Sustained in the Mercy of Our Lord

Jude 20-25

[20] But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the
Holy Spirit, [21] keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord
Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. [22] And have mercy on those who doubt; [23] save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating
even the garment stained
by the flesh.

[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.
-In the Name of Jesus.

We confessed this morning in the Nicene Creed that “He shall come again with
glory
to judge both the living and the dead” and as we end the church year, our
readings this morning point us to the Second Advent, or Second Coming of our Lord,
who promises to return again. Much is often discussed today about the Second
Coming of Jesus in our culture, as books, movies, studies all speak and speculate on
our Lord’s return, unfortunately describing it more of a science fiction movie than the
words of our Lord. What we need to know, and what our Lord gives about His Second
Coming, however was all given in His first coming, where the work of salvation was
accomplished on a cross where Jesus declared for you and me that lilt is finished!”

Jude then begins our text saying, II But you, beloved, building yourselves up in
your most holy faith.” So, as we approach the return of our Lord, we are reminded first
that we are His beloved. We are Christ’s own, His children, those who have been
baptized into His body and given His holy name, having been washed clean by His
blood by Grace through faith alone. With this in mind, he continues that as we
anticipate our Lord’s return, the baptized child of God, or the Christian should be
“building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit.” This
holy faith to which he speaks is the faith he spoke of earlier in this same chapter, “the
faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” This is not an abstract faith, or one
that is subject to our human feelings or emotions, but the actual teaching and words
from Jesus to us and for us. This is the doctrine, or teaching of our Lord. This is the
teaching Jesus speaks of in Matt. 28:20, where He gives the gift of baptism and tells
his disciples “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I
am with you always, to the end of the age.” This holy faith then, is our confession of
who Jesus is. “You are the Christ, Son of the Living God” as Peter confessed. It is
Jesus Himself, the Lord that we confess, and Him crucified and risen for the sinner:.

 

That is how Jude says we should build ourselves up. In the Word or teaching of Jesus,
the Gospel. This is why Christian worship is centered on the Word of Christ. It’s why
we read the Bible out loud, sing the Bible and pray the Bible, the liturgy delivers this
Word of Jesus to you, since it is through the active and living Word of God that we are
built up in the holy faith and even given the gift of faith, “”‘Man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”‘ Deut. 8:3 therefore,
Jude tells us to build ourselves and one another up in this Word of Christ by which we
are given faith to trust in Christ’s death for us, for “Faith comes by hearing and

hearing by the Word of Christ.”

We are then encouraged in our text to pray “in the Holy Spirit”, which is the
same as saying pray this same Word for one another. What a beautiful gift we have in
the Bible as a means for prayer. For we confess that we don’t know how to pray as we
ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us, giving us His words and helps us pray.
We can pray the “Our Father” or Lord’s Prayer, we can pray the Psalms and our Lord is
there to help us to even know what and how to pray. We need not be afraid to pray,
but rather take comfort in the fact that our Lord has given us prayers and even He
Himself we are told in the book of Hebrews is praying with us and for us.

As we await our Lord’s return, we are also told to “keep ourselves in the love of
God”. To be sure this isn’t referring to our love for God, because our love God is non-
existent in and of ourselves. In fact, because of our sin nature we don’t love God or as
the catechism explains we don’t “fear, love and trust God” by our own strength, but
as St. John reminds us that “we love God because He first loved us.” It is God’s love
“for us” that we should be kept in, and any love of God we have is from Him as gift.
So, where then do we receive this love of God by which we are kept in the holy faith?
WE receive this love right here, in the body of Christ, in the service of our Lord where
He showers us with His love. Where he baptizes us, absolves us of our sin, declares His
word of forgiveness to us and places it in our ears and thus our hearts. It is where He
feeds us His true Body and true Blood for the forgiveness of sins, therefore we are
kept in the in the love of God, by being where His Word is rightly taught and His
Sacraments are rightly administered, in His church. This is how He loves and sustains
us. We are not alone, for He has gathered a family, brothers and sisters from every
tribe, tongue and nation to be sustained and strengthened in this love together. A
church full of absolved sinners, strengthened together by the One who took our place
on the cross and died for us.

This leads us to Jude’s final encouragement, where we are told to continue
“waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. /I And as we are
waiting ... ” [22] And have mercy on those who doubt; [23] save others by snatching
them out
of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained
by the flesh. /I We desire the same mercy of God, the Gospel, that has redeemed us for

 

our neighbor, for our spiritual family, for one another. This is where what Luther called
the mutual consolation of the brethren takes place, where we are reminded that
because of the mercy of God we are saved, and not of our own doing one bit. It’s
100 gift or grace. Therefore, we have mercy on our brothers and sisters, we extend
the word of forgiveness that has been given to us, to them. Paul puts it this way in
Galatians 6:1-2

“[1 J Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should
restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
[2J
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. ” Helping those who are
weak in faith or having mercy on those burdened by sin and guilt is this consolation
that is spoken of by both Jude and St. Paul. In other words, in the same way you are
saved by grace through faith, and this is not of yourselves, but is a gift of God so that
no one can boast, speak and love this way to your neighbor who is also saved by grace
through faith. For we are not alone, but baptized into Christ’s body where we have
opportunity to love, encourage and forgive one another, just as we have been

forgiven in Christ.

Jude ends our text with a blessing and promise, that at the same time he
encourages us to build ourselves up in the faith, pray, and wait for the mercy of Christ,
Christ Himself will be at work doing these very things for us. This is the beauty of the
Gospel. What God gives us to do, He always accomplishes for us. From our faith, to
His love and mercy, this is all His work, therefore Jude blesses us with, /I 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”. For the baptized child of God, Christ’s Second
advent or Second coming is not to be feared, for He has already judged our sin on the
cross. It is there that is judgement day for the believer, Good Friday. At the cross the
punishment that you deserve was put upon the Lamb of God who takes away the sin
of the world. He took upon Himself all of your sin and now remembers it no more, so
that as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed your sins from you. So
here, today and forever, instead of wrath, He gives His peace to you. Instead of being
angry at you, He loves you, and calls you to Himself to feed you His true Body and
Blood which forgives your sin, resulting in eternal life and salvation. He keeps you from
stumbling and He presents you blameless before God with great joy. He loves doing
this for you again and again and again, seventy times seven.

“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.”
In the Name of Jesus.

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