Sunday, 8 November 2015

Perhaps the most surprising statement in the Bible

In the letter of Jude, in verse 24, there is an amazing, future description of Christians: God will ‘present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.’ In that clause is mentioned their standing on that day: faultless, perfect in body and soul, a perfection that will be permanent. The clause also indicates their location on that day: the presence of his glory. This was God’s eternal purpose for his people. There is also a reference to their state on that day: with exceeding joy. The word for ‘joy’ that is used here means deep, strong joy. To summarise the teaching of this statement: they shall be like Christ, they shall be in the presence of Christ, and they shall share the joy of Christ. This future reality should help us find assurance in a variety of ways.

Firstly, it should give assurance in a world of change. The recipients of Jude’s letter lived in a world that had changed dramatically in that God had extended his kingdom to the Gentiles, and Israel would no longer be the main recipient of spiritual blessings. Changes were occurring in the political world too; it was now a criminal offence to be a Christian. We also live in a world of change. The last thirty years has seen the biggest upheaval in western society since the rise of the age of reason 250 years ago. We live in a world where rationality no longer governs the way people act – we are now in the world of experience, where anything goes as long as no-one else is harmed. There is no longer a sense of right and wrong. What a comfort to know that almighty God is in control and is above all the changes in the world, and that he will bring all his people to glory.

Secondly, it should give assurance in a church facing difficulty: Jude had written to warn of false teachings that were affecting the churches to which he wrote. False teachings and false prophets abound within Christianity today, and even true believers can be misled. What a comfort to know that almighty God is with us and can preserve us until that future, glorious day.

Thirdly, it should give assurance because of what we know of our own hearts. Within our hearts there are the roots of every possible sin. Although Christians have been forgiven, their sinful tendencies remain and indwelling sin has to be mortified. They have to grow in dedication to God and decrease in worldliness. What a comfort for them to know that almighty God is yet to perfect them!

Fourth, the guaranteed joy of that day should cause those who are not yet converted to trust in Jesus. He comes to such and offers them forgiveness of sin and a glorious future if they trust in him and depend upon him. Indeed part of the joy of heaven involves the people who will be there. It is wonderful to imagine all of us being there – it will be truly wonderful if all of us are there on that great day of rejoicing.

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