Saturday, November 05, 2005

Keep Yourselves in the Love of God

In verse 21, near the end of the book of Jude, we come to an interesting imperative – keep yourselves in the love of God. It is a command to guard or preserve our position in God’s love. That’s interesting because normally we don’t think about it in those terms. Our focus tends to center on the biblical promise that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:38-39) or that no one is able to snatch us out of our Father’s hand (John 10:28-29). While those promises are certainly true, what are we to make of this command by Jude? What would it look like to be obedient in this area of responsibility?

My second question helps answer the first. We have a responsibility to be active rather than passive in maintaining our relationship to God and His love. There are several verses that speak to this issue but perhaps the most well known is Philippians 2:12-13:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (ESV)
We have a responsibility to work out our salvation even though we know (or because we know) everything we do results from God producing the will and the power in our lives to do it. The popular expression, “Let go and let God” is profoundly unbiblical. God expects us to be engaged in the process.

There are three participial phrases in Jude 1:20-21 that show us what it means to keep ourselves in the love of God. We are to (1) build ourselves up in the most holy faith, (2) pray in the Holy Spirit, and (3) wait for the mercy our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Consequently, a person with a desire to persevere in the love of God will actively work on these three areas of the Christian life. He will make an effort to grow in his knowledge and understanding of the teachings and doctrines that constitute the faith (cf., Jude 1:3; Eph 4:11-16). He will develop an active and consistent prayer life (cf., Eph 6:18). Lastly, he will wait longingly (often used in an eschatological sense, cf., Mark 15:43; Luke 2:25, 38; Titus 2:13) for the Lord’s return when he will receive the benefits of God’s mercy.

These three things should be the everyday desire of the believer. Our relationship to the Lord cannot remain strong without them. It is no wonder that the early church faithfully devoted themselves to all three:

Acts 2:42 (ESV)
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread [which has an important “until He comes” component] and the prayers.

2 Comments:

At 10:09 PM, Blogger -mike- said...

Are you implying a conditional election based upon good works? If so, would you say that one may forfeit their salvation? I read the same scripture, but I also see a definite security of salvation (A perseverance of the saints) and I believe that must be upheld. I studied fundie theology quite thoughroly, and security was a major component. Apart from works.

 
At 7:05 AM, Blogger Andy Efting said...

Hi Mike,

I'm on vacation right now and not able to spend too much time interacting, but in short, no, I do not mean to imply a conditional election based on good works. I believe in perseverance and security. Perhaps I will follow up on your question after I return. I think I understand why you are asking...

 

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