November 22, 2015 Text: Jude 20-25
Dear Friends in Christ,
Sometimes there is confusion about “the good old days.” In 1949 Chad Walsh wrote the following in the midst of boomers being born, the economy doing well and the Christian church was growing. “Modern civilization which dates from the Renaissance, is now on its last legs. This glum conviction is less startling than it would have been a few decades ago, when the doctrine of inevitable progress still had many adherents in both low and high places. Today the funeral bell is being rung by a whole army of philosophers and social scientists.
“Perhaps we are headed toward barbarism and it will be permanent…Most of the advanced thinkers point out that the impact of Christianity has been on the decline for the past several centuries, and from this they frequently draw the conclusion that Christianity will shortly fade away completely. An opposite conclusion can be drawn. Perhaps the sad state of Western civilization arises largely from the watering-down and outright rejection of Christianity. In that case, a return to Christianity may be the price a reluctant world will have to pay if it wants any civilization at all.”
Our Epistle from Jude this morning reminds of these days we live. The church will continue to live until Christ returns. How does one look – how does one act in these last days. Are you depressed, saddened, or lifted up? Through our text we are encouraged to . . .
“HANG IN THERE”
Hang in there as we live through these times of difficulty. The world is corrupt and godless. There is a culture of death. There is a culture of self-indulgence. There is a culture of immorality. But the problem is not just the world it is more importantly the church. Dr. Harold Senkbeil who writes wonderfully on this topic has said, “Our problem is not so much the secularization of society as it is the secularization of the church. The marriage between the culture and the church was ill advised in the first place and it is no longer tenable.”
This was happening during the time of Jude. The Church was infiltrated with those who would compromise the faith. There were those who denied the lordship and authority of Christ. There were those who saw the Gospel as permission to slip into sin. In our time and our Church there are those who use the Church for their own purposes. Those who keep the Church and their faith confined to Sunday.
Our personal lives are also filled with struggles. From physical issues to finances to family battles to work woes. We also deal with weak faith and attacks on the truth of the Gospel.
Jude says, “Hang in there and be faithful.” Fight the good fight for the faith. If we are to remain in the faith, the faith – the doctrine that we believe, must be preserved. We contend for the faith that has been handed down to us by the saints and which we in turn hand down to the saints who will follow.
Persevere in your faith. In the midst of these last days: Build yourselves up upon your most holy faith. Pray in the Holy Spirit. Wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Carry out acts of mercy. Be merciful to those who doubt – weak brothers and sisters in Christ. Be merciful to those destined for hell fire – the unbelievers. Be merciful, but be careful not to be stained by their corruption.
Hang in there. The day is coming. He is coming who has brought you into the faith: By his sacrifice on the cross. By his resurrection from the dead. By the Holy Spirit working through the Word. He is coming who strengthens and keeps you in your faith: In order that you might be built up. In order that you might persevere. In order that you might carry out acts of mercy. Christ has promised He is returning and He will. Hang in there in these last days, because Jesus is keeping you strong and in the faith.
In our Collect for today we prayed that our Lord would enable us to hang in there: “Lord Jesus Christ, so govern our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that, ever mindful of Your glorious return, we may persevere in both faith and holiness of living; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”
And Christ does reign, powerful and gracious to answer our prayer.