Called, Loved, and Preserved By God - Jude 1-2
The Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812 is famous for two reasons. First, it was a decisive American victory; the United States clearly won.
The other reason it’s remembered is for the fact that they continued fighting after the Treaty of Ghent had been signed. The battle of New Orleans was a series of engagements that started on December 14, 1814 and continued through January 18, 1815. But the treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24, 1814.
In other words, the American and British forces continued to fight after the war was over… (Yes, I know this is only partially true, because the Treaty of Ghent wasn’t ratified by the American government until February 1815.)
But the point is - they fought after a treaty to end the war had been signed. Had they known, I bet they wouldn’t have wanted to fight.
The war was over and yet they continued on. I think the battle of New Orleans is analogous for the Christian life. The Scriptures teach us that if you’re a Christian, the work of salvation has been completed for you.
Salvation is finished because of the work of Jesus Christ. The battle has already been won. But false teaching has crept into the church, and too many Christians don’t believe that they’re salvation is secure.
Instead, we think that we need to earn our salvation through good works. We think we need to build habitat houses, do more for the poor and needy, and have a fish sticker on the back of our car in order to earn favor with God.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with any of these things. The problem arises when we believe that our salvation is dependent on it. It’s like we’re fighting a battle in a war that’s already been won.
Jude directly addresses this issue in verses 1 and 2. In fact, he answers a very specific question. The question he addresses isn’t if we’re kept eternally secure - he assumes that. Jude addresses how we’re kept eternally secure.
And it isn’t through our own works.
Jude verses 1-2 teach us that God is the one who initiates and finishes His purposes by calling his people, loving His people, and preserving His people.
This outline is on pages 6-7 of your worship guide.
Last week I had the privilege of closing out the book of Acts with you, and this week I have the privilege of introducing Jude.
Jude is considered one of the most neglected books in the Bible, mainly because of its unpopular themes which are: false teaching, ungodliness, and God’s judgement on sin. But the thrust of the book of Jude is his call in verse 3, “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
In other words, Jude is calling true Christians to protect and guard the faith. That doesn’t mean we’re all supposed to be “theologians,” but it does mean that you and I should be able to discern whether or not something is biblical.
Really, the book of Jude forces us to answer this question: Do you and I only want to talk about themes that we enjoy - or are appealing to the world? Or are we willing to discuss all of the topics that God addresses in his Word? Even if those mentioned are unpleasant.
We are doing the world a major disservice if we never point out and reject false teaching, call people from ungodliness, or warn people about God’s impending judgement on sin.
Although these themes may be unpopular, the world desperately needs to hear about it. If you and I are going to take the Bible seriously we need to love others enough to tell them the bad news and not just the good news.
So welcome to the book of Jude. Verses 1 and 2 set the foundation for the book, so it’s important for us to spend some time here this morning. If you don’t grasp verses 1 and 2, the rest of Jude will be difficult understand.
1. God calls His people.
In verse 1, Jude introduces himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” It’s an interesting introduction because James was the half-brother of Jesus… so Jude was the half-brother of Jesus as well. However, he chooses not to introduce himself in that manner. Instead, he refers to himself as James’s brother and a “servant of Jesus Christ.”
Jude’s introduction is so humble. Can you imagine referring to yourself as the “servant” of your brother or sister? That’s a tough pill to swallow.
But it certainly says something about the claims of Jesus Christ. If Jesus wasn’t the Son of God - you better believe his brothers would be leading the charge against his false claims. If anyone knew whether Jesus was a fraud or not - it’d be his brothers.
But what we see is the opposite.
His brothers were instrumental figures in the church. Both James and Jude wrote books of the Bible, and James was a major figure in the church in Jerusalem. But Jude shows reverence to Jesus in this introduction. His relationship with him is far more intimate than that of brothers; Jesus is His Lord.
Jude then addresses his audience. He says, “To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.” This sentence is the meat of verses 1-2. It’s the meat because he uses three very theologically charged words that make all the difference in how we understand our salvation. Jude says that we are called, beloved, and kept.
Let’s start with the first one. What does it mean to be “called?” In general, it’s a reference to those who are Christians. But the Scriptures use the word “called” in many different ways.
Jude is referring to God’s call and addressing those who have responded to His call. God doesn’t call us because of anything we’ve done. We haven’t earned this call. Instead, God calls Christians due to His free and special grace alone. We are passive in this calling; God is the one taking action.
The Bible tell us in Ephesians 2:1 that we were dead in our sins and trespasses before God calls us. Consider that picture of being dead. Can a dead person choose to get up and walk? Can they choose life? No - they’re passive. They cannot act.
But God in His grace calls us and breathes new life into us and renews us by the Holy Spirit.
And once we come to new life in Him, we are enabled to answer the call of God and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ. So God calls, and we as believers simply respond. This helps us understand how someone can spend years and years of his or her life rejecting God and then enter into a real relationship with Him.
Ephesians 1:5 teaches us that God predestines people unto salvation. There are people in the world who will be born again, who will come to know God, but simply haven’t responded to His call...yet.
Obviously, you and I don’t know who these individuals are - only God does.
But understanding God’s call sheds light on verses like, 1 Corinthians 1:9 where Paul says, “...by [God] you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” In other words, it’s God who calls believers into fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. It isn’t through our own works.
Paul doesn’t say it was because of anything that individual did. Yet our gracious God calls sinners to himself, even when we were dead in our sins and trespasses.
It’s by the grace of God that He calls anyone. Yet you and I often think we can contribute something.
There’s a great book called By Grace Alone by Sinclair Ferguson. In it he writes the following: “Religious people are always profoundly disturbed when they discover that they are not, and never have been, true Christians. Does all of their religion count for nothing?
Those hours in church, hours spent doing good things, hours involved in religious activity -- do they not count for something in the presence of God? Do they not enable me to say: ‘Look at what I have done. Don’t I deserve heaven?’
Sadly, thinking that I deserve heaven is a sure sign I have no understanding of the gospel.” If you believe that you can contribute something to your salvation, then it doesn’t take long for you to think that God owes you heaven.
But God calls. He takes the action, not you or me. Our salvation is not earned in any part; it is the free gift of God from start to finish. Frankly, understanding God’s call forces you and I to recognize His power, sovereignty, and grace.
Especially toward undeserving, sinful people. Genesis 6:5 says, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
The clear point from Genesis is that all mankind is evil. That’s why it says, “the thoughts of mankind’s heart was only evil continually.”
Notice it doesn’t say they were generally good with a little bit of bad. It says they were evil.
Paul also picks up on the depravity of man when he said in Romans 3:10-12, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
No one is righteous and no one seeks after God. Remember: you can’t seek when you’re spiritually dead. No one can even do good.
Verses like these paint a very grim view of humanity and beg the question: how can we possibly receive salvation? The answer is Jesus Christ. You have to recognize the depravity of your own soul and your need for a Savior before you’re able to experience the endless depths of God’s mercy and grace.
Have you experienced God’s grace?
You need to first understand who you are apart from God before you can understand who you are with Him. Only those that have responded to God’s call experience and understand the richness of God’s grace.
And it’s exactly these people whom Jude is addressing. But God doesn’t stop at simply calling Christians to Himself. If you’ve responded to God’s call, then you’re also deeply loved by God.
2. God calls and loves His people
The next phrase of the central part to Jude’s greeting is his phrase, “beloved in God the Father.” It’s important to recognize that his sentence in verse 1 is logically connected. The Christians that Jude addresses were first called, and because they’re called they’re “beloved in God the Father.”
What rich words: “beloved in God the Father.”
If someone walked up to you and asked, “will you explain the love of God to me?” what would you say? It’s not an easy question because there’s so much that could be said! You need to first understand the character of God before you can fully grasp how He operates.
1 John 4:8 says that God is love. In other words, love is a central component of God’s character. If you try to remove love from God’s character - you no longer have the God of the Bible. You have something else.
The phrase “beloved in God the Father” refers to the loving act of God calling sinners to himself through Jesus Christ. Being called by God is in and of itself an act of love. The Scriptures teach us that salvation is an act of God’s love.
We see this in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
The emphasis of John 3:16 isn’t that everyone will be saved or that God wants everyone to be saved. That’s why he says, “whoever.” The emphasis of John 3:16 is on the depth of God’s love - his willingness to send Jesus Christ in order to save those that are called.
We even see the depth of God’s sovereign love in the Old Testament. God chose the nation of Israel because he loved her. Not because Israel was more numerous than the other nations or more righteous (Deut. 7:7-8; 9:4-6). Not because Israel earned it.
The love bestowed upon the nation of Israel began with God and the oath He swore to Abraham (v. 8). The point is God pursued a loving relationship before any love was reciprocated to him by man. Out of his lovingkindness God pursued man. So if you’re called by God, you’re loved by God and if you’re loved by God, you’re called by God. The calling and love of God are inextricably connected.
Everyone always says that my alma mater, the Virginia Military Institute, is a great place to be FROM, not AT. The daily rigors and old traditions made it a unique experience, to put it mildly.
I’ll never forget an existential/philosophical question my roommates and I tried to answer one night during my senior year. “Would you still go to VMI if you knew everything that you know now?” It was a tough question. We all went back and forth but never really came to a consensus on anything. Our debate was inconclusive.
Think about this: God sees the effects of sin perfectly. He knows all the good you’ve done and all the bad you’ve done, too. He knows the things you’re proud of and the things you’ve never shared with anyone. He knows your pleasant thoughts and your evil thoughts. And not just in the here and now. God knows every thought and deed in your past and your future.
And in spite of all this, he isn’t inconclusive about how he feels about you. Instead, he chooses to love you. He doesn’t wait for you to love him first - He initiates a relationship with you out of His love.
Those he calls he deeply loves.
1 John 4:19 gets to the heart of this: It says, “We love because he first loved us.” Notice what it doesn’t say? It doesn’t say, “we loved God so he decided to love us in return.” No. He first loved us by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the penalty for our sin.
All the terrible things we’ve done, thought, and said don’t just disappear. Instead, Jesus paid for our sin and bore the wrath of God on the cross.
So although we continue to sin, God remembers it no more because Jesus loved us so much that He died for us. What an amazing truth.
If you’re a Christian, but experience feelings of guilt and shame over past decisions you’ve made in your life - God knows about these things… and yet he loves you. We love because He first loved us. Christians are called and loved by God, but they will certainly be preserved as well.
3. God calls, loves, and preserves His people.
The final portion of verse 1 is, “kept for Jesus Christ.” It can also be translated, “kept by Jesus Christ.”
The idea expressed is Jesus Christ protects his followers. He keeps them - and he spoke about this frequently. In John 10:27 he said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Jesus also said in his high priestly prayer in John 17:12, “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost.”
No one can snatch a believer out of God’s hand. We have eternal security because of the work of Christ. But many of you might be thinking: Well, I doubt sometimes whether I’m truly saved.
I don’t feel secure. I have questions, thoughts, and doubts. Do I have to have unwavering faith in order to be saved? Of course not!
John the Baptist, in a moment of questioning and weakness, sent some of his disciples to Jesus in order to ask him if he truly was the Messiah.
John the Baptist, the same man who paved the way for the coming of Christ and baptized Jesus. The same man who testified about Jesus and witnessed His miracles.
And Jesus answered by saying, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” Jesus assures John that He is who He said He is. That John’s salvation is secure in Him.
The bottom line is that even the strongest believers have moments of doubt. But if you have sincere faith, even as small as a mustard seed, God promises to preserve you, guard you, and keep you to the very end, and into all eternity.
If you are called and loved by God, you cannot lose your salvation. Isn’t that good news?
Think about how often you have and I emotional highs and lows. Too often we think that we have to ride this emotional spiritual high - and that anything less is ungrateful or worse, a form of doubt.
The truth is that riding an emotional spiritual high is unsustainable. There are days with your family - where they’re really easy to love and there are days that are more difficult. One day you’ll love spending time with the Lord and the next day it might be more of a struggle.
Our emotions are so inconsistent. Frankly, we have no hope if our eternal salvation is based upon how we feel towards God. If your salvation was dependent upon how you felt towards God - you’d have no chance in reaching heaven.
The good news is that your eternal security isn’t dependent on your efforts - it’s completely dependent upon the finished work of Jesus.
And because of that, He alone is able to protect us and keep us. He has the power over salvation, and He never takes it away from those whom He calls and loves. This should give us peace and help us rest in Him. This should cause us to want to do good works to glorify Him and make Him known, knowing that our salvation isn’t dependent upon them.
So do you trust Him? Are you putting your faith in your own works, or are you resting in the finished work of Jesus? Do you rest and find peace in knowing that your salvation is secure, or are you still trying to fight a battle in a war that’s already been won?
Verse 2 ties everything together really well.
Jude says in verse 2, “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” This verse has 4 keywords in it: mercy, peace, love and multiplied. Looking first at “mercy” - it’s important to recognize that it’s directly connected to the character of God.
A commentator on this verse wrote the following:
“When God grants mercy or when man shows mercy to his neighbor, peace results. Peace is the restoration of broken relationships...Peace means an absence of tensions prevalent in periods of conflict. Peace, in turn, results in love.”
Mercy becomes peace, and peace results in love. They’re all connected together and are also connected to one’s relationship with God. If you are called, loved, and preserved by God, then mercy peace and love will be a natural overflow.
You’ll desire mercy, seek peace, and demonstrate the love of God to others.
Jude’s use of the word “multiplied” is also interesting. He’s really expressing a wish.
Because God is the one who multiplies mercy, peace, and love. But the more we go to God with our sins, repenting of them and turning from them, the more he will grant us the gifts of mercy, peace, and love.
I can’t help but think that you and I are more likely to grant mercy, peace, and love if we’ve first received mercy, peace and love.
Overall, Jude’s greeting is interesting because as he introduces you to himself, he really points you to God and the fundamental aspects of His character.
These verses are entirely about the Lord, who He is, and what He has done.
He has called, loved, and preserved us through Jesus Christ.
But it’s so easy for us to get caught up in our daily lives and focus on the work that we can do to improve our career, our finances, or our reputation.
This works-based earning system leads us to falsely believe that we have control over the details of our lives... and lose sight of the One who sovereignly ordains everything that comes to pass.
We think that our businesses, our families, and even our church would fall apart if it weren’t for us. We think that our world is dependent upon us.
But the reality is that businesses will come and go and the world will move on. Your family will move forward once you’re gone. And the Gospel will continue to go forth in power with or without this church.
God sovereignly reigns over the world and he reigns over you - whether you’ve acknowledged it or not.
So when you think that your good works have contributed to your salvation, you’re fighting a battle in a war that’s already been won.
By the grace of God your salvation is finished and the security of your soul is sure through the work of Jesus Christ.
Let’s pray together.