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102. The Book of Jude: “Surviving Church”

Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 6/16/2019

and

South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, NJ –Men’s Evening Chapel on 6/20/2019

(edited February 2022)

 

Jude was the brother of James who authored The Book of James in the New Testament. Both of them are said to have been half-brothers of Jesus. Jude and James had Mary for a mother and Joseph for a father. Jesus had Mary for a mother too, but His biological Father was God, according to the Scriptures. The three boys and their other siblings, we will assume, all grew up together in the same household in the city of Nazareth.

 

The Bible teaches that neither brother, Jude nor James, believed on Christ during His earthly life, including Christ’s final 3-year period of preaching and ministry. However, after Jesus died at Calvary and was Resurrected from the dead, both half-brothers did believe at some point and became Apostles and leaders in the early Church. And, as we now know, both of Christ’s half-brothers had their “open letters” to the Church canonized into the Scriptures as we know them today. Jude’s letter consists of a single chapter. This is how he begins:

 

Verse 1: Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

 

Neither brother, anywhere in either of their letters, lays any claim to being physically related to Jesus. I imagine they may have both gotten rich and famous, if they wanted to exploit that connection. I think I may have been tempted in their position. (By the way, based on my limited knowledge of the original languages I would say that the Old Testament Patriarch Judah, the infamous disciple Judas, and Christ’s brother Jude were all called by the exact same Hebrew name during their lifetimes. Apparently, English translators, at some point, decided that there should be different spellings for clarity. I kind of agree with that, wouldn’t you?) Look at Jude’s introduction here.  Jude says that he is James’ brother, but Christ’s servant. Jude makes no big deal of his earthly parents and bloodline here. He says that God is now his Father, as He is the Father of all believers, and that Jesus is the Savior of all of them!

 

Verse 2: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.”

 

Jude, I would think, could have easily become a spiritual snob, or maybe even tried to get people to worship him because of his family connections! But instead, he reveals himself to have become a true worshipper of the Lord and lover of all the brethren in the Church.

 

Verse 3: Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

 

 

James wrote to us about surviving everyday life and our personal interactions with people, in a Godly way. For instance, James said not to plan a business trip and say (to paraphrase), “I’ll be in LA on Saturday.” James advises us to put it this way: “If God allows me to be, I’ll be here or there at such and such a time.”

 

Now Brother Jude comes along and he writes a message in his letter that is similar, but with a different and unique purpose. Have you ever noticed the differences among brothers from the same household? All people are truly unique and gifted by God in different ways. You know, that is really why if you are not saved, not yet a believer in Jesus, not only do you need to come to Christ in order to live eternally with Him in Heaven, but the Church needs you with your individual abilities, right here and now!

 

Brother James barely mentions, in his letter, anything about becoming a teacher of the Faith. Actually, he warns against it because it’s so hard to do (see James 3:1-2). But by verse 3 of this letter, Brother Jude is ready to jump right in and instruct us all on how to teach one another and even, if necessary, to correct our leaders and teachers.

 

Verse 4: For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

The Lord gave this brother, Jude, the specific courage and temperament to take on not just the worldly people and influences you encounter in everyday living, but to confront the worldly who have managed to get within the Church! The Church, the believers in Jesus are the sons and daughters of God. Jude knew that ultimately the Lord Himself would deal with corruption within the Church as well as without. This knowledge gave Jude courage. Listen as Jude presents a history of God’s zeal for the absolute integrity of His Family:

 

The Rebellion of Ancient Israel in the Wilderness:

 

Verse 5: I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.”

 

The Rebellion of the Fallen Angels:

 

Verse 6: And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”

 

 

The Rebellion of Sodom and Gomorrah:

 

Verse 7: Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

 

 

 

In each case, and many others, only the Power of the God could answer the arrogance and devastation of the rebellion against the Lord and all who are His! Left unchecked, anarchy would reign on the Earth and destroy the Church. Apostacy (when unbelievers attempt to teach others) is a rebellion we must face up to in the church and in our world today. Apostates deny the true Power of Christ, and often the power and nature of Satan and spiritual darkness:

 

Verses 8-10:  Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, 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. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.”

 

Now Jude presents us with an Apostate Hall of Fame:

 

Verse 11: Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”

 

Name

Rebellion

Punishment

Cain

Killed his brother Abel over a matter of spiritual pride and jealousy after Adam and Eve had left the Garden of Eden.

Banished from his community and labelled for all time as the first murderer.

Balaam

Accepted wages from the enemies of Ancient Israel to curse them (in name of the Lord!) as they sought to conquer the Promised Land.

Got paid by Israel’s enemies, but has been an object of ridicule through the ages. God actually used the donkey he was riding on to rebuke this man!

Core

Stood up against Moses and Aaron during the Wilderness March after Israel’s exit from Egypt. He and his followers contended that anyone should be able to enter the Tabernacle and speak to and in the Name of the Lord.

God opened a fault line in the ground into which Core fell and then God closed it tight. Core was literally swallowed

up by the Earth!

 

No, Jude is not afraid of this whole topic at all. Listen:

 

Verses 12-13: “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.”

 

Next, we are told about another guy who was given the courage to stand up for God and His Word, Enoch, who was born between the time of Adam and Noah:

 

Verses 14-15: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

 

Enoch was a person who, like the prophet Elijah, was somehow taken to Heaven without experiencing physical death on Earth. I can’t explain it but I do find it to be amazing. Jude must have been reading in the Book of Enoch which was available in his day but was later excluded from the Bible. That is what he is quoting from here. At least this small piece of The Book of Enoch did make it into the Scriptures, after all. I think it packs quite a punch, too!

 

Jude has somewhat more to say about what he had been seeing going on in the Church:

 

Verses 16-19: “These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;  How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lust.  These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”

 

Sometimes you won’t hear any apostacy in their words but, Jude says, note their behaviors. No one in the Church is entitled to separate themselves or to be “above” any other believers. In my opinion, some of the worst apostacy we face today doesn’t involve open atheism or any formal doctrine. The root of it is selfishness, spiritual lethargy, and indifference towards the things of God. I have to watch myself, also, on this stuff!

 

Jude has said a lot in a few words, wouldn’t you agree? Now he closes with what we need to remember about ourselves, others, and the Lord if we are going to survive church, and the Church is going to survive and thrive:

 

toward Yourself:

 

Verses 20-21: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

 

toward Others:

 

Verses 22-23: “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.”

 

toward GOD:

 

Verses 24-25: “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”

 

Let’s pray.

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