Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jude: contending; strange books; the love affair between truth and love

So who is this Jude fellow? Self-identified as the “brother of James”, he is probably either the apostle Judah or a son of Mary and Joseph and brother of James, the Lord’s brother. 

Jude says he WANTS to talk about the salvation they share – Amazing Grace, isn’t the Lord good? – but he has something even more critical to discuss: false teachers.  He urges all believers “to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people”. Down through history, the Christian church has not been lacking for people willing to be contentious. Fortunately many of them have been willing to contend for “the faith that was once for all entrusted” to the best of their understanding in firmness and humility.

Many, perhaps even most of the New Testament warnings of hellfire are aimed at false teachers spreading corruption from within the Body, be it Israel or the church. That would be an interesting study, sometime. As James says, teachers will be held to a higher standard.  These days, how do you get rid of a cancer (good cells turned bad, and growing?). You burn it with radioactive fire.

Jude uses non-canonical religious literature to make a point. That accounts for the (to me) strange references to Enoch and Michael. It’s like me citing “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. I’m not saying Chambers is inspired, but he is blessed, and he has helped many a Christian writer or speaker make a point about scriptural truth. My son Tim likes to quote a passage from the Wisdom of Solomon in the Apocrypha, about how God calls home some saints to spare them further suffering in this world.  It helps him understand Diane’s death.

Having finished his warning, Jude spends the last six verses talking about his original topic – our great salvation:
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.[f]
 24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

How can I build myself up in my most holy faith? I think of I John 1 – “to knowledge, add…..” that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. There is no a formula, but there is a process, and it most definitely is one of applying revealed truth and staying in close relationship with God, which is why I must pray in the Spirit.

My brain directs my heart. My heart cleanses and revives my brain. They are never disconnected. Likewise divine knowledge and love are constant soulmates, withering away in each other’s absence.

I close with this prayer, which among other things helps me take the “long view” despite some painful moments during this first Christmas Without:

“O Lord, you are my only God, you are the only God. You are my savior. To you be glory, majesty, power and authority, since before time began and in time and when time will be no more. Thank you for the Word of God, in all of its manifestations the light unto my feet that keeps me from stumbling in the darkness. What a klutz I would be without it. And to know that you are able and willing by grace to present me now and forevermore before You, without fault and with great joy – glory and love to you, my God.”

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