Jude Preliminary Remarks

Jude 1  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 7
We are arrived at those days now of which the Epistle of Jude speaks. I might say further, for the Epistles of John, although they are put before this Epistle, imply from their own contents that they were after. The order of the books in the N.T., we know is entirely human, and, in fact, is not the same in all Bibles. In English ones it is, but abroad it is not so, and in the more ancient copies of the Scriptures there was another order, in some respects even less correct than that which we have; because these Epistles of Jude and John are put before the Epistles of Paul. I need not say that there was no divine wisdom in that. I only mention it for the purpose of emphasizing the absolute need of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is no matter what it is. The people in early days, it might have been thought, would have had a good sound judgment of how to arrange the books of Holy Scripture, but they hadn't. I am speaking now of what was long after the apostles, and we are still longer absent. But we have no disadvantage in this, and the reason is because the Holy Ghost that was given still abides. The ruin of the church doesn't affect that. It is a very solemn fact, and it does greatly bear upon the practical answer of the church to the glory of the Lord Jesus, and it makes not a small difference for the members of Christ. But the Lord provided for everything when He sent down the Holy Spirit; and He made known through the apostles that this was the sad history that awaited the church. It is the apostles who tell us what disasters were to flow in with a strong tide—nobody more so than the apostle Paul, who says, “I know that after my decease shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” Oh, what characters! What successors! Apostolic successors—there are none. The successors were to be grievous wolves and perverse men. Nevertheless, he commended the saints, none the less confidently, “to God and to the word of His grace.”
Well, we have that; and I don't think that the word of His grace has ever been so deeply enjoyed, as it is now, for many hundreds of years. But then, Who is it that enjoys the “word of His grace”? We cannot say that all the saints do. All saints ought to do. Can we say that all our dear brethren and sisters enjoy the word of His grace as it becomes them? I would to God it were so; and it is of all moment therefore that, knowing the need, we should be most earnest not merely about work—I allow that that has a great place for all true workers, and I admit that many can help the workers who are not exactly workers themselves—but, beloved friends, the first of all rights is that God should have His rights. That is forgotten, even by saints of God. The first-fruits belong to Him always, it doesn't matter what it is; and we are never right when it is merely love working outwardly. The first thing is that love should work upward. Is not God infinitely more to us than ten converts—as could be said to poor Naomi, who had lost her sons, “better to thee than seven sons?” Is not He worth more than a hundred thousand converts? What a poor thing it is, merely to be useful to other people and not to be growing ourselves in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ! How can this be done except by God and the word of His grace? How does God act now? By His Spirit. Time was when the great truth was God manifesting Himself by His Son. Well that abides; the word and Spirit of God abide forever. But now, the Holy Ghost is sent down from heaven. He is that divine Person with whom we have to do habitually, and we are either honoring Him, or failing to do so. The great test of honoring Him is that Christ becomes all. That was a truth that got greatly clouded even in apostolic days. It may be a very small comfort—it is a very solemn and saddening comfort too, if I may use such a conjunction of thoughts, but so it is when we think how everything tends to failure and towards decline, not excepting the testimony of God as committed to His children.
It is a very solemn thing that the apostles had the very same experiences themselves.
The last of them had to face the fact, that the very best of the churches—that which had been the brightest—became the object of the Lord's warning, and the last of the churches of the Lord's threatening; a warning of what soon came to pass, and a threatening to be surely executed—to take away the candlestick of the one, and to spue the other out of His mouth (Rev. 2,
Now, is that meant to weaken confidence? It was revealed in order to enforce the need of dependence upon the Lord, to encourage us to look up from the earth and things that are here—not to give up. We are never free to give up anything that is of God. We are never at liberty to plead the state of ruin for carelessness as to any expression of God's will. The ruin of the church has nothing to do with weakening our responsibility. It brings in the necessity of greater watchfulness, of more prayer; and particularly the necessity of God and the word of His grace, for the difficulties are altogether above man. But are they above the Spirit of God?
Now, it is in this very spirit that Jude writes— “a servant of Jesus Christ.” For he does not appear to have been the apostle Jude. Most take it for granted that it was only an apostle wrote this or any Epistles. That is a mistake. Many of the apostles never wrote any inspired writing, and some that were not apostles wrote both Gospels and Epistles. It is a question of inspiration, a question of a particular work of God, which vessel the Holy Ghost would use. Out of the four who wrote the Gospels, two were apostles, and there were two that were not apostles; so with the Epistles, as it appears to me, for I should not wish to press a thing that is so very much doubted by many persons. But then it is well to remember that almost everything is doubted now-a-days.