Summary: In this message, we look at the doctrine of the preservation of the saints.
The Letter of Jude deals with the subject of false teaching, which is the greatest danger to the Church of Jesus Christ today.
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24)
If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you undoubtedly know of someone who once claimed to be a Christian but now no longer makes such a claim. There are, in fact, many such people. They claimed to be Christians at one time but now make no such profession. In fact, they may even deny Christianity.
I find it discouraging to see people profess faith in Christ one day and then deny him the next. Some questions come to mind:
• How do we know that we shall continue to be Christians throughout our lives?
• Is there anything that will keep us from falling away from Christ?
• Is there any possibility that we will turn away from Christ and lose the blessings of salvation?
These are the questions that we will address in the final two verses of Jude’s letter.
But, first, let’s review what we have covered so far.
Jude began to write this marvelous letter to believers to encourage them with the wonderful truths “about our common salvation” (v. 3a). However, he “found it necessary to write appealing to [the believers] to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (v. 3b).
Why? Because word had reached Jude that false teachers had “crept in unnoticed.” They perverted the grace of God into sensuality and denied the deity of Jesus by their character, their conduct, and their creed (v. 4).
Jude said that God’s attitude toward false teachers was displayed in implacable judgment. He pointed to God’s attitude in his judgment of unbelieving individuals, rebellious angels, and sinful communities (vv. 5-7).
Jude then gave a description of false teachers. He said that false teachers were immoral (they “defile the flesh,” v. 8a), insubordinate (they “reject authority,” v. 8b), and irreverent (they “blaspheme the glorious ones,” vv. 8c-10).
Further, Jude said that false teachers disobeyed God (v. 11a), they influenced others to disobey God (v. 11b), and they led a full rebellion against God (11c).
He compared false teachers to five natural phenomena: hidden reefs (v. 12a), waterless clouds (v. 12b), fruitless autumn trees (v. 12c), wild sea waves (v. 13a), and wandering stars (v. 13b).
Jude noted that false teaching existed in ancient times (vv. 14-15), it exists in the present (v. 16), and it will exist in the future (vv. 17-19).
As Jude began to draw his letter to a close he said that believers avoid false teaching by growing spiritually in doctrine, prayer, obedience, and hope (vv. 20-21). And believers help others avoid false teaching by reaching out to the confused, the convinced and the committed (vv. 22-23).
In our lesson today, Jude states quite simply that Jesus preserves believers from stumbling.
Jude said in verse 24a, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling.” He is saying that Jesus is able to keep believers from falling away from salvation.
Jude is affirming what theologians call “the perseverance of the saints,” or “the preservation of the saints.”
Dr. James Montgomery Boice, former pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA, and from whose writing I am drawing heavily today, said that “the doctrine of perseverance means that God who has begun a good work in electing and then calling an individual to salvation, according to his own good purpose, will certainly keep on in that purpose until the person elected and called is brought home to the blessedness that has been prepared for him or her.”
I. What Perseverance Is Not
First, before looking at the biblical teaching regarding perseverance, let us consider what perseverance is not.
A. Perseverance Does Not Mean that Christians Are Free of All Spiritual Danger Just Because They Are Christians
First, perseverance does not mean that Christians are free of all spiritual danger just because they are Christians.
New Christians are sometimes surprised by this. They think that coming to faith in Christ will somehow make all their troubles go away. However, the opposite is often in fact the case. When they become Christians they suddenly find that Satan and the world are now opposed to them. Prior to conversion they were on the same team as Satan and the world. But, after conversion they discover that Satan and the world are actively opposed to them.