Keeping Ourselves in the Love of God
Radiant Church’s lead pastor, Keith Welton, delivers a sermon from Jude 1:17-23. He tells us how to build up our faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, and wait on the mercy Lord. You can read the transcript, listen to the audio, or watch the video below.
To listen to last week’s message on Exodus 20:12-21, you can access the audio or video here.
Keeping Ourselves In the Love of God
The next few weeks we are going to talk about some key issues for our church. At the end of the message we want to take time to pray and we will have you get in groups to pray and/or discuss. I will walk you through it, but want to give you a heads up on that.
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, (Jude 1:17-24 ESV)
Introduce you to a new friend. His name is Jude. His is one of the most marginalized books in the NT. It is short, but powerful.
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: (Jud 1:1 ESV)
Jude. a brother of James.
James introduces himself in his book as a “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, (Jam 1:1 ESV)
Jude is in fact the brother of James, and they were the younger brothers of Jesus. These were the same brothers who once thought Jesus was out of his mind. They did not believe in Jesus and even egged him on to appear in public so people could really know who he was (John 7). Jude and James didn’t believe, but like the other disciples who abandoned Jesus at his crucifixion but then returned to follow him and give their life for him. There has now been a dramatic change in Jude. He is now an advocate of the one he once antagonized.
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas [Jude] and Simon? (Mar 6:3 ESV)
Jude is now a servant of Jesus. He is a follower. He is a leader in the church and writes a letter to guide and strengthen churches.
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: (Jud 1:1 ESV)
To those being loved. V1 and in v20 they are beloved. They are those God has loved and because God has loved them Jude has love for them.
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jud 1:3 ESV)
He is telling them to contend for the faith. Work hard. It is to make a strenuous effort on behalf of, struggle for. Agonize. Agony.
Jude is a man who would contend for the faith. Church history accounts of him that he was arrested for proclaiming the gospel and that he would give his life for the gospel under emperor Trajan. One account of him mentions a rough and sacrificial life that he lived, “Then they showed their hands, exhibiting the hardness of their bodies and the callousness produced upon their hands by continuous toil as evidence of their own labor.” 29 acres he worked for his livelihood..
I mention this because I think one of the big things believers have to cultivate today is resiliency in the faith. Fortitude that does not give up. We cannot be so emotionally fragile. Stub my toe on the way to the bathroom and almost lose faith. Get a B and doubt God’s goodness. When cancer sets in it seems incompatible with faith in God. That is because you have not read your Bible and truly considered what people have gone through.
Jude’s goal is to exhort this church to contend for the faith. Contend struggle. There is opposition. Don’t give up and don’t give in! They need to contend because there is opposition.
Look at what he says of these people. These are challenges within the church!
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jud 1:4 ESV)
Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. (Jud 1:8 ESV)
Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. (Jud 1:11 ESV)
Hear his poetic warning.
These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (Jud 1:12-13 ESV)
These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. (Jud 1:16 ESV)
This is the set of problems they are dealing with. It is likely you will have similar problems to deal with in your life. Jude is saying don’t run from it. Deal with it. So in light of this opposition, in light of his charge for them to contend for the faith, what are they to do? Are they to stockpile ammunition, train in MMA, give themselves to greater political activism? Post the Ten Commandments in the city or get bigger crosses on their churches?
Keep yourselves in the love of God, (Jud 1:21 ESV).
This is his central charge. Keep yourselves in the love of God. They are to contend for the faith. That is first and foremost. Keep yourselves in the love of God. That is the chief calling.
It is God’s love we keep ourselves in and not our love. It is not what we have done. We keep ourselves in the love of God. We stay there. We don’t leave it. It is the safe place we go to. We remember we are his and he will protect what is his. He will provide for all we need.
A battle is raging. There is a safe place to go and keep yourself. There is a place of refuge the enemy cannot touch you. We are to know his love and not depart from it.
“secret fortress into the central chamber of which we could go, whither no sound of the war in the plains could ever penetrate.” A.A. McClaren.
We are to stay in that place. The best thing you can give your people is your own personal holiness. Preach the gospel to yourself. Robert Murray Mccheyne. Best thing I can give my people is my own personal holiness.
Jude gives us three things to do: building up, praying in spirit, waiting for…
building, praying, looking. The great diamond is surrounded by a ring of lesser jewels. Why did Jude put two of these similar clauses in front of his direct precept, and one of them behind it? I think because the two that precede indicate the ways by which the precept can be kept, and the one that follows indicates the accompaniment or issue of obedience to the precept. If that be the reason for the structure of my text, it suggests also to us the course which we had best pursue in the exposition of it.
Building yourselves up
This word is not in reference to putting something in place that was not previously there. It is strengthening something that is there. Jerry and the house he bought.
We are kept by God. There is an eternal security that we have in knowing Jesus. He has us. Loves us. Keeps us. Things may go crazy, but he has me. Jude, martyred for his faith. On the blocks, God has me in his hands. If the fear of death is taken away, so is everything else. Even if they do their worst to you, God has you.
If God has done that, we are to build ourselves up.
Most holy faith. Most holy faith.
The malcontents do not view it as a most holy faith. They view it as something less than perfect, something less than complete. It is inadequate. Because it is inadequate you need something else. And let me tell you, I just had a dream last night and God revealed to me what you really need.
Sacred. Strong in the faith. Not subjective but objective. Not just any faith. The faith that has once for all delivered to the saints. (Jud 1:3 ESV). The faith that God has revealed to us. It did not come to us through man. the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jud 1:17 ESV). God used people but come to us from him.
We are to strengthen ourselves. We are to strengthen others. This is to be a goal of the church. What are you bringing to our group that might strengthen people in their faith? We need to share that. Don’t need new revelation. We need insight to what God has already revealed.
Martin Lloyd Jones. Most of your unpleasantness is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.
X- Diet of constant stimulation and distraction, on phones and screens deadens us to things that matter.
Reinke: As digital distractions intrude into our lives at an unprecedented rate, behavioral scientist and psychologists offer statistical proof in study after study: the more addicted you become to your phone, the more prone you are to depression and anxiety, and the less able your are to concentrate at work and sleep at night. Digital distractions are no joke. P43
We need to wake up every morning and rediscover what God has done for us. Discover is used of something that has never before been seen. Columbus discovered America. Discover actually means to uncover something that has been covered. We have a tendency to forget what God has done for us.
50 First Dates. Going out to win her heart each and every day. Great image of what marriage is about. I did it yesterday but I will do it again today. We have to rediscover God’s love each and every day. Hearts are prone to wander. Prone to let other things interfere.
Connect to our groups. Creating contexts to discover what God has done for us. This is what I need. I need to know his love.
Build yourselves up. You have to get in shape spiritually. You are training for a battle. For a war. Don’t be complacent. If I were to walk onto the football field for the Super Bowl, I would get annihilated. I have not been training for a battle. I’m not going to the gym, I’m not out with the team, I’m not talking to coaches, I’m not lifting weights or running drills.
So many Christians today don’t go to church, don’t read the word, are not praying with anyone, have no coaches, are not doing anything to serve others in the community of believers. It is no wonder there are not more conversions. The lives of most of those in the church don’t look any different from those outside the church. People are not having an influence because they are not training. They are not building themselves up.
John Chrysostom. Nothing can injure the man who does not injure himself.
Seek after. Go after. Many of you have stopped. You are not building yourself or anyone else up. You are mad that life has not gone better. Why is it falling apart? It just may be that God is using these circumstances to rouse you to turn back to him. You have quit because certain things became more important to you than God himself.
Apathy is somewhere between faith and unbelief. Unbelief of God’s love. Disinterested in his calling.
“sunning ourselves in the love of God,” A.A. McClaren.
Are you keeping yourself? Do you love him? That is the question. Not can you tell me stuff about him. Do you love him? Not that you trusted in Christ 15 years ago, have had to rely on him much, but you know you locked something in then. Treat Jesus as a fire escape. I can escape hell. But who loves a fire escape?
Grumblers and malcontents. We are not happy with what God has done for us. Friend of friend, who turned sixteen and her dad got her a brand new sports car. She cried in disappointment because it was the wrong shade of blue. Something is wrong there. How can you cry over such a small thing??? God has given us all we need in Christ Jesus. We see his love. We know we are secure. Kept by him.
In his word. His word in our minds.
praying in the Spirit. We have an advocate who is with us. The Spirit of God. We pray in the spirit. Not just to. In the Spirit. It is a means of communing and relating to God. We do not just pray to get what we want. We pray that we be shaped by him.
Susanna Wesley, ten kids. In their little house, there was no place for her to be alone, no secluded closet free from distractions, so she knelt wherever she was and simply flipped her apron over her head. When she did this, her children knew she was praying and even the smallest had learned not to disturb her.
What are you waiting for God to do? What do you long for? Are you staying strong in that or do you feel like you are about to break? Do you feel like you are on the verge of falling apart? I don’t know if God is going to do what you want him to do, but I do know there is a fortress you can run to. There is a place you can hide in and sun yourself. There is a place and his name is Jesus. We see the love of God there. Is your spouse struggling? Remind them of the love of God. Are you not the person you need to be? Has the wait made you something other than what God has? He loves sinners. He keeps you and calls you to keep yourself close to him. Refuse to remove yourself from his presence.
We wait for God. This is one of my least favorite things to do. To wait on God. Always seems to take longer than I would like. Much of our lives are spent waiting on God.
1) with a person as the object accept, receive, welcome (LU 15.2); as indicating active agreement with something, accept (AC 24.15); (2) predominately as having a sense of expectancy, await; (a) of those who wait for the kingdom of God, expect, look for (MK 15.43); (b) of the object of Christian expectation, such as resurrection, the fulfillment of all that God has promised, future glory, mercy, completed redemption, wait for
Keep ourselves in the love of God with others.
We are all in different seasons of life. Some long. Some short. But we all can stand amazed at Jesus. We need to be talking about what we are learning in the word. We also need to talk about what we have going on in life because we have enemies and problems that can creep up and overshadow him. Sometimes marriage conflicts overshadow what he has done. Hurts overshadow him and what he has done. Sometimes it work, bills, etc. We need to talk about those things so others can help us see God’s purpose. This is our goal for our groups. Get in the word of God. Let’s understand the holy faith handed down to us. See the love of God in it. Let’s strengthen one another. If you do this, your counseling bills will go down. Your friendships will strengthen. You need help waiting for God to work!
Also, let me mention that all of the phrasing here is in the plural. Beloved. Building yourselves up. Praying. Keeping yourselves. Plural participles and plural commands. The Christian life is impossible to do alone. Churches are to build themselves up. The gathering of believers.
Need to wake up the church. Sleep walking. Come in more concerned about what others think about you and what kind of coffee there will be, and if the A/C is at 72.23 degrees. Not concerned with Jesus. Not concerned with others.
Keep ourselves in his love.
Been in ministry a while. Have had some neat roles. Have worked with some amazing people. I was at a great church. It was the place so many people were coming to learn from. And I saw it all crumble. I saw some of the people I most respected in ministry depart from ministry, and even depart from the faith. What happened?? They stopped keeping themselves in the love of God. Other things became more important. The gospel wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough that God gave his Son for their sins. They wanted that plus the flourishing church.
Society is so divided right now. How can we come together? Even the church is divided. How can we reunite it? I believe it is by coming together in the love of God. We can have differences of opinions on a lot of things. But we ought to see Jesus is the answer. We ought to come together to stand in amazement at the grace of God.
My goal is not to get a bunch of people in here. My goal is to keep myself in the love of God. Contend with the world by contenting myself in god.
Glacier national park. Walk out to the lake. Stunning. We sat marveling at it. I could have stayed there all day. But after a bit we started to go, and almost as much delight in looking at it, was standing at the opening in which people came out of the forest and had a view of the lake and mountains. Their reactions were amazing. We then climbed up another couple thousand feet to see the top. We were next to an actual glacier. Ice floating in the water.
People from so many different backgrounds were united in their common awe of this. This is what our life together should be like. We need to help others see Jesus. Young, old. Rich and poor. Black, white, Latino, Asian. He is big enough for that. Unity in the church. We have been too focused on political figures, policies on mandates, masks. Revival is breaking out in colleges and they are not talking about these. What restores broken marriages? A bigger view of God. When we are kept safely in the love of God!
Anizor: CS Lewis in The Screwtape Letters describes the slothful as hovering between ignorance of their sin and full repentance. Too lazy to really look at it. Too lazy to take it seriously. Worst place possible. Too much of Jesus to go live in the world but not enough to really be changed by him. We walk away sad. Not willing to admit sin or deal with it. Not willing to completely reject Jesus. But not willing to humble ourselves, give him control, and delight in him. We are unkept.
Few people are willing to admit mistakes. No one needs to repent or ask forgiveness for anything.