Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament epistle written by Jude—the servant of Jesus Christ. More specifically today’s passage encompasses the entire New Testament epistle written by this servant of Jesus. “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: mercy unto you, and peace, and love be multiplied” (Jude 1-2).
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needed for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are veteran men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believe not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, in like manner giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these filth dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The LORD rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core” (Jude 3:-11).
“These are spots in your feasts of charity when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. And Enoch also the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the LORD cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convinced all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 12-15).
“These are murmured, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their oath speaketh great dwelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember yet the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 16-23).
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).
When you come to the epistle written by Jude you will find the final book and the final epistle before the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus far within the New Testament we have seen four gospel narratives written by four different authors—the apostle Matthew, the apostle John, the beloved physician Luke and John Mark. Immediately following the four gospels we came to the New Testament book of Acts which describes the actions and activities of the spiritual body of Christ. It is in the New Testament book of Acts we read the account of the day of Pentecost, we read of the birth of the early church, we read of the persecution of the apostles by the religious leaders, we read of the church’s first martyr—Stephen—we read of the persecution of the early church and we read of the conversion and ministry of Saul of Tarsus who would become better known as the apostle Paul. Immediately following the New Testament book of Acts we encounter the thirteen epistles written by the apostle Paul—four which were written to individuals and nine which were written unto various churches within and throughout the region during those days. After the final epistle written by the apostle Paul—the second epistle written unto Timothy his spiritual son in the faith—we find the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. It is this particular epistle which not only seeks to demonstrate the divinity but also the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ who came in the flesh and dwelt among us for the purpose of suffering and death. The epistle written unto the Hebrews would be followed by the epistle written by James which was written unto the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad throughout the known world during those days. James’ epistle would be followed by the first and second epistles written by the apostle Peter and these epistles would be followed by the epistles written by the apostle John. After the third epistle written by the apostle John draws to a close we find ourselves coming to the epistle written by Jude.
If you begin reading with and from the first and opening verse of this epistle you will find Jude’s epistle—an epistle which was written by one who referred to himself as “the brother of James.” This epistle written by Jude would be written by one who referred to himself as “a bondservant of Jesus Christ” as well as the “brother of James.” What’s more is that when you read the opening verses of this epistle you will find the audience Jude was writing to—namely “those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.” This is something we dare not and must not miss when seeking to understand the words which are found in this epistle for within the epistle we are brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the audience to whom Jude sent and directed this epistle. This particular epistle was written unto those who were called—those who were “the called according to His purpose”—as well as those who were sanctified by God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ. Oh how absolutely wonderful and powerful it is to read these words and encounter the heritage and inheritance we have as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is something incredibly wonderful and powerful when you consider the audience to whom Jude was writing to for he was indeed and was in fact writing to those who knew the truth and those who had been called according to the plan and purpose of the living God. Jude was writing unto those who had been called by the living and eternal God and who were both sanctified and preserved.
I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with the twin concepts of being sanctified as well as being preserved. Pause for a moment and think about what these two concepts mean for you within your own heart and life. Think about you as a saint of God and you who professes to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. The words which we find here are incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about and consider them—particularly and especially when you consider them together with the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the different churches to whom he sent epistles. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves when thinking about the words presented in this passage of Scripture is whether or not we are indeed aware of the inheritance we have as the saints of God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are we truly aware of the inheritance we have as the saints of God who are and who have been the called according to His purpose? This is a reality we must needs understand and acknowledge when we take the time to think about and consider it for it brings us face to face with who we are—and not only who we are in Christ but also what we have and what we have been given. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome beginning with the first few verses and continuing with the final verses of the same chapter:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom he foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: For your sake we are killed all day long; we are account as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:28-39).
Pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for in the twenty-eighth verse we find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring that all things work together for good to those who love God. What makes this all the more astonishing and intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the apostle Paul also went on to speak of those who were the called according to His purpose. The words which we find here in this passage not only speak of those who love God but also those who were “the called”—not according to their own purpose, nor according to their own plan, nor according to their own agenda or design. In all reality this is in direct alignment with the words which we find in the first and third chapters of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John. It is in the first chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we encounter the tremendous truth of those who were given the power to become sons of God—those who were not born of the flesh, nor born of blood, nor even of the will of man but born from the very heart of the living God. What’s more is that when you come to the third chapter of the same New Testament gospel you will encounter the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding God so loving the world that He would send and give His only begotten that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to consider the words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture for by and through them we gain an even greater understanding of the inheritance we have as the saints of God—those who are the called according to His purpose and those who have been born of God and not of flesh, nor of blood, nor even of the will of man. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the first and third chapters of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John beginning with the first verse of the opening chapter:
“IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:1-18).
“Jesus answered and said to him, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? Jesus answered, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said to Him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said to him, Are you a teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly I say to you, We speak what we know and testify what we have seen, and you do not receive our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deed should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:4-21).
Oh there is a great need for us to recognize the incredible importance of what is found within these passages of Scripture for in the first chapter the apostle John recounts for us that as many as received Him [Christ]—it would be to those who were given the right to become children of God. What’s more is that these who were given the right to become children of God were those who believe(d) in His name and believed on the One whom the Father had sent in the flesh. Remember that it was Jesus who boldly declared that if you received Him you received the One who sent Him—something which warrants strong consideration on our part as it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding those who receive the power to become children of God because they deliberately and intentionally chose to believe on the name of the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God. The apostle John would record how these individuals were not blood, nor of the flesh, nor of the will of man but were born of God. What’s more is that when speaking unto Nicodemus Jesus would declare that unless one was born again—and not merely born again but born of water and of the Spirit—they would not enter into or see the kingdom of heaven. It was Jesus Himself who emphatically declared that those who were indeed born of the Spirit and those who were born of the will of God would be those who would see the kingdom of God and would in fact inherit eternal life.
With all of this being said I find it absolutely wonderful to call and draw your attention to the absolutely wonderful truths which are found in the epistles and writings of the apostle Paul. If you read the words which are found within the writings of the apostle Paul you will indeed find the apostle Paul writing and speaking of our inheritance as the saints of the living God. It was the apostle Peter who would admonish and instruct us to make sure that our calling and election was sure—something which warrants strong consideration on our part as those who would be the called according to the divine will and purpose of the living God. Oh there is something truly unique and powerful about the words which are found in the epistles and writings of the apostle Paul for when writing unto the churches he would seek to bring them to an understanding of their inheritance as the saints of God and as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. When writing unto the churches the apostle Paul would indeed call and bring them into a place where they recognized the work which the living and eternal God did for them through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having said this, however, I would like to set the stage and prepare you for the words the apostle Paul would write unto the various churches by calling your attention to the following passages which are found in the first and opening chapter of the epistle written by the apostle unto the Philippian saints as well as the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle unto the saints which were at Thessalonica:
“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
Within these verses and passages of Scripture we encounter the tremendous truth surrounding our being called as the saints of God and our being called the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the opening chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi we find him emphatically declaring that he was confident that He [God] who had begun a good work in them would complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. There are some translations who will add the word “faithful” when translating this verse and will declare that He who began a good work in you will be “faithful” to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. In the first and opening chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi you will find him admonishing and encouraging them that He who had begun a good work in them would be faithful to complete it—and not only complete it but also complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul would continue writing in this epistle and encourage them to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling before going on to declare that it was God who worked in them both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize it’s that the work which the living and eternal God works in us is not for our own glory, our own honor, our own fame or anything we ourselves can possess or achieve. The work which the living God has indeed begun in us—and not only the work He began in us but also working in us to will and to do—is for His good pleasure.
Oh at the very heart of everything the living God does in our lives is for His good pleasure and for His own will and purpose within our lives. The apostle John would write that those who were given the right to become children of God were born not of the flesh, nor of the blood, nor even of the will of man but of the will of God. Absolutely everything the living and eternal God does within us and through us is for His own good pleasure and His own delight. What makes this all the more astonishing when you take the time to consider it is when you consider that when the living and eternal God sent His only begotten Son into the world He did so having great pleasure and delight in Him. If you turn and direct your attention to the gospel narratives written by the Synoptic authors you will find that after Jesus emerged from the waters of the Jordan River there came a voice from heaven not only declaring that this was His beloved Son but also declaring that this was His beloved Son “in whom He was well pleased.” Before Jesus would overcome the temptation(s) of the devil in the wilderness, before He would cleanse a single leper, before He would restore sight unto a single blind person, before He would drive out a single unclean spirit, before he would heal a single individual He would hear the voice of the Father speaking to Him from heaven—not only professing Him as His Son but also expressing His delight and pleasure in Him. The words which the living and eternal God spoke unto Jesus not only affirmed His relationship to Him as Father but also affirmed His delight and pleasure in Him. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the great pleasure and delight the Father had in the Son and His desire to express that there at the waters of the Jordan River. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in each of these passages presented within the New Testament gospel narratives of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, I need to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me? But Jesus answered and said to him, Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17).
“It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately coming up from the water, he saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:9-11).
“When all the people were baptized it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22).
Each of these passages presents us with the description of the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Jordan River by the apostle John. It would be there at the Jordan River where the Lord Jesus would not only be baptized by John the Baptist but would also experience the heavens opening before Him—much like the heavens opened before Ezekiel by the river in the land of the Chaldeans. It would be there by the river in the land of the Chaldeans Ezekiel would see the heavens opened and would behold a vision of the glory, the splendor and the majesty of the living and eternal God. Here at the Jordan River we find the Lord Jesus Christ being baptized by John the Baptist and it was as Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist that the heavens would be opened unto Him. There at the Jordan River the heavens would be opened unto Jesus and would be something which John the Baptist would indeed witness and behold. Oh there is something we must needs recognize and understand this for when you come to the first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find a specific account of John the Baptist making a public proclamation concerning the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first chapter we find the witness of John the Baptist concerning the person of the Lord Jesus Christ—especially after witnessing and beholding the heavens being opened unto Him, after seeing the Holy Spirit alighting and resting upon Him and hearing the voice of the Father proclaiming and declaring concerning Jesus that this was His beloved Son in whom he was well pleased. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John concerning the witness of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River:
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. And John bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).
If you continue reading the words which are found in the Synoptic Gospels—the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew, the New Testament gospel written by John Mark, and the New Testament gospel written by the beloved physician Luke—you will find a second encounter where Jesus would hear the voice of the Father speaking from heaven. It would be in the waters of the Jordan River Jesus would hear the voice of the Father professing Him as His Son as well as His divine delight and pleasure in Him. When you come to the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the account of the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus. In this particular passage you will find the Lord Jesus taking with Him Peter, James and John up into a high mountain. It would be there atop that mountain where Jesus’ appearance would be altered and transfigured and He would be clothed with a measure of the glory which He had with the Father before the world began. Oh there is something absolutely wonderful and powerful about this particular experience as compared to that of what happened at the Jordan River. It was at the Jordan River where the heavens were opened before and unto Jesus, the Spirit descended upon Him in the bodily form of a dove and the voice of the Father spoke concerning Him being His beloved Son in whom he was well pleased. At the Jordan River, however, there would be no glory, no majesty, no radiate splendor which would come upon and be seen upon the person of the Lord Jesus. At the Jordan River it would simply be the Lord Jesus coming out of the waters after being baptized and the heavens being opened to Him, the Spirit descending and resting upon Him and the voice of the Father speaking unto Him.
When we come to the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Thea pestle Matthew—and not only this chapter but also the ninth chapters of the New Testament gospels written by John Mark and the beloved physician Luke—you will find the appearance of the Lord Jesus being transfigured before the eyes of the apostles Peter, James and John. There atop the mountain they would see the appearance of Christ being altered and transformed as He would shine and radiate with a measure of the glory which He had with the Father from the beginning. Moreover His garments would be whither than any fuller or cleaner could make them and His appearance would shine brighter than the sun in all of its strength in the heat of the day. This is something which warrants strong consideration for it is in direct alignment with what we find concerning Jesus at the Jordan River. Just as Jesus would hear the Father declare Him to be His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased at the Jordan River so also would He hear the same words being spoken from heaven atop the mountain. There atop the mountain we would again find the Father’s express delight and pleasure in the eternal and only begotten Son. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the ninth chapters of the New Testament gospel narratives written by John Mark and the beloved physician Luke:
“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Here Him! And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and do not be afraid. When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but save Jesus only” (Matthew 17:1-8).
“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah—because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son. Hear Him! Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves. Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this word to themselves questioning what the rising from the dead meant” (Mark 9:2-10).
“Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that he took Peter, John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully away, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with Him. Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son. Hear Him! When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen” (Mark 9:28-36).
What makes the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew different from those which are found in the gospel accounts written by John Mark and Luke is the fact that when he describes the words which the Father spoke unto the Son He included the Father declaring unto the Son “in whom I am well pleased.” Neither John Mark nor the beloved physician Luke include this in their rendition and description of what took place atop the mountain. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there atop the mountain the Lord Jesus heard the voice of the Father once more declare that He was His beloved Son, however, it is also very likely—according to Scripture—that He would once more hear the voice of the Father affirming His delight and pleasure in Him. This is something which warrants strong consideration for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the Father’s delight and pleasure in the eternal and only begotten Son What’s more is that it is this same delight and pleasure within the heart of the Father that is at the very heart of what He does and works within and through our lives. It is this delight and pleasure of the Father which is at the very heart and center of that which He does and performs within our hearts and lives. Everything the eternal Father does within our hearts and lives is for His delight and His great pleasure. There is absolutely nothing the Father does within our lives that is not for His own delight and pleasure. The same pleasure and delight the Father had in the Son is the same pleasure and delight He takes in giving us the right to become children of God and working in us and on us until the coming of the day of Jesus Christ.
Building upon this all the more it’s important that we recognize and understand the Father’s great delight and pleasure—not only in sanctifying us but also in preserving us. We know that He who began a good work in us will complete it until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, we must also recognize that the Father takes great delight in working in us to sanctify us in holiness and righteousness in His sight. The eternal Father takes great delight and pleasure in making us holy even as He Himself is holy and making us perfect even as He Himself is perfect. The living and eternal God takes great delight and pleasure in sanctifying us and making us holy as He conforms us into the image of His dearly beloved and begotten Son. It is indeed true that we have been and were created in the image and after the likeness of the living and eternal God, however, it is also true that we are being conformed into the image of His eternal and only begotten Son. There is something truly astonishing and powerful about this when you take the time to think about it for we were created and we are being conformed. The first is a process that has already been done and was even performed and wrought while we were in our mother’s womb while the second is a process that continues throughout each and every day of our daily lives as we walk upon this earth. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely great it is to know that the Father takes great delight and pleasure in working us to will and to do for His good pleasure. The Father takes great delight in transforming and conforming us into the image of His dear Son whom He was and still is well pleased. We as the saints of God must needs recognize and understand that the living and eternal God earnestly and eagerly desires to transform us into the image and after the likeness of the only begotten Son of the Father that we might be found in the image and appearance of what we were originally supposed to be in the garden. I am convinced that being transformed and conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus is not only to make us more like Him but also to restore that image which Adam had in the beginning before the sin and transgression in the garden.
Having said all of this I find it absolutely necessary to call your attention to the following words which are found in the various epistles and writings of the apostle Paul as He sought to convey unto the saints of God their position and their inheritance in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the absolutely awesome and wonderful truth surrounding our being conformed into the image of the dear Son of the Father in heaven. Oh that we would recognize and understand the tremendous work the Father wrought in us and continues to work within us that we might be conformed and transformed into the image of His dear Son. I am absolutely convinced we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this within our hearts and lives for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding our being transformed into the image of the only begotten Son that we might be unto all pleasing and honor of the living and eternal God. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the writings of the apostle Paul beginning with the epistle written unto the saints which were at Ephesus:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14).
“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:15-23).
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of warpath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-10).
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:3-11).
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn form the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:9-18).
“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, but Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet not He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Colossians 1:19-23).
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entery we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-10).
As I prepare to bring this writing to a. Close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the final verses of the epistle written by Jude. In the opening verses Jude wrote and spoke about our being sanctified by God and being preserved in Jesus Christ. In the final verses of the epistle we find Jude admonishing these saints to build themselves up on their most holy faith praying in the Holy Spirit. Moreover Jude encourages and admonishes them to keep themselves in the love of God as they looked for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Furthermore Jude goes on to write and encourage them to have compassion on some making a distinction while saving others with fear as they would pull them out of the fire hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Oh pause for a moment and consider those words which are found in this passage of Scripture and what Jude wrote concerning our hating the garment defiled by the flesh. Permit me to ask you who are sanctified and you who are made holy by the living and eternal God if you are one who hates even the garment defiled by the flesh. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy admonishing him to flee from youthful lusts as well as the words which he wrote unto the Corinthian saints admonishing them to flee fornication with everything that was in them. I am also reminded of the narrative of Joseph when the wife of his master made several advances at him to try and commit adultery and fornication with him. Time after time and day after day Joseph would refuse her advances until one day the two of them were alone in the house. The wife of his master would once more make an advance at him and would even catch him by his garment, however, Joseph would slip free from his garment not only leaving his garment behind but also leaving his master’s wife scorned, rejected, and without having fulfilled and satisfied her advances.
When I think about the words which Jude wrote in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but think about Joseph who was willing to leave his garment behind in the hand of his master’s wife rather than having it be defiled by the flesh and the lusts thereof. Remember the words which the apostle John wrote in his first epistle for he would admonish his readers and audience to love not the world nor the things of the world. The apostle John would go on to emphatically declare unto them that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life fade away in this world and produce death and destruction. Remember the words which James wrote in his epistle for he would be bold and declare that those who made themselves friends with and friends of the world would make themselves by their own volition enemies of the living God. It was the Lord Jesus Christ who emphatically declared that no man can serve two masters and we must needs understand that we cannot be those who think we can love the world and the things of the world and at the same time love the Lord our God. Similarly we cannot be those who think that we can be friends of the world and friends with the world and at the same time be friends with the living God. Each and every one of us must needs be those who make the conscious and deliberate decision whether or not we are such who despise the garment defiled by the flesh. Jude wrote and spoke of those who hated and abhorred the garment defiled by the flesh and I can’t help but think about whether or not we are such who hate the thought of our garment(s) being defiled by the flesh. What’s more is that it was James who would write about pure and undefiled religion and would go on to write about keeping oneself in spotted from the world. Oh the question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are such who hate the garment defiled by the flesh and whether or not we are those who truly keep ourselves undefiled from the pollution and filth of this world.
In the final verses of this epistle written by Jude we find him writing concerning that one who was able to keep them from stumbling and to present them faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. I am convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the undeniable truth that not only are we preserved by Jesus Christ but there is also one who is able to keep us from stumbling. There is one who is able to preserve us and One who is able to present us faultless before the presence of the living and eternal God. There is one who is able to preserve us and to sustain us in this life that we might be holy and blameless in the sight and presence of the living God. There is one who is indeed able to keep us holy and blameless in His sight that we might be presented faultless and holy before Him in that great day when we appear before Him. Oh it was Enoch who before he was translated and taken by God that he might not taste death had the testimony that he pleased God. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are such who have the testimony that we do indeed and do in fact please the living God. Are we as the saints of God such who have the testimony in this life that we please the Lord our God? Jesus Himself was the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father in whom he was well pleased and we must needs ask ourselves whether or not we are such who live in all pleasing before and in the sight of the living and eternal God. Oh it is with this in mind I leave you with the following words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle John as well as the epistle which was written by James concerning our abstaining from friendship with the world as well as our keeping ourselves from loving the world and the things of this world:
“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:26-27).
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot o train. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask you do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an anemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:1-10).
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).