While the letter of Jude has been mainly about the dangers of false teaching in the church, the final verses of Jude’s letter (Jude 24-25) form a very real contrast. While the first part of Jude has been filled with warnings and calls to action, in the last verses Jude presents another side of the coin. God is able to keep His people from falling. More than that, He is also able to keep His people safe until the final day when all His people will be presented to before His throne. The secret to all of this is not found in us, but in His keeping power, and that is why all the glory, dominion, power and praise belongs to Him.
‘Defending, advancing and guarding the gospel’ (Jude 17-23)
Though Jude’s letter up to this point has been about the dangers of apostasy and those who are false teachers, Jude also has some helpful things to add in verses 17-23 about the best kind of counter-attack to false teaching. By using our minds and bringing to mind the teachings of the apostles, we will be able to recognise error. By giving due to attention to our hearts and keeping ourselves in the love of God and devoting ourselves to prayer, we will find God’s strengthening. By using our words to warn the lost and speak of the grace of Christ, we will also be able to share what we have found in Jesus. By doing these well we will be enabled to guard the precious treasure that is the gospel.
‘Will the real false teachers please stand up?’ (Jude 12-17)
After urging his readers to be on the lookout for false teachers who had infiltrated their church and brought with them a false gospel and an empty way of life. In verses 12-17, Jude then sought to expose their character. To do this, Jude uses words that are ‘word pictures’ such as ‘trees without fruit’ and ‘wild waves of the sea’. There are five word pictures in all that lead us to see that the lives of these false teachers are characterised by selfishness, helplessness, fruitlessness, shamefulness and aimlessness. To add the severity of the picture, he gives his own warning as well as one from the non-biblical book of Enoch, that reminded his readers the need to be on guard. By telling us these things, Jude also reminds us that true teachers of theWord of God ought to be seen as those whose lives have the evidence and character of God’s grace.
‘Jude’s grim warnings about false teachers’ (Jude 8-11)
Having established that his readers were in great danger from false teachers, in verses 8-11 of his letter, Jude added to his previous three illustrations from the Old Testament by referring to three more – using the examples of Cain, Korah and Balaam. All of these Old Testament men are known for their misdeeds, rather than their righteous acts or faith. Cain was a murderer, Korah led a rebellion and Balaam sought money to lead Israel astray. By referring to these men, Jude sought to make plain the character of false teachers who not only twist Scripture but whose lives are also reflect that they do not know the Lord or follow His ways. God’s people are urged to be on guard and fight for the truth – especially that of the gospel.
‘Jude’s good ground for urgency’ (Jude 5-7)
Having established that his readers were in danger of being led astray by false teachers, in verses 5-7 Jude then proceeded to give three illustrations from the Old Testament of how God brought judgment upon those who oppose His truth. And so by reminding us of the people of Israel who died in the desert, the angels who left heaven to join the rebellion against the Lord and the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah who lived lives of sexual immorality, Jude gave a strong warning to his readers. These lessons from the Old Testament were written for us and should be noted well. God will not be mocked. His Word teaches that ‘a man reaps what he sows’.
‘Meet the author and his urgent letter’ (Jude 1-4)
The New Testament letter of Jude may well be small but it packs a punch. In verses 1-4 we find that the author, one of the brothers of the Lord Jesus, intended to write this letter to his readers about ‘their common salvation’, but was compelled instead to write a letter with a far different tone – one that urged his readers to be very careful of the rise and the influence of false teaching in the church, calling his readers to do everything they can do to ‘contend for the faith’ and defend the truth of the gospel. 20 centuries later, Jude’s call is just as important. While there is a rapid growth in many religions and -isms around the world, the truth of God’s Word must be upheld, defended and promoted. God has not changed and He calls His people to be a people who know, love and defend His truth.