July 19, 2010 David Balzer

Jude 24-25: Kept and presented blameless

These days we’re not much for MEMORISING things. But kids in generations past grew up memorising things like “The Westminster Shorter Catechism”. A whole series of questions and answers about the Christian life. Written hundreds of years ago.

And the best-known question is the FIRST one. “What is the chief end of man?” In other words, what is the number one task, the goal, the purpose, of humanity? What are we here for?

And the answer? Does anyone know it? “The chief end of man… is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever. TO GLORIFY GOD, AND ENJOY HIM FOREVER. That’s what you were made for. GLORY, JOY, FOREVER.

And I hope these last few weeks have helped you to DO that. As we’ve looked at the closing prayers and benedictions and doxologies from some New Testament books. Helped you to get a picture of who God is, and what his purposes are in his world. And how you fit into that.

And today’s little passage is no exception. Jude 24 and 25. It helps us to GLORIFY GOD. Because it gives us FIVE REASONS to glorify him. And it shows us that when we DO that, there’s JOY involved. And it shows us that it will be something we’re doing FOREVER. Not just for the next few decades. To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

So that’s the question to be answered. WHY GLORIFY GOD? Why should we praise him and honour and respect him?

1. He is able to keep you from falling

And the first reason is there at the start of v24. We should glorify God because he’s ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM FALLING. It’s GOD’S power that enables you to persevere. To stick at following Jesus.

Jude’s spent the whole letter talking about being on your guard against false teachers. About being led astray into immorality. And he’s used some pretty colourful language to describe the danger.

And so it’s only natural to be concerned. Worried about being led astray. Wandering off the safe path. But Jude wants to finish his letter by reminding us that it’s GOD who’s able to keep you from falling. He’s the One who works all things for your good. Who leads you through the valley of the shadow of death. He’s the One who holds you fast. Even when you’re weak and wandering.

It’s a lovely little phrase – the One who is ABLE. He’s got it covered. He’s got the POWER. Nothing’s above him, or beyond him.

We saw the same phrase in Romans 16 a few weeks back. “To the One who is ABLE to establish you by my gospel.” In Eph 3:20 Paul says, “To him who is ABLE to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that’s at work in us.”

Which is right where the encouragement’s needed. Jude’s spent the letter giving commands and warnings. “Keep watch. Remember. Build yourself up. Be merciful. Snatch wanderers from the fire.”

And right at the end of the letter he gives us the only WAY we’ll be able, ultimately, to do those things. THE POWER OF GOD. Yes, we’re to be WATCHFUL. Yes, we’re to be actively fighting this good fight. But in the end, what is it that keeps us from stumbling? – “Him who is able.” That’s who. God alone is our hope and our refuge. It’s ultimately God who keeps and guards us. That’s the FIRST reason to glorify him.

2. He is able to make us stand before him blameless and with great joy.

And the second reason comes straight after it in v24. Because he’s able to make us stand before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.

There’s a PRESENT aspect to that power. And a FUTURE one. Sanctification AND glorification. God’s able to work in you NOW/ to KEEP you. To change you and break you and make you like Jesus. To protect you from stumbling. All so that in the FUTURE you’re presented before him blameless.

Jude’s thinking about the great Day of Judgment. On that day, when everyone stands before the living God, it will be HIS power that stands us before Him. Not our own efforts, not our own merits, not our own innate loveableness or our own love, but it will be God’s power.

And notice that God won’t stand us before Him on the last day in the JUDGMENT OF CONDEMNATION. No! We’re going to stand before Him in VINDICATION, in joy, in glory. BLAMELESS WITH GREAT JOY. On that day there’s going to be no flaw in you. He will have transformed you. Washed clean, sins wiped out. Forgiveness won by the death of Jesus in your place.

There’ll be GREAT JOY. YOUR joy at being with God. And God’s joy at welcoming you home. GREAT JOY.

And the other part of the description, I’m afraid I can’t help you with. BEFORE HIS GLORIOUS PRESENCE. No wonder we’ll be joyful. But I don’t have words to explain that one. It’s BEYOND telling. Perhaps go to the Book of Revelation, and meditate on some of the passages there. I can’t tell you in words what it’s going to be like in the presence of his glory… But you’re going to BE there. If you belong to Jesus.

You’ll be there because GOD is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before his glorious presence. That’s why God deserves our glory.

But what’s that MEAN for you NOW? What difference will these first two truths make for you this week?

One, it will give you CONFIDENCE as you face the week ahead. It’s GOD’S strength that will get you through, not your own goodness or perseverance or maturity. Your own application to detail, or preparation. HE’LL keep you and present you. He’s the rock you can lean on. The shelter you can rest in. So, be confident.

Second, you can STOP WORRYING. Perhaps about your kids – whether they’ll make good decisions, or whether they’ll keep following Jesus. Or about your own failures, and mistakes. Or the choices you make tomorrow.

Worrying is nothing more than a lack of faith. It’s saying to God, “You’re not big enough, or loving enough to LEAN ON!”

But he IS able to KEEP you and PRESENT you, so don’t worry!

Third, you can be JOYFUL in the face of trials. James 1:2

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Tough times won’t CRUSH you. Tough times are God’s design to strengthen, discipline, and shape you. The firm hand of a LOVING FATHER. God can see the final goal. With you presented without fault before his glorious presence with great joy. And whatever you go through this week/ is designed with that goal in mind. So be JOYFUL.

And finally, these truths make us PRAY. If it’s GOD who’s able to keep and to present, then we need to be ASKING him to do it. To keep and present our children, our family members. Those people from church who are slipping away. We need to do what WE can, but it’s GOD who’s able to do it, so let’s PLEAD for him to DO it. Pray consistently, and specifically, and faithfully.

3. He’s the only God and Saviour

Let’s move on. V25. The THIRD reason to glorify God is because he’s the ONLY God and ONLY Saviour. The God of the Bible, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Is the ONLY God.

It’s not a very politically correct thing to say. We’re rubbished in the media as intolerant bigots. Or mocked. Because the culture says that everyone can follow their OWN god. Choose their own path.

But the clear message of the Bible. Of God himself. Is that there’s only ONE LIVING GOD. It’s not popular. But it’s TRUE. One eternal, powerful, Creator. One living and active and involved Father. One pure, trustworthy, and loving Saviour.

And that’s why he DESERVES our glory. Rev 4:11

11 “You are WORTHY, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

And I want to say that if you’re here today, chances are you already believe that. Chances are you walked into these doors BELIEVING there was one true God, and you came to worship Him. But the challenge for us is to LIVE that way. Do we WORSHIP the one true God ONLY? Or do we worship our job, or our family, or popularity, or power, or prominence, or pleasure, or money? We might say one thing with our LIPS. But do we say the SAME THING with our LIVES?

God begins the Ten Commandments 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me”. You BELIEVE it. But do you LIVE it?

Not only is he the only GOD, but the only SAVIOUR. We normally think of JESUS as our Saviour. But Jude’s reminding us that God the FATHER is the source of our salvation. John 3:16 GOD loved the world so much he sent his only son.

He BEGAN the letter (v2) addressing it to those who’ve been CALLED and LOVED by God the Father. And He’s the one who SAVES us. And the one who keeps us and presents us faultless. He BEGINS the process, and sees it all the way through to the end. Cradle to the grave care. Actually BEFORE the cradle and AFTER the grave. It gives a new meaning to the phrase TOTAL PROTECTION PLAN.

And that’s the THIRD reason to glorify God. He’s the ONLY God and Saviour.

4. He saves us THROUGH Jesus Christ.

And the fourth reason is a bit further on in v25. God saves us THROUGH Jesus Christ. “To the only God our SAVIOUR be glory, majesty, power and authority THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.”

There’s some debate about what that last bit refers to. Is Jude saying that God SAVES US through Jesus? Or does God receives GLORY AND MAJESTY through Jesus? Well, they’re both TRUE. And grammatically, either could be correct.

The word order in Greek is actually;

To the only God our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord – glory, majesty, might and authority

In the end, I don’t think it matters. Because they’re really not that different. God SAVES us through Jesus. Through his birth, his obedient life, his willing death, his resurrection, his ascension to heaven, and now his reigning with his Father.

But it’s also THROUGH THOSE SAME EVENTS that God RECEIVES glory. As people RECOGNISE in Jesus / God’s love and holiness and justice and wisdom, they give him the glory and majesty and power and authority he deserves.

Jesus says “Whoever has seen him has seen the Father”. He’s the visible representation of the invisible God. It’s in seeing the sacrificial love of Jesus, we praise the love of God. In his suffering, we praise God’s justice and mercy. In Jesus’ resurrection, we praise God’s power over death. In Jesus’ ascension and reign, we see God’s wisdom and sovereignty over the Universe.

God hasn’t just left us to work out what he’s like for ourselves. He hasn’t even just delivered us a MESSAGE through a prophet. He sent us HIS SON, so we might know him, and give him glory.

Our praise of God isn’t simply emotional. We don’t SWITCH OFF OUR MINDS to have a religious and joyful experience. We glorify God, and enjoy him MORE, when we specifically and deliberately and intelligently recognise his qualities as they’re revealed in Jesus.

So what will that LOOK LIKE this week?

It will mean getting to know Jesus better. Reading the Bible, and Christian books, Listening to talks, or music. The more INFORMED you are about what Jesus is like, the better you’ll be able to give glory to God. The better you’ll enjoy him.

It will mean living for Jesus as Lord. Following his example. Making tough decisions because Jesus is WORTH IT. Putting sin behind us, because it meant so much to Jesus he DIED for it.

We show our appreciation for the WORTH of Jesus by VALUING him. Valuing his example, valuing his teaching, valuing his sacrifice. Living for him, loving him, and put him first.

Romans 12 says that IN VIEW OF GOD’S MERCIES, we’re to offer our bodies as living sacrifices which is our spiritual act of worship. That’s what shows the value we place in him.

That’s the fourth reason to glorify God. Because he saves us through Jesus Christ our Lord.

5. He is eternally worth it

And the FIFTH reason to glorify God is there right in the last verse of the letter. Because he’s ETERNALLY WORTH IT.

25 to the only God our Savior be GLORY, MAJESTY, POWER AND AUTHORITY, through Jesus Christ our Lord, BEFORE ALL AGES, NOW AND FOREVERMORE! Amen.

When we glorify God, PRAISE him. We’re not giving him something he doesn’t already have. We’re simply acknowledging something he already IS. Something he’s been for all eternity. God is inherently and ETERNALLY glorious and majestic and powerful and authoritative. We simply catch a glimpse of it, a snapshot in time, and DECLARE IT AS WE SEE IT. Just tellin’ it like it is!

That’s worship. Declaring the WORTH-SHIP of God to receive all our honour and praise.

God’s GLORIOUS. He’s brilliant and magnificent. Visibly magnificently valuable. The greatest treasure there is.

And he’s MAJESTIC. That’s to do with his kingly power. He rules over creation. The visible and invisible. Over natural and human things. Over individuals and nations.

And he’s POWERFUL. He controls it and sustains it all. Nothing outside his control.

And he’s AUTHORITATIVE. It’s HIS world, and not ours. He’s got the right to do things as HE sees fit. He’s the potter, we’re the clay. He’s the One who breathes life into US. It’s his right to decide when that STOPS.

And that’s something he’s had from before time began. Before the Universe had even begun, God was ALREADY all of those things. And when this world has been transformed into our eternal home, and a million, million years into eternity. We will STILL be recognising in him his glory and majesty and power and authority.

God is the gospel. The good news. It’s the title of a book by John Piper. It’s on the bookstall. And the point of it is this: If the good news we tell ourselves about being a Christian is that we escape hell, or that we have a purpose, or that we get to be with our loved ones in heaven, or that we don’t feel guilty, then we’ve MISSED THE POINT.

The good news, the gospel, is that, through Jesus, we receive GOD HIMSELF. HE is the treasure, the good news, the pearl of great price. All the other things are TRUE, but they’re fringe benefits of having GOD. Of knowing him. Of enjoying him.

An enjoyment that begins NOW. But that we’ll only FULLY appreciate into eternity.

It’s what you were made for.

What is the chief end of man? Can you remember? “The chief end of man (say it with me) … is TO GLORIFY GOD, AND ENJOY HIM FOREVER.

May these verses, this doxology. help us to DO that.

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