A few weeks ago, Clint Archer wrote a piece for The Cripplegate entitled To Whom It May Concern: The Called, Loved, Kept, in which he examined Jude 1 in relation to the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. Boy, did that blog post get me excited! I’d already planned to write this Bible Study on Jude, and I knew I needed to do some essays on Irresistible Grace, so it thrilled me that Archer showed me the connection between the two!
Since I don’t want to simply reduplicate Archer’s article in my own words, however, I implore you to read it yourselves. As you do, please scroll down to the comments section to see his response to Benders, which offers important keys to understanding the distinction between the general call and the effectual call. I hope to write my own blog entry on that distinction later this week, Lord willing.
Piggybacking off of Archer’s blog post, let’s start looking at Jude 1 for ourselves.
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: ~~Jude 1 (ESV)
Those words (“called,” “beloved ” and “kept”) obviously refer to Christians, and we usually read them rather quickly in our impatience to get to the meat of Jude’s epistle. But, as Archer’s essay so beautifully demonstrates, the three terms Jude uses to describe Christians should be examined in order to ascertain exactly who qualifies to be considered as a Christian.
Jude’s main theme (actually pretty much his only theme) in this letter concentrates on warning his readers about false teachers within their congregations (Jude 3-4). As we will see in later installments of this study, these false teachers had carefully infiltrated the churches, and their subtlety made them almost indistinguishable from the true Christians. With that as the case, Jude wants to assure his readers of their secure standing with the Lord (Jude 24).
The second word, “beloved,” keeps the words “called” and “kept” from becoming dry theology, as Archer so poignantly explains, so I’ll say little about it here. Yet I must emphasize his point that the calling and the keeping both result from the Father’s love. They are, as a matter of fact, direct expressions of His love. Ephesians 1:4-5, a necessary cross-reference for this issue, clearly states that predestination (the effectual calling to salvation) comes from the Father’s love.
So what does Jude mean by the term, “called?” Like Archer, I must go back to Romans 8:30 for explanation.
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (ESV)
This cross-reference blatantly shows the relationship between election and the effectual call to salvation. God calls Christians toward justification and glorification. False teachers, on the other hand, have been predestined to judgment and eternal condemnation (Jude 4).
In calling us to justification and glorification, the Lord also calls Christians to proclaim His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9), in contrast to the false teachers who essentially served their own sensual desires (Jude 16). Our calling, therefore has a distinct purpose which points back to bringing honor and glory to Jesus.
Let’s go back to Romans 8:30 as we briefly look at the phrase “kept for Jesus Christ.” As Archer’s essay shows, this “keeping” assures us that God’s calling is secure. Again, because it’s effectual, it cannot be taken away. 1 Peter 1:5 says that God’s power actually guards us for final salvation.
Our calling is effectual because it takes us into eternity. And it does so, not so much for our sake, but for Jesus Christ. The fact that the Father keeps us for Jesus lets us know that Jesus has a stake in whether or not our calling takes us all the way to salvation.
Sadly, I didn’t get to say much about Irresistible Grace in this entry today. When I address the topic later this week, however, perhaps you can draw from what we’ve studied today to gain greater understanding of how this doctrine works out in helping us discern false teachers. Certainly, Jude wastes no time in establishing a difference