This sermon was originally preached in 2014.
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, 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 ESV
Though the majority of Jude’s short letter has been a harsh rebuke and warning against the false teachers that infiltrated the church, it ends on a magnificently beautiful note. The final two verses form a doxology, a small word of poetic praise to God. For all the warnings and commands, Jude understands that ultimately everything rests with the Host High. We cannot do enough to combat false teaching nor to keep ourselves from succumbing to heresies. We can only rely upon the unfailing grace of our glorious Savior. Therefore, it is fitting that the letter does not close with final commands or warnings but rather with worship.
As previously stated, these two verses comprise a doxology. The word doxology comes from two Greek words: doxa meaning “glory” and logos meaning “word.” Therefore, a doxology is a “word of glory” or a statement about the glory of God. These worshipful portions of Scripture are very important and highly beneficial to the follower of Christ, particularly in prayer.
Praying Scripture is crucial. Too often, we do not know for what we should be praying. Too often, our sin blinds us the will and truth of God. However, Scripture is never outside of God’s will. The only way that we can be completely confident that we are praying truth is by praying the revealed truth of God. While this is true of all Scripture, doxologies are of particular benefit because they are prayers of praise to God. We only need to memorize doxologies and then worshipfully add them to our prayers before God. That being said, before we dive into the studying of Jude’s doxology, I will provide a brief list of some of my favorite doxologies from the rest of Scripture: Psalm 150, Romans 16:25-27, Ephesians 3:20-21, Revelation 5:13.
ABLE TO KEEP YOU // VERSE 24
“Now to him” Throughout the epistle, Jude has primarily dealt with two parties: true believers and the false teachers. He has repeatedly referred to the heretical teachers as “these people”, but with those of the faith, Jude calls them “beloved.” This emphatic separation is a crucial theme since the false teachers were posing as true believers. It reinforces the notion that no matter how similar the two might appear there is a distinct difference between the two. However, Jude is no longer addressing either of the two parties; instead, Jude turns his focus upward.
“who is able to keep you from stumbling” The discussion of false teachers and apostasy can be quite daunting. After all, a proper understanding of the gospel leaves the Christian with an acute awareness of his or her own depravity. Therefore, it is logical for a believer to think, “if it’s possible to fall from grace, then I would.” And indeed, that is an accurate statement. Before the fall, sin was a mere possibility, yet we dove straight into it. In our fallen world, the guarantee of our succumbing to sin is even more certain, so because we are totally depraved, a fall from grace seems to be inevitable. Fortunately, what is impossible for man is possible for God. While we are completely unable to walk our salvation out to completion, God alone is able to keep us from faltering. The same Savior that raised us from the dead will also keep us from stumbling. He will prevent His elect from falling away from Him.
“and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” The great grace of God not only is able to keep us from slipping away in the present, it also guarantees our future. Saying that we will be presented before the presence of God reveals that the work was not done by us. Much in the same way that a student presents his or her science project, God will present us. Throughout this life, He is constantly working on us, sanctifying us to make us more like Him. Ephesians 5:26-27 describes this process in terms of matrimony, saying that Christ has washed us (His bride) clean with the water of the word in order to present us “to Himself in splendor.” Like a man who saves his fiancée from self-destructive whoredom and dresses her in the most beautifully white dress for their wedding day, God pulls us from our adulterous sins, from all of the evil that we loved more than Him. He then clothes us in the garments of His own spotless glory, so that we will be perfectly pure on the great wedding day. What a glorious truth! He does not simply present us before Himself. If we were to appear before God as we are now, the purity of His glory would consume us! Instead, He covers us with His own righteousness. He imputes His goodness upon we who are evil. That is how He presents the blame-worthy as blameless. We will stand that day before the presence of God only because of the blood of Jesus Christ, which makes us blameless before the Father. Because all of our sins are removed, we will not be crushed under the weight of God’s glory, rather we will stand with great joy!
TO THE ONLY GOD // VERSE 25
“to the only God, our Savior” For an unprecedented length of time, Christianity has enjoyed a period of culture dominance in the west, but now that is falling apart. Because pluralism is the fastest growing religion in the western world, Christianity is increasing coming at odds with the culture at large. To be fair, we should have seen this coming. The Bible never promises a Christianity-friendly culture, but it does promised Christian-hating cultures. Pluralism is our day’s dividing line. The world proclaims that everything is relative, that all religions are different paths to the same God. However, statements like this place Christianity diametrically opposed to those thoughts. The Bible stands in the face of pluralism, declaring that there is only one God.
“through Jesus Christ our Lord” Yes, Christianity does hold that there is one God, but Judaism and Islam make the same claim. In fact, they say that we worship the same God. Here is the dividing line: Jesus Christ. Judaism holds that Jesus was merely a man, a man who claimed to be God, but a man none the less. Islam actually has a slightly higher view as they believe Jesus to be a prophet, one man in a line of godly messengers. Christianity, however, says “no” to both thoughts. For the follower of Christ, the identity of Jesus is fundamental to our understanding of God because Jesus is God. Jesus is not a prophet, and He is certainly not a blasphemer. He is the Holy One of God. Because Jesus is fully God and fully man, He is the only one that could fix the problem of sin. He is able to provide mediation between us and God, to bridge the great divide of sin. Therefore, our salvation is “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” There is no other way. Apart from the saving work of Christ, God is only our Judge, not our Savior. We need the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. The only path to God is through Jesus Christ.
“be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority” Jude now gives a shotgun listing of a few of the God’s attributes. However, though he is listing them in a rapid order, we must not think that he simply chose characteristics of God at whim. Instead, like this doxology in its entirety, he chose these qualities of God in order to reinforce his idea from throughout the body of the letter.
First, Jude ascribes to God glory. Because glory gives a connotation of weightiness, it is often used to describe the presence of God. However, it also relates to God’s respect, reverence, dignity, and honor. Majesty, when placed in close proximity to glory, becomes an amplification of glory. The majestic glory of God is a description of the “overwhelming grandeur” of the Most High (Green, 136).
Next, Jude proclaims the dominion and authority of God. Dominion is the might and power of God, while authority is His sovereignty and control. God is not only perfectly glorious. He is also in complete sovereign control. None are higher or more worthy of honor than God. Therefore, it is completely unthinkable for believers to dishonor Him in the manner of the false teachers.
“before all time and now and forever” As difficult as it is to imagine, God did not acquire these attributes. He has always been glorious and supreme. Before the beginning of time, God was God. In this very moment, God is still God. And ten billions years into the future, God will still be God. How glorious that when our hearts are so prone to being fickle that we can rely completely upon the only unchanging one!
“Amen” This simple word is used countless times a day without many of us having the slightest idea of its meaning. Most often, it is said to mean, “may it be so” or “so be it.” However, “it is true!” might be closer to Jude’s usage here. Because ancient languages did not have punctuation as we do today, words like “amen” became makeshift exclamation marks at the end of important statements. Thus, Jude is loudly proclaiming that all he states about God is very true.
But “amen” also has another function, it serves to an opportunity for the readers to chime in their agreement with Jude. Since the entire letter has been concerned with observing true Christians from false ones, Jude provides a chance for the followers of Christ join in ascribing to God the glory due His name. Furthermore, because obedience is the fruit of worship, to join in the chorus of “amen” is to contend for the faith. As Christians, we cannot separate worship and obedience. They depend upon each other. Jude’s aim is that we would glorify God by contending for the faith through aggressive compassion for the others.