“Jude. . .to them that are sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.” Jude 1.
THE ADDRESSEES. After reading the New Testament Greek texts the least influenced by the German critical school, we translate the original as follows: “to those having been sanctified in God the Father, and having been kept for Jesus Christ, (and) called.” It is true that Jude addresses his readers in general terms, as the sanctified, kept and called, without connecting them with any town or country and without giving any definite account of them. Yet we may assume that Jude addresses the same readers as Paul and Peter had addressed when they warned believers of the apostasy, as in Second Thessalonians 2, First Thessalonians 4:1, and in Second Timothy and Second Peter. When these epistles were written the apostasy was yet to come, while in Jude it had already set in. These apostles earlier had prophesied of the apostasy as follows: “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith. . .This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. . there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies. . .and many shall follow their pernicious ways.” But now, already in Jude’s day, this had come to pass, “for there are certain men crept in unawares. . .turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying. . .our Lord Jesus Christ.” They, at this moment, “defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.” (Note the present tense.) What else are they now doing? “Feeding themselves without fear. . . foaming out their own shame. . .walking after their own lusts. . .These are murmurers. . .Remember. . .the apostles. . .how. . .they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. . .These are. . .sensual. . .’’So these apostles recorded prophecies of apostasy, while Jude records the fulfilment of the prophecies. Referring to Peter’s prophecy that false teachers would privily bring in damnable heresies, Jude now points out to his readers that some of these heretics already did covertly creep in among them (v. 4).
ELECT IDENTIFIED. Logically first, they are the called. For it is the called who are sanctified, and the sanctified who are kept in sanctification. We are the called according to His (eternal) purpose of predestination. “Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called. . .” Therefore, this is that divine creative calling whereby God calls the things not being as (already) being, and who by His calling makes alive the dead. Rom. 4:17. The called, then, are not persons who are merely invited, as though calling equals invitation, and the invitation to be effectual must be accepted. No, the called, are elect, regenerated sinners, those who are first called out of the womb of the sovereign decree and counsel of God, then irresistibly called out of the world, out of darkness.
It’s being an effectual calling means that it brings about the results God intended, that is, all the called out actually come out into His marvelous light. Just as Lazarus was called by Christ out of the grave, and he that had been dead and buried came forth. Then this calling could not be an offer of Christ and of His grace and salvation. Offers are not in the power of preachers to give, not within the ability of dead sinners to receive. To be sure, God by the preaching calls and commands all men everywhere to repent, believe, read the Word of God and attend the means of grace. For God calls men through the proclamation of the gospel by men called to preach it. But that proclamation becomes effectual by sovereign, invincible grace only in the life of the elect. “When Scripture says, “They that are with Him are called and chosen’’ (Rev. 17:14), the meaning is that they are called because chosen! The believer reasons and prays this way: God “hath called us to glory’’ (II Pet. 1:3), so then, “Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive (take) me to glory” (Ps. 73:24). We who are elect and called, and profess to be, do labor to make our calling and election sure by giving evidence and proof of them by godly conduct in a life of thanksgiving, so to walk worthily of the calling in which we are called. For the elect will have it no other way.
FURTHER IDENTIFIED. Next, Jude addresses them that are sanctified. As to the reading, “them that are beloved by God the Father,” we agree with Thomas Manton that it is “a mistake, and in few Greek copies” of the Scriptures. So “let us keep to our own reading” in our King James Bible. After all, we have the same reading in Acts 20:32, “them which are sanctified,” also in 26:18 and in I Cor. 1:2. Well then, what does “sanctified by God the Father mean? We may be inclined to understand “the sanctified” as referring to “the saints,” those inwardly cleansed by a progressively purifying work of the Holy Spirit. But this sanctification is actually election (so Manton), a work peculiar to God the Father. In this sense, Christ maintained that Him “the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world” (Jn. 10:36). That is, God in His decree of election had set apart His Son and dedicated and ordained Him to the office of Mediator. In the same sense, men are ordained and appointed to salvation, life and service, as Jehovah had said to Jeremiah, “before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee, and before thou earnest forth out of the womb, I sanctified (chose) thee, and ordained thee a prophet” (1:5). The meaning is, the elect are by God the Father sanctified, set apart and dedicated to use and service in His act of election from all eternity. The elect are separated, first unto God, to His worship and service, then from the world and its sin. This makes the elect a particular people. They are elect through sanctification of the Spirit, chosen in Christ to holiness. Therefore the contention that the effect of this doctrine of election is that it makes men careless and profane does not fit with the truth that (eternal) sanctification is election and election is unto (practical) sanctification.
What effect should this truth of objective, perfect, positional sanctification have upon us? It should make us happy. “Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord!” (Deut. 33:29), already saved in God’s eternal counsel, chosen in eternal justification, ordained in decreed sanctification unto eternal life, having been predestinated unto the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ unto Himself; then in time regenerated to know the blessedness of redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins! No wonder God’s people are a happy people, or ought to be, especially when reminded of all this salvation!
But there is further effect this truth should have upon us, as that it makes us happy in the realization that sanctification is entirely the work of God in us which He began, continues and consummates. Just appreciating the passive tenses of the verbs should make us happy —having been and still are being sanctified! and having been and still are being kept! The passive form implies it is God’s work, realized by the Father. The creature cannot make itself to exist and does not cooperate (no synergism) in its own creation; neither can we dedicate ourselves to God, separate ourselves from the world, or cleanse ourselves without that first this work of God be accomplished in us. The sheep can go astray of itself but can never return to the fold without the Shepherd’s help and care. Fleshly lusts are too much for us, so also our calling to all holy obedience is too hard for us. God who made man in His image must renew us in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. We cannot do this work since it is a product of the Divine Artisan: “we are His workmanship” (Eph. 2:10). God the Father speaks, “I am the Lord that sanctifieth thee” (Lev. 21:8). He who hath begun this good work in you will perfect it unto the day of Jesus Christ. Phil. 1:6. The sanctified experience the eternal and continuous work
of God through the Holy Spirit whereby He delivers the elect, justified and regenerated sinner from the power, dominion and, ultimately, from the presence of sin, renewing his whole nature in the image of God and enabling him to walk in all good works.
KEPT. The word occurs 75 times in the New Testament (5 times in Jude), and 58 times is translated keep; only twice, here and in I Thess. 5:23, is it rendered preserve. The thrust of the perfect tense is, “having been and are continually being kept.” Here is the eternal safekeeping of the elect. The word kept means to be cared for and guarded as a precious possession. Hold this along with the exact translation, “kept for Jesus Christ.” We agree with Spurgeon that “this is a most delightful truth; it makes my eyes sparkle to think of our being kept for Jesus Christ, as jewels that He alone must wear.” We are treasure kept just for Him. Therefore, hands off, O Diabolos! Hands off, Madam Bubble! We are kept for Jesus. We belong to Him.
This early apostasy continues in the church world to our day. Never was there such troubles as afflict the church today. Evil men and women have been admitted covertly into church membership to the detriment of the gospel and its pure preaching. It began with Gnosticism and other evil errors of the era. The church’s high spirituality and deep sanctity of Christian life was corrupted by apostates, issuing in the Dark Ages. Even now, in this age of enlightenment, the times are getting darker and darker. Many have become defiled. Hence the sanctified must wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. Hold fast that which thou hast; let no man take thy crown!