“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
Let’s start by answering this question: “What is a Doxology?” Put most simply, it’s praise; it’s adoration; it’s exalting God. But it’s praising Him in a way that operates by a sort of formula. And the formula is actually important. Here’s how it goes. The author will make a statement about something that God has done, or something that God is doing, and then points to the attributes of God that support those statements.
For example, you could say, “To Him who frees the captive and rescues the oppressed, to Him belong unmatched compassion & mercy.” Or “To Him who is able to heal the sick & give sight to the blind, to Him belong all wisdom & power.” So, it’s essentially an overflow of praise and worship of God by stating something that God has done or is doing, and by highlighting the attributes that have contributed to that action.“God has done this, because He is like this.”
That’s different than a Benediction. There are many benedictions listed out in Scripture; usually at the end of a letter like this one. A benediction is different because it flows from God to His people. It’s God announcing a blessing over His people. A Doxology moves in the opposite direction; it’s the people of God blessing Him as they worship, adore and exalt His name. That’s what Jude is doing at the end of this letter. He’s highlighting the work that God does in the life of the believer, but not in a cold, academic sense. Rather, it’s coming from a place of deep worship and praise from the heart of Jude.
You can almost sense Jude’s heart overflowing with praise, and worship and exaltation of God because of everything He’s done & because of who He is. It’s almost like Jude breaks out into song at the end of the letter. That’s what the Doxology is. Now, here’s why that’s important for us. The goal of Jude’s letter is to exhort us to contend for the faith by keeping ourselves in the love of God. So, we’re certainly called to do things. But Jude reminds us that everything we do must be rooted in our identity in Jesus Christ. That’s what leads to this kind of worship.
I think that’s important for us to remember this morning. When we interact with God’s Word, it isn’t meant to be an academic exercise where we’re just gleaning information. No, the information is for the purpose of transformation, where we’re living differently because of our new identity in Jesus Christ. In other words, if our study of Scripture is just about information, we’re in trouble. Have you ever thought about this: Judas heard all Jesus’ sermons. That’s something to think about, isn’t it? Judas listened to all of Jesus’ teachings. Heck, even the demons have all of the information about God. They know what’s true. But that doesn’t mean that they’re experiencing the joy, and freedom, and peace, and satisfaction and contentment that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and as Lord. Because theology apart from a heart captured by the gospel is just reduced to dangerous information. But, on the other hand, theology that’s being applied to a gospel-soaked heart leads to transformation. And that gives birth to the ever-increasing, white-hot, worship of God. That’s what the Doxology was for Jude, and it’s where our hearts must land as well.
So, with that in mind let’s break this down according to the formula that we just discussed. Question 1: “What does Jude say that God has done, or is doing, or even will do?” And question 2: “What are the attributes of God that have contributed to His actions?” Let me lay out the mechanics of this up front, and then we can move through and unpack it all. First, Jude lists 2 actions of God:
1) God keeps us from stumbling
2) He presents us blameless before His glory with great joy
We’ll explore the truth & the implications of those 2 areas. And then we’ll spend just a few minutes ascribing God the worship He’s due by listing the attributes of God that have contributed to these 2 things. Jude points to God’s:
And then, at the end of our time, I want to show you how all of this works together to drive our hearts to Jesus. So let’s start by talking about what it means that “God keeps us from stumbling.” In fact, before we even get to that statement, let’s just start with this phrase: “To Him who is able.” Let’s just sit in & be reminded of that this morning — OUR GOD IS ABLE. Isn’t that amazing? He is able to do all things. Some of you just need to be reminded of that this morning. That, no matter the circumstance that you find yourself in, your God is able!
“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages” (Romans 16:25)
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,” (Ephesians 3:20)
“I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Timothy 1:12)
“For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
We could go on, but I think you get the point: Our God is ABLE. Do you realize what that means? No one is too far gone. No situation is beyond Him. Nothing is outside of His reach. All things are possible with our God. He is the One who knows no beginning and no end. He’s the One who created everything out of nothing. HE IS ABLE!! And what does He use His ability to do? “HE KEEPS YOU FROM STUMBLING.” This is talking about perseverance — making it to the end. We have a hand in that, for sure. But it’s based on God’s ability and strength, not our own.
Here’s a principle that has helped me: “God PRESERVES us by empowering us to PERSEVERE in Him.” Here’s what that means practically: Everything that God has called us to walk in fits perfectly with the fact that it’s His power that’s enabling and fueling all of it. In other words, His working enables our working.
We are being kept by God as He’s at work in us according to His purposes. And that is a miracle! If you were to just sit down and think about your sin patterns. If you were to think about what you struggle with — the tendencies that you have to rebel against God in your heart. When I think about that stuff, it’s a miracle that He keeps me. But He does — praise God He does! And, it’s not just that He keeps us from stumbling. That’s incredible in an of itself. That already causes worship to spring up in the heart. But, it goes beyond that.
Jude says that He’s able to present us BLAMELESS before the presence of His glory. Now, I don’t know about you, but this is what absolutely floors me. Talk about a miracle! When you start to think about the Holiness of God, and the grandeur, and the splendor of His glory. The idea that we would ever be able to stand in the presence of His glory is stunning. Because our sin has separated us from the presence of God and the ability to be in the presence of His glory. That was all lost in the fall when sin entered the world.
You get a picture of just how severe this separation is when you think about Moses’ conversation with God in Exodus 33. You might remember that Moses us up on the mountain with God and he asks this question: (it’s verse 18) he says, “Please show me your glory!” Remember God’s answer? “NO!” In verse 20 God says, “You can’t see my face, because no one can see me and live.” Why? Why can no one behold the Lord & live? Because He’s holy. Which means that He’s perfect, He’s spotless, He’s righteous, He’s completely without blemish or defect. And we are broken, we are fractured by sin, corrupted, and blemished. Romans 3:23 says, “we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Ephesians 2 says, “we are dead in our trespasses and sins..” Titus 3 says that “we hate each other and are ruled by malice toward God.”
Moses can’t behold the glory of God because it would kill him because of the separation that sin brings. So, what does God do instead? He says to Moses, “I want you to go stand on this rock. I’m going to put you in the crevasse of the rock and then I will cover you with my hand. And I’ll cause my glory to pass you by as I’m veiling you. And as I take away my hand, I’m going to let you see my back.” And, that’s what God did. And Exodus 34 tells us that, after Moses came down the mountain, there was a light coming off of his face that shone so bright that he actually had to put a veil over his face when he talked to people. And that was just from seeing a glimpse of the back of God moving away from him.
Allow this truth to wash over your soul this morning. Because God has placed us IN THE ROCK we are able, not just to catch a glimpse of God’s back moving away from us, but we are able to behold His glory and by changed by it. Because of Jesus, our lives are defined, not by separation from God, but by reconciliation to God. Where we’ve been given access to His glory; which is the thing that is transforming us. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
It’s His glory that is driving our sanctification, as we behold it now. But it’s His glory that will complete this work, as we’re presented to Him and made glorious in Him. Jude is giving us a picture of what it will look like to stand before God in judgment, and be declared BLAMELESS. Not because of our own ability, but because of His ability. If this is based on our own effort — our own merit — then we’re guilty and under His condemnation. We are able to stand on the last day, not because of anything done by us, but because of what God has done for us, and to us, and because of His power to sustain us.
Listen to how the author of Hebrews paints the picture of our presentation before God based on His ability and work. This is Hebrews 12:21-24: “Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
This thing that made Moses tremble and would cause the death of anyone who beheld it, is what we’re presented before — BLAMELESS — because we have been made righteous by Jesus Christ (the mediator of the new covenant). Now let me ask you, what does that to to your soul? Can you feel worship begin to swell up inside you? I hope so! This is all leading to an overflow of praise to God for who He is and for the attributes that contribute to this incredible salvation that He’s purchased for us.
His Glory, which is the holiness of God on display. God’s glory is the manifestation of His holiness. It’s the infinite beauty and greatness of God on display. His Majesty, which is God’s Sovereign power at work to keep us, to sustain us, to preserve us and to present us blameless. His Dominion, which is His rule over all. It’s based on the fact that God created everything and so He owns everything — including you and me. Which means that He gets to exercise His authority as the final arbiter over all things, because their is nothing higher than Him.
All of this is contributing to God’s ability to keep us from stumbling and to present us blameless before the presence of His glory. Now, with all of that in view, where does that leave us? Well, here’s where all of this is leading us. I believe that Jude’s intention of the letter is that our hearts would be driven to Jesus Christ, because He’s the thing that connects all of the dots for us. Pay close attention to this phrase in our passage: “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jude is saying, “Here’s who God is, and here’s what God has done. The only way we can experience that is through Jesus Christ our Lord. There is no other way!”
The gospel is glorious, but it’s gloriously exclusive. It has to be, because the problem of sin is too great of an offense — the only option is death. Which is why the only way to be reconciled to God, the only way to be made blameless, the only way to have right standing with Him again and to have your sin removed, is for God Himself to trade places with you.This is substitutionary atonement. Jesus Christ died in your place, taking your sin upon Himself, so that you can have right standing before God and be reconciled to Him. Paul is explicit in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Jesus was explicit in John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The truth is that no one can be kept from stumbling unless it’s through Jesus Christ. And no one can be presented blameless before the glory of God unless it’s through Jesus Christ. And we are only found in Jesus Christ by grace and through faith in Him.