Sermon #2034 — Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: A New Year’s Commandment
Text: Jude 1:21
Subject: Persevering in God’s Love
Date: Sunday Morning — December 30, 2012
Tape # AA-97
Readings: Jude 1:1-25
In the 21st verse of Jude’s epistle we are given a commandment. What a blessed commandment it is! — “Keep yourselves in the love of God!” This commandment is found in the middle of several gracious exhortations with which Jude brings his short, but very instructive epistle to its conclusion. Read verses 20-21.
(Jude 1:20-21) “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, (21) Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
You will notice that the other three things are given as gracious, wise, divinely inspired exhortations. That does not make them less meaningful or less important, but each of the other three things in these two verses are present participles.
· “Building yourselves up on your most holy faith…”
· “Praying in the Holy Ghost…”
· And “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Then, right in the middle of these exhortations, God the Holy Spirit gives us a great, urgent, imperative commandment. — “Keep yourselves in the love of God!” If I have read the text correctly the other things in these two verses are given to tell us how we are to keep ourselves in the love of God. Here is the commandment. — “Keep yourselves in the love of God!” Do you ask, “How are we to keep ourselves in the love of God?” Here’s the answer…
· “Building yourselves up on your most holy faith…”
· “Praying in the Holy Ghost…”
· And “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
We must keep ourselves in the love of God by building ourselves up on “our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, and looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
The title of my message is A New Year’s Commandment. As we anticipate the dawning of the New Year, let us do so with this sweet commandment of God our Savior ringing in our hearts. — “Keep yourselves in the love of God!” —
I pray that God the Holy Spirit will cause this commandment of grace to ring in our hearts and that he will give us grace to obey it. — “Keep yourselves in the love of God.”
Throughout this epistle, Jude warns us against false religion, false prophets and apostasy. He speaks of multitudes who have fallen away, being seduced from the simplicity that is in Christ (vv. 4-19).
While Jude gives more detail in describing false prophets than any of the other inspired writers, he does not name any. Jude leaves these deceivers, these wolves in sheep’s clothing, unnamed for a reason. It was not that charity forbids the naming of such men. Sometimes charity demands it, as was often the case with the Apostles in the Book of Acts and in the Epistles of the New Testament. Though he is obviously talking about specific men of reputation in the churches, Jude suppresses the names of these false prophets so that we might learn that…
That which is opposed to the gospel of God’s grace and glory in Christ ought to set us on edge and inspire us to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Psalm 119:101-104, 113, 127-128, 162-165). — Look at a few of Jude’s warnings (vv. 4-19).
(Jude 1:4) “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.”
Jude is here talking about work-mongers, religious legalists. They assert that the gospel of Christ, the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, free, unconditional, absolute, immutable and indestructible grace, the preaching of salvation by Christ alone without any works by us is a licentious, evil doctrine that will lead men to say, “Let us sin that grace may abound.” But there is more to it than just that. — “Turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness” is turning or transferring it from its original nature, design, and use, to something else.
Next Jude specifically names three well-known blasphemers, three glaring examples of apostasy: Cain, Balaam and Korah.
(Jude 1:11) “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.”
· “The way of Cain” represents all who follow the path of freewill/works religion, all who attempt to find acceptance with God upon the basis of something they do.
(Jude 1:19) “These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”
But Jude’s aim is not merely to denounce heresy. He wrote these things to comfort, edify, strengthen and fortify God’s elect in the face of the constant onslaught of heresy we have to face in this world. Jude, I do not doubt, was praying as he wrote this letter to God’s church, — “Blessed Spirit of God, what is the best thing I can say to these dear tried, tested, harassed saints in the face of such evil? What will best secure them? What instruction can I give them that will help them to avoid Satan’s cunning craftiness?” And this is what he was inspired of God to write. — “Keep yourselves in the love of God!”
Proposition: That which is our best preservative from evil is the love of God; and the surest and best way for us to persevere in faith is to keep ourselves in the love of God.
An Unguarded Exhortation
I am sure that some will hear this message, or read it, and immediately object, saying, “We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. To exhort people to keep themselves in the love of God is legalism and the preaching of works. If we use texts like this, we must guard our words, lest men get the idea that they must keep themselves.”
I want you to observe that God the Holy Spirit, whose words these are, puts the exhortation before us completely unguarded. — “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” There it stands in the Book of God. And I have neither the right nor the desire to blot it out of the Book. Indeed, there are many exhortations given in the Word of God, and given without qualification, against which the same kind of objections are raised. I am determined neither to twist them into something else, nor avoid proclaiming them, for fear of men accusing me of heresy. That which is written in the Book of God is to be preached just as it is written.
Anyone with half an eye can see that while we are clearly taught that we can do nothing of ourselves, nothing without Christ, nothing without God the Holy Spirit, nothing without God’s enabling grace, we are exhorted and commanded to do many things, things that are utterly impossible, except God work in us and give us the grace to do them.
If there is any inconsistency in such exhortations, it is the inconsistency of Holy Scripture, and I bow to the Book. I will leave it to others, who imagine that they are smarter than God, to carp and cavil if they choose.
The word of God is not to be guarded and hedged, but proclaimed and obeyed. Yet many preachers are so fearful that they might be considered unorthodox if they dare say what God says, that if they are forced to deal with such exhortations as we have before us, they spoil the effect them with their explanations, conditions and qualifications.
Gospel truth needs no armor. Its naked beauty is its strength and its protection. Who would think about wrapping the sun in a blanket to make its light more clear? Who would dream of painting a rose to make it look and smell more like a rose? God’s Word does not need protecting, but proclaiming.
(Jeremiah 23:28) “The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.”
Now, let’s look at Jude’s command, just as it stands. — “Keep yourselves in the love of God!” The words might be translated, “Preserve yourselves by the love of God.” When tempted of the devil, when faced with trials and temptations, when wicked men would turn you away from the simplicity that is in Christ, “preserve yourselves by the love of God.” When perplexed, troubled, and tossed about by things you do not understand, take refuge in the love of God.
Certainly, all who are born of God and taught of him understand fully that God’s love for us does not depend upon us. There is no danger of any who are loved of God falling from it or losing it!
· God’s love for us is from everlasting (Jeremiah 31:3).
· God’s love for us is immutable (Malachi 3:6).
· And God’s love for us is in Christ. He will not cease to love us until he ceases to love his Son!
Without question, we are to keep ourselves in love with our God and Savior. Again, that love for God which he has given us by his Spirit can never be lost. Yet, our love for Christ can and often does grow cold and indifferent. We are to zealously guard it and seek to love our Savior more and to love him more fervently. And we are to stir up one another’s love for God in every way we can.
· Meditate upon and talk often and much to one another about the blessed things revealed in the gospel.
· Pray for yourself and for one another, in public as well as in private, that we may be taught of God to love him as we ought, that our love may be fervent for him.
· Anxiously look for and anticipate the grace and mercy of Christ unto everlasting life.
These things, by the blessing of God the Holy Spirit, will help to stir our hearts’ love for Christ and revive it.
We are to keep ourselves in brotherly love, in the sweet communion and fellowship of the love of God, too.
(Ephesians 4:1-6) “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, (2) With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; (3) Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4) There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (5) One Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
(1 John 3:16) “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
(1 John 4:7-11) “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. (8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (9) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
(1 John 4:19-21) “We love him, because he first loved us. (20) If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (21) And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
Let us preserve ourselves by the love of God, keep ourselves in love with God, and do everything we can to promote and keep the love of God among the brethren. But Jude’s words are — “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” The Holy Spirit here commands us to keep ourselves in the love of God, to keep ourselves in the grace, favor and love of God for us.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God.” — There is an implication here. If we are commanded to keep ourselves in the love of God, it is implied that we are in the love of God. This is not an exhortation directed to everyone. There are some who are not in the love of God. This exhortation is directed to those who are in love of God.
So I must ask you a question. — Are you in the love of God? Do you know his love in Christ Jesus? Has the love of God been shed abroad in your heart by his quickening Spirit? Have you believed in Jesus Christ unto eternal life, and seen the Father’s love beaming in the face of his crucified Son?
If you trust Christ, you are in the love of God, for the love of God has been shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit who is given to you. Perhaps you are thinking, “Pastor, I cannot tell you how I wish I were in the love of God, how I wish the love of God might be shed abroad in my heart.” I say to you, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall have what you crave.”
Are you in the love of God? Do you trust the Lord Jesus? Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit? If so, this is God’s precept to you, the very precept of God the Holy Spirit who has shed abroad the love of God in your heart. — “Keep yourselves in the love of God.”
“Keep yourselves in the love of God” by cherishing every intimation of it. Do not allow Satan to spoil and rob you of anything the Lord may teach you by his grace, or of any communication of his mercy, goodness and love. And we foster it and cherish it most and best by believing it. Indeed, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit as we believe on the Son of God.
(Romans 5:1-11) “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (11) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”
(Galatians 4:4-6) “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”
(Ephesians 1:13-14) “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
(Ephesians 3:14-19) “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (16) That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; (17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
“Keep yourselves in the love of God” by determinately shunning and avoiding everything that tends to dampen it.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God” by setting your hearts and minds upon the spiritual foundation on which that love rests. Do not look into your own heart, your own emotions, your own feelings and your own experiences, hoping to find things there that will draw forth the love of God. Look beyond yourself! Ever seek to behold the love of God in the Son of his love.
God’s love for us is not a transitory thing that is dependent upon what we do. It does not rest upon the uncertainties of time, or the fickleness of the creature, but is in his dear Son. The love of God is altogether in his Son. If Christ is loved, we are loved for his sake. This is the firm foundation of the love of God. It is not given to us mere mortals of earth, but to Christ, and to us in Christ, in whom we stand complete! It stands as fast and firm as the Son of God himself.
Now, look at verses 20-21 together, and observe the means by which we are encouraged to keep ourselves in the love of God.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God” by building yourselves up on our most holy faith. By the words, “most holy faith,” Jude intends the grand truths of the everlasting gospel revealed unto and embraced by faith. And they are called “your most holy faith,” because they reveal all the holiness of God and covey to us that “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord,” our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith.
The words “building up” assume that there is a foundation laid. Christ is that foundation which God has laid in Zion — a chief corner-stone, elect, precious; and where Christ is revealed in the soul by divine power, a foundation is laid in the heart upon which every subsequent truth is to be built up.
The grand thing to be certain of in our own experience is whether Christ has been laid as a foundation in our souls or not, and if he has we have been driven from every other foundation, finding no rest nor peace but in him. If he has been revealed in our souls by the mighty power of God, we find in him a sure foundation on which we stand and can stand for eternity. He has put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and brought in an everlasting righteousness in which we stand justified. Christ is a Foundation on which our poor, guilty souls may rest. When this Foundation is brought near, and we, by the power of God’s grace, are lifted up to rest upon it —
“How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word.”
“Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). — Now when Christ is made known to your soul by the power of God, “as you receive Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” We receive him by faith. Walk in him by faith, looking to him alone for everything.
It is when we lose sight of Christ that error creeps in. If you would keep yourself in the love of God, set your heart upon the Foundation, and meditate much upon the Person and work of Christ your Redeemer.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God” by “praying in the Holy Ghost.” The life of faith is a life of constant dependence upon God and his grace. It is a life of constant prayer.
(1 Thessalonians 5:17-25) “Pray without ceasing. (18) In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (19) Quench not the Spirit. (20) Despise not prophesyings. (21) Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (22) Abstain from all appearance of evil. (23) And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (24) Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (25) Brethren, pray for us.”
(Hebrews 4:14-16) “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. (15) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (16) Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
“Keep yourselves in the love of God” by “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
(Titus 2:13-14) “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
I send you out to meet the New Year with this New Year’s commandment from God our Savior. O Spirit of God accomplish this in us for Christ’s sake! — “Keep yourselves in the love of God!” — “Keep yourselves in the love of God!” — “Keep yourselves in the love of God!”
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