20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. ~ Jude 20-21
Today, we return to our study of the book of Jude. In this little book Jude's edgy brevity communicates the urgency of his notion that false teachers will need to be anticipated and addressed. His usage of just a few words means that Jude did not waste space dancing around the primary issue. He saw within the church people and practices that were worthy of discipline, including sexual misconduct, rejecting authority and seeking to be worshipped.
In v. 20 of today's text we read, "But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit."
In this one verse, Jude shifts our attention from the apostate to the believer in Christ. At the very heart of the believer's survival and triumph in a day of apostasy is the strengthening of our faith in the God of the Bible. We move into error not by design, we move into error due to our lack of commitment to be disciples of God and His word.
Our spiritual lives require maintenance. We must not allow ourselves to be starved to death spiritually. This is why Jude reminds us to build ourselves up in our holy faith. Christian growth is not automatic, it has to be intentional. Any life left to itself, will fall apart. So we need to be building up our faith. And, this begins with studying the Word of God with a view toward obedience.
In our attempt to bolster our faith in the Lord Jesus, our goal must not only be informational, our goal must be transformational which God will do if we come to His word with the mind that He will change us from the inside out. We must approach God's word with the idea that we will be defined by Him. We also must understand that God uses two main things to grow our faith in Him; the afore mentioned word of God and the trials that invade our lives on a daily basis.
In James 1:2-3 we read, "2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Given the fact that we are fallen and we live in a fallen world, trials are essential to the growth of our faith. You see, like it or not, trials are our friends because they remind us that we do not have all of life all together. Trials drive us to God, reminding us that He is the secret to our success. Trails aid in our heart's ability to see God which is what faith really is.
In addition, at the end of v.20, Jude tells us to "pray in the Holy Spirit." Praying in the Spirit is the polar opposite of praying in the flesh. Prayer in the power of the flesh relies upon human ability and effort to carry the prayer forward. To pray in the Spirit is experiencing the Spirit of life bringing our prayers to life. Praying in the Spirit means that the Spirit empowers the prayer and carries it to the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus. In prayer, the Holy Spirit illuminates our minds, moves our hearts, and grants us a freedom of utterance and liberty of expression. This means to pray consistent with the will of the Holy Spirit. And, the will of the Holy Spirit is discovered as we study God's word.
In Romans 8:26 we read, "The Holy Spirit helps our weakness; for we don’t know how to pray as we should."
When it comes to the issues of life, we do not always know how God wants us to pray. We do not always know what His will is about a given matter. And, as a result, we do not always know how to pray as we should. But the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. He speaks to God on our behalf. The Holy Spirit groans within us, He expresses a certain pain toward God on our behalf. And, the Holy Spirit prays not in words, He prays in groanings too deep for human words.
The Spirit of God is praying for you and me all the time. And, the Father understands perfectly the mind of the Spirit, because they are one. So the Holy Spirit is before God all the time in perfect harmony with His will. And, as a result, "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
When we pray in the Spirit, we pray consistently with the will of God. To pray in the Spirit is lining up with the will of God, so that, as we study His word and take it in, our faith, our minds and our wills are being defined by His word. This is what keeps us strong in the faith. And, our prayers will become more consistent with the Holy Spirit’s prayers as we study God's word. Praying in the Spirit creates a yieldedness in the believer toward God.
In v.21 of today's text we read, "Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life."
The word "keep" is an imperative, and, it means to remain in the sphere of God’s love. Jude is not saying, "Stay saved." That would be crazy since God does the saving. Jude is saying keep uppermost in your thoughts the love of God for you. The living Bible renders it this way, "stay always within the boundaries where the love of God can reach and bless you." It means to remind ourselves, frequently, that God loves us. And, His love is unmerited and unconditional.
And, then there is that phrase at the end of v.21, "... as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life."
This simply means "live in eager anticipation of the Lord’s return." Live in such a way that we are looking for Him to come back. The church fathers understood that the return of the Lord Jesus is emphasized hugely in the Scripture. They understood that roughly 1,845 times, the Scripture refers to the coming of the Lord Jesus.
So, to remain strong in our faith in the Lord, we must study the Scriptures, we must be given to prayer, we must keep ourselves in God's love, and, we must live in anticipation and expectation for the return of the Lord Jesus.