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A Call to Persevere January 11, 2014

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Jude 17-23.

Summary: Jude begins by exhorting his readers to recall the following prophecy that the apostles made: during the last dispensation, people with profane spirits will attack the lordship of Christ. The apostles were referring to the heretics that he has previously denounced, who:

  • cut themselves off from the church
  • are sensual
  • are destitute of true grace and regeneration.

Jude then exhorts his readers to:

  • use the means of grace to grow spiritually and care for one another – based on the doctrine of faith
  • pray by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
  • use the means of grace to love God and to love others as they hope for the good that they will receive at Christ’s coming, including their happiness in heaven.

Jude now exhorts his readers to show compassion to those who have gone astray. He concludes by exhorting them to:

  • warn guilty sinners about the fact that they are in danger
  • do their best to be instruments of their salvation
  • act severely toward the aforementioned heretics
  • avoid the company of evil people.

Thoughts: In verses 20-23, Jude provides various exhortations to his readers in light of the fact that the heretics who are troubling them will be judged by God. Manton offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 20:

It is not enough to be grounded in the faith, for we must daily grow more and more in the faith. After the foundation has been laid, the builder must add to it brick by brick…It is the holy ambition of Christians to be more like God every day…God acknowledges nothing in prayer except what comes from his Spirit…So then, when you start to pray, look to the Holy Spirit who has been appointed by the Father and purchased through the Son to help you in this sweet service.

It is encouraging that Jude and Paul both highlight the necessity of spiritual growth (which leads to holiness) and complete dependence on God through prayer in the life of a Christian. Also, Jude and Paul both view spiritual growth and prayer in light of a Christian’s eternal destiny; being diligent in these exercises will lead one to “eternal life” as noted in verse 21, while neglecting these exercises will lead one to “the fire” as noted in verse 23. Given the stakes at hand, both of these apostles rightly highlight the importance of preparing for the time when one’s eternal destiny is revealed. Thus, I would expect the other New Testament authors, including Peter and John, to also place special emphasis on preparing for The Day of the Lord.

In verse 23, Jude exhorts his readers to be both compassionate and harsh – when necessary – in order to save those who are headed toward eternal destruction. Manton offers some thoughts on this point:

Again observe that fear is a way to reclaim obstinate sinners. It is sweet to use arguments of love, but sometimes we must set the terrors of the Lord before people…Paul, a chosen vessel, made use of threats. Sluggish creatures need the goad. God’s wrath is the proper object of fear and must be seen like this by the converted and the unconverted…This is exactly the situation with sinners. They are happy with their condition, and if they are not soundly awakened from their slumber, they will rest where they are and die in their sins.

Perhaps Manton, as a Puritan preacher, would have identified strongly with the Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God sermon by Jonathan Edwards; moreover, Manton may have preached similar sermons in his time. Did Manton encounter militant atheists or noncommittal agnostics during his tenure as a preacher? If so, did he address their “obstinate” attitudes by using “arguments of love?” Or did he attempt to rouse them from their spiritual “slumber” by repeatedly threatening them? Perhaps evangelism in our postmodern society needs to be more subtle and nuanced than the approaches that Manton employed. Maybe it could be argued that a subtle and nuanced approach to evangelism would have been effective in Manton’s time. One must wonder how Manton’s sermons would have been received if he had preached in present-day London…

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