Jude 1:1-3 Being Spiritually Prepared to Maintain My Faith
Introduction: If you want to win football games, you have to have not one but two teams—an offensive team and a defensive team. Christianity is under attack today, and the Book of Jude reminds us that we must contend for the faith, having a good offensive and a good defensive. Key to Jude: Verse 3.
When one looks at the book of Jude, one can find an interesting pattern. The book is written in sets of threes. For example, let’s identify threes from different sets.
Example #1 – American Flag
Example #2 – Ice Cream Sundae
Example #3 – Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie
Example #4 – Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato
Jude uses these triads, or sets of threes, all over the letter.
First Set Second Set Third Set Fourth Set
Greeting Rebels Described Rebels Detected in the Church How to Build Unity
Jude 1-3 Jude 4-10 Jude 11-15 Jude 16-25
How can I be spiritually prepared to maintain my faith?
First, I have to know who I am. (1:1)
The story is told of Billy Graham, the aging evangelist now in his eighties and suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, who a few years ago, was invited by the leaders of Charlotte, North Carolina, to a luncheon in his honor. Graham, Charlotte’s favorite son, at first hesitated to accept the invitation because of his struggles with Parkinson’s Disease but then agreed after the Charlotte leaders told him, “We don’t expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you.” So he agreed.
After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and told them this story:
I’m reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time Magazine as the Man of the Century. Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of the passengers. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn’t find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn’t there, so he looked in his briefcase, but couldn’t find it. Then he looked it the seat beside him, but still couldn’t find it.
The conductor said, “Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.”
Einstein nodded appreciatively, and the conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move on to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.
The conductor rushed back and said, “Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry! I know who you are. No problem. You don’t need a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.”
Einstein looked at him and said, “Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going.”
Having told this story of Einstein, Graham continued: “See the suit I’m wearing? It’s a brand new suit. My wife, my children, and my grandchildren are telling me I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion…and do you know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I’ll be buried. But when you hear I’m dead, I don’t want you to immediately think about the suit I’m wearing. I want you to remember this:
I not only know who I am…I also know where I’m going….”
“Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James: To those who are the called, loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1, HCSB)
TRIAD #1 – Identity
Here we encounter our first set of threes or triads. We see that this set of three words are about identity. If Jude’s brother was the same James who authored the epistle bearing his name and who was a leader in the early church, then Jude was not only the brother of James but the half-brother of Jesus.
Jude Personal ID
Brother of James Family ID
Servant of Jesus Spiritual ID
Jude knew his personal identity. He was called. He knew his family identity. He was the brother of James. Jude also knew his spiritual identity. He knew where He was going because he knew Who is leading him. Jude identifies himself as a servant of Jesus.
I need to know where I am going. Our faith is a secure faith. It can be trusted. (1:1)
Jude was prepared spiritually because he knew who he was. He also knew where he was going because his faith is a secure faith.
“…To those who are the called, loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1, HCSB)
The second triad is the Trinitarian greeting. Triad #2 is about the Trinity.
Agent Verb Reference
Holy Spirit called Acts 13: 2
God loved John 3:16
Jesus Christ kept John 6:37
In this letter, we have what I call a Trinitarian greeting. What I mean by this is that Jude is addressing people as children of a God in community. Each Person of the Godhead has a role in providing eternal security for the Christian. The Holy Spirit calls the person to come to Christ. While the words Holy Spirit are not in this passage, it fits the pattern of the letter. In Acts 13:2, the Holy Spirit called out Saul and Barnabas to go on the first missionary journey. In the same way, the Holy Spirit calls a person to come to Christ. After the Holy Spirit calls, then God the Father loves them to Christ.
God loves people before they come to Him because He created them. Then the Father loves those who become His children. Finally, once a person is called by the Spirit, and loved by the Father, a Christian is kept by Jesus. Jesus is the One who keeps us secure. He kept those secure He was given while He was on Earth. As our High Priest, He has made payment for our sins, thus eliminating the doubt that we feel sometimes. The doubt that suggests that we can lose our salvation is not based on truth. Jesus has provided the security deposit and our eternal life is secure. He is keeping us safe until we die and enter into Heaven.Christians are called by God to be set apart for God that they might enjoy love with God. While their fellowship with the Father might change from day to day, their relationship as children cannot change. They are “preserved in Jesus Christ.”
“It should be noted that these three expressions are influenced by and perhaps derived from the passages in Isaiah known as the Servant Songs, where Israel is described in the same manner, that is, called, loved, and kept by God (for “called,” see Isa. 41:9; 42:6; 48:12; for “loved,” see 42:1; 43:4; for “kept,” see 42:6; 49:8)” (p.7).
So a Christian knows who they are. They know who keeps them secure. This is only part of the preparation for the opposition. As a Christian, we will have opposition. There will be people who will oppose you. In order for you to be spiritually prepared, you need to know how to react to people. If you know who you are, and you know whose you are and how secure that relationship is, then you can properly react to people who oppose our faith. This is very important in maintaining my faith.
I have to know how to properly react to the people who oppose me.
“May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” (Jude 2, HCSB)
Here, Jude uses another triad. First, he described the security of our faith by describing three qualities which were accomplished by the three members of the Godhead. Now, Jude encourages us with another triad.
In 1 Peter, Peter encourages us as Christians to add to our faith. For example, he says:
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5–7, HCSB)
Jude encourages us to multiply the benefits of our faith. He has good reason to remind us about our benefits. The reason is that our faith is under attack. Make no mistake about it, as Christians, our belief system is under an intense attack. During the time of Jude, this was within the Roman Empire, and it was a form of Gnosticism, which said that we could know all we could about God by learning. He also had to deal with people who would come into the church and deny the reality of our faith.
Today, we have a similar problem. They were dealing with an ancient generation. Since then, we have gone through medievalist period as well as a modern period. We have now entered the postmodern period. This new generation looks at our faith very differently than we or our parents viewed faith. As a result, these new generations are seekers and searchers. The problem is that we have to be on the defensive end to show them that our faith is real.
Reason: There comes a time when I must defend what I believe.
“Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.” (Jude 3, HCSB)
Grant Richison, in his book Certainty, a Place to Stand: Critique of the Emergent Church of Postevangelicals states that we do not want to set contending for the gospel (Jude 3) in opposition to contextualizing the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19–23). Accommodation of the message to current widespread ideas in culture weakens the gospel message. We cannot equate being humble about what we know personally with being uncertain about truth. He ends by saying that “we do need to approach people on their approachable side”.
This is a hard tension or tug-o-war about defending our faith. On the one hand, we need to be approachable as Christians. We need not be condemning in our approach to sharing the gospel. At the same time, we need to be careful that we don’t accommodate to the culture so much that we water down the gospel and its effectiveness.
In conclusion: A. W. Tozer said, “Great saints have always been dogmatic.” J. I. Packer wrote, “There can be no spiritual health without doctrinal knowledge.” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “We cannot have the benefits of Christianity if we shed its doctrines.” Paul predicted, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” That’s why Jude tells us: “Contend earnestly for the faith.”
1 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook, 2004 Edition. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004), 61.
2 Billy Graham, “I Know Who I Am and I Know Where I am Going?” Barry’s Blog, [blog entry] http://www.finishingwell.com/blog/231. Accessed on 31 August 2013.
3 Paul A. Cedar and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, James / 1 & 2 Peter / Jude, vol. 34, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1984), 250.
4 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), Jud 1.
5 Robert James Dr. Utley, Jesus’ Half-Brothers Speak: James and Jude, vol. Volume 11, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International, 2000), 86.
6 Grant C. Richison, Certainty, a Place to Stand: Critique of the Emergent Church of Postevangelicals (Grant C. Richison, 2010), 15.
7 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook, 2004 Edition. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004), 61.