Standing Firm in the Faith
July 16, 2017
All right, we come to the Book of Jude and we start with who wrote it and it tells us right away it was written by Jude. Now, contrary to public opinion, his first name is not Hey.
Okay, you have to be older to get that joke. [laughs] It's all uphill from here, I'm telling you. Who is Jude? Who is Jude? Well, he is actually the brother of James who wrote the Book of James, and they were half-brothers to Jesus. Now, what's interesting in the story is that they actually did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah nor follow His teaching while He was ministering on the earth. That was the transformation that came later.
It was very interesting because they grew up in the same house with Jesus. Having Jesus as your older brother, how much pressure is that? In fact, Michael Jr. got a whole stiff on this which is very funny, but you can imagine the dynamics. Right? You can just imagine as James and Jude, they had their problems and they would get in trouble. Can you imagine their mother say, "Why can't you boys be more like Jesus?" Talk about pressure. Or they would have their problems, their issues, they would come to mom with their problems and you can just imagine their mom saying, "Well, what would Jesus do?" then, she gave them a bracelet.
Actually, on a more serious note -- What actually happened was this, at one point in Jesus's ministry, His mother and brothers actually came to speak to Him. He was into a crowd, and someone came and said, "Your mother and your brothers are outside and they want to speak to you." Now, it tells us that they thought that He had perhaps lost his senses, so they want to speak to Him, but Jesus turning to the crowd said, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" He said, "Whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother or my sister or my mother." Really very interesting.
When do they come to faith? After the resurrection, Jesus actually personally appeared to His brother James. He then believed, he recognized, same with Jude, he recognized that this indeed was, in fact, the Messiah. In fact, James became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. Jude introduces himself very humbly by saying that he's a bondservant of the Lord Jesus the Messiah. You can just see these amazing transformation that he has in his life.
Why is he writing? Well, he's writing this letter to warn the church not to stray into these strange doctrines, these false doctrines that were bothering the church, because the result of these false teaching was to bring about a worldliness in the people who believed it. Because they're worldly-minded, that's what he tells us, he challenges the church to be different, distinct from the world. These false teachers are worldly-minded. It means that their mind is set on worldly things. It also says that they are devoid of the Spirit.
That's the key to what he's writing. See, those who pursue worldly things do so because they don't have the life of the Spirit. The life of the Spirit is the difference. That's what changes lives. Simply going to church doesn't change a person's life. There needs to be the reality of God. See, simply going to church is not going to do it. It's like, yes, you see a friend, he's dressed up in his gym clothes, so you say, "You're going to gym?" he said, "Yes, I'm going to gym." You say, "Hey, have a great workout." He says, "I'm not going there to work out." "Well, why you're going there?" "I like watching other people workout."
What good is that? Spiritually speaking, it's the same thing. What good is it to watch other people worship? What good is it to watch other people have faith? He's telling us that there needs to be a spiritual reality in us and it gives us this theme in verse 3, "I felt it necessary to write to you appealing that you would contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered for the saints."
Okay, let's read it beginning in verse 17, "But you, beloved, you ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you that, "In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lust. Now, these are the ones who cause divisions, they are worldly-minded, and they are devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God"
I. Keep Yourself in the Love of God
Now those verses are still key for us right there. "keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some," he's turning your direction to other people around you, "have mercy on some who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh." Then he finishes with this worship doxology, as he just gives honor to God.
"Now, unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and the make you stand in His presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus our Lord, the glory, and majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." Great verses. There's a theme that he really builds on starting in verse 21 where he says to, "keep yourself in the love God." This is the foundation in standing firm in your faith.
Keep yourself in the love of God. We love the expression that Christianity is not a religion, it's a relationship. We love that expression, but here's the reality, then there needs to be a real relationship and love. "Keep yourself in the love of God" is the key to that relationship. In other words, we need to put our heart into it for us to keep ourselves in the love of God. Here's another illustration, what happens if you don't put wood on fire? What happens if you don't water your lawn? What happens if you neglect your marriage relationship?
A. Build yourself up on your faith
See, the answer to all of these questions is the same thing. You have to keep the wood on the fire or the wood's going to die. You have to keep watering your lawn or your lawn's going to die. What happens if you forget your anniversary? Well, it doesn't end well.
This is the difference, you put your heart in, you keep yourself in the love of God. Then he shows us some of the aspects of what that looks like, starting in verse 20 because he builds up to it. He says, "Build yourself up on your most holy faith," that's an interesting expression: Build yourself up on your most holy faith. Now, he means, of course, that there is a foundation on which to build your faith.
This is the key Jesus gives in Matthew 7:24-25, Jesus taught this very thing, and He said, "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them," in other words, he doesn't just hear but he takes hold of them and lives those words. "Everyone who hears these words and acts on them, he may be compared to a wise man who builds his house on the rock, for the rain fell, the floods came, the winds blew and slammed against that house; yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock." This is a great verse for us to understand it. There's a foundation, there's a rock on which to build your life, but He's saying here, to build yourself up on it. That's an interesting expression, "build yourself up."
If anyone who's ever flown on an airplane knows that, when you get into your seat, the flight attendants always have these pre-flight safety briefing and a little speech, always includes the words that, "Should there be lost of pressure on the cabin, these oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling." and then they always had these phrase, "Make sure that you put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you help anyone else."
That is actually a great spiritual analogy because you build yourself up first in your faith before you can help anyone else in their faith. This is a really important word for us, because where does faith come from? How do you that? How do you build up yourself on your most holy faith? How do you do it? Where does it come from? The scriptures tells us in Romans 10:17, "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ."
This is the key, God sends forth His Word in power sharper than any two-edged sword. He sends it forth, it does not return void without accomplishing the purpose for which He sent it. It is the power of God because it is the heart of God poured out. You keep yourself, you build yourselves up on your most holy faith. That word of God is this key that we're constantly, consistently, steadily, just being build up by that word that Christ speaks to us.
Reminds me of a funny story that happened this week. I was in my office, I came down to the lobby and there was some kids playing. I love kids, I started talking to them. One of the little girls, she's seven, her name is Mia. She came up to me and she said, "Hey, did you know that I listen to you every night when I go to bed?" I said, "Really? Like every night?" She said, "Yes, every night. My mom puts on the iPad and we listen to one of your sermons. Every night, I have to have it. I have to have it every night before I go to bed. I said, "Really? Every night? Why do you do this?" She says, "Because it puts me to sleep."
I was feeling really good about it until she said that, but here is the point: we have a part in our growing of faith. We have a part. He says, "Listen, you build yourself up, I'm going to give you the mortar, the logs. You build yourself up on it, I'll give you what you need. Here's the point, He says, "Listen, I give you the principles of my word, now you take those principles and then you live those principles.
I'm going to give you wisdom, now you take that wisdom and you begin to make your decisions of life according to that wisdom. I'm going to give you truth, now you take hold of that truth and it does a transforming thing into your heart. I give you what you need, now you build yourself up on your most holy faith." He then says, "You be careful of how you build." Notice 1 Corinthians 3, Paul is writing, this is verses 10-13, "Each man must be careful how he builds on that foundation. No man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, that's Christ Jesus."
If any man builds on the foundation, he begins to list these different things that had different qualities. If you build with gold, silver, or precious stones -- notice that these are things that will survive a fire, but wood, hay, and straw will not, they are burned up. He uses this as an analogy of the things that you do with your life. He says, "Each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work."
What do you do with your life? You spend it on things that are temporal, earthly, self-centered, self-focused? They can be burned up. Spend your life, build your life, do something that has an eternal consequence. He says, "These are the things," it's evident that you're building your life on that foundation with things that remain because they are things which are eternal. He said, "Build yourself up," because frankly, there's a lot of things that will tear you down.
You've got to build yourself up in this world, build yourself up in faith because there's a lot of stuff that's going to tear you down. A lot of stresses, a lot of deceitfulness of riches, worries of the world, sins, temptations, these will tear you down. Notice, in the parable that Jesus gave of the farmer sowing his seed, remember He said the Word of God is like that farmer, sowing his seed whether it's wheat or barley, and it falls on different types of soils.
I'm not going into the entire parable, but one of those types of soils is a type of a heart where He describes it in Mark 4:18-19, "And others are those on whom the seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who've heard the word, but the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, the desires for other things, they enter in and they choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful."
B. Praying in the Spirit
There are a lot of things that will tear you down, take away from your spiritual life. He said, "You build yourself up on your most holy thing. You keep yourself in the love of God." He says in verse 20 in another aspect of that, "praying in the Holy Spirit," praying in the Spirit. Now, this is part of keeping yourself in the love of God if it's a relationship, and part of that relationship is having a relationship where there's love in it. Keeping yourself in the love of God means to pray He says, "in the Holy Spirit."
We've all had the time for prayer where it's just a simple short prayer which is very appropriate at the right time. For example, Jesus Himself is described as just simply giving thanks before a meal. He took the bread, and it says, "He gave thanks for it, and then He broke it and distribute it." Very simple, yet at the same time we know that Jesus had such an intimate relationship with His Father that He would get away by Himself. The disciples, they saw it, they knew that His prayer life was part of that relationship to His Father.
They saw the power, they saw the Spirit, they saw what was happening, and they connected the dots to the point that they even said, "Teach us to pray like that." If Jesus was walking among us and you saw His prayer life, you saw His relationship to His Father, you would connect the dots too. You'd want the same thing. You would say to Him, "There's something in your prayer, you know how to pray, show us how to pray."
What's interesting is, He says, "You are praying in the Holy Spirit. I will send another helper to you who will come alongside of you and help you." He said, "You are praying in the Spirit," when you are praying, you're not alone, the Spirit is helping you, with you, inspiring you, directing you, and even praying for you. Notice Romans 8:26-27, "In the same way the Spirit helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."
You don't know how to pray. There have been times where I don't know what to pray. Crying out to God with some deep things. I don't know how to pray, I don't know what to ask for. He says the Spirit is coming alongside, It's praying for you even. If you're going through a crisis, that is definitely a time for a deep prayer. What's interesting is I've had people tell me, "I feel like a hypocrite because I wasn't praying before, and now this trouble has hit, now this crisis thing has come, now I'm praying but I feel like a hypocrite. I don't feel like I had to because I'm a hypocrite."
My answer is always the same, "You're in a crisis, you're in trouble, you pray, period." You need the Lord, you get there, you run to the tower of the Lord as fast as you can run. You need the Lord, you're in crisis, you're in trouble, you start praying. Here's the thing, God works with you, walks with you through it, and the calm, the peace the answer comes, well, then don't stop praying.
Don't fall off the grid in regards to your relationship to the Lord, you keep yourself in the love of God and you continue to press forward. Some have suggested that this is praying in tongues, maybe it is. We believe in the availability of all spiritual gifts and this could be included in what Jude is writing because we're surely built up by it. The essence of what Jude is writing is simply the nearness of God that comes when we pray with a heart that desires that intimacy, that nearness. The Spirit prays with us.
In Mathew 6:6, Jesus gave us a glimpse of that kind of prayer when He said, "But you, when you pray, you go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." There was a movie that came out, a year or two ago, The War Room. I tell you what, I've never seen a better movie, or read a better book than what that showed us as a picture of that intimate prayer life that really truly is building on that relationship that you have with the Lord.
Because here's the key that you've got to see, when you're praying in the Spirit, you are praying in power because the Holy Spirit is power. Notice in Acts 1:8, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and you'll be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, remotest part of the earth." You have the Holy Spirit when you receive the living God. The Holy Spirit is power. When you are praying in the Holy Spirit, that is the power of the life of the believer.
C. Have a spiritual mind
You want the effect of life? It's found in that perspective. You keep yourself in the love of God, you build yourself up on your most holy faith. It's an interesting perspective that we get in verse 19, where he tells us that these false teachers and these deceivers that are bothering the church, he says, are worldly-minded. Their mind is set on world, on flesh; it's a dangerous thing.
We can just reverse that for the life of the believer and apply it and say, "Look, we'll then, have a spiritual mind." Have a spiritual mind. If you were to take a quick poll and ask, "How many people actually want to be godly in their life?" Let's not do that poll, but you could, you could do a poll, you would be surprised how many people would say, "I want that." We could do a poll. I'm convinced that most people in this room would raise their hand, "I want to be godly in my life.
How does that work, exactly? How does that work? I suggest to you that it has everything to do with what happens in the mind. Be transformed by the renewing of the mind. He says in Romans 8:6, "The mind that is set on the flesh is death," "it brings forth death," in another -- "but the mind which is set on the Spirit is life and peace." It brings forth life and peace. Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."
Be transformed in your mind if you want to have a godly resolve, if you want godly transformation; I suggest that your mind is the key to it. Paul says, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." For example, one aspect of godly things or godly life is to be gracious. Isn't that true? All right, if grace comes forth from you, that is a part of godliness. You're demonstrating godly maturity when you give grace to people around you. I suggest to you, [background noise] that that microphone used to work.
I suggest to you that if you want to have graciousness coming out of you, it begins by graciousness within you. In other words, you think gracious thoughts toward other people. In other words, it doesn't work very well to have grumbling, irritated thoughts about other people. "I can [snarls]. I can't believe that [snarls]." Then you ran into him, "Hi, friend." There's inconsistency there. If you could have a graciousness in the thought, then you could be gracious in reality.
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." I suggest to you that He meant that from His heart. When you have forgiveness in your mind, you have forgiven them in your heart. Then you can speak life, kindness, grace, and peace. It's a beautiful picture for us, in fact, it's also is in Proverbs 23, Jesus pointed it, "Do not eat the bread of the selfish man, or desire his delicacies; for as a man thinks within himself, so he is."
II. Blessed are the Merciful
We become as we think, and therefore, having a spiritual mind is such a key. Build yourself up on your most holy faith. Keep yourself in the love of God. Praying in the Spirit, having a godly mind. This is what he's speaking into each one individually, but then in the next verses, he turns the tables and he asked you to consider how that then impacts people around you? Would you notice the next verses he says, verse 22, "And have mercy on some," he says, "who are doubting."
A. Strengthen the doubter
Now that's an interesting thing. You can imagine why he's writing this. There are troubles in the church, there are troublers. They're coming with this doctrine that is really harming them spiritually. He says, "you, you come alongside." He says, "Especially, strengthen the doubters." Notice, in verse 22, "Especially those who are doubting." It's like a picture of someone who's running on a race. They're just really not sure they can make it.
They're running out of steam, they're running out of energy, and they're just getting down to it. Someone comes alongside of them, just says, "You can do this thing, come on you can do this thing." You're strengthening the doubter because they don't know they can do it, and you're like, "Come on, you can do this thing." You're strengthening them; you're adding courage to them.
Someone posted on Facebook this video of this army captain, a woman who is going through this endurance testing. She's got like this 70-pound pack and a rifle. She's got to go through this what long, long march and make it within a certain number of minutes. She's just getting worn down to nothing. Her legs are barely able to stand. She crumbles to the ground at one point.
People come around her and just start to speak into her, "Get up. You can do this thing, get up. Don't quit, don't quit. Get up. You can do this thing." She just puts her right foot on, she barely gets up, she walks a little more, and then people are coming alongside her, "You can do this thing." She's so close to the finish line. They just keep strengthening her, keep strengthening her. She finishes and she collapsed. Everybody's like, "Yes." Very inspiring.
It gives this picture that we need one another. We need each other, we need the church to strengthen one another. Then you get a picture of that, there's so many examples of that. I look at the Old Testament, one of my great heroes is Daniel. Because, Daniel, taken captive out of Jerusalem, exiled into Babylon, away from family, away from accountability, but he is determined in his heart that he is going to honor God.
What I love about him -- that's a great part of the story, but then he brings along these friends: Meshach, Shadrach, Abednego, "Come on guys, we're going to stand for God, we're going to stand for God together. Come on guys, let's do this thing." There's that strengthening that comes alongside. That's a great picture. That's the way the church should be.
Really, encouraging works, because sometimes people get in trouble, and the church jumps down on them.
We need to be encouraging them, they need strengthening. See in Hebrews 10:24-25 it says, "Let us consider how to stimulate one another." That's that encouragement to stir other people up. "Come on guys, come on guys, we can do this thing." Stir people up. To love in good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some. In other words, we need to draw in church. We need to be in church, we need to be in a relationship, we need to strengthen one another.
You take a log out of the fire and put it up by itself, it will die. When logs are added together, when fire is added to fire, there's an intensity to that. There's a heat that comes from that. There's a power that comes from that. That's why the church is so important because there's an encouragement that comes to everybody. "Come on guys, we can do this thing." Don't forsake the assembling, but he says, "but encouraging one another, all the more as you see the day drawing near."
Man, with the troubles that are coming on this earth, we're going to need that. You see the example in Paul doing that to Timothy, his young son in the faith. Is it 1 Timothy 1, he says, "This command I entrust you, Timothy, my son. In accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them," here, he goes. "you fight the good fight, man. You stand in it, come on now, you fight the good fight. You keep faith in a good conscience. Some have rejected this and have suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith, but now you, you stand strong, you fight the good fight. You stimulate into love and good deeds, you stir each other up."
B. Snatch people out of the fire
Then I love how he finishes, verse 23 he says, "Save others." He says, to save them, "Save others, snatching them out of the fire." Have a concern for the soul of people around you, snatching them out of the fire. God uses people to tell people that there's a way out of this world's mess. There's a way out of the despair. There's a way out of the of the mess. It takes people with faith, with courage, with strength. You build yourself up in the most holy faith, you keep yourself in the love of God, and you got something to say to those that are broken down. You got lives to speak, you got a message of life to the dying world.
I received an email many years ago that was critical. It was trying to correct me by saying, "You should stop saving souls because only God can save souls." To which I said, "You're right, only God can save souls but it is a privilege to be used of God to do it." I pray for every one of us to have that privilege. Have you led someone to Jesus Christ? It is a privilege of privileges, it's an honor of honors. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:22, "I have become all things to all men so that I may, by all means, save some." Good thing Paul didn't have email.
Pastor Rich: We get to tell people the good news. In fact, you're like an ambassador, God designated you as like an ambassador. It says in 2 Corinthians 5:20, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us. Therefore, we beg you, on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God." Maybe you know my story. That God is using the pain of losing our daughter. She was killed, three years ago. Transforming that into the purpose of transforming lives.
Working alongside my friend, Judge [unintelligible 00:31:31], we are bringing a four-year, fully accredited bachelor's degree program in the Bible into the penitentiaries of Oregon so that those who graduate, go to this program, are going to be transformed. They are going to be transformed. The amazing thing is that they are, therefore, going to be sent out into the prisons all across the state of Oregon to make a difference, to be like chaplain's assistants, and they're going to be changing the culture because they're going to bring the spirit of life everywhere they go.
Amen? Amen. Here's the point that I'm making: it gives them meaning. It's transforming them so that they can transform others. I was down in Texas as I was visiting the penitentiaries there where this is going on, I was speaking to some that they had sent out. It was in this other prison. Talking to this assistant chaplains, I had an opportunity to ask a question on several -- but one question I asked was, "What does this mean for you personally?" Their answers were powerful and moving.
One of them stood out, and he said, "It's giving me hope. It's giving my life meaning and purpose. I didn't have purpose." he said, "I know what I've done. I own that. I know what I've done," -- he's a lifer -- he said, "but to be able to make a difference in somebody else's life, it means so much to me." He said, "My mother blamed herself for what happened to my life, and as much as I try to tell her, 'Mom it's not your fault. I did this. This is me. I did this. It's not your fault,' she couldn't stop it. She just had to blame herself."
He said, "One day, at graduation, they allowed my mom to come. There I was, I had my cap, my gown. I knew I had accomplished something. I was the only one in my family that got a degree and I got it in prison. There was my mom, so I went over to the side, I took off my hat and my gown, I folded it up, I gave it to my mom, and I said, 'Happy Mother's Day.' She's crying, and I said, 'Mom, if I was a missionary in Africa, I would be a hero. Wouldn't I?' She said, 'Yes. You would be hero.'"
He said, "I want you to see I am a missionary because I am doing the very same thing. I'm changing lives. I'm taking people out of gangs. I'm showing them life. I'm helping them. I'm transforming them, and in the eyes of heaven, I am a hero." Want some meaning in your life? Want some purpose in your life? Make a difference in somebody else, because that's eternal.
Build yourself up on your most holy faith, keep yourself in the love of God, learn to pray in the Spirit but do something with it. Do something with it. Do something with it that's eternal. Have some meaning. Have some purpose to your life. Do something with it, because God uses it and there's a crown of glory