Keeping On (Jude 20-23)August 28, 2022 | Brandon Cooper
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Good morning, you want to go ahead and open up the Jude and we’ll be in verses 20 to 23. This morning coming near the end of Jude 20 to 23. As you’re turning there, so we were at the Indiana Dunes beach a few weeks back. And if you’ve been following the news at all, you know that this is one of those years where the rip currents were supposed to be a little bit worse than usual. So we had this conversation with our kids as they were getting ready to swim, you know, you got to watch out for rip currents watch out for that Undertow feel very, very dangerous. But that in itself is of course not really enough to say to them, I’ve got my six year old nine year old 11 year old standing in front of me eyes wide, you know, a little bit terrified because of all that I’ve been telling them but going I don’t even understand what you just said. And more importantly, I don’t know how to watch out for this. Like what does that mean? And what would happen if you know if I am caught one? What do I do kind of thing. That’s what we have here at this moment in Jude. Jude has spent the last 19 verses especially verses five to 19 saying Watch out. Watch out for wolves, there are false teachers, you gotta contend for the faith. There is eternity at stake and Jude’s congregation eyes wide are going How can you? Can you help me out here a little bit? And what does this look like? Practically because with so much at stake, that’s what we need to know there are great dangers threatening to pull us away from Christ like a rip current dragging us away from the shore. Some of those dangers are external, like those wolves we’ve been talking about. Some of those are internal, our own sin nature, how we respond to temptation, but there are these forces against which we must contend. So what does it look like to take those seriously to be vigilant in our own lives and in the lives of others? That’s what we’re gonna look at this morning. Two main points kind of two halves to this passage. So first one, first way we do this is keep yourselves and we’ll see that that is something we do together. Let me read verses 20 to 21, as we look at that, but you dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, Keep yourselves in God’s love, as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Well, Merritt mentioned that last week that we started this transition, few verses back when it said, But dear friends, what we’ve fully turned the corner at this point, we’re fully transitioned with this phrase, but you, dear friends is a little bit like those great, but God moments that we get a lot in Scripture Ephesians, two, in particular, your sinners by nature, your objects of God’s wrath, but God, because of His great love for us, because he’s rich in mercy has made us alive. In Christ. This is the same sort of idea. There’s been a whole lot of bad news. And now all of a sudden, we flipped to some pretty good news. There are wolves, there’s false teachers, there’s ungodliness, all around us, but you, but you do your friends, there’s something different for you. If you were here, back when we started this series, week, one, you might remember we talked about the structure of the letter as a whole at that point, verses three and four kind of gave us the whole structure, verse three, Jude says, contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. And verse four tells us lie, we need to do that, because there’s certain individuals, ungodly teachers who have secretly slipped in among you, then the rest of the letter, basically, he’s unpacking those ungodly teachers that was verses five to 19. Here’s what this looks like. This is why this matters so much. Now at last here in verse 20, he gets back to the the imperative contend for the faith. This is what it looks like. It’s something we need to do, as God’s beloved, the dear friends, the Judas calling us those who are loved and God who have been called by Him and who are kept for Jesus, something we need to do so what is the command that we get in these verses 20 and 21. The command is keep yourselves in God’s love. He loves us. And he keeps us we’ve seen already in this letter so so stay there. Don’t leave that place. His love. Now Jude is here almost quoting his half brother Jesus, John 15, verses nine and 10 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you now. remain in my love? If you keep my commands you will remain in my love just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in his love. Keep yourselves in God’s love remain in his love. Now we start to see what exactly that means here in John 15. To remain in his love to keep ourselves in His love is in part to obey his commands. That’s how we do it. Now. There is this tension here for sure. Throughout Jude throughout really the Bible, because way back in verse two, Jude told us that we are kept by God, for Jesus. But now we’re supposed to keep ourselves. So whose responsibility is it helped me out here, Jude. So there’s that tension. As I said, throughout Scripture, it’s a little bit like evangelism, we know that only God can save only God can turn the heart and yet at the same time, Romans 10, how will they believe unless they hear and how will they hear unless we talk unless we share the gospel. So there’s this tension between God’s sovereignty and our responsibility. And that’s what we have here we are kept by God and we keep our selves, it’s a little bit like, let’s go back to the rip current for a moment here. Imagine that Brielle is a she’s about the right size for this. So she’s starting to get dragged away. And I sensed this as I’m standing next to her on the beach, and I reached down and grabbed her hand as tightly as I can. She’s flailing around, she grabbed me nails are digging into my arm at this point, blood is flowing, it’s a good thing. We’re like Michigan, otherwise the sharks would be circling and all of that, who is keeping her in that moment? Because I’m holding her and she’s holding me? No, really, my grip is determinative. In part because I’m the one standing away a little bit more. But her grip isn’t meaningless. In that process, not at all, and maybe more important, fitting Jude’s context. Especially she could she could mess this process up. She could be like, Look, Dad, this sounds really fun. Like, I’m gonna ride this wave for a bit, okay, and start peeling my fingers back one by one or something like that. That’s what Jude is saying. Why would you pry yourself out of God’s hands? Stay there. Keep yourselves in God’s love. Because God has us we need to rest in his grip. Now, how do we do that specifically, dude gives us three activities. They’re almost like sub commands here. We’re supposed to build and pray and wait. So first, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith. It is important for us to see at the outset that this is a communal corporate command. That’s why our point here is not just keep yourselves but keep yourselves together. Like all of us together, we keep ourselves in God’s love. We know this because of that word, build yourselves up. It is always a corporate word look like Ephesians, 219 and 20. Here’s where Paul’s talking about the unity of the Body of Christ. Specifically, the Jews and Gentiles have come together to form this one body, he writes, consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers speaking to the Gentiles, but fellow citizens with God’s people, and also members of his household, built, same word built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. So that word built or being built. It’s a common word in the New Testament, and it’s always used of us, never of me. It’s a corporate word, we are being built into that temple by which God dwells by his spirit in which he dwells by His Spirit. Now we are being built up, or even maybe built on the foundation of what the most holy faith Jude says, well, that’s a call back to verse three. Isn’t it contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people were being built up in that elsewhere in the New Testament, the foundation is Jesus. First Corinthians 311, you can build on any foundation except that which has already been laid Jesus Christ. So what is it well, and then of course, in Ephesians, two, I just read that you got, we’re being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Make up your mind.
They’re all the same thing. Of course, because Jesus is the foundation. He’s also the object of our faith in the content of the teaching of the apostles and prophets. So that’s what we’re being built up on. You want a one word summary of it, we’re being built on the foundation of the gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul really brings all these ideas together in Colossians, two, six and seven. So then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him strengthened in the faith, right the faith that you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. So the gospel being built in the gospel, we need to know it, need to know it, rightly, not a false gospel, but the true gospel, we need to rehearse it to ourselves daily, we need to meditate on it, delight ourselves in it. And that’s something that we do together. I think anytime you come across the command to remember in Scripture, there’s sort of an implicit command next to it isn’t there? Remind, if we’re going to remember, we need people reminding us of this, we need to remind each other of these truths. That’s what we do here in this gathering room. Our hope is that the gospel is the foundation of every service from beginning to end from the call to worship, to the benediction. This is what we do. The gospel is the foundation down in kids city and in City Link and city stew. It’s the foundation of our community groups, it’s the foundation of our journey groups are kicking off like in the next week. In fact, you know what our first unit is in jurnee, groups, gospel foundations, like there’s the idea, this is what we’re being built up in that faith, the Gospel. Second thing. Second thing we do is we pray in the Holy Spirit. That’s the reminder that this is not just a lifeless doctrine that we hold to but a living faith, maybe even we could go so far as to call it a relational, a conversational faith. I think it’s really important that Jude says here to pray in the Spirit. Because earlier in the letter, he seemed to discount spiritual experiences, because he talked about the false teachers who are nothing more than the strength of their dreams, their subjective spiritual experience is guaranteed to talk to those false teachers, they would go, the spirit was laying this on my heart, the spirit was telling me so he’s discounting that, absolutely. But here’s the thing, he’s not against the spirits, guidance at all. So long as that subjective impression of what the Spirit is saying to you is in line with the most holy faith, which is objective, and true. So what that means is we test everything against the faith that has been revealed to us any experience impression that we have you watch that 60 minutes documentary about the die, the guy who died and came back and he can tell you all about heaven, and you’re gonna go what the Bible say? Because what he says is different than what the Bible says, then he’s out of his mind. And we don’t get any attention to that we test everything against scripture, isn’t that what Paul says, like Paul holds this intention also, first, Thessalonians? Five, I think I’m right about that. But somebody checked my work. What does Paul say? He says, Don’t quench the Holy Spirit. Test everything. Hold fast to what is good. There’s another tension, right. And you probably fall in one camp or the other. There’s some people who quench the Holy Spirit. And there’s some people who test nothing. Let’s be people who don’t quench the Holy Spirit, and who test everything and only hold fast to what is good. Test everything. How? The Word of God, that’s the test, of course, that’s what we keep going back to. But what does it mean exactly? To pray in the Spirit? Is this specifically charismatic prayer, praying in tongues? Maybe even? No, I don’t think so. That would fall under this umbrella. Absolutely. But this is a much broader category A why because of what we see elsewhere in Scripture. Ephesians 618, for example, Paul says, pray in the Spirit,
on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. So all of our prayers are offered in the Spirit. This is how we should always pray two reasons for this. Number one, we don’t always know what to pray Do we ever had, that you’ve been in a situation like I got one going on for a while now where I’m like, and I just entrust this to you, because I don’t know what to ask here. And so we don’t know how to pray. So thankfully, Paul tells us Romans eight, the Spirit intercedes for us. When we don’t have the words to pray. The spirit is our copy editor. Right? We pray some things in our fallenness and the spirit goes, Father, that’s not what he meant. Okay, let me help you out. This. This is what he was trying to say. And of course, the spirit in this process leads us in prayer so that there are times when you absolutely feel compelled to pray for us. something, maybe it’s healing, maybe it’s for someone specifically outside the faith, or there are other times where you feel constrained. So you can’t pray for something this promotion, I can’t ask for it. So that’s how the Spirit does that. So that’s reason one. The second reason that we always pray in the Spirit is because we go to God the Father through Christ in the Spirit. That’s the vision of the New Testament, prayer is always Trinitarian. We’re only able to approach the Father because of the work of the son. But we do so in the spirit. Ephesians 218, this is right before the verse I just read from Ephesians two, Paul says this, For through him through Christ, we both Jews and Gentiles have access to the Father by one Spirit, so that before the throne of God above thing that we’re doing, that’s in the Spirit, through Christ. That’s how we stand before God the Father. So the Spirit reveals the mind of Christ to us. And then he is himself the bond of love that unites us to the Father so that we can speak to him in conversation. I gotta pause here for a moment and say this is why is not just God’s word, but spiritual life, are two of our core values at this church. God’s word is foundational, and it’s the first value on our list. But spiritual life is right there with it like they go together. In fact, if you were to read the little tagline we have around our circle for spiritual life, it’s John 15. Already called remain in my love. What is Jesus say in John 15, if you remain in me, and I am you, you will bear much fruit. That’s the picture. He’s the vine, we’re the branches we abide in him. So that our tagline for spiritual life is intimacy, in Christ in the spirit in prayer, they all go together. Christianity is not just assenting to doctrine, or performing certain rites. Christianity is a whole self, body, soul and spirit, whole self intimacy, with the Triune God as individuals, and as a congregation, because we’re gonna keep ourselves together, right? We keep ourselves together in God’s love, as we read and pray, are the two foundational disciplines of the Christian life. Ideally, by the way, they’re not really two disciplines, but one united discipline, word for prayer, something like that. Because what happens, we read God’s Word as we meditate on His Word, we ask certain questions of the texts before us. And we see in the passage attributes of God, His character in his work in our lives, and in history for which we praise Him. And so our reading turns into prayers of adoration. And then we see in Scripture a standard to which we have not held ourselves. We’ve fallen far short of this standard. And so it immediately turns into confession, prayers of confession. And then we see what we lack what we need from God, as well as promises that God has offered us and we asked for those that he would make good on his words, he always doesn’t becomes prayers of petition and inter session. So we read and we pray. The Puritans had a saying Robert Murray McShane, in particular, many of you have probably done his Bible reading plan before but his advice was quite simple. Pray the Bible, gets it. They go together, God speaks through His Word, we respond in prayer, pray the Bible.
But what we’re starting to get at here as we talk about the word and prayer is, I’m gonna talk a lot about Puritans today, because Puritans were awesome. That’s why okay, it’s why I talked about them a lot. But they talked about something known as the practice of piety. And I think that’s something that we’ve lost today, the practice of piety. That practice sounds a little bit like I dropped by York High School on my way into work every day, and in August, there are these poor souls outside, doing what are known as two days. Y’all know what those are? football seasons coming, okay. And so you do two practices a day until you throw up on the field, basically, to get yourself in shape. That’s what practice is. So what is the practice of piety? It means there’s some work involved in this not legalistic, no but methodical in our approach to the disciplines of the Christian Life. We don’t like the word methodical today, so we’d probably use a word like intentional today, that’s fine. I don’t care which word you choose. But my question is, do you have a plan? Do you know what it looks like to go through a day in abiding in Christ? This is what I need to do. The moment I get out Got a bed, and it’s probably not checked my phone, right? This is what it looks like as I drive to work. This is what my lunch hour looks like when I drive home from work knowing about to see my wife and kids. And that means I got to change my mindset here. Here’s what we talk about around the dinner table as a family and what we do afterwards in family worship, and this is what happens just before bed. Are you reading God’s word? Do you have a plan? Are you studying God’s word? Do you have a plan? Are you praying God’s word? Do you have a plan? This all starts in private worship. Of course, we’re talking about all three spheres of worship, private worship, family worship and corporate worship. But this starts in private worship. Why? Because if it doesn’t start in private worship, don’t do it in the other ones, because that’s just hypocrisy at that point, of course, but we devote ourselves to study and prayer. This looks like Hudson Taylor. So Hudson Taylor, founder of China inland mission, great man of God, some friends of his wrote a book called The Spiritual secret of Hudson Taylor. And they kind of were just going, Yeah, we got to pull back the curtains here. So you know why he was able to do what he did they tell this story. So he was traveling with a group of other missionaries. And they were all sleeping in one room at one point, and he had his little section curtain off from everybody else. Why? Because he’s the big guy, he gets a special room the nicest cot? No, because what would happen is every night, when everybody else’s breathing got really regular, most of them had dosed at this point, and they were falling asleep, those who were still on the brink of sleep would hear a match being struck a little faint light from behind that curtain, because that’s when he would get into the Word of God. He spent between two and four in the morning, praying, because he knew that’s when he could wait on God, undisturbed. Look, that’s not everybody’s plan. Okay, I’m gonna tell you right now, having small children, my house, I’ve been up from two to four recently. This is not good for me. Not good for my soul, not good for my sanity would not be good for my preaching. either. I can promise you that. Point is he knew what he needed to do, to abide in Christ. We need to figure this out. Also. Then we take that into our homes, husbands and fathers in particular. Ideally, I mean, a word to those you single moms or dad is not leading spiritually. That’s why God gave us Timothy, right? Don’t you love that Timothy’s in the Bible, because his dad didn’t teach them a thing about the faith because his dad didn’t believe. And it says he learned from his mother and his grandmother. That’s the hope that we have. But ideally, speaking to the husbands and fathers in this room, we lead our families in worship. Daily. It’s not complicated. We read together, we pray together, we sing together. What’s your plan? What’s your method? What’s the practice of piety for you to do that? You’re gonna do some catechism at the breakfast table before everyone scatters for the day. Open God’s word after dinner, as long as we still sitting around the table, you pray before bedtime, whatever it is, we do family worship together so that then when we all come together in this room, it is not us all of a sudden trying to shift gears and get right with God. It is the culmination of the week. And really the celebration of all that we’ve been doing together as individuals and families, we experienced that together because this is just who we are. We just get to do with a bigger group on Sunday morning.
This is who we are, though. Third, then as we wait for Jesus, to bring us to eternal life to wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to bring us to eternal life. This is the reminder that we live here and now as pilgrims in this world. Puritans again, they remind us that we should always have heaven in our eye. Or Jonathan Edwards, said it particularly memorably. He prayed that God would stamp eternity on his eyeballs. So anywhere he looked, he had eternity as the filter through which he saw the world we have to live, remembering that this is not our home, we are on a road trip heading towards our final destination, which is glory, and eternal glory. If we don’t have that we will quickly begin to live as functional atheists. And you’ll see that in what we pursue in this life. It’s the bucket list mentality where all of a sudden we’ve got to go all Henry David throw on this life and and suck as much marrow from the day as we can Carpe Diem, because this life is all we got, except it’s not. It’s 80 years, 90 years, 100 years and then you got Hi, I’m Tim gazillion years, you got time for the bucket list in glory, set your hands to do the things God has given you to do in this life. This is also how we endure in a difficult world, how we not just survive, but thrive flourish in a dark world. This is what helps us as we walk through valleys of darkness and suffering, how we resist temptation, but if we go transient, fleeting pleasure, eternal glory, I’m good. I’m gonna choose that one. It’s how we resist temptation. We wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring us to eternal life. We wait rehearsing those gospel truths, His mercy alone that brings us but we we wait knowing he will bring us a home, really will bring home here he will bring heaven to us when on the last day Heaven and Earth are at last united, as it were meant to be all along. In truth, this is the storyline of the whole Bible, isn’t it? Like God creates Earth and Heavens like sitting on top of it, so that God walks with Adam and Eve in the cool of the afternoon. And then bad things happen. Genesis three, and the rest of the Bible is how do we get back to that? How do we get back to? How do we get Welcome to back from exile from being cast out of God’s presence, so that we can stand before the throne of God above again? Did you notice by the way, in this passage, as you were reading it this week in preparation for today, as a family? Did you notice the Trinity in this passage? Keep yourselves in God’s love. Anytime in the New Testament, you see God, it’s God the Father, as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, for you to return to life. praying in the Holy Spirit, Father, Son, and Spirit are all right here. That’s not accidental. By any means. No, because heaven is not a location that we return to. But a relationship a community that we enjoy. Heaven is in Jonathan Edwards phrase, a world of love. We experienced the love of the Triton gods, we returned to the Father through the sons work in our place in the Spirit. That’s the message of this passing we can be welcomed back, we can be welcomed in when we come by grace through faith. We’ll look more at that in just a moment.
Because there’s another question we got to get to first which is, can we can be welcomed back we can return? What about those who won’t? Who aren’t returning, who kind of pick their head in the doorway and then turned around and walked out. And that’s the next section. Keep others keep others let’s read verses 22 and 23. Be merciful to those who doubt, save others by snatching them from the fire to others show mercy mixed with fear hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude assumes that many of us will collectively keep ourselves in God’s love, that we will reach up together so to speak. But he also knows there will be many who don’t. What then how do we help keep others in, reach out, so to speak, to snatch people back from the brink? Drude looks at three groups as he talks about this. And there are subtle differences between these three groups and therefore subtly different responses required from us. First, he talks about those who doubt His word could be translated dispute, actually, as in those who argue about the faith. Well, you know, maybe actually we should be paying more attention to the Spirit’s subjective impressions then the Word of God, Pastor Cooper, okay, so those who dispute those who argue which is happening in dudes congregation, right? Or those who doubt, honestly good arguments for both. I say, well, let’s just keep the ambiguity, right? When in doubt, choose both. That’s my choice. All right. So we might almost say to those who ask questions, even hard questions, those questions that get under your skin as Christians, those questions that make you go, I don’t want to have to think about that. Can we all just you know, Astrid style Billy. toward them. Jude says we should be merciful. Just as by the way, let’s not forget this. Jesus was merciful with us. As you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to bring us to eternal life. There’s the reminder, we’re not being merciful to people who aren’t as good as we are. Because we’re keeping ourselves better than they are. We’re here because of Christ’s mercy Romans three there’s no one who see God, not even one. If you are seeking God now it is because you were sought by God first in his mercy. And so we extend that mercy towards others. How do we do that? When they ask those questions, even the questions that get under our skin, we listen, we love and we answer. We send out a mailer to people who are new to our community, anyone who moves into the area. So if you two mailers, and the second one, which I hope truly describes our church is honest answers to honest questions. It’s Francis Shaffers phrase, that’s what we want to be here. We want to be a safe space for people to doubt and dispute and ask questions. Why? Because we have good answers. I’ll go farther than that. We have the best answers. by a longshot, we have the true truth, which means we don’t need to fear these questions. Parents, especially hear me on this. When your kids come with questions. This is not a bad thing. This is a great opportunity. We don’t need to be worried that all of a sudden are going to ask that question, you know, pull the one pin out and Christianity is going to collapse. People have been asking Christianity questions for 2000 years, a whole lot of religions and philosophies are born in been born and died since then. Many of them have proclaimed the death of Christianity as they’re there. They’re gone. Christianity is doing just fine. We don’t need to be scared of the questions. We don’t need to be scared of the people who ask the questions we take time we listen. Well, we answer slowly, maybe most importantly, we open the Word of God together. That’s some good news, too, right? You don’t need to have the answers. You just need to direct them to the one who does have the answers. Which is why we have the word of God. Those who doubt those who dispute are not the enemy. Don’t need to worry about doubt spreading like a contagion just love well, and be merciful. Second, though, different groups, those who are on the brink, likely being seduced by the false teachers that we’ve seen throughout June. And so they are quite literally leaning over the edge of hell at this point.
And what’s so interesting to me is that according to Jude, that’s your problem. That’s my problem. That’s not their problem. It is their problem too. But Judas saying you save others by snatching them from the fire. We have a responsibility here. It’s almost like that, you know, the father is gripping us as the rip current is starting to drag us away. So he’s keeping us and then we reach out our hand and grab that person who did let go who pride the fingers off and drag them back as well. How do we do that? It’s usually a word of rebuke, a word of warning. This is done gently, of course. Galatians, six, one. It’s done in love. It’s done slowly asking questions and making sure we understand it is done humbly, knowing that that could be us just as easily, of course. But a stern rebuke drawn from God’s word might be enough to startle them awake. I can think of times that I have had to do this personally, several times people sitting across me where I’m had to say, if you continue in this path, I fear for your soul. Like we are not talking about I think you’re making a bad choice. I think you’re in danger of hell, even though you consider yourself a Christian. And it is painful. Like it just rips your insides out to have that conversation. But I can I can picture people in my mind right now. And I can see what their eyes did when I said that to them. And all you can pray is in the mercy of God, that will be something that God uses to startle them awake, because the love compels us to wade into those messy situations because the fire is real, they will get burned. Otherwise. Now this imagery is taken from Zachariah three one and two. Robert read for us earlier and actually Jude has quoted earlier back in verse nine, when the archangel Michael’s disputing with Satan and he says the LORD rebuke you that comes from Zachariah three, here it is again. Then he showed me Joshua, the high priest standing before the angel the Lord and Satan standing on his right side to accuse Him. The Lord said to Satan, the Lord rebuke you Satan. The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you is not this man a what? A burning stick snatched from the fire. There’s our language. That’s what God is doing. And here we get to do it. You see, we participate in God’s work of redemption. God is the one who snatches burning sticks from the fire but in his providence, He uses us to do that. We’re like the top long as he’s using to grab the stick, can I just can I go off script for a moment here, which means we’re gonna go late usual for us, it’s not even late for us anymore. It’s just the usual. Everything I’ve said, So far everything I’ve said so far up to this point in the sermon happens in community like you this requires deep relationships. And the reason why I want to go off script right here is because we live in a transient society and an increasingly transient society. Kyle and I were going through the list of people who’ve come and left since we got here. It’s astonishing. The number of people who’ve left even since 2020, we’re talking like 25 families who are gone. We’ve moved, we’re not turning left, like they would have church, cross street, they moved. It’s what God moves people, I get that if you’re hearing me say, Thou shalt not move, if not what I said, Okay. I am saying community like this takes time to build. It is forged in decades. If you’re at a church for three years, and then another church for three years, and another church for three years and another church for three years, this cannot be your life. And if that’s what God has called you to, and God calls some people to that existence, he will give you grace for that I understand it. That is just not what most of us should be doing. I mentioned this because people are fleeing Illinois, for reasons that make some sense to me. But I don’t know that politics and property taxes are the way we make our decisions. We make them based on the Spirit of the Lord, guiding us. If this is you, if this is what you’re thinking about again, don’t me hear me say you should not do this. Hear me say Can you slow down? Can you pray about this? And can you involve your community in this decision? excursus over third, for those already fallen? And here we’re talking almost certainly about the false teachers or their followers. We are to show the Mercy mixed with fear.
So there’s a fear of contamination because a little yeast works itself through the whole batch of dough. There’s a fear of contamination, yes. But they still love these people. And they still seek their salvation. That’s what Jude is calling us to. Does your heart break for those who abandoned Jesus? I know it’s easy as a parent. Yes, my heart breaks my kids who wandered from the faith. Do you know how easy it is to mock Joel Osteen and Rob Bell? And the Mark Driscoll and James McDonald’s of the world? The Joyce Meyers and a lot of false teachers. It’s easy to mock them, does your heart break for them because they’re perishing? If they will not turn? You? Do you pray? Have you ever prayed for them? That God would save them? What does it mean to hate the clothing stained by corrupted flesh? This is vivid and gross imagery. I make it a habit not to use gross analogies in my sermons. A more important habit is to preach the text as I have it before me. This is either excrement, or vomit, most likely the former. The latter is a little bit better. We’ll maybe run with that one for now. This is what comes out of people. So again, you got small kids, you’ve dealt with those things before. And what do you do as a parent? I’m not touching that. No, you love them enough that you clean them. That’s what Jude is saying here to touch them though is to be stained. It is to get messy. And so that’s where the fear comes in. Now, this gross image or not, is an appropriate image because this is what our flesh produces. That is the flesh the sinful nature produces filth. Paul says Galatians five that the works of the flesh are obvious. Things like anger and lust and greed and divisiveness and pride and envy. And guess what those things make a mess, every time. So that’s what we’re covered in. Because that’s who we are apart from Christ. Again, the language borrowed from Zechariah three, the very next verse, verse three. Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes. It’s not mud, okay as he stood before the angel, but we’re not in Zechariah three, so you don’t know what’s happening here. This is the high priest wearing his holy garments, standing in the holy of holies on the holiest day of the year Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. And he is covered in filth, because that’s what we are apart from Christ. And so you look at that and you go, I gotta fear that because I know that that is inside of me and all it takes is my indulging the flesh. And that’s what I’ll be covered in But it’s fear with mercy, mercy, because we know that there but for the grace of God go we Mercy has been the golden thread drawing this whole passage together. So the mercy we receive, and the mercy that we then extend to others, it is mercy that compels us to go into uncomfortable places. To people who are staying to people who are messy, we have uncomfortable conversations with them. We did our fantasy football draft yesterday here at church, my team is the holy huddle. It’s upon see, where does the pun come from the fact that Christians do this. We huddle together so that no one unclean and no outsider gets to come in. But that’s not the Christianity we find in the Bible. Because we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. Christ’s love compels us because we’re convinced that one died for all. The message the New Testament is what CT stud that great missionary said so well. He said, Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel Bell. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell. Yes, and amen. And may it please God to make us into a people like that. Reaching up, reaching out, keeping ourselves in God’s love together as we build and pray and wait, but keeping others as we show mercy to them. Because the main idea of you’re just trying to draw it all together, it’s pretty simple. help keep the kept. That’s what God is calling us to do help keep the kept. It’s God’s work he keeps we are the kept, thank God, but we have a part to play in God’s providence.
Before we close, just let me speak a quick word to those who are doubting or stumbling, or on the brink, or stained by sin even as you’ve been listening. God may have been stirring something in your heart where you fear were there, this path is leading. You feel shamed. You feel dirty, because you know that you’ve messed up and you’ve made a mess in the process. You’re not sure that you’ll be accepted here or by someone you know, nevermind before the throne of God above the word I have for you. We need to close out the story Jude keeps referencing and Zachariah three a story his readers would know their minds would be going there already. We read the verse I just read, Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel, the angel said to those who were standing before him, take off his filthy clothes. Then he said to Joshua, see, I’ve taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you. That’s what Christ has done for us. We don’t need to be cast out. We can be welcomed into loving intimacy with Trinity we can stand before His glorious presence, even though we’re filthy in ourselves, because Christ has taken our filth away. When we confess, when we turn from our selfish sin and trust in Jesus, He purifies us, you can enter in even now because the sinless Savior died my sinful soul was counted free. For God the Justice satisfied to look on him and pardon me. It is done. It’s finished. Mercy one, were forgiven. helped keep the kept. Let’s pray. Father, even now would you comfort us with Your mercy because we recognize that in ourselves, we are filthy. We have made a mess of our lives many times and in many ways, but we can be cleansed in Christ. By washing our garments in his blood shed for us they are bleached white as snow. That is such good news Lord, it is news that we want to remind each other of so that we keep ourselves in your love and it is news that we want to share with others those on the brink those outside those unclean whoever it may be, that they may be kept for you, as well. encourage and empower us to do just that. We pray through Christ our Lord.