12 March 2011

An Admission of Envy

I have to admit...I'm envious. I am envious of all of the men who were in attendance at this week's Shepherd's Conference at Grace Community Church! If you didn't have a chance to watch the general sessions broadcast live, then keep watching the website, because they will eventually post video for each one. But I also wish that I could have listened in on some of the seminar sessions that were available. In particular, I would have loved to have heard Dr. William Varner's session on Band of Brothers: Tracing Jesus' Influence on James and Jude. Dr. Varner just completed a commentary on the book of James and is a captivating teacher, so I'm sure this session did not disappoint! For those of us on the outside, though, we'll have to settle for some insights provided by Dr. Varner on his blog. The following is today's post entitled How to Contend for the Faith about verses 20-23 of Jude:
Jude 20-23 “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And show mercy on those who doubting; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”
There are two sets of imperatives in these verses. Each set has a different focus. In 20-21, the imperative is keep yourselves, with three supporting present participles (building yourselves up, praying, waiting). The focus in these verses is on ourselves.
Verses 22-23 contain three imperatives, very similar to each other (show mercy, save, show mercy). These imperatives are also supported by three present participles (doubting, snatching, hating). The focus in these two verses is on others (the doubters, those in danger of fire, those stained).
In accordance with the discourse structure of the book, (see previous study) to earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3), we must 1. Keep ourselves, and 2. Reach out to others. We do the first by edifying ourselves, praying in the Spirit, and waiting for the Lord. We do the second by rescuing others with urgency because of their dangerous situation.
A Suggested Sermon Outline on Jude 20-23: “Keeping What God is Keeping”
Jude addresses his readers as those who are “being kept” by God (Jude 1). As it is true that God is keeping us, we are also to “keep” ourselves (Jude 20-21). How do we do that?
1. By Building Ourselves Up in the Faith
2. By Praying in the Holy Spirit
3. By Waiting for the Coming of the Lord
But we are not to be so focused inwardly that we forget others (Jude 22-23). Therefore, we are:
1. To Have Mercy on Doubters
2. To Save Those in Danger
3. To Show Mercy to the Defiled
The paradox is that we keep what God is keeping and we also recognize that He is the one who finally “keeps” us from falling (Jude 24). 
SEE ALSO: Contending for the Faith in Jude

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