The book of Jude is the second last book of the Bible, but why is it that we hear so little about its message? The writer makes a strong point of saying that we should be very much in earnest about our faith and stand up for it vigorously. And also that we should be keeping ourselves; so the epistle must be very important,. His concern is meant to provoke us to do something. Can we determine what that something is?
The one part of the book that we do hear very often is the benediction of the last two verses, which are "But to Him who is able to keep you safe from stumbling, and cause you to stand in the presence of His glory free from blemish and full of exultant joy-- to the only God our Saviour--through Jesus Christ our Lord, be ascribed glory, majesty, might, and authority, as it was before all time, is now, and shall be to all the Ages! Amen" , but we need also to hear and heed the message of the rest of the book. Actually, the message is very short in comparision to the illustrations that give it force. Let us examine carefully why the prophet Jude writes the way he does.
Jude writes in his short letter of only 25 verses with a lot of assumptions about his audience. He is addressing it to believers who already have a good Bible knowledge of basic doctrinal things, therefore many things do not need to be said again, however other practical things do need to be stressed. He writes to those who are sanctified and preserved and called, but not to the unsaved or to unstable new-born believers. To these people there is no rebuke at all for what they know and believe. These are genuine well-taught and grounded Christians.
In verse 22 we see that they were seeking to save others and rescue them from the everlasting fire of being lost. They were evangelicals. So with that background. what prompted Jude to lay aside his general epistle that he had no doubt started and pen this specific warning and exhortation?, for that is what he says he has done in verse 3; "since I am eager to begin a letter to you on the subject of our common salvation, I find myself constrained to write and cheer you on to the vigorous defense of the faith".
Defense is a strong word, and the word contend in the Authorized version is just as strong. It is an action word, a defensive word and considering the (assumed) faith and experience of the readers, it immediately provokes our interest. And next he immediately, without saying why he does it, goes off to quote familiar illustrations from the Bible of deliberate and sinful disobedience so gross that they seem out of place in addressing this audience. In fact they are so gross that we might resent anyone using these as illustrations in speaking to us. Why are they there?
How do we understand them to apply to us, to teach us anything we need to be warned of? Could we not spot these perversions a mile away? Of course we can when we have the mind of Christ, but maybe there are some in our fellowship who do not have the mind of Christ in all things. Jude reminds us that the Lords disciples told us to be wary of unsaved imposters, or fame seekers, or new-born believers from a worldly background, or any one who leads in another way. Now Jude exhorts us to openly expose and oppose those perversions. We cannot imagine he is talking about stirring up trouble and being sectarian, but about keeping the whole assembly from getting blind-sided. Jesus foresaw that it could happen.
Jude 21 "keep yourselves safe in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ which will result in the Life of the Ages. Some, when they argue with you, you must endeavor to convince; others you must try to save, as brands plucked from the flames; and on others look with pity mingled with fear, while you hate every trace of their sin. These lines show that they were doing the right thing in dealing with sinners who needed to be patiently won back to the way. They were indeed in the same world where the sinners were, but Judes warning is that they keep themselves unspotted from the world. John said love not the world. Jude say love the errant believer and the sinner, but have nothing to do with their sin world. Rebuke it, condemn it, have nothing to do with it, contend with them, but above all you must keep yourself pure and safe.
This is commitment that wants to know what is right and to do it and see it done by others, knowing full well that anyone regardless of name or position can stray. I am told to keep myself and yet I am as human as anyone else. This is why the wonderful assuring promise of the final verses is so reassuring to the faithful. The faithful in evangelizing and the faithful in contending against everything and everyone advocating less than Gods standards.