Lent Devotional: Jude 24-25
by Jonathan Haefs
Today’s devotional is authored by Brad Brown
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Charles Taylor in his book “Our secular age” helpfully gives words to realities that we experience in our culture but can’t always find the words to name. He notes that in our time it’s not so much that people are anti-religion (although we do see that). Rather, religion is just seen as a private affair that is reserved for some. A religion like Christianity is seen as just one product to purchase among others that can make your life meaningful.
I think we can all agree that in our modern society the church is not the center of the town square, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Christianity is not the default belief in our country. It is seen as simply one option among many others in the marketplace of ideas.
Some go to church, some do yoga, some trust in science, or philosophy, some hold to a vague spirituality, some have been disillusioned by the church and for others…they just don’t know.
Taylor says with so many viable options “Faith is fraught, confession is haunted by an inescapable sense of contestability…We don’t believe; we believe while doubting. We’re all Thomas now…”
The first part of Jude’s doxology offers hope to a church that can often feel hopeless. It is a confident prayer that God will preserve the church from false teaching and bring them into the glorious future with him.
Isn’t this just wishful thinking at the end of the letter? It is a naive optimism? Is it just unaware of the many options presented to the church? Does it not know that there are seemingly reasonable and attractive competitors all after the churches affections?
Throughout my years in youth ministry there will be times when I think, “It will take a miracle for this kid continue in the faith after he leaves home…”
While I imagine you understand what I’m getting at…I do think I need to be reminded that it’s always a miracle that anybody remains a disciple of Jesus Christ and that this is good news…
The Reformer John Calvin wrote that “It pleases the Lord fully to restore whomsoever he adopts into the inheritance of life. And indeed, this restoration does not take place in one moment or one day or one year; but through continual and sometimes even slow advances God wipes out…the corruption of the flesh”
When Calvin read the Scriptures he saw that Salvation was so much more than just forgiveness of sins…It is certainly not less than forgiveness but it is so much more. Calvin said that to receive salvation is to receive the gift of Union with Christ.
To receive the gift of Christ is to receive the gifts of Justification (declared righteous) and sanctification (being made holy). Calvin says that to receive one gift without the other would be to “Tear Christ in two”. His point: these gifts come together. You cannot receive one without the other.
This is big deal…The Christian life is not simply a response to our salvation…It is part of our salvation…It is part of something that God is doing. It is something that God is doing to save us from ourselves and to save us from the evil of this world. If its ultimately something that God does then the Church can have hope that she will persevere despite the circumstances…despite how bad or hopeless things look…
Romans 8:28-30 beautifully articulates this, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
It’s hard to believe…The God who says your sins are forgiven is also the God that says that he is going to make you more like Jesus. He’ going to transform you. He’s going to preserve you…He’s going to bring you into his presence. All for his Glory.
To ponder “What salvation is this? What assurance is this? What hope is this?” will lead you to ask “What God is this?”
That’s where Jude ends. It ends with an acknowledgement of the greatness of God. It ends in worship.
Despite the options made available to us, when we reflect on the goodness and power of God in our salvation we are lead to the place of Praise. This is the place by the power of God we will be forever.
One might be tempted to say…Its a miracle.