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Chapter One - Introduction
The Salutation (Jude 1:1-2)
There seems no good reason to doubt, and every reason to believe, that the writer of this solemn yet comforting letter is the “Judas the brother of James,” mentioned in the list of the apostles, as given twice by Luke (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13). Matthew referred to him as “Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus” (Matthew 10:3), and Mark simply as “Thaddeus” (Mark 3:18). John distinguished him in a special way by speaking of him as “Judas…not Iscariot” (John 14:22). It is evident, from the way Paul wrote of James, the son of Alpheus (the brother of Judas), that he was a close relation to the Lord Jesus. After mentioning his first interview with Peter, he said: “but other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19). James the great, the son of Zebedee, had met a martyr’s death earlier than the visit here referred to. Therefore it is clear that James the less is meant. The term “the Lord’s brother” does not necessarily mean the same in Greek as it does in our language. It often implies just a very close relationship. Lot is called Abram’s brother, when actually he was his nephew (Genesis 14:16). Yet if Jude had wanted to boast of his close relation to the Lord as man, he would not have written of himself as he does here, “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ.” He had known Christ by ties of kindred common to few; but he knows Him as such no more. He gladly owns Him as God’s anointed, his Lord and master. Another might have used the term brother; but writing of himself, Jude is simply the “slave of Jesus Christ.” James spoke of himself in the same way- “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1).
What a withering rebuke are these two lovely examples of devotion to Christ to those who thoughtlessly speak or write of “our brother Jesus,” or use similar terms, all calculated to detract from the glory of Christ. His own words to His disciples, after washing their feet, were, “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am!” (John 13:13). How abhorrent is the pride that leads some to call themselves Christ’s “brothers,” as though He were merely a creature like themselves!
It is true that in infinite grace, as the captain of our salvation, “he is not ashamed to call [us] brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren” (Hebrews 2:11-12). But this is a very different thing from calling Him “Brother,” or speaking of ourselves as His brothers. If any object to this, let them search the Scriptures and see if anyone ever spoke of or to Him in such a way. James and Jude, who had every right to call Him “brother” scrupulously avoided such familiarity and called themselves His slaves. This is made all the more prominent in Jude’s letter, as he immediately added for the purpose of identification, “brother of James.”
He addressed himself to the “called” ones of God. It is a common title given to those whom grace has saved. The Lord’s words to His disciples while on earth were: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). Some consider it a hard saying, when He declared, “Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (John 6:65). All believers are called by His grace, as was Paul (Galatians 1:15), and are drawn to Christ from a world controlled by the wicked one (1 John 5:19). What unspeakable grace is bestowed, for who is it He calls? Those who have some goodness to plead? Some merit to commend? No. He calls those who are utterly vile and corrupt, those who are completely lost. All such are “called unto the fellowship of his Son” (1 Corinthians 1:9). “And whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). There can be no failure here. He who called has justified, and will bring every called one to glory for eternity.
Such are “[beloved of] God the Father” (Jude 1:1). The King James version reads, “sanctified by,” but editors generally favor the former. Both statements are true, but Jude is emphasizing our place in the affections of the Father. Do we know the measure of that love? Our Lord Himself declared it when He said, “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” (John 17:22-23). This is the measure of the Father’s love to every child of grace. There are no degrees in His affection for His children. The feeblest and the strongest are alike “[beloved of] God the Father” as truly as His Son is the Beloved of His heart.
From this flows our preservation-”Preserved in Jesus Christ.” Whatever may be the difficulties of life, however great the trial of our faith, in the love of God we are preserved by the One who has saved us. He it is who, “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). Were it not for His preserving grace not one saint would persevere. “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” (Hebrews 7:25). There is no ground for self-confidence, or fleshly elation. Such grace calls for reverent and adoring gratitude, and a walk that corresponds to the lovingkindness lavished on creatures so unworthy.
Jude used a different greeting from that of the other apostles. It is not “grace and peace,” nor yet “grace, mercy, and peace,” which he invoked upon the saints, but “mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied” (Jude 1:2). They were already enjoying these precious things; he wanted them abundantly increased, so their souls would be filled with holy joy. Every saint needs mercy while passing through a world like this. Peace is his portion while abiding in Christ. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). In the enjoyment of this peace the soul can pass quietly on its way amid all the strife and evil of the day, resting in Him who is over all. Love is the outflow of the new life. God is love, and the divine nature in the believer can only produce love. This love is very different from mere sentimentality, as the Epistle goes on to show. “Love in the truth” (2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1) is that which is according to God.
Abundant is the provision for each tried saint. If mercy, peace, and love are ever lacking, it is not due to a stinted supply of grace, but rather a failure to enter into what is freely given to all who receive with thanksgiving what our God so delights to give. He never abandons a trusting, honest soul to its own resources, but has promised to meet every need according to His riches in glory, through Christ Jesus. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Never will that time of need be over until we reach our heavenly home where strife and warfare are past forever.
The Faith Once for All Delivered (Jude 1:3)
Carried along by the Spirit, Jude sat down to write. His own heart was filled with the joy of God’s salvation, and as he put pen to parchment, he would have been glad to write of this salvation common to every saint. But the same Holy Spirit who caused him to give all diligence to write, directed his mind as to the theme he must emphasize-a note of warning and exhortation urging believers to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered” (Jude 1:3).
The faith mentioned here is not saving faith, but rather the truth of that salvation, with all that accompanies it. This abiding faith has been given never to be added to. It is the faith “once delivered unto the saints” and no new revelations will be given to complete this truth. Like John, Jude turned the saints back to “that which was from the beginning.” There may be evolution in theology, for theology is simply the reasoning of man’s mind as to the things of God. But there is no evolution in regard to the truth. God has given His last word on the subject. It is for this truth we are called to contend.
This simple expression shuts out all the pretentious claims of new prophets, seers, and revelators. False are the claims of misguided enthusiasts who boldly declare themselves sent of God and add to His words. The signs and wonders that may accompany such pretensions are no more remarkable than those of the antichrist yet to come. The simple-hearted believer turns away from them all, and exclaims with holy confidence, “The faith has been once for all made known. Neither assumption nor miracle will induce me to accept any additions to it.” Many seekers have been attracted by the false claims of cult leaders that angels have appeared to them and given them secret spiritual teachings. The faith once delivered needs neither angelic nor human additions. It is perfect and complete, and the man of God will refuse all other and newer revelations.
The apostle Paul was given the responsibility of completing the Word of God. He was the chosen servant to whom the mysteries hidden from past ages were made known (Colossians 1:24-27). After having completed the outline of divine teaching, he wrote, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).
Jude added no new doctrine to what had already been presented, but exhorted those who had received this sacred truth to contend earnestly for it. Even John, in the book of Revelation, sets forth no additional line of teaching, but shows what the outcome is to be in regard to the conflict between truth and error. It is fitting, therefore, that Jude’s letter should be so placed in our Bibles as to form a preface to the book of Revelation. He gave a graphic and solemn picture of the evils (already springing up among the saints in those early days) that in Revelation are portrayed in all their hideous development.
The second letter of Peter bears a close resemblance in many particulars to that of Jude. They are so similar that some who never look below the surface have surmised that one might be but an imperfect copy of the other. To the spiritually-minded there are, however, marked differences despite the striking similarity. Peter warned of false teachers, corrupting those who are not established in the truth. If false doctrine and damnable heresies are not refused, they will bring to their followers swift destruction. But Jude was concerned more with the ungodliness that results from forsaking the truth. He warned against the grace of God being turned into lasciviousness.
Men may belittle sound doctrine, and ridicule the notion that a system of belief is of any importance in regard to a man’s behavior, but Scripture shows that there cannot be proper behavior apart from soundness in the faith. The couplet, “For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight; / He can’t be wrong whose life is in the right,” expresses what is in the minds of many, that life will never be right unless the truth of God is accepted and prevails in the heart. Therefore, there is great need for Jude’s exhortation, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to contend for the faith.
The admonition is addressed, not to leaders alone, but to all the called in Jesus Christ. Since the faith was delivered to the saints as a whole, each one is responsible, in a time of departure from the truth, to contend earnestly for all that God has revealed. The believer is viewed as a soldier. He is called on to fight for what is of prime importance in God’s sight. As Shammah defended a patch of lentils, the food of God’s people (2 Samuel 23:11-12), so the Christian should boldly defend the truth against all enemies. If Christians were zealously guarding the treasure committed to the whole church, evil workers and false teachers would be unable to obtain a foothold. But because of the indifference of many believers, ungodly men are able to entrench themselves in the church.
It is one thing to contend, but quite another to be contentious. “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26). These verses indicate the spirit that is to characterize the one who would contend for the truth. Firmly, yet with tender compassion for those being led astray, he is to stand for all that God has revealed. When a bad, carnal spirit takes possession of someone, he is powerless to help or bless others. And it should always be remembered that in contending for the faith, the soul of the sinner has to be thought of as well. It is not enough to uphold the doctrines of Christ-actions must commend the truth that the lips proclaim. The phrase in Ephesians 4:15, translated “speaking the truth in love,” has been literally rendered, “truthing in love.” It is far more than speaking the truth that is in question- it is the truth lived out in all we do. Unless this is characteristic of the one who contends for the faith of God’s elect, the utterances of his lips will be in vain.
Clandestine Workers (Jude 1:4)
From the days of Simon Magus to the present it has always been the object of Satan to secretly introduce evil workers into the assemblies of God’s saints, and deceive the unwary and lead them astray. And Satan has never been lacking in those who would do his devious work.
The truth of God, if not submitted to, has a hardening effect on the one who is familiar with it. To trifle with what God has revealed is an affront to Him, and has dire consequences. Jude next warned the people of God against such men, who have a mental acquaintance with the truth but whose ways are not in accordance with that which they profess to hold. Secretly they have slipped into the assemblies of the saints, and have managed to deceive His people, but they are not unknown to God. “Before of old [they were marked out] to this condemnation” (Jude 1:4). Ordained (KJV) is too strong a word here, and fails to give the true thought. Far be it from God to ordain any man to acts of impiety and ways of deceit! But He had of old marked them out, declaring by His prophets that such men would arise. He described them clearly, so that they might readily be recognized. And He pointed out that their end is judgment.
They are described as ungodly men. This term ungodly is used five times in Jude’s Epistle, the other four instances occurring in the quotation from Enoch. It means refusing subjection to God, and acting independently of and in opposition to Him. “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). All men in their sins are ungodly. Jude wrote of those who by profession claim to be delivered from their sins, but who actually are still in them, and secretly turning others to their own iniquitous ways.
The grace of God has neither reached their souls nor controlled their consciences. They make that very grace an occasion for lasciviousness of speech and life. Such evil workers have abounded in all ages since the gospel was made known. But the remedy given in Scripture is never legality, but rather a bowing to the truth of man’s need of the very grace he has been misusing. The sinner who judges himself before God and finds his need met in that wondrous provision of grace, will not turn from such unmerited favor. It is the unrepentant “professor” who has never seen himself in the light of God’s holiness that Jude is referring to.
In what ways do men turn “the grace of our God into lascivious-ness”? They do so by going on in their own ways, gratifying the lusts of the flesh, while professing to believe in the grace that does not impute sin to the justified soul. This is what has been well-named antinomianism. These perpetrators deny “the only Lord God [Master] and our Lord Jesus Christ.” They don’t necessarily deny Him at all times with their lips-often they are found professing to know Him, but denying Him by their works.
We do not need to look far to find such men. Christendom today abounds with them. They are often in the seats of honor, professing allegiance to Christ while ignoring His Word and even treating the Scriptures with contempt and assumed superiority. Nothing is too holy for their profane reasonings to set aside. “From such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).
At no time in the past history of the church have Jude’s words applied with greater force than in the present age. In Romanism, emissaries make strenuous efforts to allure the unwary by presenting a softened, subdued Catholicism to non-Catholics. They emphasize whatever is Scriptural, or ethically and esthetically lovely in the teachings of the Papacy, and carefully cover the more disgusting dogmas and practices of that apostate church. In Protestantism, the boldest infidelity and skepticism are proclaimed from thousands of pulpits, and minor sects of all kinds are everywhere spreading their pernicious and soul-destroying errors. Therefore the man of God needs to be alert and vigilant-determined to stand for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
Many false teachers would say that it makes little difference what a man believes if he lives well and is sincere. Scripture teaches, however, that the gospel alone is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). The Holy Spirit has pronounced a solemn curse against any-even an angel from Heaven-who brings a different gospel. Living a “good life,” according to the divine standard of holiness and uprightness, is a delusion and an impossibility, apart from the sanctifying power of the truth of God. And so we find that where false teaching prevails, ungodliness abounds. Indifference to evil teaching, and genuine love for Christ and His truth cannot coexist in the same breast. Neutrality in such a case is a crime against the Lord who has redeemed us to Himself.
Chapter Two - Confronting Apostasy
Destruction of Apostates (Jude 1:5-7)
When the saint of God considers the end awaiting all apostates from the truth, all bitterness toward them must of necessity be banished from the heart. They may seem to ride now on a crest of popular appreciation and support, but they will soon fall. For “surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction” (Psalms 73:18).
This is the solemn lesson we are taught by observing the unbelievers who fell in the wilderness. They started out well. All were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All drank the same spiritual drink and ate the same spiritual food. But unbelief manifested itself when the time of testing came. Murmuring, idolatry, and the gainsaying of Korah (of which particular note is taken further on in this Epistle), told out the true state of many who sang with exultation on the banks of the Red Sea. Kadesh-Barnea, the place of opportunity, became but the memorial of unbelief. Though once saved out of Egypt, they were destroyed in the wilderness because of having apostatized from the living God.
In the same way the Nephilim (the fallen ones) had been dealt with long before. Though created as sinless angels of God, they like Lucifer, the son of the morning, bartered the realms of Heaven for selfish ends. These angels “kept not their first estate, but left then-own habitation, [and are now] reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6).
Whether the apostle is here referring to the “sons of God” of Genesis 6:0 has been a debated question throughout the Christian centuries. That the beings there referred to could possibly be angels has been denounced by many spiritually-minded teachers, who see in “the sons of God” simply the seed of Seth, and in “the daughters of men” the maidens of the line of Cain. Others, equally deserving to be heard, identify the sons of God in the book of Job with those of Genesis. They accept the passage before us as the divine commentary on the solemn scene of apostasy described as the precursor of the flood, and believe that in Jude they learn the judgment of those fallen angels.
It must be admitted that verse 7 (Jude 1:7) of Jude seems to corroborate the latter view. “As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Scripture seems to indicate a close relationship between the sin of these cities and that of the angels referred to in verse 6 (Jude 1:6). At any rate both angels and the men of the plain fell into grievous sin through unbelief, and were punished accordingly. They rejected the light and are now presented as an example of those who will suffer and undergo the vengeance of eternal fire.
Nothing can be more solemn than this. Many centuries have elapsed since fire from heaven destroyed those cities, but the guilty apostates of that distant day are at this moment still suffering the judgment of God because of their wicked deeds. They are, along with the rich man of Luke 16:0, tormented in the flames of Hades. They await the awful hour when, as Revelation 20:14 declares, “death and hades shall be cast into the lake of fire.”
Contrary to the Scriptural teaching of eternal punishment of the wicked, there are those who hold out instead the delusive dream of annihilation. They refer to Malachi 4:1-3 as the basis for their belief:
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.
This passage is looked upon by the annihilationist as one of his strongest proof-texts. Assuming that the passage is talking of the final judgment, he exclaims, “What could be clearer? If the wicked are burned up like stubble, if neither root nor branch is left remaining, wouldn’t they have utterly ceased to exist? Furthermore, if they become as ashes under the soles of the saints’ feet, where is room for the awful thought of an immortal soul suffering endless judgment?”
A more careful study of Malachi 4:0 reveals the fact that it makes no reference to judgment after death. The Holy Ghost is describing the destruction of apostates at the coming of the Lord to establish His kingdom prior to the millennium of Revelation 20:0. It is the bodies of the wicked, not their souls, which are to become as ashes under the feet of triumphant Israel. Like stubble, their physical bodies will be destroyed as with devouring fire, so that neither root nor branch shall remain. So it was in the day when Sodom and Gomorrah and its surrounding cities met their doom. Lot or Abraham might then have trampled on the wicked, who would have been ashes under the soles of their feet after the terrible conflagration. All had been burned up-root and branch-but were they then annihilated? No. Our Lord Jesus said, “It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment” than for those who rejected His ministry when here on earth (Mark 6:11). The very men and women who were burned to ashes so long ago are to rise from the dead for judgment. Where are they now, and what is their condition? Are they wrapped in a dreamless slumber, waiting in unconsciousness until the sounding of the trump of doom? No, the soul-sleeper and the annihilationist are both wrong. The inhabitants of those cities “are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire!”
Truly, “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Judgment must be the portion of all who trifle with the grace shown on the cross to guilty sinners. It would be better to have never heard of Christ and His blood, than having heard, to turn from the truth to the soul-destroying fables of false teachers.
Be awake to the solemnity of these things! “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord,” cried the apostle Paul, “we persuade men”. Paul also wrote, “The love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 5:14). Man, energized by Satan, would divorce the fear of the Lord from His love, making much of love, and ridiculing the thought of eternal punishment. Scripture teaches that “God is light” just as much as “God is love.”
God has said, “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him”. But the Holy Ghost is careful to say of true believers, “We are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:38-39). It is only those who endure to the end who will be saved-but all who are born of God will endure through divine grace. “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5).
Irreverent and Irrational Despisers of the Truth (Jude 1:8-10)
Unholy ways always accompany, and indeed spring from, unholy teachings. Therefore we can easily understand the readiness with which apostates from the truth give themselves up to what is defiling and abominable. Present-day advocates of “free love,” are in large measure persons who have apostatized from a nominal Christianity, and now tolerate and even stand for what they once would have abhorred. What would once have been rebuked, even by the world, is now advocated by a Christless pulpit. Men and women sustaining unholy relations are rocked to sleep in their sins while death, judgment, and eternal punishment are fast approaching! The rejection of the inspiration of the Bible places the law of God, as expressed in the ten commandments, among the productions of the human mind. Therefore its code of morals is spurned and a lower ethical system, more in keeping with present day conditions, is substituted. And so loose standards prevail where Scripture no longer speaks with authority. “They have rejected the word of the Lord, and what wisdom is in them?” (Jeremiah 8:9).
Coupled with this new standard of morals, so opposed to the purity of Scripture, will be found a limitless pride that boasts itself against every unseen power. Satan is no longer feared, but his very existence denied on the one hand, or his superhuman ability ridiculed on the other. How different was the behavior of Michael the archangel, who, “when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 1:9). All kinds of ingenious theories have been advanced concerning the nature of this dispute, but as God Himself has not given us the particulars, it would seem useless to speculate. When we know as we are known, this and all other mysteries will be solved in a place where we can no longer pride ourselves in our knowledge.
It is important to observe that in Scripture, the word archangel occurs only in the singular. Michael (meaning, “who is [as] god”) is the archangel. Gabriel is never given that title. Some have sought to identify Michael with the Son of God Himself, but as there is no hint of such an identity, it is unwise to theorize. Michael appears in the book of Daniel as “the great prince which standeth for the children of thy [the prophet’s] people”-that is, of Israel (Daniel 12:1). In Revelation 12:7 he appears as the leader of the angelic hosts driving Satan from the heavens when his days of accusing the brethren are ended. Here he is seen contending for the body of Moses; and in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 he seems to be a distinct being, whose voice (as Israel’s prince) will be heard in connection with the rapture of the church. It is noticeable that in Daniel 10:13 he is called, “Michael, one of the chief princes,” a title that would be completely inconsistent with our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God.
It is solemn indeed to be told that such a great being “durst not bring a railing accusation” against the devil, while proud, ignorant men speak boldly against all that is high and beyond their comprehension. Even in what they do understand they do not behave with propriety, but like natural brute beasts, they corrupt themselves, and display an inability to curb their fleshly lusts. They know no shame, and complain loudly against the unknowable. Such actions are the result of the deification of the human mind and scientific knowledge.
Judgment is fast approaching and it becomes increasingly important that those who know God search His Word and value His truth. Remember that perilous times have come, when, if it were possible, Satan would deceive the very elect. It is only by the grace of God that any are kept from error and the evil practices that result. Paul reminded the Thessalonians of this sustaining grace: “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” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). If any abide in the truth, it is due to the fact that God himself has chosen them, and sustains them in their path. “Where is boasting then? It is excluded” (Romans 3:27).
Chapter Three - Defining Apostasy
Jude presents a three-fold apostasy. He identifies them as, “the way of Cain,” “the error of Balaam,” and the “gainsaying of [Korah].”
The Way of Cain (Jude 1:11 a)
Strictly speaking there are only two religions in the world-true religion, that of God’s appointing, and false religion, the product of man’s own mind. The first is the religion of faith; the second that of credulity or superstition, in whatever form it may appear.
In the beginning God made known to guilty man the truth that death and judgment were his rightful portion, only to be averted by the sacrifice of the seed of the woman. In the fullness of time He would appear as the sinner’s Savior, bruising the serpent’s head, though Himself wounded in the heel. This was the revelation in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). In accordance with this revelation, faith taught those who were saved by grace, the propriety of approaching God, the Holy One, on the ground of sacrifice. Each bleeding sacrifice pointed to Jesus who was to be made sin so that guilty men might be delivered from their sins and stand before the throne of the Most High uncondemned. Therefore we read, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4). Abel did not offer his sacrifice by intuition, but by faith-through a revelation apprehending the mind of God. He brought a sacrifice which told of a life forfeited-a sinless substitute, whose vicarious death could take the place of the guilty one. This lamb of Abel’s speaks loudly, even though he who offered it has long been numbered with the dead in Christ.
This is the heart of the gospel: “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). Everywhere in Scripture the same testimony is given, for “without shedding of blood [there] is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).
Now this is exactly what, in principle, Cain denied. He brought an offering to God according to the promptings of his own heart “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), as is the heart of every natural man. His sacrifice seemed fair and lovely: the fruits of the ground, brought forth by toil and labor. But there was no recognition of the true character of sin and its punishment. God’s sentence of death on account of sin is refused; therefore no life is given, no blood is shed. This is natural religion as opposed to what has been divinely revealed. The fruit of Cain pictures man’s effort to attain all that is fair in character-building, all that is lovely in human accomplishment. These things are beautiful indeed if the fruit of divine grace already exists in the soul. But they are of no use whatsoever to meet the claims of divine justice, or to purge the conscience and cleanse the soul from the stain of sin. It is clear that “the way of Cain” is a comprehensive title, embracing every form of religious teaching, ceremony, or cult that ignores the need of the vicarious atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The substitution of rites and ceremonies for simple faith in Christ and the subtle speculation of modern religious systems tend to deify man in his own estimation and free him from “the degrading thought” that he is a sinner needing a Savior. These humanistic religions all spring from one and the same thing-the pride of the human heart. This pride substitutes the notions of the unregenerate mind for the revealed truth of the Word of God. These “religions” are merely different forms of one common human religion-the way of Cain- and can only lead their deluded followers to share Cain’s doom.
Every “new theology” of the day is as old as the fallen creation. It was first pictured in the fig-leaf garments of Adam and Eve; then crystalized, as it were, in the offering of Cain. Every sinner who is too proud to admit his guilt and trust the atoning sacrifice of the Christ of God is a follower of the way of Cain, whatever form his superstition may have taken. Thousands who follow this way consider Christ as just a martyr merely following His conscience. They trample beneath their feet the atoning value of the blood of Christ and proudly dare to approach a holy God with the fruits and flowers of nature-the works of their hand.
So with readiness, refusing the ministry of the Holy Spirit, these followers of Cain give themselves up to the second apostasy.
The Error of Balaam (Jude 1:11 b)
Three times in the New Testament we read about Balaam, the false prophet who “taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel” (Revelation 2:14). In a passage very nearly similar to the one before us, Peter wrote of “the way of Balaam” (2 Peter 2:15). The glorified Christ, in Revelation 2:14 speaks of “the doctrine of Balaam.” And here in verse 11, Jude mentioned his error. That the three are intimately related is self-evident. Out of Balaam’s error sprang both his way and his doctrine. He was a striking example of those whose sole object of godliness is greed. They consider it right and proper that religion should be used to minister to one’s personal advantage. Leo the Tenth was a true disciple of Balaam when he exclaimed to his cardinals, “What a profitable thing this myth about Jesus Christ has been to us!” This was also the thinking of Simon the magician in Acts 8:18-19. Every person, of whatever sect or system, who enters religious ministry solely for financial gain has followed after the error of Balaam.
Balaam’s history, as recorded in the book of Numbers, is an intensely solemn one. He “loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15). While professedly a prophet of God, he endeavored to prostitute his sacred office for the accumulation of wealth. At times deterred by fear and at times by a sense of propriety, he yet persisted in the effort to either curse or seduce the people of God for his own advantage. He stands before us branded on the page of the Bible as one who, for temporary profit, would stifle his own convictions and lead astray those directed by him.
The same dreadful error is at the bottom of the vast majority of false “religious” systems. Which of them would exist for a month without the influence of money? Try to imagine the false teachers giving freely what they profess to believe is divine, suffering uncomplainingly in order to carry their false gospels to the ends of the earth, or dying triumphantly to seal their testimony in blood as did the early Christians. All human systems, however orthodox outwardly, come under the same covetous spell when they depart from the Word of truth. This covetousness leads them to please not God, but men. Only comforting things are prophesied, and offensive truths are scarcely mentioned, or altogether avoided. False doctrines are taught in order that the purse strings of the ungodly may be loosened, and the ministry be made a profitable and honorable occupation.
In the early church, Christ’s followers went forth in simple dependence on the Lord, “taking nothing of the Gentiles” (3 John 1:7). Like Elisha, they refused anything that looked like payment tendered for the gift of God. Like Abraham, they would not be enriched by Sodom’s king. And like Peter, they spurned the money of the unworthy that nothing evil should taint their ministry. But it is far different with the “popular apostles” of a Christless religion. Like Gehazi, they run after every healed Naaman and beg or demand a fee. Like Lot, they pitch their tent towards, then build a house in Sodom. Like Simon Magus, whose very name gives title to this most odious of all sins, they practice their simony unblushingly, and think that the gift of God can be purchased with money. But the dark clouds of judgment are gathering overhead, and soon they will learn, as Balaam did, the folly of pursuing such evil.
Korah’s Rebellion (Jude 1:11 c)
Korah represents the last of the unholy trinity of apostasy. The way of Cain is false religion. The error of Balaam is false ministry. The rebellion of Korah is false worship and denial of Christ’s authority.
Korah was not a priest, and neither were any of his rebellious company. They were Levites, whose business it was to attend to the outward service of the tabernacle. But lured on by pride they rose up against Moses and Aaron (types of Christ as “the Apostle and High Priest of our profession”), and setting aside God’s anointed, sought to force their way into His presence as priests and to worship before Him without divine warrant or title. This mindset is prevalent today. Independent and inflated with a sense of their own self-importance, vain men openly rebel against the authority of the Lord as Apostle and Priest. They dare to approach God as worshipers apart from Him, and ignore His claims. This is the leaven that is fast permeating unbelieving Christendom-the claim that all men by nature are sons of God. The declaration that they need no mediating High Priest is heard on every hand, and will increase and spread as the end draws nearer. Jude says that these apostates “perished in the gainsaying of Core” (Jude 1:11). He speaks of their doom as a settled thing. Just as sure as judgment came to Korah and all his company when the earth opened her mouth and they went down alive into the pit, so shall judgment overtake those who rebel against the Lord of glory and follow in Korah’s footsteps.
It is precious to read in Numbers 26:11, “Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not.” Linked as they were by natural ties to the proud rebel, Korah’s children chose a different course, and are heard singing in Psalms 84:10, “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Happy are all who are numbered in the same holy company!
The Divine Indictment of Evil Workers (Jude 1:12-13)
There is something unspeakably solemn in this severe indictment of those who profess to be followers of Christ and servants of God, but who really walk in a self-chosen path. Elsewhere they are described as “enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19). Remember that throughout Jude’s warning letter, the evil-workers referred to are not those who oppose Christ outside the circle of profession, but rather are those inside the nominal church who make their profession of faith in the Lord Jesus a cover for their own selfish ends. They are often considered leaders of Christian thought and champions of truth and righteousness. But underlying all they say and do, there is the open, or covert, denial of everything that really makes for godliness. To the heavenly calling they are strangers; hence their aim and object is to advance their own interests in this world. They dwell upon the earth. They know nothing of pilgrimage in the Scriptural sense. Their place and portion are in this world, not in Heaven where Christ sits at the right hand of God.
Metaphor after metaphor is used by the Holy Spirit to describe these false apostles and ministers of unrighteousness. Every phrase is important, and demands careful consideration. “These are spots in your [love] feasts” (Jude 1:12). Perhaps, in place of “spots,” it will be clearer if we read, “sunken, or hidden rocks.” Such are these apostate teachers. Clearly-marked rocks are not a great danger to the mariner. It is the rocks that are hidden, over whose jagged edges roll the deceitfully peaceful waters, that are most to be dreaded. If these false teachers were to openly proclaim their opposition to what the godly hold sacred, their influence would be quickly nullified. But, posing as advocates of the truth, they deceive the hearts of the simple with their good words and fair speeches.
The expression, “they feast with you.. .without fear,” shows how fully they have gained the confidence of the mass. They participate fearlessly in holy Christian communion, but never enter into the spirit of love and fellowship with the Lord. They observe the form, pretending to piety and devotion, while all the time looking but to their own interests.
“Feeding themselves,” these apostates attend to their own needs instead of shepherding the flock of God. They who should feed the sheep and lambs of Christ’s flock, fleece them instead, and consider them as those whose place it is to contribute to their honor, wealth, and dignity. Scripture knows of no distinction between clergy and laity. All believers are God’s kleros (or clergy)-His allotted portion. If some are raised up to act as pastors, by guiding and caring for those weaker or less instructed, they do it as a service to the Lord, the Chief Shepherd. These godly elders serve “not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage [kleros], but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1-4). To this sincere and true-hearted devotedness these deceitful workers are utter strangers. Their true characters are even more graphically depicted in the metaphors taken from nature that immediately follow.
“Clouds they are without water, carried about of winds.” Big with promise, pretentious and impressive, their utterances are a disappointment to any who know the mind of God as revealed in His Word. In place of refreshing showers of spiritual blessing accompanying their ministry, there are but empty vapors and idle threatenings. In place of divine certainty, their fanciful theories and ever-changing notions reveal the fact that they themselves are blown around by every wind of human teaching (Ephesians 4:14), “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).
They are further described as “trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.” Having a fair outward appearance, they are like trees which in the season of fruit bear only leaves-like the fig tree cursed by the Lord, which dried up from the roots. These indeed are “twice dead,” for they are “dead in trespasses and sins,” and dead too in a false profession. “Every plant,” said the Lord Jesus, “which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13). So these apostles are seen already, in God’s estimation, as plucked up by the roots. In man’s eye they make a fair show in the flesh, but in the sight of God their judgment is already pronounced.
Impatient of restraint or rebuke of any kind, they are next likened to “raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame” (Jude 1:13). They feel no shame or remorse at what they say or do. By their very speech they show the true condition of their rebellious hearts when confronted with the Word that exposes the hollowness of their arguments. “The unjust knoweth no shame” (Zephaniah 3:5), but rather proudly glory in their evil before God and man. It is a blessing for those who cling to the Lord that He has set bounds to this sea, as to that in nature, beyond which its angry waters cannot go. He makes the wrath of man to praise Him, and the remainder of wrath He restrains (see Psalms 76:10).
The last description of apostates portrays the doom that yet awaits those who trifle with holy things. They are “wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” Like lost planets hurled out of their natural orbit, they flare brilliantly for the moment, then plunge off at a tangent into ever-deepening darkness as they rush through the fathomless depths of space farther and farther from the source of light. Such will be the end of all who now refuse the Light of life, and prefer instead to kindle their own fire, and compass themselves about with sparks (Isaiah 50:11). Solemnly the Holy Spirit says to every child of grace, “From such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).
Enoch’s Prophecy (Jude 1:14-15)
The source of Jude’s information as to this prophecy of Enoch “the seventh from Adam” is not given. Critics have tried to find out, but to little purpose, or profit. There is an apocryphal book bearing Enoch’s name which dates from pre-Christian times. It contains language very similar to that here recorded, but the nature of the book forbids the thought that it can be equated with Holy Scriptures. Yet it seems evident that in some way, whether orally or in writing, God has seen fit to preserve Enoch’s prophecy. It was partially fulfilled in the flood. Jude, by divine inspiration, declared that a more complete fulfillment awaits the return of the Lord Jesus, to take vengeance on all who have refused His grace and spurned the Holy Spirit.
What is referred to here in verses 14-15 ( Jude 1:14-15) is something very different from the happy event predicted in John 14:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. In those Scriptures, the theme is the return of the Lord to translate His saints to Heaven, of which Enoch’s rapture was a type. This could take place before the reader lays down this book. In a moment, the Lord may descend and call all His own to meet Him in the air. But this will not be the believer’s nor Christ’s unveiling before the world. That manifestation will take place later. While the judgment seat of Christ and the marriage supper of the Lamb transpire in Heaven, on earth apostasy will rise to its full height in the revelation and acceptance of antichrist, and the utter rejection of all that is of God. Then, when the cup of guilty Christendom’s iniquity is full, the Lord will come to the earth with a myriad of His redeemed saints and unfallen angels to execute the judgment long foretold on the despisers of His word.
A very similar expression occurs in chapter 14 of Zechariah’s prophecy: “The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (Zechariah 14:5). In each passage “saints” or “holy ones” does not, of itself, necessarily refer to redeemed humanity. Angels are also referred to as “saints” or “holy ones,” and some would therefore limit the application to them alone. But Scripture clearly teaches the double aspect of the second coming of the Lord. He is coming for His saints (John 14:3, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). He is also coming with them (Colossians 3:4). Caught up to meet Him as He descends with a shout, they will return with Him in manifested glory- when Enoch’s prophecy and that of Zechariah will be fulfilled. Then will righteousness reign. Every enemy will be destroyed. No longer will impious deceivers profit by a profession of Christianity while secretly working to undermine the faith of God’s elect. To every one will be rendered according to their works.
While the present period (from the cross to the coming again of the Lord) lasts, God endures sinful men with much longsuffering. But when this period ends, the day of the Lord begins, when He who has been so long silent will arise to act in judgment on those who have taught blasphemous and damnable heresies. Then apostate men, who have despised the Word of truth, will learn too late that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”
Reader, challenge your heart now as to how you will stand then!
Unholy Separatists (Jude 1:16-19)
Just as the true servant of the Lord bears not only the doctrine of Christ, but commends himself by displaying the fruits of the Spirit, so Satan’s false apostles not only deny the truth, but display characteristic signs that soon reveal them as wolves in sheep’s clothing. They may attempt to speak as believers, but their habits and ways betray them.
Like the mixed multitude who came up out of Egypt, in company with redeemed Israel, those of whom Jude wrote to warn us are murmurers and complainers. Never having learned the initial lesson of subjection to God, they soon find the path of outward obedience to His Word incredibly irksome, for “the carnal mind.. .is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). Therefore they continually object to the plainest precepts of the Holy Scriptures.
Aiming only to please themselves, they walk unashamedly after their own lusts, using their sacred calling as a ladder to worldly gain and ecclesiastical honor. They do not understand self-denying service for Christ’s sake, or being constrained by His all-conquering love. Yet they resent with indignation the suggestion that greed for money and power is the controlling principle of their lives. But He who sees not as man sees has searched them through and through, and here records their true character.
Great swelling words fall glibly from their unsanctified lips as they boast of human progress and accomplishments, while forgetting the dreadful fact that man’s will, until subdued by divine grace, is as much opposed to God as ever it was in the past. They forget it was man’s sinful, stubborn will that nailed God’s Son to a cross and poured judgment on His devoted head.
The fifth accusation against these deceitful workers is one to which many are now so accustomed that it never occurs to them as one of the special signs of apostasy-admiring persons for the sake of profit. The extent to which the public fawns over church dignitaries is shameful and disgusting. Adulation is carried to such an extreme as to be positively nauseating. But it is the order of the day, and will become increasingly prevalent as man is, inch by inch, pushed into the place of God. The consummation of this evil is found in the man of sin described in 2 Thessalonians 2:0. The deification of humanity and the humanizing of deity in the minds of men is the natural outcome of all this. How different was the spirit of Elihu, who declared, “Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away” (Job 32:21-22).
It is good for the soul guided by Scripture to remember that nothing man sees around him was unforeseen by God. Unbelief and apostasy may abound, but nothing takes God by surprise. The coming of mockers, walking after their own unholy desires, has been foretold from the beginning. The apostles warned of the spiritual declension that would characterize the last days.
Believers should not be overtaken by fear and gloom when they see teacher after teacher apostatizing from the truth, and the love of many growing cold, while erroneous teaching carries many away. Like the prophet, they may be ready to cry, “Truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey.” But Isaiah also added, “The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment” (Isaiah 59:14-15). They will be encouraged to know that the prevailing evil has been foreknown by God from eternal times. In fact they should not expect anything else. The events they see around them firmly establishes the truth of Scripture. All this must happen before the coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Therefore they are strengthened in the realization that this very darkness will usher in the shining-forth of the Morning Star, and the rising in glory of the Sun of Righteousness. Prophecy is “a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). Led on by this sure and steady gleam, the humble child of God will not be dazzled by the pretensions, nor disheartened by the evil influence of these haughty resisters of the truth.
“These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 1:19). These apostates set themselves apart as a select circle, pretending to have attained a level of spirituality beyond the common Christian. There is a spiritual and a carnal separation. The former is separation from evil at the call of the Word of God. The latter is a walking apart in fancied superiority, led on by pride and boastfulness. This is what marks out the class Jude is portraying, in the day of their power.
It should be noted that Jude traced for us the growth of apostasy. He began with evil workers privily creeping in, under cover of a Christian profession. Before he closed they are pictured as having cast off all fear, as though their very strength made secrecy unnecessary. In place of caution and covered tracks, we have exaggerated pride and superiority even to the forming of an elite sect who delegate to themselves all spiritual light and privilege, as well as human learning and scholarship. But great swelling words, even when coupled with the most arrogant presumption, can never overthrow the truth of the eternal Word. “The scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).
Of the Word of God, as of the Son of God, it can be said, “Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:44). God is silent now, while men blaspheme His name and stumble over His Word. But soon He will speak from Heaven, when all will know “with whom [they] have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). Then it will be revealed that those who opposed Him in their pride were but natural men without the Spirit. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). This explains the difficulty many have in regard to believing the great truths of Scripture. They are unregenerate, natural men, attempting to act as ministers of Christ. But their speech betrays them.
Chapter Four - Call To Persevere
Dark and gloomy as the picture has been drawn for our warning by the pen of inspiration, there is yet no cause for despair. “Upon this rock,” said Christ, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The final result is sure. Victory will rest on the blood-stained banner of the Prince of Peace. In the hour of His triumph His faithful ones will share in His glory. In the present moment of their trial and His rejection they have an abundant solace and cheer, for they know that the power of Satan and his doctrine of error will never vanquish the truth.
The saint of God needs to daily build himself up on his “most holy faith” (Jude 1:20). It is the revealed will of the Lord that is referred to here, as in verse 3 (Jude 1:3)-”The faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” On it the believer rests. Assured that it forms a foundation impregnable by every attack of men or demons, he is now to build himself on it. This building implies continual feeding on the Word, that the soul may be nourished and the spirit edified. Linked with this we have prayer in the Holy Spirit-not perfunctory saying of prayers, but spiritual communion with God, bringing to Him every need and every difficulty, assured that He waits in grace to meet the one and to dissolve the other. Praying in the Holy Spirit can only result from a walk in the Spirit. For if there is no self-judgment, prayer will be selfish. We will ask and receive not, because we will be asking that our own lusts may be gratified. When Christ is first in the soul, and the heart is finding its delight in Him, the Holy Spirit will Himself give us the petitions that God delights to grant.
A definite command follows: “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 1:21). Notice, it is not, “Keep God loving you.” Such a thought is opposed to Him whose nature is love. The cross demonstrated that love to the fullest. Daily the believer proves His lovingkindness. Nor did the apostle exhort us to keep loving God. The divine nature in every believer causes us to love Him who has saved us: “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Rather we are told to “keep ourselves in the love of God.” It is as though I say to my child, “Stay in the sunshine.” The sun shines whether we enjoy it or not. And so God’s love abides unchanging, even if we do not stay in the conscious enjoyment of it. Let nothing make the troubled soul doubt that love. Circumstances cannot alter it. Difficulties and failures cannot strain it. The soul that relies on His love will be carried in triumph above the conflicts and discouragements of life.
In the second half of verse 21 (Jude 1:21) we have another exhortation. We are to look for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are to await His mercy unto eternal life. We have eternal life now, by faith in Him who is Himself life eternal. But we are going on to a place where life will reign, and where everything will be suited to the life we already have by the Spirit. And so the trusting soul looks up in hope and waits in patience for the return of the Lord.
Verses 22-23 (Jude 1:22-23) tell us how to deal with bewildered souls led astray by the wicked deceivers against whom we have been warned. “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” There is considerable manuscript variation here. In addition to the King James version, the following is suggested: “And some convict, when contending; but others save with fear, snatching them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” There is not much difference in the meaning of the exhortations. Both direct that a godly discrimination be used in dealing with persons taken in error. A hard and fast rule for treating all alike is contrary to this verse, and to the tenor of Scripture.
Undoubtedly souls have been driven more completely into evil systems by the harshness of well-meaning but unwise persons who so feared contamination with the error that they did not seek, in a godly way, to help the deceived one before refusing him their fellowship. The instruction in 2 John 1:10 applies to a willful teacher of what is opposed to the doctrine of Christ. Such are to be shunned, and even refused a common greeting.
Other methods apply to dealing with those who are often entrapped in error through ignorance. Admittedly these persons have followed their own corrupt will or they would have been kept in the truth by God’s power. Often what is needed is to deal with the sinner as to his ways, rather than the teaching he has accepted. When there is self-judgment the Holy Spirit can be depended on to do His work of guiding into all truth.
Others need to be snatched from the fire. Energetic effort should be made to warn and deliver these souls before the evil gets so firm a hold on them that it is too late for them to seek blessing. But in every instance the believer needs to remember that unholy teaching is defiling and leads to unholy living. Care must be exercised lest, in seeking to aid another, the believer himself becomes ensnared by the evil influence. In so doing he will be unfit to help others because his own fellowship with God in the truth has become marred.
Truth is learned in the conscience, and only as one walks carefully and soberly before God is there security from error. Because Hymenaeus and Alexander did not maintain a good conscience, they shipwrecked their faith-as have untold thousands besides (1 Timothy 1:18-20). When the Spirit is grieved by a careless demeanor and wreckless living He no longer confirms that soul in the truth, but actively convicts the conscience of the sin and failure that have dishonored the Lord. Therefore, if there would be growth in the knowledge of His Word, there must be a walk in the power of the Spirit ungrieved.
So, in seeking the recovery of those who have erred from the truth, the Spirit’s ministry to the conscience must not be lost sight of. Otherwise while we may be able to reason with them from Scripture as to the error of their beliefs, the state of their soul may be lost as ever. When the deceived one is dealt with in the fear of God, and holy faithfulness, his restoration to fellowship will be the first step sought. Then he will see more clearly the seriousness of the evil teaching that led him astray. But in all this the believer always needs to have godly concern lest he himself becomes defiled when seeking to recover another from defilement. This is what is especially emphasized in Jude 1:23.
Chapter Five - Doxology
What a song of holy exultation with which to close a letter that has drawn so dark a picture of the dangers besetting the path of the faithful man! God lives and reigns. His power is limitless. His grace is boundless. His glory and majesty will through all eternity remain untouched by all the evil thoughts and ways of sinful men. The Christian can pillow his head on these blessed and soul-inspiring truths, and so rise above all discouragement, and go on in holy confidence to more than conquer!
“Unto him that is able” (Jude 1:24)-this is what gives new strength to the wearied warrior. Weak and helpless in himself, he looks up in faith to the One who is able and thus out of weakness he is made strong. Let the difficulties of the path be what they may-however thickly strewn with briars and snares-God is able to keep the trusting soul from stumbling. David knew this when he sang, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” (Psalms 23:4). This is comfort enough for faith in the darkest and most trying hour. I may not see a step before me, but He who is able sees the end from the beginning, and bids me confide in His love and wisdom. Thus I implicitly trust myself to His guidance.
No believer would question the power of God to keep him five minutes without stumbling. But He who can keep for five minutes can keep you for sixty. He who can keep for an hour can keep you for twenty-four. And He who can keep for one day can keep you all the days if your eye and heart are fixed on Him. For this very purpose our Lord Jesus Christ has been “separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). He prayed, “For their sakes I sanctify myself [or, set myself apart], that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:19). Thus He became in heavenly glory the object of His people’s hearts, that daily “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) they might be kept from stumbling. And as He has everything we need for our earthly journey, so the end is sure. He is able “to present you faultless before.. .his glory.” There will be no failure here. God has predestined every believer to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). To this end Christ, who loved the church and gave Himself for it, is now engaged in its sanctification and daily cleansing by water-washing of the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing (Ephesians 5:25-27). Then the Eve of the last Adam will be revealed in the same glory with Himself-and all because God is able! Blessed heart-refreshing, and soul-uplifting truths are these!
In verse 25 (Jude 1:25) the King James version ascribes adoration and praise to “the only wise God our Saviour.” The Revised version, and all later translations, omit the word “wise,” as unsupported by the better authorities. But granting it to be an alteration made inadvertently or otherwise by some pious scribe, it shows the effect that the transcribing of this Epistle had on this unknown soul. Contemplating it, his heart was filled and he cried in hallowed ecstasy, “This God is the only wise God. He is indeed perfect in wisdom.” He is indeed the only God, for all others are but the imaginings of men’s minds. The believer does not view Him as judge, but with purged conscience worships before the mercy seat as he acknowledges Him as his Savior-God. He it was who so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son that we might live through Him.
Thus all blessing flows down to us from the heart of God “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” in whose name we return our feeble praises. To Him belongs all “glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever” (Jude 1:25). For this Christ Jesus gave Himself when He died to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Thus He became the Lamb of God who carries away the sin of the world. Even though we still see the effects of sin that mars God’s creation, He is still working out His eternal purpose. When time has run its course, and the last remains of sin are banished to the lake of fire, then the sinless ages of eternity will be ushered in. Then God will be all and in all forevermore, and none will dispute His authority or seek to detract from His glory again.
“Amen,” swells up from every believer’s breast, and faith looks on with joyful anticipation to the accomplishment of every one of His good promises. This affirmative word is, in the succeeding book of Revelation, used by the Son of God as one of His own names, or titles: “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14). He is, in His own character, the affirmation of all God’s plans and ways. Through Him all will end in perfection. All glory, majesty, and authority will be ascribed to the God of all grace while endless ages roll on to infinity. Amen and Amen!
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Jude 1". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26