“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you” (Jude 1,2).

BEING A CHRISTIAN IS A REALITY THAT CAN BE LOOKED AT FROM MORE THAN ONE ANGLE. In other words, a person who is a Christian can describe his identity in various ways. Let’s look at the three expressions Jude used to address his fellow Christians.

Those who are called. Through the gospel, God calls everyone to accept the salvation that He is offering in Jesus Christ. To obey the gospel is, in effect, to answer God’s call, and to live faithfully as a Christian is to be among the called. It was God alone who had the right to decide what the terms of His salvation would be; on our own, we could never have worked our way back to Him. So when we submit to the terms of His forgiveness in the gospel, we can rejoice in the privilege of being among those whom He has called out of the darkness to be His own possession (1 Peter 2:9).

Beloved in God the Father. While God obviously loves every person He has ever created, He has a very specific love for those who have accepted His plan of salvation, i.e., the individuals who have responded to His love with gratitude, obedience, and faithfulness. In the salutation to his letters, Paul often spoke of God’s love for those whom He has saved: “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7).

Kept for Jesus Christ. In a world of obstacles and temptations, we could not survive, even after obeying the gospel, if it weren’t for the help God gives us in Christ. Peter wrote of those “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). And Jude ended his letter with this: “[God] is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24). Well might he say, “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” There is simply no higher joy available to us.

“True joy is not a thing of moods, not a capricious emotion, tied to fluctuating experiences. It is a state and condition of the soul. It survives through pain and sorrow and, like a subterranean spring, waters the whole life. It is intimately allied and bound up with love and goodness, and so is deeply rooted in the life of God” (Rufus Matthew Jones).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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