The Keeping Power of God
Jude: 24 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, 25 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. (ESV)
This small but powerful letter is Jude's only contribution to the New Testament. He was the brother of James (head of the Jerusalem church), and half-brother of Jesus. His full name was Jude Thaddeus.
As He concludes his letter, Jude expresses his total confidence in God's ability in keeping the believer in Christ secure in his salvation. It is certainly interesting to note that Jude both begins and ends his short letter with this same theme about God's keeping power. In verse 1 he describes believers as "kept for Jesus Christ" and here in verse 24, he describes God as the One â€œwho is able to keep you from stumbling...â€ In starting and finishing his short letter with this theme, it is clear he did not wish for this point to be missed. Obviously the fact that God keeps His children safe in salvation is something frequently highlighted in the Scripture. Jesus expressed it clearly in many places, perhaps most clearly in John 6:39 where He described the will of the Father for Him as that of losing nothing of all His Father had given to Him. In John 10: 27, 28, Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." Then in John 17: 11, Christ prayed for this same group (those that the Father had given to Him), "Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one" (John 17:11), and again "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one." (John 17:15)
The ESV Study Bible notes shed light on this by stating, "Just as the false teachers are â€œkeptâ€ by God for judgment (see 2 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2 Pet. 2:4; 3:7; Jude 6), so also he has infinite power to keep from stumbling those who have put their faith in him. By â€œstumblingâ€ Jude means falling into sin or error (Gk. aptaistos, â€œwithout stumblingâ€; cf. ptaiÅ, â€œstumble,â€ in Rom. 11:11; James 2:10; 3:2; 2 Pet. 1:10). If such stumbling is left unchecked it will eventually lead to falling away from the faith. Yet Jude says God will never let his own fall away but will â€œkeepâ€ them by his grace..."
God is the instrumental cause of our standing in His presence. It is something He does. He places us in a position or location described as "in the presence of His glory." This could very well awaken all kinds of legitimate fear in us, because there were men like Isaiah who saw this glory and came apart at the seams, so to speak. I am sure you remember him declaring, "woe is me for I am undone" (Isaiah 6), and until God stepped in with the remedy for him, he was in total disarray. Yet in contrast to Isaiah's experience, this standing in God's presence puts us forever in a blameless condition.
The consequence of this is an immense and overflowing joy in us which results in great glory being given to God. "The only possible response to the work of God on behalf of believers is great joy (Gk. agalliasis, â€œgreat joy, exultationâ€), which suggests an exclamation of joy and praise." (1)
The fact that God is "able to keep" us in this way would not be a source of joy if He was merely able to do this but not willing to do so. Though the text does not say this explicitly the obvious implication of these words is that God is not only able to do this, but that He is willing and that He actually does this. Imagine the opposite. Imagine God was only able to do this but chose not to. Would this be the source of our great rejoicing (which is what Jude is seeking us to understand and appreciate)? I hardly think so. No, the text is a thundering statement about the keeping and sustaining power of God. He keeps us from stumbling and presents us before Him blameless for all eternity, and this is what causes us to have such great joy. God is to be greatly praised for this salvation for it is entirely His work from start to finish. Salvation is of the Lord!
(1) ESV Study Bible notes