that He is presently at the right hand of the Father taking care of everything for the believer: "He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (7:25). Intercession means that Jesus is pleading our case before the Father: "I know they sinned, but I've covered their sins with My blood." Satan accuses the brethren according to Revelation, but Christ comes to their aid and says, "They stand under no condemnation for the penalty of their sin because it has been paid by My death on the cross." A Christian's sins are forgiven instantly through the interceding work of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 9:24 says that Christ appears "in the presence of God for us." Isn't that incredible? He is up there explaining me to the Father: "I know all about his failures, but he is covered." Our spiritual life insurance policy is eternal!
What are the reasons for the Christian's security? He is called, he is beloved, he is kept, and he is...
IV. BLESSED (v. 2)
"Mercy unto you, and peace, and love be multiplied."
What does the Lord keep multiplying to us? He keeps giving mercy, peace, and love. You say, "What could cause me to lose my salvation? Could it be sin?" No, because whenever sin appears, God gives us mercy. Our sin could never stand in the way because he gives us mercy to take care of it.
"Maybe it is possible that I could begin to doubt God and experience anxieties and confusion," you say. But when we get to the place where we doubt and struggle in our belief, He gives us peace. So that couldn't be the problem that could cause us to lose our salvation.
"There is one other way," you might think: "What if I stopped loving Him." But then love would be multiplied to you. Whatever you are lacking, He gives to you. That is why you are secure in Christ--God keeps taking up the slack. In that outpouring of God's blessing, there is just another guarantee of the believer's security.
The fearful apostasy is upon us, and it is going to get worse. Someday Satan's demons are going to flourish in the world and false teachers are going to be even worse than they are now, propagating "damnable heresies" (2 Pet. 2:1). The churches are going to be loaded with apostates denying the truth. Therefore, we need to contend for the faith, as Jude said in verse 3. There is no use fearing, for we are the called, the beloved, the kept, and the blessed. When the day comes that we all go to meet with Jesus Christ, every true believer will be there, because of "Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (v. 3). Not only are we going to get to heaven, but guess who is going to be happy when we arrive? God Himself! So we have nothing to fear, and yet that is not an excuse for sin. The outpouring of God's loving, grateful heart ought to be the reason for our holiness. For One who would do all that He did for you, deserves all that you can give to Him.
Pondering the Principles
1. As you have shared the gospel with others, have you found that people are often preoccupied with things of lesser importance? The servant in the parable of Luke 14 was instructed to bring the invited guests to his lord's banquet. However, he was met with excuses. What can you learn from the servant who faced that opposition? Have you given up sharing the gospel because you have heard so many negative responses? Don't despair, because there is plenty of room for those who recognize their need for a savior. Pray that God would open some new doors for you to be servants and soldiers for the Kingdom of heaven.
2. Meditate upon the love of God in 1 John 4:7-12. What should characterize one born of God? (v. 7) Why? How was God's love manifested toward us? Why was it manifested? (v. 9) What is the greatest expression of love? (v. 10) Why do you think that is so? What should be our response to such love? (v. 11) If no one can see God, how can He be manifested to men? (v. 12) In what ways have you expressed the love of God to fellow believers and non-Christians during the past week?