Assurance for Believers
“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” (Jude 1:1-2).
Few books in the New Testament have more to say to our generation than Jude. Jude begins his epistle by declaring his relationship with and position in Jesus Christ.
With the phrase “to those who have been” wonderfully point out that Jude’s letter was intended for many people. Jude wrote for masses of people and perhaps even a multitude of churches. The epistle does not list a single person, nor is the letter limited to a particular church.
After introducing himself, Jude proceeds to describe in a fourfold way the addressees.
Knowing Who We Are In Christ
Christians Have Been Purchased
“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ…” (v. 1). “Servant” describes one who willingly gives up his or her personal freedom to serve another.A servant is not someone who, against his or her will, is forced to serve. Rather, it describes someone who voluntarily gives himself or herself to the service of another. Jude’s heart was to serve. This is in keeping with the example of our Lord. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Christians Have Been Called
Next, Jude says that believers are “called.” Salvation is the result of the call of God.During His three and a half years of ministry, Jesus Christ called sinners to repentance and salvation. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). John tells of Jesus bidding the multitudes to come, “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink’” (John 7:37). God says a great deal about this calling in Scripture. According to the Bible, Christians have been called:
- according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
- to fellowship with Christ (1 Cor. 1:9).
- to peace (1 Cor. 7:15).
- to liberty (Gal. 5:13).
- to a hope (Eph. 4:4).
- to holiness (1 Pet. 1:15).
- to inherit a blessing (1 Pet. 3:9).
- to eternal glory (1 Pet. 5:10).
Every Christian is responsible for and expected to walk worthy of that calling. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Eph. 4:1).
Christians Are Loved
Jude addresses this letter “loved in God the Father.”
The word “sanctified” (KJV, NKJV) is not in the majority text or the oldest manuscripts. Instead of sanctified the majority text would read “beloved” in God the Father. Thomas Schreiner states that “the textual tradition overwhelmingly supports “loved” rather than “sanctified.”1
In Romans 1:6-7 Paul writes, “And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” We see Jude using similar language here.
Though it is true that believers are loved by God, Jude’s statement here is saying more than that, for what he is literally saying is that we are ‘beloved in God.’ Christians are loved by God and in God, meaning, not only are we loved by Him, but His love drapes or encloses us. Simon Kistemaker explains that “God, then, grants his love to his people and at the same time provides for them the sphere in which he expresses his love.”2 This wonderful truth reassures us that God’s love will not, in fact, cannot fail. God expresses His love to sinners He has called through Jesus Christ. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Christians experience God the Father’s continual love.
John tells us, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God…” (1 John 3:1). The love of which John speaks is a love that is foreign or alien and beyond the realm of understanding. It is a love that is divine. A love that required that He also send the Lord Jesus Christ to die on the cross in our place to pay for the penalty of our sins. The prophet Isaiah tells us that “he [Christ] was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all… Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin” (Isa. 53:5-6, 10). Believers did nothing to gain or earn God’s love, yet He loves us with the same love He has for His Son. John wrote, “…Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). He loves us with an infinite and everlasting love. Paul tells us that God’s love is a secure love when he says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life” (Jude 1:21). Here we are provided with the reason for his reassurance in verse 1, as he brings out our responsibility for making sure that “keep” ourselves “in the love of God.”
Christians Are Protected
Jude says that the believer is “kept for Jesus Christ” (v. 1). What a wonderful security the child of God has. Sadly, many believe and teach that it is possible for a true believer to lose their salvation. However, the Bible teaches that those who are truly saved “shall never perish” (John 10:28). By trusting in Christ, the believer receives a salvation that cannot be taken away or forfeited. Nothing can separate the believer from the love of Christ. This is not to say that a believer will never backslide, for many do.
Eternal security simply means that once an individual has placed his faith (trust) in the Person and finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Lord saves him, then he will be forever “kept for Jesus Christ” There will never be a time in which a true believer is not in Christ. Salvation cannot be lost, it cannot be taken away, it cannot be given up. He is saved and secure for eternity. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Consider the words “eternal life.” Many scriptures make it clear that the person who is trusting Christ as their Savior has everlasting life. “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). Notice that the Bible does not say, “He that believes on the Son will someday have everlasting life, or “might have everlasting life,” but “has,” present tense. Eternal life is a present possession of all believers. God “gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29).
In holding to the doctrine of eternal security, believers are simply exercising faith in what God has said. When God says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5), we believe that. When Jesus said, “Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37 CSB), we believe Him. When He says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28), we take Him at His word. Jude knew that his salvation was secure. Like Jude every believer must stand against the wiles of the devil and the wickedness of the apostates. No believer can be a good and effective soldier and battle the enemy the way he should unless he or she has complete assurance of salvation.
Knowing What We Have In Christ
Once Jude establishes the fact that believers are purchased, called, loved, and protected, he says, “Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” (v. 2). God’s desire is that mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to those faithful to Him and His Word. By the way, these three blessings are especially needful when contendingfor the faith.
This epistle concerns itself with apostasy. God’s people need “mercy” during such times. We serve a God who is “rich in mercy” (Eph. 2:4) and exhorts us in His Word to “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
The next great blessing the believer needs is “peace.” The ungodly have and will not have peace, “’But those who still reject me are like the restless sea, which is never still but continually churns up mud and dirt. There is no peace for the wicked,’ says my God” (Isa. 57:20-21 NLT). But as believers we can have “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). One of the ways that we can enjoy peace is to keep our hearts fixed on Christ. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isa. 26:3).
Then there is “love.” The word for love is agape. It is Calvary love. This is the kind of love that is sacrificial, kind, pure, peaceable, humble, and giving. While we must stand strong and unwavering amidst false teaching and the onslaught of apostasy, we must nevertheless stand with the right attitude. Paul said, “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
1 Thomas R. Schreiner, New American Commentary – Volume 37: 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishing Group, 2003), 429.
2 Simon J. Kistemaker, Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of James, Epistles of John, Peter, and Jude (Ada, MI: Baker Publishing, 1987), 366.
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Scripture quotations marked (CSB) are taken from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.
Copyright © 2006–2021 by Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D.
Dr. Miguel J. Gonzalez is the Founder and President of Reasons for Faith International Ministries. He served as a pastor for ten years in Charlotte, NC and has taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States. He currently hosts the Time in the Word and Truth To Live By podcasts and writes at KnowingChristianity.blogspot.com.