Keep Yourselves in God’s Love––An Exposition of Jude’s Epistle (14): Doxology for the Downtrodden

Now, to the one who has the power to protect you from stumbling and to set you blameless in the presence of his glory with gladness, 25 to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and for all times. Amen.
Jude 24–25 (author’s translation)

If you were captured as a prisoner of war, held hostage by bank robbers, or abducted by criminals hoping to collect a ransom, the best news would not be that you might have an opportunity to attempt an escape. The best news would be that an unstoppable unit of invincible commandos has arrived to rescue you. When faced with seemingly insurmountable situations, it is not ideal to hear that we might be able to do something if we are strong enough, but rather that there is someone who is strong enough to overcome for us.

The book of Jude explains the plight of a church infected with false teachers who tried to pull believers away from the truth. It details why God will bring judgment upon the very teachers who have perverted God’s grace to justify their sensual desires and have rejected Christ as the one who is Lord over our lives because He is our Savior.

Considering the whole book, a tension lives in Jude’s main points. For good reason—most of this letter focuses on the danger posed by the false teachers. If the leaders are corrupt and devoid of the Spirit, then this church needs a reminder that unbelievers can participate in the covenant community. Mere participation in the community does not guarantee that they truly partake of the substance of the covenant—namely, Christ and His benefits, by faith. On the other side of that tension, Jude balances his warning with sustaining encouragement. Often, the knee-jerk reaction in situations like the one in Jude is for Christians to become Pharisaical. If the problem is that people forgot their relationship with God, then we crack down on rules to ensure they are doing the right things. Knowing that is often our first impulse, Jude builds the true solution into this letter which is largely about a terrible problem.

So, Jude wisely begins by stating a Christian’s identity. He wrote, “to the called ones, who have been loved by God the Father and are certainly kept for Jesus Christ.” Christians are people called by God, sovereignly pulled out of their love for sin and brought to faith in Christ. They are people loved by the Father and people kept for Christ. Even though this letter highlights how there are massive issues of unbelief in this church, Jude began by saying that true Christians are those who are in the loving hands of the sovereign God who preserves them until Christ’s return. That identity of belonging to God because of His sovereign love grounds Jude’s central exhortation to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. We do not contend for the faith out of fear for the future, but out of trust that we are kept by the strength of our majestic and merciful God who has redeemed us in Christ.

Jude’s doxology is the capstone of gospel encouragement to pull our eyes from a hard situation and fix them upon Almighty God, whose glory outshines our trial. In verses 5–16, Jude outlined the need to contend for the faith—namely, the problem of false teachers who were foreordained for condemnation. Then in verses 17–23, Jude explained how to contend for the faith—namely, by being a remembering people mindful of what God revealed through the apostles, and by keeping ourselves in the love of God by using the resources of faith, prayer, and waiting for Christ’s mercy. After presenting the need and the how to contend for the faith, Jude ended with the motivation to contend for the faith in verses 24–25.

Jude’s doxology is the needed final statement to encourage this church. Many New Testament letters contain closing doxologies as bursts of praise about God’s glory. Jude’s doxology contains needed climatic material to bring this letter full circle and end it on a fitting note. His main point in this doxology is that God’s majestic grace preserves us through difficulty. This final post on Jude argues that when faced with our most daunting difficulties, more than practical advice, we need reminders about God’s glory and grace as our source of hope.

Our Need for God’s Glory

We might easily think that Jude’s closing doxology was sort of tacked on just to conclude with some nicety. Jude did not explicitly state his purpose in verses 24–25, so we might think it was a disconnected but pleasant thought about God. In reality, this doxology is the fitting conclusion to Jude’s argument as the letter culminates in this proper finale that redirects our attention to the glory of our redeeming God who keeps His people for Christ.

This doxology serves a purposeful function to end this letter well. Although Jude began with God’s role as the one who sovereignly calls His people, loves and keeps them, and multiplies mercy, peace, and love to them, that joyful announcement quickly faded into the background as he focused on the massive problems caused by false teachers and on the dangers of being in the church but not having true faith. This closing doxology reorients our attention from the potentially overwhelming problems to the solution, which is the God who is able.

It is more significant than we might realize that Jude would point our attention back to God’s glory here. Even though we know better, God’s people often lock onto our problems when we are confronted with difficulty. Our focus solidifies, not on the person who can help, but on the problem itself. Regardless of whether we face the same problem as Jude’s readers, God’s people constantly need reminding of something more deserving of our attention. We are sometimes unaware of how quickly we slide into the pit of despair and linger there. We need something that is startling enough to grab hold of us and raise our eyes above the mire of our difficulties.

Jude knew that nothing forces our gaze from hardship to hope better than God’s majestic glory. If we stand atop a mountain with a perfect view of a stunning sunset, we should not be distracted by a rotting tree stump at ground level. So, Jude concluded with Scripture’s most extensive doxology. His point was that problems exist, but something greater outshines them. God’s glory is more worthy of your focus than the difficulties afflicting you. Indeed, God in His majestic grace is precisely why you need not feel overwhelmed by your struggles. He is the one who has called you and He is the one who will keep you, no matter what may come your way. Our need for God’s glory is that we too easily lose track of hope and focus on hardship, but a vision of God ought to push aside our troubles.

Our Need for God’s Goodness

Jude’s doxology functions to grab our attention from the troubles around us and redirect us to the one who provides hope. It is further grounded in precisely the need that Jude’s first readers had. This doxology’s first part describes God’s character, the recipient of glory.

If we remember that the biggest portion of Jude’s letter is a warning that unbelievers are within the church, showing our need to make sure we are believers, the description of God in verses 24–25 leaps to new significance. “Now, to the one who has the power to protect you from stumbling and to set you blameless in the presence of his glory with gladness, 25 to the only God, our Savior. . .” Believers are those who are called and kept for Jesus Christ, and God is the one who keeps us. We are not kept by some mystical force, but by the one who is able. Our perseverance is not a matter of our commitment, but God’s strength.

Although Jude highlighted that when Jesus saved a people out of Egypt, He destroyed those who did not believe, it is not a reason for everyone in the church to spin into endless doubt. Why? Because God is the one who is able to keep you from stumbling. The false teachers who were devoid of the Spirit plunged into godlessness and used the church to indulge their sinful desires. But God keeps His people for Christ. As Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” God keeps His own from plummeting into sin without hope of pulling them back.

Jude’s point was not that God keeps you from enough sin so that we are safe at the last judgment because of our good works. That would be as if Jude said that the good news is that God grants captured victims the opportunity to escape by their own strength. God’s work to keep us from stumbling into irrecoverable sin is not to establish our salvation. Rather, Jude said that God is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us blameless before His glory. In other words, God does not simply equip us to grow in godliness, but declares us righteous in His sight. Notice how Jude did not say that we become blameless as if we are truly without wrong, but we are presented blameless. Before the presence of God’s glory, as we stand in His sight, He sets us forth as righteous because of what Christ has done.

Notice also that Jude was clear that our standing before God is not something that God gives to us begrudgingly. We do not have to slink before God’s throne with an embarrassed smile because of how good He has been to us. No, Jude wrote that God presents us blameless before Him “with great joy.” As you stand righteous before God by faith, you need not be burdened by whatever characterized you before you were a Christian. God has truly wiped that away in Christ and clothed you in perfect splendor so that you are fully accepted in His sight. When you stand before God as a believer forgiven in Christ, you will be full of joy.

Especially in our most difficult times, like when Jude’s first readers were overwhelmed as the problems of the false teachers were brought to their attention, we need to know that God is not a stingy God, but is rich in His mercy and provision. He is abundant in His goodness. His blessings need not be pried from His hands because He pours them upon His people so that we are full of joy. We need God’s goodness because our need for His blessings is so deep, yet He is happy to grant them.

Our Need for God’s Grace

Jude detailed how God is the one who is able. God is the strong rescuer, not who equips His people to save themselves, but who comes to their aid and brings them out of their trials. We need not rely on our own strength because God is the one who sanctifies and justifies His people, who keeps us from stumbling and presents us blameless. To make the point plainly clear, Jude explains again who the God is whom we glorify. He is our Savior.

Now that we know our relationship to this God, that we relate to this richly good God by grace as our Savior, our response is: “through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and for all times.” There is a rich list of praises that Jude ascribes to the eternal God: glory, majesty, dominion, and authority. God is the one whose radiance and power surpasses all things and Jude knew that. God’s radiance and power, however, are true of Him eternally, regardless of our relationship with Him. Those are objective realities that belong to God.

God’s radiance and power are good news only if we are able to ascribe them to Him “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Christ is the mediator of our worship. We worship God through Christ because He has reconciled us to the one true God. The simple fact is that God’s glory and might would not be good news if we are at odds with Him. Jude was well aware of that because He has described throughout His letter how God’s glory and might will come to bear upon those false teachers destined for destruction. God will glorify His strength by overthrowing those who oppose Him.

For those in Christ, however, who come to God and ascribe Him glory through Jesus Christ our Lord, God’s character is the ultimate hope. He is just and faithful, so He is committed to receiving those who belong to Jesus and to making them full of joy in the blessings of Christ. Our need for God’s grace is that our sin makes us liable to judgment, but salvation in Christ turns God’s glory into the best news we can hear.

For those who are called, loved, and kept by God, we need not fear the difficulties we face, no matter how daunting they are. That was the case for Jude’s readers. But God is the glorious and powerful God who provided for their greatest needs. They needed not be overwhelmed because God is the one who is able, regardless of how able we are, and the one who has majestic dominion and authority. He has used His might to shower grace on His people and overcome our sin and struggles.

So, take heart Christian. When you are not strong, God is the one who is able. When you cannot see the road ahead, God is the one who has glory and might from and to all eternity. And you belong to this God, who through our Lord Jesus Christ has made you His. Lift your eyes at all times from the troubles that plague you and catch a vision of God in His majestic grace, for that is our enduring hope and the end for which we were made.

©Harrison Perkins. All Rights Reserved.

Here is the entire series so far.


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    • Thanks, Rob! Really appreciate the encouragement. Praise God that he made this material useful.

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