Taken and adapted from, “An Exposition of Jude’s Epistle of Apostasy”
Written by Rev. D. Round, published in 1890
Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. –Jude 1-3
JUDAS, the traitor, is called the son of perdition; Judas, the author of this Epistle, is known as the son of Alpheus, and one of our Lord’s kindred (Matt. 13:55). But though closely related to the Lord, he styles himself “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.” He neither calls himself an apostle, nor the Lord’s brother. He contents himself with the humble, though truly honorable title, “Servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.”
Probably he names his relation to James, because, as an apostle, he was better known than himself, and was held in high estimation and reputation in the Church; he was famous for his sanctity of life, and accounted a pillar in the Church of Christ. Jude, therefore, by speaking of himself as a brother of James, might thereby win attention and credit to his Epistle from those to whom he wrote.
This Epistle is of special interest and importance in our times. No writer in the New Testament wrote so little as Jude, but a full expansion of the various points he introduces into this brief letter would fill volumes. We shall not enter into a minute and critical analysis of its contents, but endeavor to give a few thoughts on what is said in this little Epistle of the beginning and end of Christian apostasy.
The Characters Addressed.
We see in the first verse to whom the Apostle is writing. It is not to any one Church, or local assembly, it is to Christians at large, and even every individual Christian wherever he may be: “to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.”
“beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.” What words are these!
What words for the heart of faith! What marvelous grace on the part of God! What is it to be thus sanctified? It is to be set apart for a holy use “to be separated from the world, from guilt and pollution, and to be brought into a state of holiness. The author of this sanctification is God the Father. It is God that justifies; no less is it God that sanctifies. He gave His Son to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto Himself a peculiar people. He cleanses and purifies all that believe in Jesus. He sanctifies through belief of the truth. Hence the prayer addressed to God as the sanctifier of his saints, “Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth.”
“Preserved in Jesus Christ,”
The sanctified are the preserved in Jesus –they are every way secure against the temptations of an evil world, and the many false teachers employed by the devil as instruments to mislead and ruin unstable souls. This security realized by those who are in Christ is an answer to the prayer of the blessed Lord, in John 17:2: “Holy Father, keep through Thy own name those whom Thou hast given me.” The fidelity of God is pledged to keep them.. He is not only able but faithful to preserve them to the end. None are safe, but such as are in Christ. They are kept and preserved in Him.
Having our lot cast in an evil time, when soul-destroying errors abound, and when false teachers of every kind mislead so many, what a comfort to be able to realize the blessed state of the sanctified and preserved ones! Am I among the happy number of those who are sanctified and preserved; Jesus Christ? Oh, blessed condition; to be in Christ Jesus, is to be free from every fear, to be safe from every enemy, to be quiet and confident, though a thousand dangers surround us!
But while Jude congratulates the persons he addresses as the sanctified, preserved, and called, he prays to God on their behalf, that mercy, peace, and love may be multiplied. The blessings invoked come from God through Christ. They have their source in Him, and flow from Him as from an inexhaustible fountain.
First, the mercy of God is invoked.
“Mercy unto you.” Though pardoned and spoken of as sanctified, they still needed mercy; the holiest of men need God’s mercy. While in the world, encompassed with infirmities, and passing through conflicts, they will need the tender mercy of God. They will need it in all the crises of life, and in the great day of the Lord the need of this mercy remains. Hence, the Apostle prays for mercy –multiplied mercy– mercy in its manifold aspects. May you daily and hourly experience afresh the sweetness of God’s mercy!
Second. The invocation includes peace.
These Christians had peace –peace as the fruit of grace, peace in the conscience, the peace of God, the peace of a spiritual mind. Jude invokes an increase of it.
“Peace be Multiplied.”
May it abound more and more; may the peace of God keep your hearts and minds, through Jesus Christ. May the Lord of peace give you peace always, and by all means!
Third. The third grace invoked is love.
They had a measure of it in possession. It came from God through Christ, and was shed abroad in their renewed nature by the Holy Ghost. And as it came from God, it is the same in kind as the love of God. It is pure, free from selfishness, disinterested; it extends to enemies as well as to friends. It is patient and hopeful: it bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things. It makes us Godlike, “For God is love, and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). How precious to us is the thought that we are capable of receiving and exercising a love like God’s!
But this Divine love admits of increase. Jude prayed for it. Love be multiplied, which means a further degree of augmentation –more love to God, and more love to one another. But how is it to be increased? Well, the more we know of Divine truth, the more will this love multiply; the more we exercise it, the more it will strengthen. “This I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge, and in all judgment” (Phil. 1:9); Jude saw there was room for an increase of the triune graces, and therefore prayed, “Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.”
The Exhortation Needed.
The exhortation of Jude now claims our attention. It was evidently his original intention to write to the beloved brethren of the common salvation. This would have been his far more delightful task. It would have been his joy and his refreshment to expatiate upon the present privileges and future glories, wrapped up in the comprehensive folds of that precious word, “salvation.” But he felt it needful to turn from this more congenial work, in order to fortify their souls against the rising tide of error and evil, which threatened the very foundations of Christianity. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” The faith to be contended for, is simply, “the word of the truth of the Gospel” –the Gospel which the apostles received and were commissioned to preach. It is designated the faith because it is “the word to be believed.” We read of Bar-Jesus, a sorcerer and false prophet, who “sought to turn away the deputy from the faith.” “A great company of priests were obedient to the faith.” “He now preached the faith which before he destroyed.” The Gospel is fitly called “the faith,” as it reveals the doctrines of faith –the truths to be believed to salvation; and more particularly the doctrine of faith in Christ as our Savior and Redeemer.
The Gospel of the Cross is the power of God unto Salvation to Every One that Believes.
Observe, it is the only Divinely given faith. It was first received by inspired men from the Lord, and “delivered by them to the saints,” –the first deliverance is the final one. It will never give place to something higher and holier than itself. It will never be repeated, nor superseded by another Gospel. We expect no new faith, no advanced Gospel, as it is called. We are not to add to, or take from, the faith given. It is complete, it is sufficient. It was once for all delivered unto the saints (see Revised Version). We have in the faith a rich treasure –a precious deposit to guard.
The call to contend for the faith suggests danger. It would be unnecessary for the inspired writer to press upon us the duty of contending for the faith, if it were not assailed. It is his enemies. As in Jude’s day, so now, all that is vital is at stake;
False Teachers would Rob Us of the faith, or lead us away from it.
Teachings subversive of the Christian faith abound. There are numbers who seek to depreciate it, to pervert it, and to change it. Many are openly opposed to the faith and reject; its communications. It is, therefore, our duty to contend, not for favorite notions, theories, or systems, but for the faith of the Gospel. It behooves us to stir one another up to faithfulness and zeal –to strenuous effort against sin and error, with the holy resolve to maintain the essential verities of the faith of Christ. There must be no truce with error; no compromise with the enemies of the Gospel. They must be met, resisted, and overcome; not indeed by violence, or railing, or force; not by penal statutes or any form of persecution; but by Christian love, and by the plain word of God –the positive truth of Scripture. This faith is,
Worth Preserving at any Cost
The apostles thought so, the martyrs thought so, the reformers thought so. They considered the faith to be their life, and were willing to suffer and die for it. Some of us have been saved by Gospel truths, and these truths are dear to us, and we desire that our children’s children may possess them as their heritage. The faith is committed to our trust; let us hold fast its doctrines, value its principles, practice its precepts, and reject all sentiments and opinions not in harmony with its teachings and its requirements.
“Should all the forms which men devise,
Assault my faith with treacherous art;
I’d call them, vanity and lies,
And bind the Gospel to my heart.”
Ministers are set for the defense and confirmation of the faith. Deacons of churches are charged by St. Paul to hold “the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” Christians everywhere are enjoined to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel.” May the Lord give to us courage “earnestly to contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints,” that when brought to the close of life we may be able with Paul to say, “I have kept the faith.”