4 Reasons You Should Preach through Jude
If you were planting a church, what’s the first book of the Bible you’d preach through? I’m guessing that not many of you would say Jude. But there we were, taking the Lord’s Supper for the very first time and committing to one another in love as a local church, all on the heels of a short trek through the staggering promises and stern warnings found in one of the New Testament’s most neglected books.
Jude teaches us that true Christians contend for the faith that has been once and for all delivered to the saints. Jude teaches us that true Christians reject all substitutes and hold fast to the One who won’t let them go. In short, Christians of every era must guard doctrine as they are guarded by God. That’s the message of Jude.
But why should you preach through the book of Jude? Here are four reasons.
1. Jude roots our identity as Christians in what God does for us, not in what we do for him.
If your church is anything like mine, it’s full of men and women who get confused about the nature of their works and their salvation. While no one might outright deny their glorious identity as redeemed sinners, many Christians worry and live as if what they do for God is the operative lever in their relationship with God. And Jude shatters that idea just one verse in.
Christians are “those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” (1). It is God who calls us, loves us, and keeps us. Fundamental to the gospel is the fact that unless God sovereignly chooses to save us, delight in us, and preserve us, we would be without hope. Even all the doing that Jude exhorts us to—contending (3), remembering (17), building one another up and praying (20), striving to keep ourselves in the love of God (21)—it’s all grounded in the truth of what God has done for us in Christ (verse 1)—and bookended by the preserving power he wields to get us home (verse 24). It is God who has saved us, is saving us, and will save us.
Remind your people that they are called, loved, and kept by God—not because of their effort, but ultimately because of his grace.
2. Jude prepares the whole church to contend against impostors who peddle a counterfeit faith.
The Christian life is a team sport. So when Jude warns against false teachers and false professors, he doesn’t write to the elders, the pastors, and the church leaders—he writes to the church. Jude is saying y’all must “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (3). To switch metaphors, it’s those in the pews who must be equipped for the battle (Eph. 4:12) and deployed to the front lines, prepared to refute false doctrine and stand firm against the tides of culture.
Do your people need some training on how to spot the difference between the true Christian faith and all its knock-offs? Then preach through Jude! Don’t be surprised if they come away better able to recognize what isn’t sound doctrine, even when it comes from a book in the “Christian” section at Barnes and Noble. Jude provides a masterclass in detecting fake religion as he calls out those “who 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” (4).
Train your people to be on the lookout for teachers who don’t really tell you what they believe, never talk about judgement, don’t have the godliness of their hearers as their aim, and dispense cheap grace. In the end, by their words or their lives, such “teachers” deny Christ.
3. Jude reminds us of the unchanging nature of the God who has judged and who will judge.
If the sweetness of the opening and closing verses might lead you to preach through Jude, be warned, there’s a lot of judgment in the middle. And I think that’s a compelling reason to preach through this book. Verses 5–16 explain how God’s prior acts of judgment (on the wilderness generation, on Sodom and Gomorrah) should warn us of his final judgment to come. As God’s wrath fell on those previously who did not believe (5), so too will God judge those who fail to turn from their sin and receive mercy (21).
Jude is clear: the God of the New Testament is no different than the God of the Old Testament. He is unchanging. To act as if God was mean in the Old Testament but nice in the New Testament is simply wrong. What’s more, to heed the call of some to “unhinge” the Old Testament from our Christianity is to depart from the apostolic faith delivered to the early church and now entrusted to believers today.
Judgment is coming. Eternity is at stake. God will not be mocked. Jude will ensure you talk about the ultimate fate of those who do not cling by faith to Christ. As you do, you will sound a warning to all those who claim Christ but whose lives aren’t captivated by him. That sort of merciful truth-telling may even be the means God uses to keep some “out of the fire” (23).
4. Jude proclaims good news to those with the weakest faith.
Our churches are full of doubters. They doubt God’s goodness. They doubt his love. They doubt their salvation. Pastors doubt, too—some of us more than others. Anyone who’s spent even just a short amount of time following Jesus has become painfully aware of their inability to ace the Christian life. And so we all know that if our final salvation rested upon our shoulders, then make no mistake, we would trip and fall and lose our standing with God.
But here’s the good news: it doesn’t! “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless” (24). God gets all the glory (25) because he is the one who upholds us and keeps us. To those who waver every day and sometimes every hour, it is exceedingly good news that we are saved not by the strength of our faith, but by the strength of God’s grip on us.
Pastor, your job is to strive to present everyone mature in Christ (Col. 1:28), not just the strong ones. Encourage the weaker sheep by pointing them to the truth of the gospel in Jude, that they might one day stand in “the presence of his glory with great joy” (25).
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NIV Compact Bible Commentary by John H. Sailhamer (Zondervan): I can’t say enough good things about this whole Bible commentary, especially when it comes to Jude. Sailhamer is clear, concise, and avoids getting stuck in the weeds.
New American Commentary on 1, 2 Peter and Jude by Thomas R. Schreiner: This was my go-to commentary as I preached through Jude.