The epistle of Jude, the “brother of James” (verse 1) and therefore understood to be another son of Mary and Joseph – is extremely interesting and challenging. Jude is succinct, first drawing lessons from the failures in the nations’ history (verses 5-7) and then condemning the false ways that are developing among the believers.

We are fascinated by the parabolic language used from verse 12 on. Jude does not write a complete parable as such, but uses words and phrases to describe the serious attitudes and behaviour that was developing among believers. We read, “these are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves, waterless clouds, swept along by the winds, fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever”.

This is a tragic testimony to human nature, but history testifies to its truth at several stages, such as the development to establish the dictatorial church at Rome and its rituals – and then again – after the inspiring flood of renewed faith in the Middle Ages that began with the work of Wycliffe and Tyndale and the printing of the Bible. But that was followed by a renewal of those “who pervert the grace of God into sensuality …” (verse 4). And so today there is a lot of talk about “grace” – but little or no substance about what God’s word says is to be believed.

Jude builds up his message with words that apply to our generation, referring to the letters of the Apostles that “in the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions …” (verse 18). Others can talk about grace, perverting the wonder of it – as though believers have the benefit of grace whatever they do! But the message for us now, especially in verses 20,21 is, “But you beloved build yourself up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit (holiness of spirit); keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life”.