For my devotions, I have been using the NIV Quiet Time Bible. I have been working my way through the smaller books at the end of the New Testament. Today, I found myself in the book of Jude. I confess that Jude is not a book I have spent much time in. It tends to get lost, tucked away at the end of the New Testament, and overshadowed by Revelation. As I read this short book today, (only 25 verses) I was surprised to discover how relevant it is to our times.
Jude was one of Jesus’ brothers. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, Jude was skeptical about his eldest brother. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jude came to faith in Jesus and became part of the early church. We do not have much information about Jude, but we get some insights into him through this one letter of his, which has been preserved for our benefit.
Jude identified himself as the brother of James, and was probably involved with the church in Jerusalem. He was concerned about the health of the church. Specifically, he was concerned about false teachers who had infiltrated the church and perverted the Gospel. These false teachers had turned their liberty into license and their boldness into arrogance. They were leading the people away from the truth of Jesus, and promoting a selfish, self-centered, indulgent life-style.
The things that Jude alludes to are evident in the church today. There are those who are seeking to use the Gospel for their own ends; political, social, and personal. Their words are smooth and convincing, but they led people away from Christ. The last few verses of this small book are sound instruction for those of us living in these challenging times.
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 17-23
- We need to keep our eyes open and not be enticed into false pathways. The best way to do this is to test everything against the truth of the Bible.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
- We need to seek the Lord with all of our heart. Like the author of Hebrews says, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
- We need to stand up for one another. Like soldiers in the heat of battle, we need the support of other believers. When doubts arise, we need to assure one another. When one of us slips and falls, we need to pick him up. When someone strays, we need to respond with mercy, tempered by holy fear.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1
Jude ends his short letter with a powerful benediction of hope and praise.
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 24-25
We would do well to pay attention to this hidden gem, tucked away at the end of the New Testament. Jude’s words are timely, powerful and relevant to where we live today.