This is a message I preached at Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Harrah, Oklahoma, at the invitation of Pastor Jerred Yancey. The sermon is based upon the words “He that spared not His own Son,” and is a consideration of the marvel of those extraordinary words. Referring to II Peter 2, where we find that God spared not the angels that sinned, nor the antediluvian sinners, nor Sodom and Gomorrah, we can find that to be understandable; but to learn that God spared not His own Son, Who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, is a miracle of stunning proportions. This was done for sinners, that they might inherit eternal life, and receive all things as a free gift from the hand of a gracious God.
This exhortation Jude found necessary, because the church was under direct threat from false teachers who crept in and began spreading their doctrinal poison. They had slipped in “unawares,” meaning that they had through smooth words and fair speeches deceived the early believers, who were all too quick to receive them as genuine brethren. This ought to be a warning to us to not allow our eagerness for an increase in our numbers lead us to indifference about what kind of people are entering our churches. Sometimes they may be true brethren with whom we may happily fellowship in our pilgrimage to the kingdom of heaven. But since the Devil is always about the business of sowing tares among the wheat, we must also scrupulously guard that those who visit or join our churches begin not to spread pernicious heresy amongst us.
Here is one of the most dreadful verses in all the Scriptures, for Jude says that these apostates were “before of old ordained to this condemnation.” No doctrine is more bound to incite the indignation of religionists than that of reprobation, and yet here it is stated so plainly that one wonders how it could be denied. Jude sets forth who these men were: false teachers who crept into these churches unawares. Then he sets them forth from the divine perspective: ordained of old to this condemnation. God had raised them up, even as He did Pharaoh, for a means of testing His elect people. They themselves, though, had no part in His purpose of grace, but were ordained as vessels of destruction to be condemned. Our perverted human sense of justice may revolt against this, but we must humbly submit to that dictum of Paul, “Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus? Hath not the Potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make a vessel to honor, and some to dishonor?” We must ever bear in mind concerning the reprobate, that they are not people who desired to be saved and walked with God, but were cruelly held back because of the decree of reprobation. These were men intentionally spreading damnable perversions of the Gospel in the churches for their own private advantage, and had no intention of submitting themselves to the righteousness of God. God, as it were, gave them over to the perverse inclinations of their own heart, and permitted them to carry out the wickedness that resided within them. We should do nothing but stand in awe of the Creator, and magnify His justice and sovereign dominion, and humbly thank Him that He did not leave us in the position of the reprobate.
The difference between the Christian and the non-Christian is that the former controls his temperament, while the latter is controlled by it.
In Mississippi on February 1, 1890, an appropriation for a monument to the Confederate dead was being considered. A delegate had just spoken against the bill, when John F. Harris, a Black Republican delegate from Washington, county, rose to speak:“Mr. Speaker! I have risen in my place to offer a few words on the bill.I have come from a sick bed. Perhaps it was not prudent for me to come. But sir, I could not rest quietly in my room without contributing a few remarks of my own.I was sorry to hear the speech of the young gentlemen from Marshall County. I am sorry that any son of a soldier would go on record as opposed to the erections of a monument in honor of the brave dead. And, Sir, I am convinced that had he seen what I saw at Seven Pines, and in the Seven Day’s fighting around Richmond, the battlefield covered with mangled forms of those who fought for this country and their country’s honor, he would not have made the speech.When the news came that the South had been invaded, those men went forth to fight for what they believed, and they made not requests for monuments. But they died, and their virtues should be remembered.Sir, I went with them. I, too, wore the gray, the same color my master wore. We stayed for four long years, and if that war had gone on till now I would have been there yet. I want to honor those brave men who died for their convictions.When my Mother died I was a boy. Who, Sir, then acted the part of Mother to the orphaned slave boy, but my old Missus! Were she living now, or could speak to me from those high realms where are gathered the sainted dead, she would tell me to vote for this bill. And, Sir, I shall vote for it. I want it known to all the world that my vote is given in favor of the bill to erect a monument in HONOR OF THE CONFEDERATE DEAD.”When the applause died down, the measure passed overwhelmingly, and every Black member voted “AYE.”
Having given this brief but sweet introduction, Jude dives immediately into his purpose for writing. We receive at once a hint that he had communicated with these brethren before, for he speaks in the past tense of having once given diligence to write to them concerning the common salvation, to exhort them to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints. An excellent purpose for a letter indeed! And, surely, it is something very needful for all Christ’s churches in every generation. We need faithful men constantly to remind us of the wonderful details of our salvation, teaching us concerning the electing love of the Father’s, the sacrificial love of Christ, Who died in our stead as a propitiation to God, and of the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Constant emphasis on this salvation, which is common to all the chosen people of God, is positively necessary for the maintenance of spiritual health and strength in the churches.
But Jude wrote not only to refresh the souls of the believers by reminding them of the immense spiritual blessings which accrue to the household of God in salvation, but also to exhort them to contend earnestly for the faith. Jude had no thought of a flippant “once saved always saved” notion which breeds laziness and indifference in the professor. He was certainly no proponent of that damnable “carnal Christian” theory. Though, as we will see at the conclusion of the epistle, he was firmly persuaded that the grace of God was able to keep His people from falling, Jude nevertheless understood at the same time that the Christian life is one of constant and unrelenting spiritual warfare, and that the enemies of the faith must be withstood and slain by the sword of the Spirit. We may not rest on our laurels, and above all we may not be indifferent when false doctrine penetrates the church. When people begin to deny the necessity of blood atonement, question the virgin birth or resurrection of Christ, deny the miracles, question the authority of Scripture, at the same time calling themselves Christians, we have no right to gloss over their errors out of “Christian love.” No, we are to plant our feet squarely upon the infallible truth of God’s word, and not permit ourselves to be moved. We may, surely, tolerate certain disagreements among brethren over interpretation of passages and issues which are not essential to our salvation. But when the fundamentals of the faith are attacked, the Christian must contend earnestly. When the virgin birth of Christ, His deity, the Trinity of persons in the Godhead, and such like fundamental doctrines are attacked, we cannot tolerate them out of Christian charity, but must assault their error with the truth of God’s word, and, if they do not relent, quickly excise them and their error from the body of the church, lest their word spreads and eats away like a canker.
The Westminster Larger Catechism enumerates many violations of the First Commandment, and this is the first sermon covering those sins. Primarily, this message deals with ignorance of God, and specifically willful ignorance, which arises from our neglect of the scriptures and means of grace. I also touch upon various areas of sin with respect to worship, when we refuse to participate in parts of divine worship commanded by the word of God.
To such favored saints Jude wishes his gracious apostolic benediction of mercy, peace, and love. By mercy he intends the continual outflow of God’s kind protection and assistance in all the trials and hardships of this earthly life. Believers are a people beset with all the common trials familiar to mankind, and also many difficulties to which the world is immune. In the midst of persecution and attacks upon the faith, Jude prays that God would continue to favor His chosen people with fresh discoveries of His mercy, so that they would know that they are not alone in the midst of the furnace of affliction.
Peace also is wished upon the saints. Peace externally in the world is a wonderful gift, but the word of Christ is that in the world we shall have tribulation. Periods of peace are few and far between, and much to be cherished by those pursuing the Christian pilgrimage. But spiritual peace is something which even the most sorely tried Christian may enjoy, through the blessing of God upon him. The knowledge of sins forgiven, the joy of communion with God, the sweet fruits of the Gospel, will work within him a peace which the world cannot give nor understand. The highest earthly joys and accomplishments soon vanish away, leaving the participants hungering for something new and fresh. But the joy that comes through a knowledge of Christ as Saviour produces a peace that neither men nor devils can steal from us. It must be acknowledged that when we become bogged down in the hardships of daily living, our delight in the Gospel may waver. Jude’s prayer for peace is a very necessary one, for when our view of the Gospel is diminished, our peace will decrease in corresponding degree.
Jude prays also for a multiplication of love to those sanctified in God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ. This may be understood two ways; I say not, in one of two ways, for I think it fully tenable to accept that the apostle intends both. We may think of it as Jude praying for an increase of the love of God to be shed abroad in the hearts of the saints by the Holy Ghost. This is a most sweet and necessary grace, which greatly strengthens believers to run in the ways of the Lord. We are daily in need of fresh discoveries of the saving love of Christ, the tender love of the Father, and the grace of the Spirit within us. When we lose sight of the fact that our God pities us even as a father pitieth his children, then our soul may be much discouraged by the way. The manifestation of the love of God in the hearts of His children is a very strengthening and encouraging grace, for which all ought to constantly pray.
We could also understand it as a prayer for the multiplication of mutual love between the brethren. This also is a very necessary grace, for it is all too easy for those still affected by sin to grow disenchanted with one another, and to become very disagreeable. Part of Satan’s unrelenting warfare is to stir up strife in the churches of God. Thus, the apostles were always quick to admonish the churches to walk in love, and also to pray that their love may be increased. Jude, I think, prays both for the love of God, and for an increase of love between the brethren, in this apostolic benediction.