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May 04 2013

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The 12 Disciples (Jude)

200px-Anthonis_van_Dyck_088Jude, originally known as Thaedus but also known as Judas, was another of the first 12 disciples of Jesus and vital to the growing of the Body of Christ. He was called to be an Apostle of the Church, appointed by Jesus to carry on the ministry of the Kingdom of God as a missionary. He is the author of the Book of Jude in the Bible which is a short epistle in which Jude warns believers to avoid false teachers who twist the gospel for their own purposes, and he calls us to staunchly defend the Christian faith during persecution.

Jude might have been a brother or son of James, son of Alphaeus. According to history, he was martyred with an ax along with Simon the Zealot, another of the 12 disciples. They ministered together mostly in what is now known as Syria.

There’s a lot to learn from Jude in his short epistle. But I want to focus on something a little different for a moment. I love my Catholic brothers and sisters, but praying to so-called ‘Saints’ instead of directly to our Father in the name of Jesus is blasphemous. I don’t say that to offend you, I say that to warn you. We direct our prayers to God the Father, not to any man or woman including any saint or Mary, the mother of Jesus. Whether we are Catholic or Protestant, if we have made Jesus our Lord and turn to Him as Savior, we are one Body, the Church. I know that Catholicism usually calls Jude the Saint of lost causes. Jesus is Savior to all who believe and Jude was simply one of those who believed and was called to be one of the first disciples among us. We must not pray to or worship anyone but the one true God to whom we have access through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Now, in verses 17-19 Jude tells us, “But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.”

I don’t know you about you, but this scripture really applies to where I live! I think especially in America right now, but as well as the rest of the world, people are turning from scripture and turning toward self-fulfillment: whatever makes you happy, whatever you ‘feel’ is right for you, be whoever you are, and don’t worry about what others say is right and wrong. We hear these things all the time in our culture and throughout our media. And sure enough, these people are dividing us. Look at the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage… that’s a great example of people turning away from what God says is right and causing division among Believers, saying things like, “Oh but Jesus told you to love everyone. We have the right to love the same gender.” Church, we must stand in oneness with one another and the Lord, not in unity which is conformity, but in oneness. We must not be divided on what the Spirit teaches us through the Word. Already, there are hundreds of denominations and variations of Christianity, but there are also issues like homosexuality that divide us politically and often divide us spiritually. Even if we believe differently, we can stand as one declaring Jesus as Lord and the only way of salvation – that is what matters above all.

“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude 1:22-23

What a great exhortation… be merciful. Don’t sit by and watch as others live separated from their Creator and then spend eternity in hell. Have compassion. Hate the sinful nature, but love every person. Preach against the sin that is offensive to God, but love the person. Show them that Jesus is the Savior and He can be their righteousness! Show them the joy of salvation.

Below I will post the entire chapter because it’s worth reading right now while you read this post. But one more thing I’d like to highlight is the doxology in verse 24. “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy!” To Him who is able to keep us from stumbling and present us without fault… yes, what an amazing, fulfilling joy! All glory to Jesus Christ who presents us blameless because we have trusted in Him!!

- Richie

 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.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.  In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings.But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”  Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them.  Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.  Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.  But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.  But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.  Be merciful to those who doubt;  save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.  To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude)

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