The living church, who lives a godly life and keeps her garments unspotted from the world, lives a truly eschatological life of hope. She has her eyes riveted upon the celestial city of God. She lives in the hope of one day seeing God; the joy of the perfect day thrills within the breast of such a battling saint. Such hold fast what they have that no one take their crown!
Such is the “common faith” once delivered to the saints. Faith does not put to nought the law of God; yea, faith establishes the law. However, in the church to which Jude is writing his brief epistle, things were not well. Certain men had crept in unawares into the church; reprobate men who were before of old predicted and ordained to this condemnation.
These changed the grace of our God into lasciviousness! These were antinomians who said: let us sin that grace may abound! Since we are saved by the blood of! Christ from all our sins, and since grace abounds over all sins, let us now rejoice in the abundance of grace through sinning lustily! (Rom. 6:1)
In the face of this we must contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. This means that we maintain straight orthodox lines in teaching the structural truths of the Bible. Let every man beware how he buildeth on the foundation. And this building on the foundation is contending for the faith also in the field of sound Christian ethics. For sound confession and a godly walk go hand in hand. And history is replete with classic biblical examples of those who walked in lasciviousness and in disobedience to those in authority. Jude mentions: the fallen angels, Cain, Sodom and Gomorra, Korah, Balaam. This epistle gives us a graphic and lurid description of the vanity and emptiness of such men. And also such men must look for the appearance of the Lord from heaven when he will come with the ten thousands of his saints to execute vengeance upon the ungodly. However, the saints live in the hope of being one day in the presence of God’s glory with exceeding joy! This joy is set before us with Christ. Because of this joy set before us we endure affliction and despise the shame looking for the reward of the faithful!
THE FINAL SAL VATION IN GLORY IS CER TAJN (Verse 24)
The form in which the certain perseverance (preservation) of the saints is cast together with the certainty of the final glorification is that of a song, a doxology. Such songs, such doxologies are meaningful and must be studied. Thus it is with the entire bundle of the psaltery of Scripture. The entire bundle of Psalms are so arranged that the last Psalm is the great Hallelujah of the church. These are Messianic, Christological, and have good soteriology (applying to us what we have in Christ) and not the least do they have good eschatology, the separation of the wicked from among the righteous. One has only to read the “key-note” of the Psalms as given in the first Psalm!
Here, too, in this doxology this is very clear. Fact is, that the “preservation of the saints” and the “glorification” are united as links in a chain. It makes us think of the golden chain of Romans 8:29, 30 “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called them he also justified: and whom he justified them he also glorified!” This is the connecting link in this doxology between the two parts of salvation which the God of our salvation is able to perform!
The focal point of this doxology is God! He is called “the only wise God our Savior.” Three elements here call for our attention:
1. He is God. The Bible does not try to prove with logical arguments that. God is! The Bible begins with the confession and dogma: “In the beginning God. . . .” The church in the wilderness understood, and all the devils in hell understand that God is, and they tremble!! They understand that God is one! And this one God is over all through all and in all! That is the heart-beat of this doxology and of all spiritual songs!
2. That he alone is God. Fact is, there is a reading in the Greek text which omits the attribute “wise” and speaks of the “only God.” That, too, is preeminently necessary in a doxology to God. Not man, not his salvation is the center, but God is central in all his works, preeminently in our salvation! Thus he is here acknowledged.
3. That he the only wise God. God’s wisdom is that virtue and perfection of God by which he so arranges all things in history that they lead to the highest end and glory of his name, and to the greatest salvation of a poor sinner, the rectification of the angels who had; not fallen, and to the renewal of both heaven and earth through the destruction of the world by fire. He sees and proclaims the end from the beginning according to the counsel of His will. This wisdom is here most intimately connected with our “Savior.” He is the Savior of those who raise the anthems to the great white throne. He is our Saviour in Jesus, who will save his people from their sins. He is their God: Immanuel, God-with-us. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself!
There is another virtue which is here doxologically ascribed to God. It is God’s power. And power here is: what is possible with God. It is in Jesus that God shews that there is nothing impossible with him. He raises the dead to life and calls the things which are not as if they were! (Romans 4:17) What God began, by raising the dead sinner from death and spiritual grave, he finishes in preserving us from falling and presenting us. Two things we should here notice:
1.That God, as the only wise God, is able to keep us from falling. It requires a very wise God, who is almighty, to do just that. The term in the Greek for “keep from falling” might be translated’ “keep from stumbling.” The metaphor here is derived from the usage among the Greeks to ‘harness their horses and bind their legs in such a way so as to support them in their races, to keep them from stumbling and ultimately from falling. Thus the saints must be kept from stumbling. And particularly the saints whom Jude is addressing must be kept from falling into the antinomian error of changing the grace of God into lasciviousness in doctrine and life. That is the only hope. If we were left to our own strength and ability for even one moment we would stumble and fall. Yes, our Savior God in Jesus ever lives to pray for us. He who said to Peter: Satan has willed to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not. We are kept in the power of God.
We may not fail to notice that this doxology is couched in a context which is replete with threatenings and warnings. And let it be emphatically stated that the power of God to keep the church from stumbling is through admonitions and warnings. We must not conceive of this power of God simply in an abstract and purely mystical way, so that the Christian simply spontaneously does the will of the Lord and is kept. Just as the body is in need of food to be strengthened and needs medicine and surgery to ward off disease and weakness, so our spiritual life is in need of warning so that we may be strong and contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. Jude would have nothing of the antinomian “don’t tell God’s people what to do.” Our fathers of Dordt are in line with Jude when they write in Heads of Doctrine III, IV, 17 “. . . for grace is conferred by means of admonitions; and the more readily we perform our duty, the more eminently usually is this blessing of God working in us, and the more directly is his work advanced; to whom alone all the glory both of the means, and of their saving fruit and efficacy is forever due. Amen.”
2.But this same God is also able to present us faultless in the presence of God’s glory with great joy. As a backward glance we must insist that he presents us in glory, but then the good work which he has begun in us he will finish even into the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. This glory is the inherent in salvation. It is principally the grace wherein we now stand. However, the description here of the glory is well worthy of our sanctified notice. It is called the glory of his presence. This makes one think of the glory of Sinai before which all Israel trembled. That, too, was the presence of His glory. But there Israel was not filled with joy. They were not filled with the joy of Christ: my joy in you, and your joy full! They were filled with fear. Even Moses said: I exceedingly fear and tremble. It was the glory of the law-giving. But here is a glory of grace which exceeds all the glory of the old covenant written in tables of stone. This is the glory of grace, the glory of the law written in our hearts. Here is a glory of the Holy Spirit which changes our hearts, changes us even now, looking into a glass darkened, changes us from glory unto glory as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Unto the very steps of this glory we have now come.
We may draw near with uncovered faces!
But one day we will be presented as the perfect church, faultless. Then will the purpose of the election of grace be attained in us: holy and unblamable before him in love. We will be the perfected Bride. The Virgin daughter of Jerusalem shall be glorious. She who was a guilty harlot and an adulterous woman shall then stand forth arrayed in the glory of grace. That will be the lie to all making and changing the grace of our God into lasciviousness!
It will be in exuberant Joy. Everlasting joy shall be upon our foreheads. This is the exceeding joy of those who have come from the great Babylon of sin to, Zion’s lofty mount, which is beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth!
This final salvation in glory is certain!
TO GOD ALONE THE GLORY (Verse 24)
Here we can be brief. Four things are here stated:
1. Glory is mentioned. It is the glory of grace, of the great work of God from Alpha to Omega and all the manifestation of His grace and love, mercy and peace, through sin and death, through this present history to the ages to come!
2. Majesty is also mentioned. It is the greatness of God. God is great. It is God’s sovereign greatness whereby he is able to keep us and to present us blameless in the presence of His glory.
3. Also God’s dominion is acclaimed and extolled here. This is the invincible manifestation of power which overcomes all opposition. It is the power in the preaching, in the admonitions, power which guarantees the perfected church.
4. Finally, it speaks of dominion. This is God’s sovereign authority. God has the right to shew forth his praises. And that, too, is his greatness and glory. He rules over death and hell, and no one can say: what doest thou!
Yes, to this we must add the “Amen.” It shall surely come to pass, more surely than I feel in my heart that this is all true. And this we must say with sanctified lips. We must learn to sing this meaningfully, shall we sing it spiritually.