Do You Have the Right Trainer? (Jude 1-2, 24-25)

1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for[b] Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. . . .

24 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, 25 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 (ESV).

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The Olympics are now in full effect. Approximately 10,960 athletes are competing from 204 countries. The UK has 557, the USA has 534, and Russia has 441, rounding out the top three. Each of these athletes has trained their entire lives in order to participate. Once the 2008 Olympics were finished for many athletes, they began preparing for the 2012 Olympics. They would engage in a regimen of training, diet, and other entire lifestyle arrangements in order to best ready themselves. Underlying all of this is a desire, devotion, and motivation to win!

A popular website tells us what a personal fitness trainer should look like:

A personal fitness trainer will work with you on an individual basis to create and monitor an exercise regimen tailored to your fitness goals. There are several advantages to using a personal trainer, whether you are aiming for health maintenance, weight loss, rehabilitation and recovery — or training for a specific event or race. A good personal trainer should be experienced and certified in the field, and ready to listen to your fitness history, ambition and any concerns about exercise.[1]

Dear Christians, Christ is our trainer. And we need it! Daily! Hourly! Minute-by-minute! In Jude, we come to it by asking ourselves are we contenders or pretenders? Do we have the right trainer? Only Christ is qualified to train you! He is experienced and certified in the field—holy God who became Man, meaning that He knows our situation! He doesn’t need to be ready to listen to your fitness history—He made you, and he already knows it. And we cannot do it alone!

In this sermon, I pray you see that your position in Christ will fuel your passion for Christ! He is our trainer, teaching us, pushing us, telling us exactly what we need. He made us, wired us, and loves us! He disciplines us, tells us the truth, all to fashion us into His image! We are His, and He is ours!

1. Who wrote this? Jude!

Jude, by the world’s standard, was the half-brother of our Lord Jesus. Jude by the world’s genealogy is the brother of James. So Jude grew up with Jesus in his formative years along with James. I shared this when I preached through James, and it bears repeating when we speak of Jude: this may be one of the greatest evidences of the deity of Christ imaginable. He grew up with Jesus, seeing how he acted in his upbringing at home. These seeds were planted and eventually he came to Christ!

But notice how he describes his relationship with Christ. He could have said, “Jude, the half-brother of Jesus,” but that was not his primary understanding of his relationship. He said, “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James.” Keep in mind an exchange that took place in Mark 3:31-35:

31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers[a] are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

James understood this eventually, as did Jude. It wasn’t about having the same mother (Mary), it was about having the same Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ!

Do we understand the great humility it takes to say you are a slave (doulos) of Jesus Christ? We are slaves to something. Paul tells the Romans:

16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:16-18).

Our wills have become freed from the slavery of sin to become slaves of righteousness! Christians relish in this! Why? Because we were once slaves to that which was impure that leads to death, now we are servants/slaves to the ones that Christ is “leading to sanctification” (Romans 6:19).

To what are we slaves? Around what do we schedule our lives to the sacrifice or replacement of Christ?

2. What does it mean to be a Christian?

This is the ultimate question, isn’t it? So much confusion. When we witness to individuals, we ask them, “Are you a Christian?” They may answer, ‘yes’—and we’re on our way. Bobby Welch developed an evangelism course in which you ask people what it means to be a Christian? Some say it’s about what you do—earning your way to heaven. Others may say, “I don’t know.” Others may say, “I don’t really care!” Others may say that we’re all Christians—we’re all going to heaven, for God saved everyone regardless.

We’ve already alluded to one aspect of this in regards to Jude, and this applies to everyone: “We are slaves of Jesus Christ.” Our minds, hearts, and wills have been set free from the slavery of sin into the slavery of Christ!

Jude is writing to a group of people who are Christians who are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ (Jude 1). So, between the servant, the calling, the loving, and the keeping, we see clearly the position that God has placed us as Christians in Christ. We hear much about the passion Christians must have—but if we begin to appeal to an emotional and experiential passion that is not founded upon the position that God has placed us in Christ, we will be drawing water from the wrong well.

It reminds me of Jeremiah 2:9-13:

9 “Therefore I still contend with you,
declares the Lord,
and with your children’s children I will contend.
10 For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see,
or send to Kedar and examine with care;
see if there has been such a thing.
11 Has a nation changed its gods,
even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
for that which does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Man-made cisterns after a while will crack and contaminate the water, but God-made ‘natural’ wells hold water, keeping it fresh and clean to drink. If the well of our being is made by us, then the dirt and minerals from the dirt of this world will contaminate that good which is in us.

The well of our lives as Christians is one that is fixed and tight.

Called. Jude writes “to the called.” Throughout all of Scriptures, God’s people have been a called people. God called Abraham out of his idolatry to lead him to a place he did not know where he would go. God called Moses from a burning bush. Moses reminded the people of Israel of this prior to them entering the Promised Land:

6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Deuteronomy 7:6-8, ESV).

God chose the people of Israel not because of their size (they were fewer than any other people group) but because of His love and because of the promise He made to the ‘fathers.’ But we see here that God initiates it and implements it.

The word here (kaleo) is used to mean called or chosen, but in some cases invited! The only place where this is translated invited is in Matthew 22 in the Parable of the Wedding Feast. The king sent out an invitation to a wedding feast for his, but “they would not come” (22:3). They either ignored him, hurt the king’s messengers, or killed them. So he exacted vengeance on them, but told his servants to go to the “highways and the hedges” and invite as many as they found. So they “went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good.”

Those merely invited did not come of their own volition. But God sent his servants to come and gather them in! Isaiah was right, “All have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). But this call is one where God effectually calls and brings them in. And as Romans 8:29-30 says:

29 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. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

From the foundation of the world, God has called a people to himself in order to fashion them into Christlikeness!

Beloved by God the Father. This phrase is found only in this passage. We talked a few weeks ago about the different types of love displayed by God. In this case, it is a particular love that God has for His church!

I mentioned last week that our anniversary on August 1—a great day in the land, to be sure! I have told all of you in the place who much I love and appreciate you. But I have also expressed to you how much I have asked God to plant a love for our neighbors and the nations who do not know Christ. I have also mentioned how much I love my wife, my bride! Now, are these loves the same? Would you say with good authority that I have a particular, special, exclusive love for my bride that is different from my love for anyone else?

God has a particular love for His bride, the church—the church that is blood-bought by His own Son, and Spirit taught as well! Based on what? Look at John 17:26: “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Do you believe that the Father loves His Son? Without question—He loves His Son more than anything in time and eternity. Jesus says, “Father, love them like you love me! May your love be in them, and may I be them!” And the Holy Spirit comes to indwell in us—this is the present reality of us as third-chair believers! Ligon Duncan is right: “You need to revel in the depth of the Father’s love for you in Jesus Christ. That’s who you are. That’s what a Christian is.’[2]

Kept for Christ Jesus. One day, Christ will return for his church. Regardless of how you view the end times, this is something to which all orthodox Christians hold. Christ is coming back. There is an ancient threefold saying that the early church spoke that is still spoken in some Christian circles today: Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. Historically, the first two have already happened, and we know that the last one will at some point in the future.

But what about in the meantime? The point of this letter is to urge the church to contend for the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints. Why? “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).

This brought a lot of concern and angst in the church. Some were wondering what was next, some were beginning to stray, others stayed apathetic. But Jude reminded them not only were they called by God (not by their own work or desire), were they loved by God but they were kept for Jesus Christ.

In 2 Timothy 1:8-12, we read another nice summary of this!

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

Called and kept! This is our position provided by our Lord! No matter the situation, no matter the false teaching, no matter what persecution may come, those who are truly his are called, beloved, and kept. In John 10:27-29:

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

3. What does Christ do for the Christian?

Join me in reading the last two verses in Jude, verses 24-25:

24 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, 25 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.

We have a Savior and Lord who is able! Our Lord God has invested Himself, His Son, and His Holy Spirit into His people—and as He created all things (Genesis 1:1) and sent His Son to atone for the sins of his people (Matthew 1:21), and as we see that God has secured our position in calling us, setting his love on us, and keeping us—he is able to keep you as you live your life in Him. There is more to the Christian life than simply coming to Christ! The Christian life is about a joyful pursuit of Christ and a joyful love of his people.

So Christ is able to preserve you. Our passion for Christ stems from the position Christ purchased for us! We contend for the faith because Christ preserves us in this position and instills in us a passion!

Does this mean we don’t do anything? Does this mean that we aren’t careful, aren’t watchful, aren’t diligence as believers to keep his commands? Not at all, for does not Jude himself even say, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 20-21). Notice the commands: building yourselves up in the faith, praying in the Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, wait for the mercy of Christ. These are imperatives, commands! But how is this possible?

“He is able to keep you from stumbling.” This is a word to those who may be young in the faith and wonder. If you are truly in Christ and have surrendered to him, then he has called you, loves you, keeps you in Christ and from stumbling. You may have heard of the minister of a large church who was a gifted preacher in a Baptist church in Indiana who fell into a serious moral failure. How did this happen? This minister, 54, finished preaching and left his phone on the pulpit. One of his deacons happened to be there when a text came through—it was a picture of him kissing a very young girl (not his wife). This girl, investigators found out, was a 16 year old girl. He was summarily dismissed, devastating his witness, his ministry, his marriage, his church, and this girl’s life. Turns out this girl came to him for counseling and the relationship progressed. Only God is able to keep us from stumbling—but he still warns us to “keep yourselves in the love of God.” Ephesians 3:20 says, ““Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”

Christ is able to present you blameless. He is able to even do this. To whom will he be presenting us? To His Father in heaven! Remember the line in Romans 8:30: foreknown, predestined, called, justified, glorified. He is working, as Paul tells the Ephesians, “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. . . . For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:27, 29).

How does this happen? Through Christ’s resurrection! In 1 Corinthians 15:42-44:

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

All of you who are third-chair Christians, understand this: the world will persecute you for your beliefs, they will hate you because they hated the Christ you love and who keeps you, and they will sneak into the church to try to undermine your faith and tear apart His church. But you must know this: he is able to keep you from stumbling! And he is able to take you when your life is done and bring you to the throne and present you as one clothed in the righteousness of Christ, washed and sanctified, prepared to approach the King without fear, but with humility and gratitude for His grace!

Conclusion

I first heard this at a Promise Keepers event back in 1999 by Dr. Kenneth Ulmer (although I do not believe it came from him).  But it’s an appropriate way for us to close our time together.

A basketball in my hands is worth about $19
A basketball in Michael Jordan’s hands is worth about $33 million.
It depends whose hands it’s in

A baseball in my hands is worth about $6
A baseball in Mark McGuire’s hands is worth $19 million
It depends whose hands it’s in

A tennis racket is useless in my hands
A tennis racket in Pete Sampras’ hands is a Wimbledon Championship.
It depends whose hands it’s in

A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal
A rod in Moses’ hands will part the mighty sea
It depends whose hands it’s in

A sling shot in my hands is a kid’s toy
A sling shot in David’s hand is a mighty weapon.
It depends whose hands it’s in

Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches.
Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in Jesus’ hands will feed thousands
It depends whose hands it’s in

Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse
Nails in Jesus Christ’s hands will produce salvation for the entire world.
It depends whose hands it’s in

Whose hands are you in?  Who is your trainer?  Come to the Savior who calls you, loves you, keeps you, and who will keep you from stumbling and present you glorious and blameless. 


[1]Why a Personal Trainer is So Important? By Jae Allen http://www.livestrong.com/article/334217-why-a-personal-fitness-trainer-is-important/#ixzz22dNbbpqk .

[2]J. Ligon Duncan, What is a Christian? (Jude 1-2). http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/sermons/Jude/jude1.2.htm

_______________

Preached by Dr. Matthew Perry, Arapahoe Road Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 5, 2012 as Part I of Contending or Pretending: Real Faith for Real Life.  Sermon mp3 forthcoming!

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