Kept in Love, Part 2 | Jude 22-23
In the April-May issue, we learned love is the motivation for telling others about Jesus. In fact, this is the central message of this passage: You are kept in the love of God to reach out with the love of God. In these verses, Jude notes three categories of people: those not obeying false teachers but experiencing serious doubts, those swayed by false teaching and living in danger of fire, and false teachers themselves. He encourages us to have mercy on those who doubt and save others by snatching them out of the fire, to show mercy with fear. I summarize Jude’s call to reach out in this way:
Reach out with mercy. While we certainly must speak about the judgment of God, we also must be motivated by the mercy of God. Consider Jesus and the rich young ruler. Even as Jesus revealed the material possessions that kept him following Christ, He loved him.
Reach out with urgency. The phrase snatching from the fire communicates pulling them, seizing them with urgency. When our large family of seven goes on vacation, it gets a little hectic. It’s hard to keep up with everyone. One year, while sitting poolside, I heard a splash and realized our daughter Caroline, probably four at the time, had fallen into the deep end of the pool and was thrashing underwater. It was only a moment, but I felt paralyzed. I couldn’t move. But a lady, a total stranger, jumped into the pool and snatched her from the water—with urgency.
When people are in danger of eternal fire, we must not remain indifferent or paralyzed by inaction. Certainly in evangelism, we encounter seasons to exercise patience. We cannot force someone to follow Christ. However, we must do everything we can—with urgency—to snatch them from the fire.
Reach out with purity. What does it mean to hate the garment stained by the flesh? Simply this: hate the sin but love the sinner. In reaching the sinner, refuse to compromise God’s standards of holiness. We must not become entangled in their sin and defile ourselves.
Hate what sin does as it damages and defiles, but remember that God offers every sinner pure “clothes” in exchange for their defiled garments stained by sin (Zechariah 3:1-6). This is the great exchange of the gospel, the offer we hold out to any and everyone. God made Christ sin for us, the One who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. So, reach out with purity.
My first experience with personal evangelism was my parents. I didn’t grow up in church, and my parents didn’t go to church. I didn’t know much at all about Christianity. Yet, the night I was saved, when I returned home from church, I went straight to my parent’s bedroom. They were still awake, so I told them, as best as I knew how, that I had been saved. I had a new love for God, and I already loved my parents. So, I immediately began to reach out to them. It should always be that simple:
Love God, be kept by His love, and reach out to those who need to know His love.
About the Writer: Dr. Barry Raper pastors Bethel FWB Church near Ashland City, Tennessee. He also serves as program coordinator for ministry studies at Welch College and is a member of the Tennessee Christian Education Board. Barry and his wife Amanda have five children: Hannah, Tre, Emma, Caroline, and Elijah.