Monday, 10 August 2020
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, Jude -24
Jude finishes his epistle with two resounding verses which form a doxology and a benediction comparable in the New Testament to Romans 16:25 and 1 Timothy 6:14-16. His words here begin with a connection to what he just said in the previous verse, “but others save with fear.” While working to bring the light of the truth to others, we are to not allow ourselves to get caught up in the same sins we are trying to rescue others from. As Jude continued saying, “pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”
As noted, one can get burned by fire when pulling out another, and one can contract the same infection that defiled another’s garments. Jude’s warning was to be cautious while conducting one’s affairs lest we get caught up in other’s sins. With this understood, Jude begins his marvelous doxology by saying, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling.”
Some translations say “falling” rather than “stumbling.” This is incorrect. A fall implies permanency. To stumble means to get misdirected or tripped up, but it is not considered permanent. This was the point of Paul’s words concerning Israel in Romans 11 –
“I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.” Romans 11:11
Jude uses the same word here, ptaió, with a negative prefix attached to it, aptaistos. In the five uses of the word ptaió, each consistently refers to a stumble, but not a fall. The salvation of the person is not in question. Jude says that the Lord is able to keep us from stumbling. The word translated as “keep” signifies “to guard.” In this, if we are willing to rely on the Lord and His word, we will be guarded from any stumbling.
However, and while understanding this, he continues with, “And to present you faultless.” Even if a believer stumbles, we have the surety that we will be presented “faultless.” The word signifies “without spot,” or “without blemish.” Thus, “faultless,” “blameless,” and other such words are suitable to convey the meaning.
The idea here is that for those in Christ, they are purified by Him, and they will be presented in this manner before God. This is possible because we are not only purified by His cleansing blood of atonement, but we are covered by it from that point on. When God sees us, He does not see our misdeeds, but Christ’s perfection. Our sin – past, present, and future – is under the blood. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5 –
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19
God has forgiven past sin in Christ, and no sin is imputed under the New Covenant. As sin is what separates us from God, and as sin is no longer imputed, we can never again be separated from God. This is the idea that is conveyed in Jude’s words. From there, he continues with, “Before the presence of His glory.”
It is Christ who presents those who have come to Him before the presence of God. Christ Jesus is both fully man and fully God. Thus, He purifies us, He keeps us from stumbling, and He presents us faultless before the glory of the Triune God.
The word Jude uses, translated as “present,” is histémi. It means “to make one stand.” Two verses from the psalms will help us understand what Jude is referring to here –
“Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?” Psalm 24:3
“If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130:3
Jude says that it is the Lord who will make us stand before God. The psalmist wondered who could stand before the Lord if He marked our iniquities. The answer is “none.” No person whose sin is imputed to Him can do so. But for those in Christ, we may (and we indeed will) be made to stand before the presence of His glory.
In fact, it impossible that it could be otherwise. What Christ has done is fully capable, finished, and forever. Once it is received, it is sealed with God’s guarantee (Ephesians 1:13, 14), and it will come to pass. And, as Jude notes as he finishes this verse, it is “with exceeding joy.” The Greek reads, “in exceeding joy.”
It is a state which we will be in at that moment, and it will continue for all eternity. The word translated as “exceeding joy” signifies ecstatic joy, exaltation, or gladness. What occurs as we come before God will be the highest form of joy that we could possibly imagine – and more so. We will be presented before God without sin, we will understand that this state will be eternal, and we will have the knowledge that God Himself did this for us in Christ. At that time, the love of God for us will be understood in a way that we can only begin to sense while in these fallen bodies.
Life application: Jesus is able to guard us against stumbling in the sense that we could never lose God’s favor once we are saved. This then is speaking of eternal salvation. Just as we may stumble slightly when climbing a mountain (comparable to intermittent sins in this life), Jesus is keeping us from falling over the precipice completely.
Nothing in creation can keep the saved believer from this final good end. It is a promise, a guarantee, and in God’s mind it is already accomplished. The Greek word for “faultless” (noted above) is used in 1 Peter 1:19 when speaking of Jesus – “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Thus, this doesn’t mean we are faultless in and of ourselves then, but because of Christ’s imputed righteousness. When we accept Jesus as Lord, His perfect life is transferred to us so that we are completely innocent before God.
If you attend a church, or follow a teacher on the internet, that teaches you can lose your salvation, you are being instructed by a person who does not know his theology very well. This is a basic point of doctrine. God does not save His people unto eternal insecurity. He saves us despite ourselves.
To say that what Christ has done for us is insufficient to save us and to continue to save us is to –
- Diminish the glory of what He has done for us.
- Say that we actually are responsible for our salvation.
- Indicate that our salvation was never by grace through faith.
Such a doctrine can be termed an “after the fact false gospel.” When the gospel is presented, the idea that one can lose his salvation is normally not ever even entertained. The gospel is given, the salvation is (hopefully) received by faith, and the person is saved unto eternal life – deal done.
Nothing false may have been introduced into the gospel. However, once the person is saved and believes in Christ, if he is then taught that he can lose his salvation and he must perform or perish, a false (but after the fact) gospel has been introduced. That person will remain saved, but his walk will – from that time on – be a sad walk of mistrust in the very blood that saved him in the first place.
Understanding this, you may consider finding a new church to attend, or you might stop watching the teacher who teaches this really bad doctrine. It can only negatively affect your own walk with the Lord. And more, if he cannot get this simple point of doctrine right, how much else has he gotten wrong on the more complicated issues of theology?
Lord Jesus, surely You have done great and mighty things for us. And your word promises that these wonderful works will continue to transfer to us until the day we stand holy, blameless, and without the stain of sin – in Your glorious presence. How can we do anything but praise You?! Hallelujah to the perfect Lamb of God! Amen.