Summary: Understanding who we are as the people of God
Today we seem to be more concerned than ever with identity. As Christians we have a particular interest in identity because the most important things about us are invisible to the natural eye. Christians have understood themselves by different measures than the world around us. We’re tempted to define ourselves by the world’s standards. So what do we do? We hold up the word of God as a mirror to tell us things about ourselves that we wouldn’t see otherwise.
In the situation Jude was written for, evil men were encouraging Christians to define themselves by the world. The letter begins by reminding Christians of who they are, or better yet – whose we are.
The first clue he gives as to our identity is to talk about himself.
WRITER - Jude (1a)
a. Jude - In Greek it’s the same as Judas, a common name. Some have thought it was the apostle Judas (not Iscariot), Thaddeus, but v.17 refers to the apostles as in the past, another group that seems separate from the writer.
b. Brother of James
i. One Jude in the New Testament with a brother called James - See Matt. 13:55; Mk. 6:3
ii. James and Jude - ½ brothers of Jesus
iii. This Jude mentions himself as the brother of James (the Just) who was the brother of Christ and a witness to Christ’s death and resurrection.
c. Servant of Jesus Christ
Why was Jude not interested to refer to his family connection here?
1. Reverence for Jesus
2. Modesty (doubts and oppositions he had displayed in Jesus’ early life) - See Matt. 12:46-50, 13:55-57; Mk. 3:31-35, 6:3-4; Lk. 4:24, 8:19-21, Jn. 7:5
3. Jude as a Christian acknowledged Christ as Lord
4. Term “Servant” is an overtone of great importance - e.g. Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel - “Servants of God”
FUNDAMENTAL & UNDISPUTED FACT about Jude is that he knew himself to be a servant of Christ.
OWNERSHIP - he knew he had been bought with a price and that Jesus had died on the cross for his sins and that he had found new life by believing and trusting in him.
STARTING POINT –
He specially addresses the issue of identity by referring to the…
READERS - (1b) Church is not identified precisely. Yet it is a specific Church. Group of Christians that he knew well.
A. Christians – CALLED
What is the nature of the calling? To what are we called?
i. TO LIVE IN CHRIST
This calling was not according to our meritorious works BUT according to God’s own purpose and grace before time
We have been called with "a holy calling" - 2 Tim 1:9 “…who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal…”
Israel was called by God to be his people - Isa. 42:6 “I, Jehovah, have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.” AND Christians live in succession; they are people of God, inheriting the promises that God made to Israel.
ii. TO EMBRACE THE GOSPEL
We became God’s chosen and called through the means of the gospel - 2 Thess 2:13-14 “…But we must forever give thanks to God for you, our brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose from the very first to give you salvation, cleansing you by the work of the Holy Spirit and by your trusting in the Truth. Through us he told you the Good News. Through us he called you to share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Calls unto into the context of a family that celebrates good news
This is consistent with
o God’s desire that "all men be saved" - 1 Ti 2:3-4
o God’s offer of His Son as "a ransom for all" - 1 Ti 2:5-6
o God’s unwillingness that "any should perish", but that "all should come to repentance" - 2 Peter 3:9
iii. TO MAKE OUR "CALLING AND ELECTION SURE"
This requires much diligence on our part - 2 Pet 1:10-11
Otherwise, we will be like the Israelites in the wilderness - Heb 3:12-19; 4:1-2,11
All were called by God to enter the Promised Land of rest but most were unable to enter because of unbelief that led to lack of diligence!
Many warnings against apostasy found in the Scriptures - why Jude felt it necessary to write his epistle!
Everybody has a chance
“For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this not by yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8)