Jude 1:21, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Jude 1:21, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” (NASB)
I love how the New Living Translation states it and I’ll get to that in a moment, but first I have to get something off my “chest” concerning studying AND reading the Word of God.
This twenty-first verse is a continuation from the twentieth, the way the New King James Version and the New American Standard Version have it translated. That’s fine, no problems with the meaning at all, but the meaning doesn’t change if it is a sentence or thought that stands on its own either. Now believe me, I am well aware of the controversy with more modern translations and I just do not understand it when supposed Spirit-filled Christians get hung up on a translation because a sentence is missing or the punctuation is different or one version uses a different word than another. This is one of the reasons I will NOT debate this issue, but that doesn’t prevent me from teaching on it or using other versions.
You have to KNOW why we have the Bible, why God gave it to us and then you have to use the WHOLE counsel of the Word and not just sections or bits and pieces. Does God’s character and nature, His personality come through? Does His plans for our reconciliation with Him come through? In other words, does the Salvation of the Son present itself? Is there any doubt that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, our Savior and Redeemer and King of Kings and Lord of Lords? These should be the questions overall, for after all, Jesus came to reconcile us to the Father. A place of sonship (and daughters) that was once lost to mankind due to sin.
Now I am STILL learning after 50 plus years of trying to serve the Lord. I don’t know it all and I don’t claim too. BUT, I DO study the Word diligently and because of the Holy Spirit’s help and guidance I am learning the character and nature of the Father and I am seeing it in the persona of the Son, Christ Jesus, through the Word. It truly doesn’t matter WHAT version I read and I have read many! I don’t get caught up on the little details, I choose to look at the overall picture the WHOLE version I’m reading portrays! If I believe, which I do, that the Holy Spirit is STILL working in the hearts and lives of godly men, inspiring them and leading and guiding them, then I don’t believe He stopped His inspiration centuries ago in medieval times! I truly believe He has led us past the year 325 A.D. and the Nicaean council and all the misleading that happened from there and I believe the same about the 1600 hundreds when knowledge was so limited and we basically had only Latin “translations” to translate from.
God’s Word NEVER changes. The letter of that word might from culture to culture, but the Spirit of that Word NEVER changes and never will! Are you stuck on the letter or on the Spirit behind it? Something to ponder and think about if you are a True Christian. Now listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote:
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” – 2 Corinthians 3:5-6.
Now jump down a few verses:
“But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” – 2 Corinthians 3:15-17.
Now I have to ask you in all seriousness; have you placed a VEIL over your mind, only a more modern veil by refusing to walk in the liberty of the Spirit of the Word? I am not saying this one Bible version is better than another, but what I am saying is that if you can’t walk in the liberty of the Spirit and if your faith doesn’t quite allow it, so be it, but don’t CONDEMN or belittle another brother or sister in Christ, because their faith ALLOWS them to trust another translation!
Okay, I laid out that foundation (yes, and rant) for this purpose; I love how the Holy Bible, New Living Translation translates Jude’s verse. (Remember, this is NOT the paraphrased Living Bible, this is a TRANSLATION). Look at how clear and precise this verse is when translated it to more modern English, such so that even a kid, at least a teenager, can understand it:
1 “Live in such a way that God’s love can bless you as you wait for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you.” – Jude 1:21.
2 “And await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.” – Jude 1:21.
Now, the first one is the 1995, 1996 NLT Translation, soon after the translation was made public and the second one is today’s most modern, 1996, 2004, 2015, version. The meaning, though worded slightly different is exactly the same and yet the more modern version is more closely structured like the NKJV and the NASB. Same thing, same meaning, wording a bit different! I love the ease of this statement in the NLT because there is no doubt, no having to translate even more the point Jude is trying to make. So those of you who are so adamant that there is only ONE true version, even you are wrong if you are not reading in the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic! Please don’t be so dogmatic and give others a little break! Remember, it’s the Spirit of the Word!
Now to ease your minds; I use the NKJV and the NASB predominately for study and teaching. The NLT I find useful for reading and sometimes reference, but I also use a Strong’s Concordance which gives me the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic meanings if I have a question. You see, the SPIRIT of the Word tells us to STUDY to show ourselves approved as workman! (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV). So I do not limit my study and neither should you!
Now moving on, let’s see what Jude is meaning. “Keep yourselves in the love of God, . . .” Jude is instructing if not warning believers to stay, actively KEEP ourselves within the sphere of God’s love. It would be for instance like stepping out into the sunshine from your house or the shade. The sun is always shining. God is always loving, because He IS love. However, if something comes between us and the sun, clouds, storms, or we walk out of it into the shade, the benefits of the sun diminish if they don’t go away completely. The same thing happens with the love of God. It is always there, like the sun, His love is always beaming our way. Only if we move away or we allow something such as sin to come between us, does the BENEFIT of His love diminish or go away. His love is still there, it is not Him that stopped loving, we moved into a darker area away from that love.
Now think of this; it takes an act of some kind, it takes action on our part to move into a darker area. As with most things spiritual, such as faith and the other fruit of the Spirit, Godly (Agape) love for example, it takes action on our part. This is why relying on feelings and emotions has no part except as an afterthought. It is the action that first takes place as to whether we are WALKING (an action) in the Spirit. This is why Jude says to KEEP, meaning to actively engage, pursue, strive, etc., to maintain our presence in God’s love. See, you can read a simple statement like this and just gloss right over it and not “devour” the meaning. But when you consider and meditate on it, then put it into practice, it becomes a part of you spiritually!
So now the question arises as to HOW to keep ourselves in the presence of His love. Well, first we know that we need to walk in faith, for that is what the Bible says pleases Him. (Hebrews 11:6). We put ourselves into His good graces when we walk AND trust Him in faith. When our faith is in Him and what He says and in our knowledge of His character, etc., then we are also beginning to walk in holiness and godliness. “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15-16.
We ACT and walk with holy conduct as the Apostle Peter states. We do this by trusting in the grace and mercies of Christ Jesus and through the guidance and power of His Holy Spirit. It is NOT an act of self-effort! We cannot do it or be that way in our own power or effort, for thus we are just trying to abide by the Law from which we were freed. The secret is that IF we sin, if we walk into an area of darkness that shades us and prevents us from receiving God’s love, then we confess it and repent of it with the assurance that we are forgiven. We forsake that sinful action and we determine to not let anything come between God and us.
Then finally Jude gives us the way, by “Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” A lot of people confuse Salvation with redemption. Whereas we are born-again anew within our spirit which causes us to be “saved” meaning for redemption in the future. The Father’s promise to us through Christ Jesus is to be saved for the day of our redemption. Redemption is the future promise of that Salvation. As long as we are still battling on a daily basis with our flesh, we are NOT yet redeemed, but due to the ability of our renewed spirit TO fight the flesh, we walk in the promise of that redemption, and are “saved” for it. True redemption comes to the saint when they take that final step over the threshold from the natural into the eternal BECAUSE of the very promise Jude is describing, the promised “mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Remember the gist or the theme of Jude’s writing; it is to be aware of the dark days ahead and the apostasy and false teachers that will fill those days. Therefore, we are to KEEP the knowledge of that blessed hope, of Christ’s mercy and our eternal home, burning within our hearts and minds. Keeping and meditating on these thoughts and walking in holiness and godliness can be not just a great hope but an enormous comfort.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” – 1 Thessalonian 4:16-18 (Emphasis mine).
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” – 1 John 3:2-3 (Emphasis mine).
The bottom line is that these things we teach are meant to encourage, instruct and even warn one another. Consider, who is your “target” audience. What is the message you are trying to get across and are you making it easy for them to BE encouraged, instructed or even warned. I hope you consider all of this when using the INSPIRED Word of God.