The past several weeks many of our church members have been in and out of the hospital. Some have been for planned surgeries while many others were unplanned. The unplanned visits to hospitals and doctor offices are the ones not as enjoyable. Flu and pneumonia have been rapid this season.
Reflecting on these circumstances has given me a few observations:
- I’m thankful for being well. If you are healthy you do not rub it in the sick person’s face because not only is it shameful but because it is likely they will find a way to share their sickness with you. Healthy people should be simply grateful and seek to find ways to serve those who are sick; whether hospital visit, sending food or flowers, and most of all prayer.
- Dare I say that SPBC has been helping me to pray much!
- Seriously, I want it to be known that our Deacons are often praying and visiting and I’m so thankful to serve alongside them.
- The healed never want to return to sickness. They fight it with every opportunity.
- Some try to fight it through isolation. They don’t go outside or in public places. They don’t answer their door… some don’t even answer their phone! This strategy works but its not practical nor is it a long-term solution.
- Others fight it through insulation. These are the one’s who go their flu shot. They have hand sanitizer in their pockets, Lysol in their bag, juiced up on Vitamin C & Zinc. Further, these are often the people who tell you that you should be doing the same. They are ambassadors on behalf of their doctor.
- HMMMMM… do you see a connection?
- Church is like a hospital. You should not go to church if you are completely healthy. Instead, we go to church because we know we are sick. We need healing and help. Healing comes from salvation. Help and hope come from spiritual growth.
- Church is to be a place where these come: the sin sick, the broken-hearted, the battered identity can all come to see that they are not alone and more, there is a healer called Jesus.
Through January our sermon series is called BELOVED through the book of Jude. This book is little, only one chapter long, but not without big impact. At least, that is certainly my prayer for us as we seek to relate its message to our church’s 3 purposes of loving God, loving others and leading generations.
EXAMINE Jude 1:1-21 TITLE: Beloved, Love God
Scholars often say that Jude is the most neglected book in the NT. This is likely to be true due to the books brevity as well as the books complexity (discusses angel condemnation, the archangel Michael contending with the devil, and quotes non-canonical books of 1Enoch and perhaps others).
Why “Beloved” (ἀγαπητός)? The word or derivative of the word is mentioned 5x (Jude 1:1, 2, 3, 17, 20). This is a very affectionate word. The NIV translates it “dear friends” but that appears weak in relation to those that are loved by God the Father. So, the purpose of naming this series is to remind the church to whom we belong and to why we exist.
What does it mean to be part of the beloved? This implies at least 3 identities:
1) We are servants of God.
Jude opens his letter with a self-description as a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.
Firstly, this obviously means that Jude was a follower of the Lord Jesus. He had come to faith that Jesus was the Christ, that Jesus’ teachings were true and that He had died for sin and was resurrected as Lord. In the beginning and end of the letter Jude notes his servanthood to Jesus by saying He’s the “only Master and Lord” (1:4) and then at the end says that Jesus is the “only God, our Savior and Lord, belonging glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever” (1:25). This shows clear conviction and powerful passion for Jesus.
Further, the idea of a servant (δοῦλος) is remarkable. There are many descriptions of believers: child as son/daughter; heir and joint-heirs; branches to the vine, members of the body, sheep of the flock… etc. but perhaps one that stands out most frequently in Jesus’ parables and in the identities of the apostles is the term servant.
- Greatness is servanthood (Matthew 20:27).
- Love to the fullest is servanthood (John 13).
- Modeling Jesus is servanthood (Php 2:7).
It may be helpful to know that in terms of modern racial and economic slavery, no where in the Bible is slavery required as a way of life. Unfortunately, our forefathers misunderstood this. Certainly, slavery is reflected in the Bible as well as regulated by God in numerous ways to protect individuals and provide freedom (Ex 21; Lev 25:39-55; Deut 15:12-18; 23:15-16). Further, the NT perspective not only reflects and regulates (Gal 3:28; Eph 6:5-8; Col 3:22-25; 1Tim 6:1-2; 1Pet 2:18-21) slavery but refines it as a new and higher way of life modeled by Jesus (Mark 10:45; John 13:4-5; Php 2:7) the Servant of the Lord, as a form of discipleship (Matt 6:24; 10:24; 20:27; 24:45-46; Lk 17:10; Jn 13:12-16).
Second, Jude is identified as a brother of James. This James was well known among the early church and was most likely the apostle James. The Gospels reveal that Jesus had siblings of James and Judas (and Joseph and Simon, see Matt 13:55; Mk 6:3). Therefore, Jude was a half-brother of Jesus and rather than promoting that relationship he simply says he is one of Jesus’ servants.
- Our world, and our church, needs more servants. Too often people seek to have their name in the headlines rather than exercising humility.
- à SPBC Ministry Teams are for all members (see bulletin)
- à See a need, meet a need. (ex. Bruce gluing carpet this past week; Virgil paint, Wael & Jason paint room, ___ cleaning closets; etc.).
- à 1 of 9 Arts of Conversation is serving… Sun Eve 6:30pm
- Service to God and others is an expression of one’s salvation. If you have part-time Christianity then don’t expect a full-time Christ. Jesus is Master, Lord, and Savior over every area of our life as we seek to serve and live out our faith every day.
2) We are saved by God.
Jude writes to a group of believers: those who are called, loved in God and kept for Jesus Christ. We do not know exactly the location or setting of these believers. Essentially, it is written to exhort Christians to continue growing in the faith as well as guarding the truth of the faith.
Jude tells the believers in v.3 that he was eager to write about their common salvation but found it necessary to write to urge them to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Next week’s message will discuss guarding the faith more but for now the focus will be on growing in the faith with three key words:
Called: Persons are not just invited with a general call but summoned with an elective call by God unto salvation (John 6:44; Romans 8:29-30). Likewise, Jesus called disciples by name to follow Him and they immediately, and unexplainably, obey. God the Father draws people to Himself unconditionally – not based on their merit but His mercy (Romans 9:16-18).
Yet, God’s sovereign calling does not remove human freedom or responsibility. Later Jude exhorts believers to “build yourselves up in the faith… and keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 1:20-21). Christian salvation is a mysterious mercy from a marvelous God.
– Illus: The sick person goes to the doctor who provides the diagnosis and prescribes the medical treatment. The doctor provides everything you need to get better. You are on the way to health but you must receive the filled prescription and then continue to take the medicine. If not, your illness will linger and cause additional systemic issues.
Loved: The phrase is in the passive tense meaning it has already been accomplished. The emphasis refers back to God’s calling which displays His Fatherly love for you. Again, God’s love is not just in a general sense but in a special manner through Jesus Christ. God’s love is precise and permanent for every believer. God’s love is not flighty or fleeting. You can do nothing to make God love you more and you can do nothing to make God love you less.
1John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins.”
Kept: Once again, the phrase is in the same passive tense implying what God has already accomplished and referencing God’s salvation call. Jude uses this word 5x (1:1; 1:6 twice; 1:13, 1:21). Interestingly, our salvation is kept by God in a past tense because it is entirely secure but there is also a future nature in that we are being preserved for a purpose – “for Jesus Christ”. Jude anticipated the future coming of Jesus and so should we.
- Our salvation has been obtained by Jesus and it continues to be maintained by Jesus.
- Eternal life is eternal. This is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints; eternal security; once saved always saved.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
John 6:47 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.
John 6:38-40 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 10:27-30 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. “I and My Father are one.”
Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”
1 Peter 1:5 “who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
Jude 1:24 “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy”
- Jesus is keeping and preserving fallen angels for a future judgment (Jude 1:6).
3) We are satisfied in God.
Jude provides a greeting to his audience with another three-fold benefit of being part of the beloved.
Mercy: God’s Mercy is humanity not getting what we deserve. We deserve punishment, suffering and death but instead because of God’s mercy we receive grace. Grace is getting what we do not deserve. We receive forgiveness, joy and life.
Peace: God’s Peace is complete wholeness. The Hebrew word shalom speaks towards this full contentment. Peace comes from the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6-7; Rom 5:1).
Love: God’s Love covers His body (Jude 1:1, 2, 3, 17, 20). They are His beloved. God is love (1Jn 4:8). God’s love remains forever and will never fail (1Cor 13:8). God’s love is not only shared with the Son but those who believe (Jn 17:23) and nothing can separate believers from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:31-39).
Ultimately, we can only love God because God first loved us (1John 4:19).
One day a man was low on his finances. He did not have enough to pay rent, put gas in his car or even food on the table. He did not know what to do. All he had was the clothes on his back and a ring on his finger – a family ring that had been passed down several generations that he did not want to let go. However, he had little options. He took off his ring and sold it to the local pawn shop. The pawn broker gave the man $250 and redemption ticket. The ticket was a reminder to the man that if he wanted to redeem back his ring he had 1-month to do so for the listed price on the ticket.
The gentleman had every intention to redeem his ring. After 3 weeks the man was still low on his finances and having difficulty obtaining enough money to buy back his ring. He pleaded with the pawn broker not to sell his ring. The owner would not budge from the plan. If the man did not return the money the ring would be sold.
The day came for the ring to be sold and the man returned to the pawn shop. In the store window was his ring polished and priced 7x the amount for which he sold it.
– – –
The people Jude wrote to were those who had received, rejected, and replaced the Christian faith. They had pawned off something on the cheap in spite of its great value.
- Maybe you’ve pawned your faith and have wandered away from being part of God’s beloved. You feel guilty and too far gone.
à God offers redemption with His mercy and grace.
- Maybe you have pawned away your future and hopes. You never thought you would be in the circumstances you are currently. You’re humbled.
à God offers renewal with His unfading and unfailing love.
- SPBC purpose is to equip people to love God…
- Start with Jesus
- Sustain with Jesus’ people, the beloved.
 D.J. Rowston, “The Most Neglected Book in the New Testament” NTS 21 (1974-75): 554-63.