This morning I decided to take a break from Daniel to acknowledge the letter of Jude. Holy Spirit led me here after reading a Facebook post that said, "May God's mercy, peace and love cascade over you. Jude 1:2" I thought, "What a beautiful word to hear so early in the day" but then Holy Spirit nudged me and said, "That is the greeting I extend to prepare hearts and minds to hear the truth."
So like a good student who has learned to listen, I followed His lead with obedience. I looked to the prophets of the Old Testament and wondered where the Book of Jude was. I stumbled around for just a minute, then Holy Spirit said, "It's the last book of the New Testament right before John's revelation." So I flipped to Jude, with eager intent, expecting to hear a new revelation - and that is exactly what Holy Spirit did.
In between the greeting and the salutation of Jude, which abundantly expresses God's beautiful grace, was the truth - the danger of false teachers and a call to remain faithful. Jude, my brother in Christ; another slave to the King of Righteousness and the Father of Forgiveness. Oh, how I wish Jude and I were standing face to face. I would tell him I understand how hard it is to be a slave of God - having to speak the truth in love despite what the world says. Being a follower of Christ is not following the sugar-coated message that so many these days seem to proclaim. Being a servant of the Lord is hard which is why I now understand why my life verse is Hebrews 12. It requires patient endurance and long-suffering, and constant correction through divine alignment and a spirit of humility. It requires a child-like faith that no man can take, and a willingness to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. It is true - no discipline is enjoyable while it is happening. In fact, it is very painful. But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest on the Mountain of Zion - where the heavenly city of Jerusalem has established God's firstborn children whose names are written into the Book of the Lamb.
This morning I am in awe, just as I was before, when I saw how many times David wrote about God's unfailing love and faithfulness in his poems and songs recorded in the Book of Psalms. "Grace" and "Truth" have the same meanings as "Unfailing love" and "faithfulness." Let me show you what I mean:
John 1:14 says, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:17 says, "For the law was given through Moses, but God's grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." The Greek word for "grace" is "charis" which means "good will, loving kindness and favor" and "a Holy Spirit influence that turns a person to Christ and strengthens them in their faith." When "grace" is translated into Hebrew it is the word "checed" which means "goodness and mercy and faithfulness"; "to take pity on a wretched thing." How beautiful is this? Isaiah 64:6 says, "we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Yet, God shows mercy on us because while we remain unfaithful, he remains faithful.
The Greek word for "truth" is "alethia" which objectively means "respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Jesus Christ, and opposing the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians." Subjectively, "alethia" means "to seek the truth; a candor of mind which is free from affection, pretense, simulation, falsehood and deceit." The Hebrew word for "truth" is "emith" which means to remain stable and firm in God's faithfulness - a true doctrine of testimony and judgment that stems from divine instruction. And get this - the root word for "emith" is "Aman" - a final declaration of belief that says "so be it."
The words written by Jude, a true servant of the Lord, is a beautiful book that speaks to God's grace and truth, and it's perfectly placed towards the end of scripture. I know that I will never forget it!
When Jesus unveiled the scripture to his disciples, the followers of the Way, found in Luke 24:44, He said this, "These are my words, which I spoke to you being still with you, that all things having been written concerning Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms, must be fulfilled." This is also confirms for me what is written in Hebrews 12 when the writer says, "Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father's blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with with bitter tears." Hebrews 12:16-17
Modern-day society calls evangelical Christians "conservative and right-wing" because they hold fast to the truth and do not want to change it. I declare that any Christian who does not believe in evangelism is not a true follower of Christ at all. Jesus's final words was to go and make fishers of men. His final word was not to twist the truth by loving all men through social justice and political reformation. It was "to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the the age." Matthew 28:19 Humanity often gets it wrong because we rely on our own wisdom. We allow pride to fill our eyes and we attempt to rationalize our own truths. We often forget what Jesus said, "teach them to obey everything I have commanded."
Jude - oh, beautiful Jude. How wonderfully you declare the truth! I, too, am much like you! I planned to write about salvation through God's mercy and grace, but the Lord has pressed upon me something else. Holy Spirit continues to press on me the urgency to defend the faith that God has entrusted to us - his Holy people. I say this because ungodly people have wormed their way into our churches, saying that God's marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:4
In the past, cities who condoned immorality and sexual perversion were destroyed by fire as a warning of the eternal fire of God's judgment. Jude 1:7
In the same way, these people who claim authority from their dreams - who live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings. But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy. He simply said, "The Lord rebukes you!" Jude 1:8-9 This is surely one of the things I find very interesting today. So many self-proclaimed prophets who scream and shout at the devil, "in the name of Jesus, get out." Then I think of King Nebuchadnezzar who was given the mind of an ox until he found favor with God. Jude 1:10-11 says, "Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction. What sorrow awaits them! For they follow the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion."
Jude continues to talk about "shameless shepherds who only care about themselves - they are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up from the roots." Pride can absolutely look like love when a Christian does not share the truth. It's a permissive way to tolerate the spirit of Jezebel while trying to keep one foot connected the Spirit of God.
Finally, after speaking against false teachers and prophets, Jude reminds the apostles of Christ to follow the Spirit of Truth by upholding God's character of both mercy and grace.
"But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 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. 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. To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." Jude 1:17-25
While the assignment the Lord has given to the members of the body may be different, the message must remain the same - the Truth in Love must be spoken for that is what the HEAD of the Church says.