Mercy

Mercy

We all long for mercy when we are hurting, wrong or wronged. Mercy is an attribute of our loving God and Savior. He gives us mercy, peace and love in Christ Jesus and we can rest in knowing that even when judgment comes, we are kept for Jesus Christ. We now wait anxiously for the mercy of Jesus Christ to eternal life at his appearing. What richness of grace and mercy is ours in Him!

Jude speaks much of the judgement and condemnation that is coming upon the ungodly who creep into our churches and turn the grace of God into licentiousness as they even deny the Lord. How fearsome their judgement will be on that day! There is a part of us that can only rejoice that they will be exposed for what they are and pay the price for their rebellion against our great Lord and Savior. But at the end of the mighty epistle written by Jude, is a reminder that we have been shown much mercy and therefore must be merciful as we are told in Mt 5:7. Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.

Jude 22 instructs us to have mercy on the doubting. These false teachers who creep in create doubts and confusion about the truth, causing even true believers to be blown about by their winds of falsehood. Those of us who are able to see the lies must help expose the liars so the souls weakened by false teaching can find solid ground for their feet to stand on. It is true mercy to teach and warn those who are wavering. Love and mercy do not leave a doubting brother or sister to fend for themselves against these wolves.

We are told to save others, snatching them out of the fire. It can get hot and we sometimes get burned but those who are deceived must be literally snatched out of the deception they have fallen for. John Macarthur explains this “The implication is that they’re already in the fire of this false belief. They’ve been convinced. They’re not just confused, they’re not convinced. They’ve bought the lie of liberal theology. They’ve bought the lie that Jesus isn’t God. They’ve bought the lie that salvation is part by grace and part by works. They’ve bought the lie that whatever form of apostate Christianity they’re seduced by and they’re now in the fire, they’re already being singed by the fires of hell which will engulf them in the future. And the imagery is very vivid. Snatch them out of the fire, harpazo, to take by force, to carry away, to attack. Now we’re getting into language that is not gentle…not gentle. We’re snatching them out of the fire”

We are to have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. When we get too close to the fire in our efforts to contend for the truth, we can get pulled in to behaviors that are fleshly and we can get pulled into the deception of these ungodly persons. We must be aware of how easily we can fall and hate sin greatly if we are to be faithful. Our mercy must be grounded in the truths of God’s Word, in prayer and in the fellowship of saints who see the truth and understand the battle.

We are not lone rangers out there fighting on our own. We are to be part of a highly trained and well prepared team of saints who will wrestle against the ungodly for the glory of God. Our training comes from those things that Jude taught us about keeping ourselves in the love of God, which are to build ourselves up in our most holy faith, pray in the Spirit and keep our hope fixed on the soon return of our Lord. We must be people of the Word if we are to win this battle. But we must also be a people of great mercy always remembering the mercy we have been given.

We must never mistake mercy for weakness, or willingness to ignore sin by looking the other way. The truly merciful person will not sit by and watch someone walk into the fire and be destroyed. We will do all we can to pull them back and see them saved.

How Do I Contend for the Faith?

The book of Jude was written to appeal to believers to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. Why? Because, certain persons have crept in unnoticed. These persons are the subject of the majority of the message written by Jude. He describes their lifestyle so we can have a standard for evaluating those who claim to belong to Jesus, especially those who claim to be teachers and preachers in the church.

Of course, our evaluation should always be done with grace and mercy, recognizing that the best of us can have a bad day or season in our lives. But Jude is very clear about how to recognize false teachers, so we need to be prepared to obey God’s Word and contend and keep on contending, when necessary. And that can be scary. I want to be kind and gracious but sometimes, we are taught here, we must contend. Vine’s dictionary says that to contend means signifies “to contend about a thing, as a combatant” (epi, “upon or about,” intensive, agon, “a contest”), “to contend earnestly,” . The word “earnestly” is added to convey the intensive force of the preposition.

It takes courage to contend, to be a combatant for the gospel. But Jude doesn’t leave us without encouragement for the battle. Here are some of the things he tells us about true believers:

V 1 –     We are the called

            We are beloved in God the Father

            We are kept for Jesus Christ

V 3       We have the faith once for all handed down to the saints

V 4       Our Lord and Master is Jesus Christ

V 17     We remember the words spoken beforehand by the apostles

V 20     We are beloved

             We are to be building ourselves up in the faith

            We are to be praying in the Holy Spirit

V 21     We are to keep ourselves in the love of God

            We are to be waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life

V 24     He is able to keep us from stumbling

            He will make us stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy

And these things are where courage and strength for the battle from. He will never leave us or forsake us. Our job in the now is to obey Jude 1:22-23.  “ And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.”

Will you mercifully encourage the doubting? Will you snatch others out of the fire by telling them the true gospel? Will your mercy be tempered with fear because you want nothing to do with the pollution of the flesh? We live in a time where anything goes and people are being told, by these people who have crept in, that God accepts all sin and loves them as they sin. Thankfully, He does love us in spite of our sin, but the gospel calls us to repentance and obedience. Truly, we need to know God’s Word well. That is where we will learn the truth that we must contend for.

So gird up and get your armor on. God has provided everything we need to contend earnestly for the faith.