Stand Firm – Sermon Summary   Leave a comment

Jude 17-25, 9/28/8

I love watching the weather channel when strong storms and hurricanes are imminent.  Call it my twisted sense of humor, but I get a chuckle out of watching the reporters trying to stand up in the face of heavy winds.  I was watching Fox News when hurricane Ike was coming into Galveston, Texas, and saw a report of Geraldo Rivera getting knocked over by a wave and tumbling across the screen.  Let’s face it, watching other people lose their footing can be quite humorous, especially when we know that they are not injured.  The funny video programs have made a fortune from these types of events caught on tape.

A message for the church today is that we need to be strong.  Be bold and courageous.  Stand firm, but don’t stand still.  Why?  Because the enemies of the Lord are working hard already and will increase their efforts to dissuade you from doing God’s will in His church.

Who are those we should be prepared to deal with? 

Jude helps us understand.  In verses 17-19 he makes reference to “scoffers.”  Webster’s Dictionary tells us that to scoff is to show contempt by derisive acts or language.  People in this world still do not believe in Jesus Christ.  The Gospel message is very easily written off.  Many people would much rather live for themselves, trying to find satisfaction at all costs, and letting you and me know that they have no interest in becoming a Christian because it just doesn’t make sense.  They are doubters and haters, deceivers and liars.  There is no Spirit in their lives because they have never known the love and saving power of the Lord Jesus.

So how do we defend ourselves from these?  Jude has a formula.  In verses 20-21 he stresses that you should “build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit,” (NIV).

To build yourself up in your faith, I feel that you should never be satisfied with the level of your faith.  The minute you become satisfied is the minute you will begin to stagnate.  Have you ever been working outside on a hot summer day and got a drink of water from a garden hose?  You should always let the water that was in the hose out first because it has stagnated.  A drink of warm, stagnated water is disgusting!  Jesus told the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22) that this is what happened to them.  They were neither hot nor cold; they had stagnated.  He said that this makes him want to vomit!  That’s not exactly the most pleasant imagery you’ll find in the Bible.

Build yourself up by practicing the disciplines of the faith.  One of those disciplines is prayer.  Keep yourself in love with God!  Be actively involved in growing closer to the Lord every day of life because when all is said and done, He is the one who will carry you into His eternal heaven.  Pardon my ignorance, but I still scratch my head when I wonder how anyone could not fall deeper and deeper in love with the Lord?  The other disciplines are of equal importance, such as Bible study, but you get my point.

The rest of the formula Jude offers is found in verses 22-23.  Have mercy on others; in particular those who have fallen away and those who need salvation.

The proper way to have mercy on those who have fallen away is to “love them back.”  Love them back into the fold.  People leave the church for various reasons, some justified and others not.  Love ’em back.  But do it right.  I had a Deacon approach me one time to visit someone who had left the church.  He wanted to reach out to them and see how we could help.  He set up a visit, and when we arrived, he crossed his arms, put a scowl on his face and sternly asked, “Why did you quit coming to church?”  Friends, that is a perfect example of how NOT to go about it.  Let them know that you miss them and love them.  They don’t need ridiculed, they need to feel wanted.  We must do whatever it takes to ensure their return, or at least help guide them to another place of worship if the situation is irreconcilable.

Jude also wants us to reach out the lost.  Reach them wherever they are.  Inviting someone to church is not evangelism.  Take the Gospel to them.  Just says that we must snatch them from the fire!  Live your faith.  Share your faith.  Share your story.  You have your own encounter with Jesus Christ that you can share with the world.  Nobody else can tell your story for you.  Tell it loud and clear.  Help people know that they need Jesus Christ in their lives today.

However, there is one last part of this formula that we must all be aware of: heretics.  Some of these doubters and people showing contempt are already in the church.  They may believe in the Lord, but their focus is on their mirror.  Their goal is division because getting everything they can obtain from the generosity of God’s real followers is fuel for their fire.  They will do whatever it takes to divide the church so long as they get their way.  Some of these folks are even in important leadership positions.  People who love to cause controversy and chaos are still hyperactive in churches today.  There are those who simply don’t seem satisfied unless something is being stirred up.  I have yet to encounter a church that doesn’t have at least one of these people. 

It is up to the body of Christ to kill this person with kindness, with grace, with Godly love, and with compassion.  Never become a fellow scoffer.  Stand firm with the truth.  Jesus said, “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mark 13:13, NIV.

So now we know how to stand firm for the Lord, but why should we stand firm for the Lord?  Because He stands firm for us.  The love of God for His people stands firm forever (Psalm 89:1-2).

Stand firm, but don’t stand still.  If you stand still, you become an easy target for the scoffers and doubters.  But there is one more thing to remember, if you stand still, nobody gets saved.

Jude ends with a beautiful doxology in verses 24-25.  May the Lord keep you in His arms and fill you with great joy as you strive to stand firm for Him!

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