Here are my predictions for 2017: the church will be challenged and Christ will keep us in the love of God. These predictions are straight out of the small letter called Jude found in the New Testament.
Jude is the book of the Bible that people jump over on their way to Revelation. It is basically a letter of warning. At the beginning the writer, whose name is Jude, says he wanted to write an upbeat letter about the great salvation we share in Christ, but that he had to write a different kind of letter because some heretics got in the church and started leading people into a less than holy lifestyle with their perverted teaching about grace (vv. 3-4). Jude says this is the very thing the apostles predicted would happen (v. 17).
The false teaching was a major challenge to the church. If the Christians listened to these grace-perverting teachers they would be in danger of straying from the Christian faith.
Then Jude makes another prediction in the form of a blessing. He gives praise to God who will keep the church from stumbling and falling into this false teaching (vv. 24-25). Jude shows great confidence in the keeping grace of Christ. Since Christ saves us by grace, he will also keep us by grace. He will lose none who are truly his.
From Jude, we can confidently say that in 2017 we will be challenged and tested in our faith as individual Christians and as the church. Even local congregations will find themselves dealing with teaching that doesn’t square with the truth of the gospel and the kind of life that it produces in believers.
But we can also say that Christ will keep his people. Jesus is and will be Lord of his church.
There is one more thing we find in Jude that is important for us to keep in mind as we move into a new year. We are given a very clear plan by which Christ will keep us. Jude calls us to build ourselves up in our faith and to pray in the Holy Spirit. We are to live steady and ready for the return of Christ. In this way we will keep ourselves in the love of God. We are to help each other stay in faith and the love of God by showing mercy.
The promise that Christ will keep us from stumbling and falling away from the faith doesn’t mean that we do nothing to stay in the faith. That promise is the motivation we need to keep to the plan he has given us for faithfulness.
As we gather together this Sunday, New Year’s Day, we will take up the book of Jude and consider the challenges to our faith, the promise of keeping grace, and the plan for staying faithful in 2017.
Read Jude with someone before Sunday and talk through its applications for the upcoming year.