Jude 3, "Beloved, when I gave
all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me
to write unto unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the
faith once delivered unto the saints."
This morning, our desire is to continue looking at some "basics" of the Bible as we attempted to do yesterday. Again, these are things that mature students of the Bible and older sheep and rams should be well acquainted with. They are also the fundamental teachings that we should seek to ground the young lambs in as food for their soul and nourishment for their growth. Yesterday, we attempted to look at the basics of church perpetuity, and this morning, we desire to look at basics in doctrine and the permeating effect it should have on our lives. The doctrines of the Bible, adhered to by His church, have always met with criticism. Paul encountered the same accusations that we face today. Some charged Paul's teaching with making God unrighteous for loving one and hating another. Paul adamantly addressed that notion. (Romans 9:11-14) Others charged him with giving license for lewd conduct and propagating sinful behaviour. Again, he addressed these charges head-on. (Romans 3:5-8) May we today adhere to these things no matter the consequence - life or death - that our lives may redound to the glory of God and silence accusers that seek to provoke us for what we believe.
Jude clearly defines what is most important to his writing to the beloved brethren. His opening in our verse speaks of his desire to write of the "common salvation." This salvation is given greater detail in the prior verses. How is one saved? How does one get to heaven? Jude succinctly addresses these points and questions in his sketch of the common salvation. He addresses being sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ, and called. (Verse 1) The glorious work of the Trinity in the salvation of the family of God is put on display in brief but vivid language! Before time ever began, we were set apart for a holy purpose or cleansed and consecrated by God our Father. Before we were, He chose us in love based on nothing other than His sovereign purpose. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
Yet, the scope of salvation goes beyond what was done in covenant in the portals of eternity. It extends unto this present hour by way of preservation in God's Son Jesus Christ. When looking at something being preserved, the preservation is only as strong as the agent doing the sealing. When sisters put up "preserves" whether fruits or vegetables, the preservation of the food will only be as good as the seal of the jar. Any access to the contaminating influences of air and other conditions will lead to spoiling in the food. However, our Sealing Agent is stronger than any other force known to the universe. He has all power and authority, and none can pluck those preserved objects of love from His grasp. (John 10:27-28) Our hope of this preservation is that He is seated in glory all angels and principalities being made subject unto Him. Death cannot even hold Him as He is manifestly (in bodily form) appearing in heaven right now for us. (Hebrews 9:24) Just as surely as He is bodily in heaven (to see no corruption whatsoever), so shall we one day just as surely be there as well to see no more pain, death, heartache, sin, or suffering. (II Timothy 2:11)
Yet, the scope of this salvation extends yet even further into the actual lives of those individuals that are sanctified and preserved. We are all called by the life-giving voice of God sometime during our existence that quickens us and vitally brings us into that union with God. (John 5:25, Titus 3:5) When one has not yet been quickened, they are still one of God's beloved sheep, they are just an unborn sheep. Even though their nature is wholly like the nature of the children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3), they are still held in covenant love, and legally preserved in Christ Jesus the Lord. But after that, they experience that blessed relationship by being born into the family to which they already belong. Since God calls those things which are not as though they were (Romans 4:17), they are still prized by Him though not vitally related to Him yet. Even before their quickening, they are still prized by Him, but after the calling comes, they experience a layer of that relationship previously unknown to them.
All of these factors that Jude discusses entail that blessed salvation that we as God's family enjoy. One day, these elements will be made manifest at the glorious resurrection when we are gathered unto Him without the loss of one in body, soul, and spirit. At that day, there will be no doubt who is the Lord's as He will make up His jewels that He loves and prizes. Jude describes this many fold work as the "common salvation" that he was writing about. The word there for common is many times rendered as something not prized, unhallowed, or plain. The reason that it is many times looked at as unclean or unhallowed is that it is so prevalent. To the natural world, common things are not prized as they are so abundant and easy to find. We would not prize dirt as it is so common to us, easy to find, and not seemingly all that valuable. However, God's salvation is common to all of His children in that it is prevalent, identical, and abundant to them all. This commonality that we all share with Him should not draw our minds to the unclean connotations of the word, but rather draw us with thanksgiving to the fact that what He has done for one He has done for all.
How is one saved? The same way all are saved. Jude makes no distinction between different sanctification, different preserving, or different calling. While the Bible does speak of practical aspects to these words - things we should be aspiring to do - God's work in this regard is without deviation. The same love is abundant (common to all). The same Lord, same Saviour, same calling, same preservation is experienced and dispensed to all without degree. Furthermore, these acts are done irrespective of the design, desire, or will of the recipients. In this great economy, all the active ingredients are in God's hands, and we are the great beneficiaries of it with 800 reception and 0% action.
Interestingly enough, the charges are always made that such thinking promotes an ungodly lifestyle. Such charges also seek to impute iniquity to God if He would do such a thing. As we have already addressed above, Scripture clearly (and immediately) revokes such a mindset as reasonable or tenable. Jude follows a discussion about this great (and common) salvation by one of the strongest exhortations known in Holy Writ. Should this great doctrine that we love be an encouragement to sin, Jude's language makes zero sense. Jude did not just want to write about this great work, but he wanted to write of our response to it.
How should hearing this great story be received? How should it stir our hearts and minds? Jude's answer is the only one that makes sense: earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. What should we stand for? Exactly what the Bible says. Period. The Bible (faith spoken of in this verse) is our source of learning and understanding about what has been done in our room and stead. It teaches - explicitly - about these things to furnish us unto all good works. (II Timothy 3:16-17) One of the words in Jude's exhortation that removes all "wiggle room" for deviation from the right path is the word "earnestly." We should not be content to just believe these things, but we should be seeking to press into them, learn more about them, and engage in a loving manner those that oppose these great truths.
By earnest contention of these principles as found in this great book, we show forth a pattern of life that cannot justly be evil spoken of. While men will persecute us for trying to live righteously in this world (II Timothy 3:12), their charges will be just as foolish as what they accused our Master of when He did right. They have persecuted Him, and we can expect the same, but we should be living in all good conscience before God and men by strict adherence to these things. What does this great story of salvation inspire in our hearts? The greatest thing it inspires is genuine and ultimate thanksgiving for such grand mercy and grace. A heart that understands, "I am the chief of sinners" and further understands, "Behold the Lord of Glory" will look at this great work with awe, wonder, and praise that such a glorious One endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself that we might be exalted. (II Corinthians 8:9)
How should people view us as God's children who inhabit the household of faith? People saw Abraham as the Friend of God because his works bore forth that which he freely confessed by faith. (James 2:23) People did not have to wonder whether or not Abraham believed God. They saw his steps that showed he believed God and counted Him faithful who had promised. How should we be perceived? People should perceive our walk as being the friends of God whose faith speaks with every step, every decision, every word spoken, and all conversation in godliness and fear. (II Peter 3:11) Jesus told His disciples that happiness was found in the doing of the feet washing. Furthermore, that service shows how we ought to love one another during that time and during our days of service together. May we be happy in the doing of these things and holding fast that which has been passed down through the storms and sands of time to this present hour. May our speech be such that when people see us, our service, and our behaviour toward one another they will freely confess, "God is in you of a truth." (I Corinthians 14:25)