"Keeping in the love of God"

Brief notes of an address on Jude 20-25.

1916 153 There are two things we may observe in connection with, or as brought out, in this scripture. The one is the interest of God — Father, Son and Holy Ghost — in His own; and the second, in the midst of all here, the heart bounding in the competency of Him Who is able to present us faultless. Father, Son and Holy Ghost, for us, in us!

We may, at times, be ready to take a somewhat despondent view of things, and to look back on days that have gone. I do not deny there were bright days which even we have known; I do not deny that corruption had set in even in apostolic days, and is still more manifest now. The mystery of lawlessness already wrought then, and never more than at the present time. Man does not like any god but himself. And we need to take care that we come not under these powers of evil. There is abroad, even amongst the children of God, a spirit of insubjection to God's word, and there is danger of that word being given up.

A Christian wrote recently that in Scotland the thought of inspiration was pooh-poohed, but that we in England were far behind. I am not sure that we are. There are very few books that issue from Oxford or Cambridge which we can read with profit in the things of God, because of this latent, if not full-blown, unbelief. We should not underrate the corrupting influence of the day, but there is what still abides. God is the unchanging one. The Lord Jesus is "the same." The Holy Ghost is eternal. I do not say our outward privileges in all respects are the same. But if we have not the apostles' presence and vigilance, we are commended to God, and the word of His grace, and these abide. We ought to feel for the people of God everywhere, and should seek to warn those who do not know whither they are drifting, and if any of us, through the mercy of our God, have been kept from the whirlpool, may we seek grace and strength to rescue others who are equally dear to God.

What assurance of God's unfailing interest in His own, we have here, in the very opening of this epistle! "To them that are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ" (R.V.). "Beloved." What! Are we still beloved of God? Yes. We know the Father's love, and the love of Christ. Does not this fall in with Rev. 1:5, where it is "to Him that loveth us" (R.V.). "Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it." He "loved me, and gave Himself for me." But it is not only what He did, but what He does. "To him that loveth us." And now, in this verse of our Epistle, we are assured that we are, still, "beloved in God the Father." How sweet is all this!

Then amidst all the corruption of the present scene, we are "kept" or "preserved" for the Lord Jesus. When the Lord was here, He could say of His disciples, "I have kept them"; but now, no longer in the world, He prays the Father to keep them, and not them alone, but others who should believe on Him through their word (John 17). So here, having been espoused as a chaste virgin to Christ, we are kept for the Lord Jesus Christ and shall be presented to Him gloriously.

Having loved us, He loves us still. His love is unchanging, eternal. Oh, that we were ever mindful of this, and more constrained by this love of Christ, a love without change indeed.

There is a world within a world, a circle, a redeemed company here in the world, precious to God the church of God. Where do we find this? Net in heaven, but on earth. And we are called to walk in the truth of it, in the reality of it, for it is a divine fact. This we can only do as Christ is our object. If our object be the saints we shall be disappointed. Christ is the same at the beginning, at the end, and all along the course. The world knows nothing of this. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Every Christian on the face of the earth forms a part of it. If alas! you give up your confession of it, yet the truth remains. However dim our eyesight we are called to rise above and walk as heavenly men in the light of Christ risen. We believe in God, but we have not seen Him; that is faith. "I am going away," said our Lord; "Ye believe in God, believe also in me." In the consciousness that He was going to God as He came from God, so He shows His interest in His own and gives them part with Him, although we are here in a corrupt scene. Cannot we honestly confess to our shame, that we are not so anxious for communion with Him, as the Lord is for ours? How many things fleeting draw our hearts! What abides? The earth? No, that is what scoffers may say, but we know it shall be burnt up. The heavens? They shall pass away. What then, should our hearts covet? Should it not be the growing knowledge of Him with whom we are going to spend eternity even the Saviour?

Do you think the world a pleasant scene, or is it to you a dark or squalid place, as Peter calls it (2 Peter 1:19)? Our home is not heaven exactly; the Father's house is our home. What would heaven be without the Saviour? Here we are brothers and sisters, the family of God, but is this our home? We are looking to be in the Father's house where is the Saviour. The Father's house is in heaven.

In verse 20 we read: "But, ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." There is no legitimate ground for despondency or discouragement. There is, after all, a power within us greater than that in the world, for have we not the Holy Ghost? Why, then, should we shake like an aspen leaf when in face of danger? If our faith is in God, are we not exhorted to press through all difficulties and go forward?

Perhaps you have thought that this was a day of scattering only — that it was now too late to build with everything in ruin. No, the call remains "Building up yourselves on your most holy faith." There is a divine way in every difficulty, in every circumstance. Here it is we are to build up one another; we are never called to walk as independents. There is in this world a "habitation of God," and for this we are being builded together through the Spirit; and we are instructed how we ought to behave ourselves in this house of God (not meaning "a place of worship" so-called), in what is divinely formed of "living stones." The building is not one of earthly material, but, if we look at it from God's side, of "living stones," "whose house are we," whether "assembled" or not, yea, every day; for the truth of God is not like sugar or salt that is subject to atmospheric influences. Truth is not merely for the time; we want all the word at every time. We cannot afford to surrender one little bit of God's truth. All scripture is profitable.

"Praying in the Holy Ghost." Here is divine power. We are called to pray in the power of the Spirit. God would not put an embargo on our prayers. He says: "In everything by prayer," etc. In every trouble go to Him. If my request be in the Holy Ghost, He will give it. If not, He will throw the refuse away; but go to Him. He delights to give what is good. "Keep yourselves in the love of God." Is not this something like being keepers "at home"? Young women are exhorted to be "workers at home" (Titus 2:5, R.V.). "The love of God." "The mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ." "Praying in the Holy Ghost." What a sufficiency is here!

We need mercy still. Are we apt to be lifted up? Not when we are conscious of our need of mercy. This we need as much today as when we first found it. Not always of the same character, perhaps, but God is rich in mercy of every kind. This is so grand we must treat every saint alike! Must we? I don't think so. I once heard it said, They never, when children, got what they cried for, but a rod. Petulance should meet with correction, not with encouragement. We cannot act towards a naughty brother as to one walking well. There are the responsibilities of the family and of grace.

"Unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before His glory," etc. Can He not do it — a God of illimitable power? You might not think it, but the heart believes it, because He has said it. Is it enough to wait for it when the church shall be presented faultless? Surely not. We want to walk according to it now. I know all will be faultless then, but should it not be my ambition (as the apostle Paul says) to be well pleasing to Him in all my ways now?

"To the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, before all time, and now, and for evermore. Amen." Is He not worthy?