Monday, October 20, 2008

The Unique Position of Believers...Jude: About the Audience

We have already learned about the author – that Jude was saved, a servant, and he was serious. Salvation results in being persuaded about the kingdom of God and His appointed King Jesus Christ – in other words salvation always results in being persuaded about the rule of God through His Christ. So salvation always results in our humble submission to and desire to be ruled by Jesus Christ the King who died for our crimes and rose from the dead in order to transform us and guide us. Salvation through the gospel makes us into willing servants of the King. And as servants of the King we are serious because service to His Majesty matters!

Today we learn about the audience – those to whom and for whom Jude wrote his letter. Here we clearly see the biblically defined characteristics of those saved by the power of the gospel and the unique position of believers.

To those who are the called….” The first characteristic of the saved is they are the called. In order to understand this characteristic we are going to have to distinguish between the general call of God and the effectual call of God.

The general call of God goes out to many but doesn’t necessitate, constitute, or guarantee the salvation of all who hear it. The general call of God is His invitation to salvation that He sends out to many through His servants who proclaim the gospel. However, the general call of God can be ignored, shunned, rejected, and even improperly received by those who are invited (Matthew 22:1-14). So we see in the Scriptures that many are called but few are chosen – indicating that the general call of God is not effectual for all who hear it.

The effectual call of God however results in the gospel being the power of God unto salvation for those who believe because they have been chosen by God for salvation. The apostle Paul put it this way after speaking to the Thessalonians about the apostasy and the coming of the Antichrist that must take place before the Lord Jesus gathers His saints to Him – “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). So the general call of God is the effectual call of God only for those who have been chosen by God from the beginning for salvation. So the saved who are referred to as the called are those who were invited through the gospel, made willing by the effectual call of God to receive that which by nature one rejects – namely Jesus Christ as King and his or her self as loyal servants who love and adore the King – and thereby proven to be chosen. Only the chosen are effectually called through the gospel and the gospel is the only way that God calls those whom He chose. God’s choosing and God’s calling go together, for the God who ordains the end (our salvation) also ordains the means to the end (being called through the gospel). It is for this reason that we do not use gospel gimmicks but rely solely on the gospel without being ashamed of it – for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.

“…beloved in God the Father….” The second characteristic of the saved is they are beloved by God the Father. Here the Greek word is agapao and it means beloved or loved ones. Some translations say, “to them that are sanctified by God the Father….” While there is a different Greek word for “sanctified”, hagiazo, don’t fret. Even the word beloved has in it the idea of being set apart as the special objects of God’s love. The beloved are the permanent objects of God’s love. God’s love for His elect was demonstrated in the past through His self-sacrificing love shown at Calvary (Romans 5:8), it is demonstrated in the present through both His care for them and discipline of them (1 Peter 5:7 and Hebrews 12:5-6), and it will be demonstrated in the future and for all eternity through His delight in them and His salvation of them.

“…and kept for Jesus Christ.” The third characteristic of the saved is they are kept for Jesus Christ. The word “kept” means to preserve. Kept means to guard, to hold firmly, to watch or keep. The saints are the objects of God’s permanent, preserving, watchful care. God the Father is keeping the saints for His Son! Not only does the Bible tell us that God the Father is keeping the saints, it also tells us that Jesus Christ is keeping the saints (John 10:27-29). The eternal security of the believer is not a dangerous doctrine as some believe but it is a delivering doctrine which allows the saints to put on the full armor of God including the helmet of salvation and enter the battle for truth with courage. Any who would turn the doctrine of the security of the believer into an excuse to sin rather than the encouragement to stand for truth, is an apostate who turns the grace of God into licentiousness (Jude 4). The saved are called, beloved, and kept.

Because they are called, beloved, and kept, the saints as the King’s soldiers are the recipients of God’s choicest blessings: mercy, peace, and love – “May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you."

God in His mercy does not give us what we deserve. Instead He gave our punishment to His own Son, the King, on the cross. This means that God is for us and not against us – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Romans 8:31-34). Mercy be multiplied to you!

Because of Christ’s work on the cross, believers enjoy peace. Peace is to join together that which has been separated. Therefore peace is a reunion that is based on the putting away of enmity between two separated people. Peace is not just the absence of war; it is the absence of any reason for war. Therefore genuine peace is always based on purity and purity is the putting away of enmity. I’m speaking of the actual putting away of enmity and not the turning of a blind eye to it. Many in our day believe that God is going to turn a blind eye to their enmity and crimes against Him and have even been told by the false prophets, “Peace, when there is no peace.” However, God does not have a blind eye! As long as a man has not repented and Christ is not his King he has no peace with God no matter how much he believes that God is not going to do what He says He is going to do. Only those who are saved have peace with God – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Peace be multiplied to you!

The saints also experience God’s love. God’s love is poured out within the believer’s heart – “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). The cross is God’s demonstration of love (Romans 5:8), but His love is not experienced within until His Spirit comes into the believing heart and makes it real. As the believer grows in his spiritual life, he enters into a deeper relationship of love (John 14:21-24).

Certainly those who know Christ as their Lord and Savior enjoy a unique position. They are called by God, beloved in God and kept by God for Jesus Christ that they might enjoy mercy, peace, and love from God. What a special place believers have in the heart and plan of God!

No comments: