"But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, "In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts." These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life."
"But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ." Why listen to divisive, worldly-minded, ungodly men versus the very apostles the Lord Jesus chose, taught and ordained Himself. (1 John 4:6; 1 Cor. 15:3) The apostle Paul (as well as Peter, James, John and even our Lord Himself), warned God's people about the coming apostates even in the infancy of the church and before the first century was over they were in the church as seen here in Jude. "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified." (Acts 20:30-32)
After giving many descriptions of the apostates and examples of how God has judged such as these in the past and their eternal judgment in the future (hell and greater degrees of punishment in hell), Jude now tells us how to "contend earnestly for the faith" even as they are all around us; and certainly more now than ever. In verse 20 he gives us four key ways to do that: 1) "Building yourselves up on your most holy faith" – know the truth (God's Word) to combat their lies; 2) "praying in the Holy Spirit" – stay dependent on God by praying according to His Word (so we have to know the Word (#1) to pray the Word); 3)"keep yourselves in the love of God" – obey the Word; 4) "waiting anxiously (expectantly) for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life." – have a transcendent hope – an eternal, heavenly perspective on this life.
1) "Building yourselves up on your most holy faith" – know the truth (God's Word) to combat their lies – "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Rom. 12:1-2) We renew (Gr. anakainÃ…Âsis – a complete change for the better) our minds by studying and knowing God's truth. It is completely different from what the world thinks (the opinions of man) and is for our highest spiritual and eternal good. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word (rhema) of Christ." (Rom. 10:17) It is important to distinguish between two Greek words for the "Word" of God. The Greek word logos generally refers to the totality of God's Word as well as the person of Jesus Christ. (Luke 8:11; Philippians 2:16; II Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 4:12). Scripture generally uses the Greek word rhema to refer to the spoken words that were given to individuals for their personal application. The following passages are examples of this: Matthew 4:4; 26:75; Luke 1:38; Luke 2:29; Luke 3:2; Luke 5:5; Acts 11:16; Romans 10:8-9, 17; Acts 5:20. As we hide/treasure the Word (logos) of God in our heart (Psalm 119:10) through study, meditation, and listening to preaching (1 Thess. 5:20) we are more apt to "hear" the Spirit speak a personal word (rhema) to us as we need it even as Jesus did in the wilderness temptation. Personal Bible study and listening to preaching of the Word (esp. expository preaching -verse by verse) requires diligence and humility (as it can be convicting) compared to having our "ears tickled" (soothing words versus convicting words; 2 Tim 4:3). But this diligence pays off now and forever: "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. " (Isa. 40:8) [Reasons for increasing apostasy in the church:1) "A weakening of doctrinal clarity and conviction and a failure to properly interpret Scripture (2 Tim. 2:15). 2) A failure to be antithetical. There is true and there is false, right and wrong, black and white. The Bible is absolute. It is objective. It makes truth clear and it makes error clear. It confronts, it separates, it distinguishes truth from error (versus relativism). 3) A preoccupation with image, it's about style, it's about generating an image that makes you popular with people (See James 4:4). 4) A failure to discipline those who teach and believe wrongly." John MacArthur]
2) "Praying in the Holy Spirit" – The idea here is that we are to pray in accordance with God's Word and in submission to God's Word. As study of God's Word is the first point, dependence on God (prayer) and submission to God and His Word is the second. And the Holy Spirit aids us in knowing, praying and obeying God's Word. "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Rom. 8:26-27) It is the same idea of praying "in Jesus' Name." It means we ask for that which is consistent with His will. "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it." (John 14:13-14) So the more we know God's Word the better we can pray in the Holy Spirit. [Ken Boa's book Handbook to Prayer helps us pray Scripture back to God. It is also available in his book Face to Face.]
3)"Keep yourselves in the love of God" – Since God's love for His children is unconditional this does not mean we have to do things to earn God's love. But as with other aspects of God's blessings (e.g. His forgiveness) there is an experiential component of God's love that makes His unconditional love very real and personal. "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." (John 15:9-10) So we keep ourselves in the experiential knowledge of God's love as we obey Him and His Word. So, 1) we study God's Word, 2) we pray God's Word, and 3) we obey God's Word.
4) "Waiting anxiously (expectantly) for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life." – We simply must have a transcendent hope – an eternal, heavenly perspective as we trust God to ultimately bless and reward us for our faith and obedience to Him even if it means suffering for Him now in this life. "That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." (2 Cor. 4:16-18; see Heb.11) This relates to God's call for us to be patient as seen in many passages but let's look at James 1:2-4: "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing (to improve) of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work (finish its work), that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking nothing." [Strong's G5281 – patience – Gr. hypomone – the NT characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.] If we do not truly believe in the overarching goodness and blessing of God for every act of obedience to Him when we finally see Him IN HEAVEN, we will want, expect and maybe even demand to get blessings now from fallen people in a fallen world. God does not call us to live without hope but our hope must be a hope fixed on our eternal state, not this life.
All of this together can help us resist the lies of the apostates all around us who tell us to "Have it your way, you deserve a break today; Get it now; Go for the gusto. God loves you so satisfy your lusts without any fear of consequences." This is almost the exact opposite of what our Lord and His apostles tell us throughout God's Word: "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. (Matt. 16:24-27)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. What is your main take away from the message and table discussion and how can you apply it to your life?
2. How can we make sure the world and apostates do not shape our thinking? Rom. 12:2; 10:17.
3. What is the key to praying in the Holy Spirit and in Jesus' Name? Examine your prayers in this light.
4. What is the difference between God's unconditional love and experiencing His love personally? John 15:9-10
5. How can the truth of Jesus' second coming give us great hope and patience even in difficult times? 2 Cor. 4:16-18; James 1:2-4