Summary: Our response to those who are have false motives and who scoff at Jesus is to show unexpected grace so that the ungodly may still have an opportunity to experience God’s forgiveness and love.
You can listen to the full message here:-
The book of Jude takes many different and, sometimes, unexpected turns.
Jude wanted to write about the wonders of salvation – instead a difficult and spiritually dangerous situation compelled him to urge the recipients to “contend for the faith”. They needed to contend against certain individuals who are secretly slipping into the church – God is against them because they are advocating anarchy and making empty promises.
When Jude describes these certain individuals Jude piles on the negative descriptions:-
The certain individuals “reject authority”; act “as irrational animals”; are “hidden reefs at love feasts”; they are “shepherds feeding themselves”; and “wandering stars; “grumblers” and “faultfinders”
Six times Jude identifies them as “ungodly”.
With all this in place it feels like Jude is leading up to a crescendo …
We kind of expect Jude to say “expel them”; or “have nothing to do with them”;
Such an outcome would be Biblical.
If your brother or sister sins … point out their fault … if they will not listen, take one or two others along … if they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
There are times when it is appropriate to call for separation, and to put distance, and to create boundaries. Especially when such people are claiming to be part of the family of Jesus.
It is not unreasonable to expect such an outcome.
So let’s read Jude 17-25 and see what Jude does.
That is unexpected isn’t it. In fact I would call this unexpected grace
Jude here doesn’t call for separation. Jude calls for engagement.
Which means we need heaps of discernment today. For there are times when it is appropriate, and godly, and biblical, to separate from those who oppose, or scoff, or are false.
And there are other times when it is appropriate, and godly, and biblical, to engage with those who oppose, or scoff, or are false.
To help us know when to engage, and the way to engage, Jude uses five commands:-
In Greek the command form is call an imperative.
Imperative number 1 (verse 17)
µ??s??te – remember
Specifically they are to remember that the apostles taught that “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.”
Scoffers are those who hear the message of the Gospel and dismiss it. Or they try and do what is necessary to distort the message of the Gospel. When Paul was preaching he warned about the impact of scoffing.
Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:
‘“Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days, that you would never believe, even if someone told you.”
Scoffing is divisive because it causes doubts and raises questions. The person doing the scoffing, or the mocking, is setting themselves up against the Lord. In the last days such activity will increase and intensify.
In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’
Here is the unexpected grace factor.
Scoffing causes division, ungodliness, and it expresses a sinful human instinct rather than the Spirit. Yet, in the middle of scoffing, transformation is possible.
At one point both criminals on the crosses near Jesus were hurling insults … then later one asks for Jesus to remember him … and Jesus promises Paradise. (c.f. Mark 15:32; Luke: 23:39-43)
Paul was mocking Jesus by breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. Jesus took this really personally and confronted Paul, “Saul, why do you persecute me?” The scoffing, mocking Saul becomes the next apostle. (c.f. Acts 9:1-31).
Jude’s imperative is to remember these truths … and that imperative forms part of how we engage.
For here we are being reminded that no-one is beyond the reach of God’s unexpected grace.
Imperative number 2 (verse 21)
t???sate - keep
Specifically the calling is to “keep ourselves in God’s love as we wait”
What we need to understand is that the “waiting” here is not just a “sitting around wondering what is going to happen”. Rather the “waiting” here is the time when we are looking ahead in expectation.