What does it mean that God is able to keep us from stumbling? Dr. Zachary Cole explains how the book of Jude warns against taking advantage of the gospel and encourages believers to persevere in God’s grace.
The last couple of verses of Jude give us a wonderful promise about “the God who is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.” And we have to just appreciate the beauty and the power of that promise and what it means for us as Christians. But we need to be careful to understand it within the context of the whole letter of Jude.
Taking Advantage of God’s Grace
And when we read the rest of Jude, we find out that Jude is very concerned to tell us about individuals who have slipped into the church. And they’ve weaseled their way into the church not to teach faithfully and preach faithfully, but, he says in the opening verses, to take advantage of the grace of God and use it as a license for their own sinful desires. God is able to hold you in his arms and keep you on the path of discipleship until Jesus Christ comes again.And the whole book is about these individuals who are taking advantage of the grace of God, and Jude does not have any nice things to say about them. In fact, he has very stern, severe warnings for anyone who wants to manipulate and to get into the church taking advantage of God’s grace in order to just go on deliberately sinning in a way that benefits themselves. And so, Jude has very severe warnings for those people. And so, when we read that doxology at the end of the book, we need to keep in mind that this is a really severe warning: That those who come into the church and think that they can trick God by taking advantage of the gospel for their own ends, there’s nothing good in store for them. And the warnings that we see in Jude apply to those people.
Persevering in God’s Grace
But if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ and you trust in him and you love him and you’re longing for his return, then the last two verses in Jude are a wonderful promise that you can cling to: That God is able to keep you from stumbling. God is able to hold you in his arms and keep you on the path of discipleship until Jesus Christ comes again. When Jude talks about these individuals sneaking into the church, he’s not really talking about average, everyday Christians who happen to struggle with sin. As Christians, we all struggle with sin, and Jude is very aware of this. And so, in the rest of his book, he’s quite clear that Jesus came to save sinners, not people who will just give up sinning forever. And so, when God is able to keep us from stumbling, that doesn’t mean that we’ll never make a mistake, but he’ll never let us fall completely from his grace.