May 9, 2011

To Him who is Able

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless 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. Jude 24-25

Jude 21 (which spent the last three weeks considering) presents a foundational Christian truth. We have a responsibility to fan our own love for God into flame. We have a responsibility to keep ourselves in love with God. That is absolutely basic … and vitally important for us to understand. But I want you to notice that Jude 24 presents a truth even more fundamental, and basic, and vital for our understanding. For, in that verse, Jude reminds us that it’s not just that we must keep ourselves, but that God Himself is actually keeping us, too! Jude 24 is about “Him who is able to keep you”! And what that means is that, even when you are keeping yourself in love with God, it’s actually God who is keeping you, so that you can keep yourself!

God is the one who gives you strength to walk in His ways, and to love His truth, and so on! Even though you have a responsibility to keep yourself, it is actually God’s keeping that allows you to do so! This is why we believe in the eternal security of the believer – not because we have great confidence in ourselves to do all that Jude 20-23 commands. But because we have great confidence in God to do what Jude 24-25 describes!

God is able! He is the one who keeps you in the faith, ultimately! He is the one, Jude says, who is able to sustain you … and in three specific ways:

First, God “is able to keep you from stumbling”. And that is so important in a book which has dealt so much with the dangers of false prophets. Along the way, we have noticed nineteen traits of the false teachers; nineteen ways we can recognize them and their errors. And we might think to ourselves: ‘How am I ever going to remember it all? What if I forget some of those nineteen, and end up falling prey to the very kinds of men Jude warns about?’ Well, ultimately, your remembering and your preservation from falling into damning error depends on God. He is the one who is “able to keep you from stumbling” … even when you are weak and gullible! And the same is true on a moral plane. There are so many temptations, within and without, aren’t there? How do we navigate them all? How do we keep from making shipwreck of our faith? Well, there are things we must do! But, beneath those things is an assurance that, if we truly belong to Christ, then He Himself will keep us from stumbling! “He is able”!

But then Jude also says that this God “is able … to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless.” Now there are two amazing things that Jude says there. The first is the amazement that we could even stand before God’s glory at all! When we consider our record; when we look at our rap-sheet; and then when we consider that God is holy, holy, holy … how could we ever expect to do anything but cower and grovel and weep in His presence? And yet Jude says He’s able to make us stand! And not only to stand, but to do so with a clean record; to do so blamelessly! How can it be? Only because God sent His Son to live and die with a clean record in our place … so that when we stand before God, we are wrapped in the cloak of Jesus’ righteousness! We couldn’t have cleaned our garments ourselves, but He “is able” to make us “blameless” in Jesus!

And then, thirdly, Jude says that God “is able to make us stand in the presence of His glory … with great joy.” And, again, this ought to amaze us. To think of standing before the thrice holy God ought to make us sinners tremble with fear. How can we stand before Him? On our own, there’s no way! But, in Christ, we can not only keep from keeling over in His presence, but actually stand there rejoicing because we know He will approve of us! And, again, that is all His doing, not our own! He is the one who is “able” to allow us great joy even in His holy presence; because He is the one who loved us enough to send His only Son to die in our place!

That is the good news! Our whole salvation – whether it be the ability to keep from stumbling; or the ability to stand before God without fear of judgment – has nothing to do with who we are or what we have done. You only stand, and you only keep standing because “He is able to keep you”!

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