Jude 20-21

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 22, 2001


The secret is survival.  It’s all about survival …


A family from Long Island decided to move west. They bought a ranch via the internet in Wyoming and packed up 3 moving vans and headed for the sunset. Several months later, friends from New York came for a visit. When they knocked on the front door of the ranch house, the father answered. After a hearty exchange of welcomes, the visitors asked him what the ranch had been named. “Well,” said the would-be cattleman, “I wanted to name the ranch the Bar-J. However, my wife absolutely insisted on the Susie-Q. My son liked the Flying-W, while my daughter voted for the Lazy-J.” “So what did you finally decide to name the ranch?” the visitor asked. “We decided to name it the Bar-J Susie-Q Flying-W Lazy-J Ranch,” came the reply. The visitor looked around. “So where are all the cattle?” he asked. “Oh, them,” the rancher said, shaking his head, “None of them survived the branding.”

The man named Jude, the “half-brother” of Jesus was concerned for the church at the end of the first century.  He had an idea of what was up ahead for the church and it disturbed him.  He wasn’t worried about the persecutions the church was going to face, he was concerned about the false teachers that had already begun to creep into the church.

(Jude 1:17-19 KJV) But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; {18} How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. {19} These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

So Jude spends most of his letter warning about these false teachers until the end, where he tells his readers how to survive it all …

:20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith,

most holyhagios – most holy thing, a saint. Superlative, “most holy”. Not just “holy” or “more holy”, but “most holy”.  This is what Jude’s readers have come to believe in through the message of the apostles, earlier he calls it …

(Jude 1:3 KJV)  …the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

building up … onepoikodomeo – to build upon, build up; to finish the structure of which the foundation has already been laid. (Present participle)

Survival Lesson #1

Survival by building

The NIV says, “build yourselves up in your most holy faith …” but that is incorrect.
The Greek text says that we are to be building upon our faith. The idea is that our faith is the foundation, and we are to build upon it. The foundation is your faith in Jesus as Lord.
The Gospel:  For some of you, you have no “foundation”.  You have not made the decision to trust in Jesus, to let Him be your Lord, to let Him into your life.
You are on shaky ground.  In these last days, the amount of goofy, messed up teaching is enormous.  And when the man known as the “antichrist” hits his stride, the deception is about to become incredible.  The Bible says,

(2 Th 2:9-10 NLT)  This evil man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. {10} He will use every kind of wicked deception to fool those who are on their way to destruction because they refuse to believe the truth that would save them.

Jesus came to the earth for the very purpose of rescuing you from the penalty of your sins.  He died on a cross, taking your penalty, so you could be forgiven and so you could come to know the God who created you and who will one day judge you.

Have you made a decision to trust in Jesus yet? 

Once we have a foundation, we are built up through the Word of God.  As Paul was saying farewell to the elders of the Ephesian church, he said,
Ac 20:32  And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Its God’s Word that is able to build us up stronger.

Jesus said,
(Mat 7:24-27 KJV)  Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: {25} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. {26} And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: {27} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

The process of building starts by hearing Jesus’ word.  What kind of house you build depends on whether or not you will choose to do what He says.

Warren Wiersbe writes,
“The Word of God is certainly central in spiritual growth. I have yet to meet a strong, fruitful Christian who ignores his Bible. We must daily spend devotional time in the Word, seeking the mind of God. We must also study the Word regularly, in a disciplined way, so that we better understand what it teaches. The gifted Chinese preacher, Watchman Nee, used to read through the New Testament once a month. This becomes apparent when you read his books, for you are struck with his wonderful insights into God’s Word. The members of the Chinese church used to have a saying, “No Bible—no breakfast!” If we followed that motto in America, I wonder how many Christians would go hungry.”

:20 praying in the Holy Ghost,

prayingproseuchomai – to offer prayers, to pray. (Present participle)

inen – in, by, with etc.

Survival Lesson #2

Survival by prayer

But not just any kind of “prayer”, this is to be prayer that is influenced by the Holy Spirit.  This is not just prayers you memorized as a child, or things that you have figured out what to say.  These are prayers that are connected to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes the work of the Spirit in prayer can only be characterized by “groaning”.
(Rom 8:26-27 KJV) Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. {27} And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what to say in prayer.  You’re human. If you don’t know how to express what you’re feeling, groan.
Sometimes the work of the Spirit in prayer is expressed by praying in tongues.
(1 Cor 14:12-15 KJV) Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. {13} Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. {14} For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. {15} What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

Paul doesn’t say that praying in tongues is worthless, he just says that in the setting of a group meeting, that understanding is important, and so he prays for interpretation.

But still Paul says that he prays “with the spirit”, and in context, this means praying in tongues, in an unknown language.

Sometimes the work of the Spirit in prayer is expressed as He leads me what to pray for, in English.
Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
The most important thing here is that we learn to pray.  We might make a lot of mistakes.  We might not always do it right.  But sometime, if we want to survive, we need to learn to pray.
Andrew Murray in The Spiritual Life, writes,
The unconverted man says, “Conversion is easy tomorrow, but hard today.  I’ll put it off.”  Even so, prayer that is now difficult appears easy in the future. Alas, you will find it just as hard in the future as now. ... Reading a book about prayer, listening to lectures and talking about it is very good, but it won’t teach you to pray. You get nothing without exercise, without practice.  I might listen for a year to a professor of music playing the most beautiful music, but that won’t teach me to play an  instrument.

One of your most important survival skills is learning to pray, being directed by the Holy Spirit in your prayers.

:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God

keeptereo – to attend to carefully, to guard; to keep one in the state in which he is; expresses watchful care and is suggestive of present possession. In other words, Jude is saying to his readers that they are already in the love of God, now they just have to stay there. (Aorist active imperative)

While the other three verbs (“building up”, “praying”, “looking for”) are participles, this one is an imperative, meaning this is the focal point of Jude’s instruction to his readers. While you are doing the other things, this is the thing to really work on, keeping yourself in the love of God.

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

Survival Lesson #3

Survival with God’s love

A parable
A man had a long, hard journey to travel. He had a map of how to get there, and it didn’t look as if was going to be very easy. As he started out, he edged his boat into the river and the swift current began to carry him along. As he sat back and began to study his map, he noticed that the river seemed to take a lot of useless winding curves. As the idea of taking a shortcut began to form in his mind, he steered his boat to the river’s edge. He left the river and began to hike. The terrain was full of sharp rocks, tall pine trees, and perilous places. As the sun rose in the sky, he began to realize how hot it was, being away from the river. With beads of sweat running down his face, he began to wish he had never left the river. In the midday heat, every tree and rock seemed the same. Had he gotten lost? He climbed a tall rock to look for landmarks. And there it was, the river. As he looked at the torrent of cold, clear, mountain water, he realized that he had made a big mistake. He needed to get back to the river. If he was ever going to finish his journey, he must get back to the river.
The journey we face is the life we live as Christians, looking for the day when we shall see Jesus and His mercy face to face. The river is God’s love, an unending flow coming from His throne. As I make my way through this life on earth, I have a choice. Will I stay in the river where I am being carried by His love? Don’t wander too far from the river.
I think that one of the places where we experience the river of God’s love is in worship.
David wrote,

(Psa 16:11 KJV)  Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

But there is a practical side to keeping yourself in the love of God as well.  Jesus said,

(John 15:9-11 KJV) As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. {10} If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. {11} These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
It’s not that God’s love is conditional in that it depends on us being “good enough” for it. But if you really love Him and you know that He loves you, then you will have no problem doing the things that please Him. You will look forward to doing them.
Right On Target
A duke was hunting in the forest with his men-at-arms and servants; he came across a tree. Upon it, archery targets were painted and smack in the middle of each was an arrow. “Who is this incredibly fine archer?” cried the duke. “I must find him!” After continuing through the forest for a few miles he came across a small boy carrying a bow and arrow. Eventually the boy admitted that it was he who shot the arrows plumb in the center of all the targets. “You didn’t just walk up to the targets and hammer the arrows into the middle, did you?” asked the duke worriedly. “No my lord. I shot them from a hundred paces. I swear it by all that I hold holy.” “That is truly astonishing,” said the duke. “I hereby admit you into my service.” The boy thanked him profusely. “But I must ask one favor in return,” the duke continued. “You must tell me how you came to be such an outstanding shot.” “Well,” said the boy, “first I fire the arrow at the tree, and then I paint the target around it.”
I think we’re a little like that young boy at times.  We commend ourselves for living such a fine life because we’ve hit so many “bull’s eyes”!  Yet we’ve never hit God’s target.  Instead, we’ve painted the target after we shot our arrow.  God has a target to hit, it’s in His Word.  He’s told us what is right and what is wrong.  It’s not up to me to decide.  I want to keep myself in the bull’s eye, right where God’s arrows of love are being aimed at.  I stay in the bull’s eye when I do the things that He wants me to do.

Sometimes we go through difficult times and we begin to question God’s love for us.  It’s at those times that we wonder most if we’re going to survive.


The Burning Hut
The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stung with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me!” he cried.
Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal, they replied.

When I know that God loves me, I save myself a lot of heartache from wondering about my tough circumstances.  God knows what He’s doing.  He loves me.

:21 looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

looking forprosdechomai – to receive to one’s self, to give access to one’s self; receive one into companionship; to accept (not to reject) a thing offered. (Present participle)

We are to be looking forward to the mercy of Jesus that takes us into eternal life.  For some of us, this will happen when we die.  For some of us, this will happen when Jesus returns.

Survival Lesson #4

Survival by hope

Hope changes us.
(1 John 3:2-3 KJV) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. {3} And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

As we are looking forward to Jesus’ return, we want to be more and more like Him.

Jesus wants us to constantly be ready at all times for His return!
(Mat 24:42 KJV) Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Next week we’ll begin an introduction to the book of Revelation by looking at the prophetic events in our future.
Never Give Up
Sir Winston Churchill took three years getting through eighth grade because he had trouble learning English. It seems ironic that years later Oxford University asked him to address its commencement exercises. He arrived with his usual props. A cigar, a cane and a top hat accompanied Churchill wherever he went. As Churchill approached the podium, the crowd rose in appreciative applause. With unmatched dignity, he settled the crowd and stood confident before his admirers. Removing the cigar and carefully placing the top hat on the podium, Churchill gazed at his waiting audience. Authority rang in Churchill’s voice as he shouted, “Never give up!” Several seconds passed before he rose to his toes and repeated: “Never give up!” His words thundered in their ears. There was a deafening silence as Churchill reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane and left the platform. His commencement address was finished.
From Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery & Nancy Mitchell, R.N.
Martha Snell Nicholson was a gal who went through many difficulties in such a triumphant way that that she wrote some of the finest Christian poetry that has ever been written. A number of years before she died she wrote about her hope of the coming of the Lord.  This is what she says:
“The best part is the blessed hope of his soon coming.  How I ever lived before I grasped that wonderful truth, I do not know.  How anyone lives without it these trying days I cannot imagine.  Each morning I think, with a leap of the heart, “He may come today.” And each evening, “When I awake I may be in glory.” Each day must be lived as though it were to be my last, and there is so much to be done to purify myself and to set my house in order.  I am on tiptoe with expectancy.  There are no more grey days—for they’re all touched with color; no more dark days—for the radiance of His coming is on the horizon; no more dull days, with glory just around the corner; and no more lonely days, with His footsteps coming ever nearer, and the thought that soon, soon, I shall see His blessed face and be forever through with pain and tears.”