My Sunday school class is between studies. We just wrapped up a couple month study on the spiritual gifts. That was a lot of fun to research, study and teach for me because it's something I've always wanted to know more about.
Being the nice Sunday school teacher that I am, I gave my class a list of ideas to choose from for our next study. I had everything from a full out Beth Moore studies to picking a book of the Bible and going chapter by chapter.
We settled on The Shelter of God's Promises by Shelia Walsh - not the least because it comes with 20 minute dvds which fit really well into our hour long class time. I'm really looking forward to listening instead of talking over the next few weeks - that's good to do sometimes! :)
However, until everyone got their books and the dvds came in, I had to do something in the intervening two weeks. I looked at the books of Philemon and Jude because they are each only one chapter long. As I read through both books, I felt pulled into the book of Jude.
To be honest, I've read Jude but it's been awhile, and I've never studied it in depth. I found a lot packed into those 25 verses. The book is sort of divided into two parts.
First, I was interested to learn that Jude was a half brother of Jesus and the brother of James (the writer of the book in the Bible). Jude was not some pillar of the church but he felt compelled to write for a specific reason - to contend earnestly for the faith.
The reason was that "certain persons had crept in unnoticed." Thus begins the next 19 verses describing these "certain persons." They are doing three things that are causing all kinds of problems: defiling the flesh , rejecting authority and reviling angelic majesties. In other words, they are engaging in various kinds of sexual immorality. They don't want anyone telling them what to do, and they are maligning the principalities and powers that they really had no business messing with in the first place (never take on Satan directly - you will lose)
Then, they top it all off by excusing their sin by claiming God's grace - in other words, we can sin all we want because God's grace will cover it. If you look in I Thessalonians, Paul basically says, Do we continue to sin so we can get more grace - never! Jude then goes and gives Old Testament examples. If you have time, look them up - you can learn a lot of what NOT to do.
However, my favorite verses come at the end, when Jude addresses "the Beloved." He gives the believers in this church four things to do specifically contending earnestly for the faith.
They are found in verses 20 and 21 - "But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life." (emphasis mine)
The original words for build here mean build up or upon - so we have the foundation and now we need to build upon it. How do we do this? By being in the Word and encouraging each other in our faith.
Next, we are to pray in the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Spirit is not some mystical rite. It is simply praying through His power and not our own, bringing ourselves into submission rather than insisting on our own way.
Third, we are to keep ourselves in the love of God. The word keep here means to attend carefully. In other words, we are to do what keeps us close to God and then show that love to others. (see a couple posts before this on an in depth look at what God's love is supposed to look like).
Finally, we are to have an eternal perspective. Our home is not here. We will have difficulties, sorrows and hurts in this life, but we have a better place awaiting us - eternal life with Christ.
The next few verses (22-23) basically are telling us to help the unbelievers among us to know Christ, to come to a saving knowledge of Him. Everyone won't be the same, but the end goal is the same - salvation.
The final two verses are my very favorites in the entire book of Jude. "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."
Did you catch the two things we have in Christ? First He is able to keep you from stumbling. In this verse the word keep means to guard and from stumbling means standing firm or exempt from falling. That means Christ guards us so we can stand firm and be exempt from falling. We are no longer slaves to sin as Paul so eloquently tells us I Corinthians. We are free - free indeed!!!
The next part made me catch my breath in wonder - Christ makes us blameless in the presence of God's glory. Did you catch that? Blameless! This word means without blemish or faultless. Christ's blood covers me so completely that when I stand in the presence of God's glory, I'm faultless. Christ's righteousness becomes mine through the transaction of His death in payment for my sins. I really can't get over that - can you??
The final verse is just praise to God - glory, majesty, dominion and authority be given to the ONLY God our Savior, yesterday, today and forever.
Let me hear an amen!
~ Blessings, Bronte