Keep Yourself in the Love of God – Jude 20-21

I.   INTRODUCTION

A. The Need To Keep At It

1.  What happens if you fail to put gas in the car?

2.  What happens if you forget to change the oil or give it a tune up?

3.  If you neglect to change the tires or replace the brakes?

4.  What will your yard look like if you forget to water or mow or weed?

5.  What will happen to your house if you fail to dust and vacuum, do the dishes, take out the trash?

6.  For those of you who are married or courting – what happens if you neglect to spend time together?

a.  men, what’ll happen if you fail to spend some time with and give attention to your wife or girlfriend?

b.  what happens if you forget an anniversary or birthday?

B. Stoking the Fire

1.  If our car is going to run properly – if our house is going to be in good order – if our relationships are going to be healthy – then we are going to need to invest in them!

2.  We’re going to have to maintain them by spending time and effort on them.

3.  We know the truth of this as it relates to all these things I’ve just mentioned – but do we have that kind of mentality when it comes to our relationship with God?

4.  Or do we have a faulty view of grace that thinks we can just kick back and put our spiritual lives on autopilot and things will be fine?

C. Jude

1.  Jude wrote this letter, urging his readers to take a bold and uncompromising stand for the faith.

2.  A dangerous new false teaching was growing that had a faulty view of grace.

a.  the false teachers were turning God’s grace into a license to sin

b.  and Jude wrote to refute this gross distortion.

3.  After spending the bulk of the letter describing the false teachers and exposing their motivations for twisting the truth into a hideous lie – he ends by calling his readers to show all diligence to make sure they’re standing safe and secure in the love of God.

II.  TEXT

A. Vs. 20-21

20But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

21keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

1.  Let’s begin with a little technical work on the grammar here so we can see precisely what Jude is saying.

2.  The central message is this –

a.  v. 20 – “But you, beloved”

b.  v. 21 – “keep yourselves in the love of God”

c.  the clauses –

1) building yourselves up,

2) praying in the Holy Spirit, and

3) looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ

d.  are the 3 means by which they’re to keep themselves in God’s love.

3.  Jude sets his readers in contrast to the false teachers and those who’ve been seduced by them to depart from the faith.

4.  He says, “But you, dearly loved one – keep yourself, guard your standing in the love of God.”

5.  Jude doesn’t mean that God’s love is withdrawn from those who err.

a.  the Bible is crystal clear in this regard – God loves all

b.  even those who’ve turned their back on Him and walked away

6.  But there’s a vast difference between the truth of God’s pervasive love and the personal experience and application of it.

7.  One of the most popular themes of classic literature is the tragedy of unrequited love.

a.  many of the more popular TV shows today carry the running plot line of some man or woman who’s secretly in love with one of the other characters.

b.  often the one who’s loved is attracted to someone else who’s a creep

c.  and as we watch  from week to week we ache for the pure and good love of the hero to be experienced and enjoyed by the one who’s loved.

8.  That’s the way it is with God’s love and the lost.

a.  God loves them, but they’re attracted to the false loves and passions of this world.

b.  as they give themselves to these false lovers, they only get hurt again and again.

c.  we ache for them to find the love they’re looking for in a relationship with God.

9.  When Jude says that we’re to keep ourselves in the love of God, he means that we’re to be diligent to make sure we’re in the place of experiencing and enjoying God’s love.

10.     I used this illustration not long ago but it fits perfectly here so let me share it again.

a.  I love my children and want them to experience the fullness and benefit of that love.

1) I want to spend time and do things with them.

2) I want to build a whole life of happy and pleasant memories for them.

3) I want to give them gifts and provide for them everything and whatever they need so they can grow up to become mature and well-grounded people.

4) I want my love to equip them with what it takes to be successful in life.

b.  while this is my desire,  my children can only experience it if they’re compliant and responsive to my role as their father.

1) if they’re rebellious and disobedient, then instead of showering on them the positive blessings of my love,

2) they’re going to experience the negative blessings of my discipline.

11.     Jude is saying – “God loves you – stay in the place where you can enjoy the fullness of that love!”

12.     Then he gives us three ways we can keep ourselves in the love of God.

B. Building Yourselves Up On Your Most Holy Faith

1.  He says in v. 20 –

 . . . building yourselves up on your most holy faith

2.  Romans 10:17 gives us the prescription for how to build our faith -

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

3.  I simply cannot over-state the importance of God’s word in nurturing our faith.

4.  Regular, consistent Bible reading and study is crucial if we’re going to grow spiritually.

a.  there’s no substitute for the Word of God.

b.  inspirational talks may stir us up;

c.  impassioned speeches may really get our blood flowing -

d.  but without a faith informed by the Scriptures, it’s all just a lot of hype!

5.  Reading and studying the Bible is much like eating.

a.  just as food is nourishment to our bodies,

b.  the Bible is nourishment for our soul.

6.  Tom was a Christian and attended church every Sunday and Wednesday.

a.  his faith was well known where he worked and a couple of the guys liked to poke fun at him every so often

b.  one Monday Jack said, “Hey Tom – what’d your preacher talk about yesterday?”

c.  for a second, Tom had one of those moments we’ve all had and totally spaced both the title and reference of what the previous day’s sermon had been.

d.  Jack said – “Why do you go every week if you can’t even remember what’s been talked about?”

e.  Tom replied, “Tell me Jack – what’d you have for dinner last night?”

f.   Jack paused and then said, “Tacos – why?”

g.  Tom asked, “What’d you have for dinner Friday & Saturday night?”

h.  Jack thought, then said, “I don’t remember.”

i.   Tom replied, “Well, why do you eat dinner if you can’t remember it just a couple days later?”

7.  I don’t think there’s a person here that could give a list of the messages taught from this pulpit every Sunday for the last 2 months.

a.  but that doesn’t alter the fact that they’ve been effective at deepening our faith

b.  they’ve been instrumental in bringing some people to faith in Jesus Christ

c.  and have helped bring healing to broken lives.

8.  God’s Word is spiritual food that nourishes our faith.

9.  It’s the substance and material from which our spiritual lives are constructed.

10.     When Jude tells us to keep ourselves in the love of God by building ourselves up on our most holy faith, he means we are to invest ourselves in going deeper with the Lord by a diligent study and application of His Word!

C. Praying In The Holy Spirit

1.  Then he says we’re to keep ourselves in the love of God by -

praying in the Holy Spirit

2.  To pray in the Holy Spirit means to approach God in and by the Spirit as opposed to the flesh.

a.  coming with an attitude of surrender -

b.  rather than being full of self

3.  In John 4, Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that true worship is in spirit and truth.

4.  She’d asked a question about the proper form & ritual of worship and Jesus corrected her – telling her that true worship isn’t an issue of form but of motivation.

5.  That’s what Jude is saying here.

6.  We keep ourselves in the place of being able to experience God’s love by making sure our relationship with Him doesn’t become a cold, formal, ritual.

a.  prayer ought not become merely a 2 minute habit we engage in over breakfast or just prior to falling asleep

b.  prayer is a living, vibrant, constant communion with the Spirit of God.

7.  Praying in the Holy Spirit means to ask Him to direct our thoughts so we can pray in agreement with God’s will.

8.  It means to pray as the Spirit inspires us to pray – whether that be with words we understand or in a language He gives that bypasses our intellect.

a.  the Apostle Paul said that he both prayed with understanding and in the Spirit,

b.  meaning in the tongue the Spirit gave him that bypassed his understanding.

9.  In Ephesians 5, Paul uses marriage as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

a.  Jesus is the groom and we are His bride.

b.  in Genesis 2 we see that the goal of marriage is intimacy; where two become one.

c.  that oneness, that intimacy can only take place when the two are in close communication and sharing.

d.  the love of a husband and wife can only be fully realized when they’re open with each other and sharing their lives.

10.     Jude is saying the same thing here – we keep ourselves in the place of being able to realize and enjoy the fullness of God’s love when we’re listening to Him through His word, and then responding to Him in prayer.

a.  the Bible is God’s primary way of speaking to us

b.  and prayer is the primary way we speak to God.

11.     Let me encourage you to try something if you’ve not done it before -

a.  when you read the Bible, read it prayerfully

b.  and when you pray, pray Biblically.

c.  I’m confident that as you do this, you’ll find a whole new dynamic coming into your time with the Lord.

d.  you’ll begin to find yourself in a new place of experiencing the love of God.

D. Looking For The Mercy Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Unto Eternal Life

1.  Third, Jude says that we’re to keep ourselves in the love of God by –

looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

2.  He means the Lord’s return for the Church.

3.  The word “looking” means to “earnestly expect”

a.  it’s the excitement and anticipation of a 9 year old on Christmas Eve or the night before a trip to Disneyland.

b.  to that 9 year old, there’s no doubt Christmas is coming – but they can’t wait!

c.  for a child, Disneyland is just too fun a place NOT to be excited about.

4.  I have good news – Jesus is coming again!

a.  we may not know the day our hour

b.  but that doesn’t alter the inevitability of His coming.

5.  Living with an earnest expectation of His coming will go far to keep us in the love of God because it’ll motivate us to keep a watch over our lives and make sure we’re not being lulled to sleep and spiritual apathy.

6.  As John says in 1 John 3:3 – Everyone who hopes for the Return of Christ keeps him or herself pure.

7.  When I worked in the restaurant business, every morning I took the previous day’s receipts to the bank for deposit.

a.  while I was gone, the employees were on their own and without supervision

b.  sometimes I would be gone for just a few minutes, other times it might be an hour, depending on how busy the bank was.

c.  being the trusting person I was, I would often come back from the bank and try to sneak into the building to see what the employees were doing.

d.  they usually were fine, but every so often I’d catch them sitting around eating and drinking and generally goofing off.

e.  when I’d catch them doing something they shouldn’t have been doing, the embarrassment was obvious.

8.  Jesus could come at any moment!

9.  If we’re looking with eager anticipation for His return, then when He does come, it won’t be a surprise – just a joy and celebration that the Glorious Day has finally come.

10.     There’s a fascinating connection between love and the Lord’s Coming.

a.  two men in scripture are given the unique title of the “Beloved of the Lord;” Daniel & John

b.  while God loves all, and shows special favor on those who in faith respond to His offer of grace,

c.  He delights to pour out His best and most precious gifts on those whose passion and sole desire is to be intimate with Him - and that describes John and Daniel.

d.  so note that it’s to these two men that the greatest revelations of all time were given!

e.  John wrote the Book of Revelation which describes in great detail the Return of Christ.

f.   Daniel was given the Revelation of the OT in which he was blessed to see awesome visions of the Coming Messiah.

11.     The point is – the more we keep ourselves in God’s love, the more intimate we are with Him and the more intimately and clearly He reveals Himself to us.

III. CONCLUSION

A. Stay In The Sunshine

1.  Have you noticed how cold it’s been lately?

2.  The sun may be out, but the air is still very much on the chill side.

3.  Last Friday I was running an errand for the church and was waiting at a delivery door.

a.  I noticed while I waited, that as long as I stood in the sun, I was warm and comfortable -

b.  but just one step took me into the shadows and I was immediately chilled.

4.  God’s love is warm and comfortable and He desires to pour it out on all.

5.  Keep yourself in the sunshine of God’s love.

B. Come Out Of The Darkness

1.  It may be that you’re here this morning and all your life you’ve lived in the darkness – rejecting God and His offer of love and forgiveness.

2.  We want to invite you to come to the Light of His love and truth today.