Keeping in the Love of God
Jude now in the last verses of his short letter starts to address positive steps that can be taken to be able to contend for the faith. It is important that although Jude might seem like a negative letter only focusing on the false teaching that the church is facing, we must understand that Jude wanted to write to them about their common salvation but was moved because of the false teaching that had crept into the church. The perverted grace and denying Christ hindered him from writing about their common salvation. Doctors need to understand not only the cure but the disease, a large part of being a good doctor (from my years of watching TV shows) is that the doctor must be good at diagnosing the problem. They must collect all the facts and pinpoint the right medical problem before proceeding to the right remedy. Jude has been spending the majority of his let doing just that, explaining the false teaching that has crept in. Jude after speaking to the church about this false teaching gives them their remedy and routine of how they are to deal with this cancerous teaching that has appeared in the church. So what are the doctor’s orders for this false teaching, Jude begins by prescribing four things the believers should do.
Building yourselves up
As Jude spoke in verse 17, turning the focus away from the false teachers towards the true believers, he does the same in verse 20. He is addressing the true Christians in the church and encouraging them to be able to build themselves up in your most holy faith. Interestingly, Jude does not being with the false teachers and how the believers should deal with the false teachers (he will address that in verses 22 and 23). However, he begins by explaining that believers should build yourselves up. Now one aspect that is missing in our English translations is that he is talking collectively to the whole body of believers, not that each believer is left alone on an island to be able to build themselves up. False teaching can lead multitudes away, but also multitudes can lead false teaching away. Salvation is often used in an individual sense, but when we think about the terminology that the scriptures use it is that of numbers, a flock has many sheep, a vine has many branches, a building has many stones, a family with many children, and a body has many members. When we are left to our own devices we might come up with some unbiblical interpretations of Scripture, it is best to read the Bible and talk theology together. We not only have those around us in the pew but also the writings of great theologians that have gone before us.
But when we talk about building we need to understand that this term speaks of the ongoing process of building. The Christian life is not a single project that is done overnight but is like a multileveled skyscraper. With my experience and credentials, I feel. I can give my children a great education when it comes to building towers from Duplo. You can ask them and they will tell you the first step to a successful construction project is a good base. We have found this on the project house I am working on at the moment, the children call the broken house. This house had some previous footings that were insufficient. A regular footing should be 12×16, these were more like 8×4. We could have built on this poor foundation, but eventually, all that work done above the ground would have been for nothing. Jude says we need to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. We mentioned this when we studied verse three, that Jude is not advocating that we contend for any faith but the faith which has been delivered to all the saints. We build not on the faulty foundation of the false teachers of sensuality and arrogance but upon the grace of God and our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Paul makes this same point in 1 Corinthians 3:9-13,
“For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder, I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care of how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.”
As we build each other up, we do so only in the Lord. The firmest foundation is found in Jesus Christ our Lord. Paul does not say it is the only foundation, what he says is that some will try and build foundations upon pricey materials and others upon cheap materials. But all mean nothing when they are to stand against the fire. Jude first’s prescription is that we build ourselves up in the most holy faith.
Praying in the Holy Spirit
Jude’s second prescription is that the beloved would pray in the Holy Spirit. Now people assume this means to pray in tongues. They base this interpretation upon 1 Corinthians chapter 14, now without going down the rabbit hole of 1 Corinthians 14 which mentions prayer, and the Holy Spirit, but specifically, Paul refers to prayer and his spirit (my spirit) not the Holy Spirit. But when we come to a passage that is not clear we turn to other passages to help us interpret the Scripture, and I think we can find three other passages that help us with this passage in Jude. The reason I turn to these passages and not 1 Corinthians 14 is that I see a great sense of overlap in these passages.
Paul speaks to the believers in Ephesus as he tells them about how they are to stand firm in their faith by putting on the whole armor of God. Jude speaks of contending for the faith, like a soldier in hand-to-hand combat and Paul speaks of this battle raging for believers in this life. Paul wrote, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” What is helpful about this passage that helps us understand the passage in Jude is that we see an overlap of this warfare, but the verse preceding verse 19, where Paul explained that we have the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Paul has connected the Spirit to the word, and then prayer to the Spirit. So praying in the Spirit is not about some disconnected prayer, but that it is connected to the word. Praying in the Spirit is seeking to pray Scripture. Charles Spurgeon points out that the disciples come up to Jesus and ask him to pray, they do not ask him to teach them to serve or preach. We need to learn many things in this life and one that is most neglected can be prayer. We need to learn how to pray and where do you turn to the Bible. We can learn to pray from the Lord’s prayer but also the many other prayers found in the Bible. In our evening service, we are spending a couple of weeks studying Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the great sea creature. Jonah chapter 2 can teach us to pray. Praying in the Spirit is praying with the sword in your hand.
The second passage can help us. Understanding what it is to pray in the Spirit is found in Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” The first passage in Ephesians helps show us the Spirit is our guide through the word, but the second shows us that he is our intercessor through our weaknesses. Praying in the Holy Spirit is also to pray in our weakness. When we have no words, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. What a great joy and privileged it is for us to consider this truth, not only we are given the Word to be able to guide us in our prayer, but we are also given the Holy Spirit to be able to help us in our weaknesses. God has thought of everything. We learn to pray, but we also have the Spirit to help us when we have not learned everything.
Galatians 4:6 and Romans 8:14–17
The first two passages help us see the connection through the direct correlation with prayer and the Holy Spirit. These last verses help us when we think of what Jude had previously said, when speaking of the False teachers he had said that they were devoid of the Spirit (vs 19). But Jude then tells the true believers to pray in the Spirit. The truth is that it is only through the work of the Spirit that. We can pray. Paul in Galatians 4:6 and Romans 18:14-17 points out that the Spirit gives the seal of adoption so that we might be able to cry out, “Abba, Father.” The other two verse show us what it means to pray in the Spirit (Scripture and Weakness), these verses show us how we pray in the Spirit, that the true believer has had their hearts and status changed, no longer slaves to the flesh but children of God, fellow heirs with Christ. We can then pray, Our Father…
Keep yourselves in the Love of God
The third persecution Jude gives those who are called, beloved, and kept is that they should keep themselves in the love of God. Now, in the original language, the first two are subheadings of this third point. So, if not then we are to try harder at keeping ourselves in the love of God, for we see we are kept by Christ (Vs 24). You want to know how you preserve yourself in the love of God by building one another up and by praying in the Spirit. As we think about this we need to see that it becomes not about what we do, ie building and praying but how God has blessed his church to be able to carry these things out. We build one another, so as I build others up, they see this is how God keeps them in the love of God. That is not that I am all alone building myself up and praying, but this corporate blessing given to the church of fellowship from other believers and also the fellowship of the Holy Spirit which helps us as we pray. How different this is to the “God is Love” crowd, who think this is about themselves, but here we see God is love and these are the blessings God has given to us to be able to show his love to these people, through fellowship, building one another up as the author of Hebrews puts it so well,
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23–25)
Especially when we think about the context of why Jude is writing this letter we must consider this truth concerning false teaching, Thomas Schreiner put it better than I could when he said,
“It is insufficient for believers to attack the false teachers. They must take positive steps to continue in the love of God, or their own love for God will slowly wither away. Love for God cannot thrive when believers devote all their attention to the deficiencies of others. They must continue to grow spiritually themselves.”
Waiting for the mercy
The last prescription is also a subheading under the last point of keeping yourselves in the Love of God. Is that we are to wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. This short phrase packs quite a punch when we think about the context of the false teachers. The false teachers have been kept by Christ in eternal chains until judgment day (vs 6) and they will face eternal fire (vs 7). Those who are called, beloved, and kept, do not wait for eternal fire but eternal life. David Helm summarized this well, “Hope is a potent motivator for present action.”  It is not that waiting is that we just do nothing, this is an active form of waiting, that we are building up one another, we are praying in the Spirit, as we are being kept in the love of God. As we see Jude shows that many of the false teachers did not receive judgment at the exact moment of their sin, but judgment came to those. Well, the opposite is also true for believers today, it is not that we receive the perfect church here in this life but we wait for that mercy to be shown to us on that last day. As we contend for the faith we need to be reminded that the gate of hell will attack the gate of the church but they will not prevail in the end. We contend today in the hand-to-hand combat fighting the battle of truth verse error in the church, but we will not see the final victory until Christ returns. We know that the church will have a mixture of truth and error. We know that we will not see the perfect church until Christ returns.
Soldiers would often take with them a personal item onto the battlefield to be able to give them the motivation to get through the battle. No one wanted to be on the battlefield but they did it because they saw a greater end. Freedom for their family, or country. They would fight, hoping to see their fiancé or wife, their family, or their friends. They would fight for victory in the end. So in this life, we keep ourselves in the love of God, always thinking of the joy which is to be found in the end. The remedy to false teaching is then to find true teaching, which is only found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The remedy to all of this is not to make another false correction but to find hope in the Good news of Jesus Christ. As Thomas Brooks points out in his book “Precious remedies against Satan’s devices,” the remedy is always found in Christ. We might apply the ointment in different areas, at different times, or focus on different aspects of the gospel. But the remedy is all the same. Focus on Christ and we encourage and exhort one another, let us point each other to Christ. As we pray in the Holy Spirit with one another let us pray in Christ’s name, as we confess our sins let us take them to Christ. As we wait for Christ to return let us do so by thinking of what Christ has promised to do for his people. As we keep ourselves in the love of God let us hold fast to Christ, the one who keeps us, even with our weak faith.