1 Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day.
3 Declare His glory among the nations, His marvellous deeds among all peoples.
4 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Splendour and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come into His courts.
9 Worship the Lord in the splendour of His holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth.
1 Chronicles 29:10-13
10 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendour, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honour come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”
17 Dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
24 To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy - 25 to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
There are many doxologies in Scripture. A doxology is a verbal expression of praise to God. The Psalms are full of doxologies, and our reading from Psalm 96 today is just one of them. As we reach the end of 1 Chronicles, King David is nearing the end of his life and is about to be succeeded by his son Solomon. One of Solomon’s first tasks as the new king is to build the Temple in Jerusalem, and before David’s death he donates his personal fortune towards the building of the temple. The figures are simply mind blowing. David gave 100 tons of gold and 240 tons of silver, and in response the people donated a further 170 tons of gold, 345 tons of silver, 610 tons of bronze and 3450 tons of iron. That is quite some Church building fund!
And how does David respond to this generosity and dedication to God? By praising God in prayer – the doxology we just read in 1 Chronicles 29. Throughout the Bible we find these prayers of praise as people respond to the goodness and mercy of God by publicly worshipping Him. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.”
The apostle Paul’s doxologies of praise are among the best known, and he not only begins and ends some of his letters with doxologies, but we find them in the middle of his writings too. In Ephesians 3 he prays this amazing prayer for the Church: “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” It is a prayer full of deep emotion as Paul prays for his fellow believers, and you can sense him being caught up in the moment so much, that in the next verses he just can’t help himself as he praises God with his doxology in verses 20 and 21: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” And this comes in the middle of his letter. It’s not an opening or closing greeting.
Our focus today is on Jude’s doxology at the end of his letter. We know it well, and we’ll be singing it later, but as with most passages of Scripture we need to look at the context and circumstances in which they were written in order to understand them better.
Although Jude ends his letter with such wonderful praise, the reason for him writing it was to warn his readers to stay faithful to God, although that wasn’t his original purpose for writing it. After his opening greeting he writes in verses 3 and 4, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”
Jude was deeply concerned that false teachers had infiltrated the Church and were teaching a false Gospel. Paul also warned the Church against this idea that because we are saved and covered by God’s grace we now have licence to do as we please. In Romans 6:1-2 he writes, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
Jude warns against this same thing. In his own words, his original intention was to write about the salvation they shared, but then he says he felt urged to deal with some serious challenges in the Church instead. So what had been intended as an inspirational and uplifting letter became instead something very serious, so we could understand if the letter ended on a solemn note, but he doesn’t do that. It ends with one of the best-known doxologies in the Bible. It ends by praising God. That’s a valuable lesson for us. Whatever is going on in our lives, no matter how easy or difficult our circumstances are, we need to be praising God for who He is, and for what He has done for us.
Matthew Henry died in 1714 so the language is old fashioned, but just listen to his wonderful turn of phrase as he introduces Jude 24-25 in his commentary: “The apostle concludes this epistle with a solemn ascription of glory to the great God. Note, whatever is the subject or argument we have been treating of, ascribing glory to God is fittest for us to conclude with.”
Jude’s letter ends on a high note, not in doubt and fear, and it ends with an amazing expression of faith and hope.
There is a treasure trove of Biblical truth in these 2 short verses.
Jude begins his doxology by drawing attention to the God who is worthy to be praised.
“To Him who is able.” And what is He able to do? Firstly, to keep us from falling. Other translations use the word ‘stumbling.’ Stumbling here doesn’t mean the occasional sin, something we all struggle with, but it refers to how God will keep us from falling or stumbling away completely. The Greek word for falling in Jude 24 is the same as in 2 Peter 1:10: “Be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
We seem to think that it’s up to us to remain faithful to God, and that somehow the onus remains on us to not drift away from Him, but we forget very easily His faithfulness to us. Remember – it’s not about what we have done or must do. It is about God and what He has already done and promised. As Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “You were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession - to the praise of His glory.” The Spirit is our guarantee of eternal glory. God will hold you. He will keep you from falling.
It’s about the power of God holding us up, and we need to respond to Him in faith, trusting that His promises will stand. Someone once said that our faith must cooperate with God’s power. As we do this and as our faith grows, He will prevent us from falling. 1 Peter 1:4-5 speaks of “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power.” And in his second letter Peter encourages us to build our faith with God’s help. “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-11)
This is the same kind of thing Jude writes about earlier in his letter. God doesn’t just give us a ticket to heaven as if our ongoing disobedience and sin no longer matters. It does matter. One of the reasons He gives us His Spirit to live within us is to change us every day more and more into the likeness of Christ. If there have been no significant changes in your life since accepting salvation through Jesus, you need to do some serious soul-searching. In the words of Paul again, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
Jude, as he nears the end of his letter says, “Remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. (17) Build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. (20) Keep yourselves in God’s love. (21).”
The point is that it’s all well and good to believe, but our faith needs to be applied. If you hold onto God, He will most certainly hold onto you.
If we continue in faith, God is able to keep us from falling.
Jude continues by saying that God is able to “present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy.”
Here, the focus is on God’s ability to produce the ultimate goal of redemption. We will be faultless before Him. This is what the power of the blood of Christ does for us. Because of Jesus we’re not just forgiven, but we are made pure and holy in the sight of God. And in eternity this will be an ever-present reality for us. In this life we still struggle with our sin. Temptation follows us everywhere, and as we know, it often gets the better of us. But when we finally stand before God in eternity there will be no more sin. We will be as holy and as pure as Jesus.
That’s what it means to be faultless. We also need to remember that absolute holiness is a requirement if we are ever to be admitted into the presence of God, and thanks be to God, this is precisely what He has done for us through the redeeming power of the blood of Christ. We have to be holy if we are to spend eternity with Him, and He is able to do that.
And as Jude writes, it will be with great joy, or as other translations put it, “with exceeding joy.” In this life we’ve all experienced glimpses of exceeding joy, but the greatest and happiest times of your life will pale into insignificance when you finally see Him face to face. Not only that, but God Himself will rejoice when He sees you before Him holy and blameless. How do we know that? Because you have been the object of His love for eternity past.
We know the closing verses of Romans 8 so well, but one day the promise they speak of will become a reality: “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.”
We will be glorified, and that will fill God and us with exceeding joy!
So in the first part of his doxology, Jude points us to God, and reminds us what He has done for us: “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy.”
Now he gives the praise to God in the closing verse of his letter: “To the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”
Glory in the original Greek speaks of dignity and honour. Majesty points us to His greatness, and He gives awe, praise and worship to the God who is worthy of these things. The glory and the majesty are His. We are quick to take the credit for our own achievements in this life. We also have our own personal heroes among the rich and famous, but God warns us against overstepping the mark into idolatry and worshipping those we admire. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” Creation itself points us to the glory of God, but the sad irony is that more often than not, the very creatures who are made in the image of God Himself are the ones who don’t glorify the Creator.
There’s a wonderful chorus written by Chris Christensen that we sing occasionally, but the words challenge us because they remind us of the reason for our very existence: “I was made to praise you, I was made to glorify your name, in every circumstance to find a chance to thank you. I was made to love you, I was made to worship at your feet, and to obey You Lord. I was made for you.” If we did these things we would be giving God the glory and the majesty that are rightly His.
Jude continues by ascribing power and authority to God, or dominion and power as we sing in the well-known chorus.
Dominion means might, power and strength, while power speaks of God’s authority and total jurisdiction over all of creation.
Jude recognises that it is God who rightly deserves and exercises authority over all, but not only does he recognise it, it is his fervent prayer that His power and dominion would continue before all ages, now and forevermore, or as the chorus goes, both now and forever.
God’s glory, majesty, power and authority are not just something He has only in heaven. He has always had all of these qualities in all of their fullness, and He always will. Jude’s prayer is that we would recognise that and give Him the praise here and now.
In his song of praise Come, now is the time to worship, Brian Doerksen refers to Philippians 2 when he sings, “One day every tongue will confess you are God. One day every knee will bow. Still the greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose you now.” The eternal glory, majesty, power and authority are His, and Jude concludes his doxology with a single word: “Amen.” So be it.
And so it will be, despite the efforts of those who deny the glory, majesty, power and authority of God. As Jude warns earlier, God will bring judgment to all who are ungodly and who deny His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. There are no other options.
Just before his doxology he writes these words of warning and encouragement: “Build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy.” That’s the task he gives us and the reward for our faith is this: Those who believe in Jesus and remain faithful to Him, God will preserve and will keep them from falling.
He will present them faultless before His own presence with great and exceeding joy. And to Him will be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever!
When believers shall be presented faultless it will be with exceeding joy. Alas! Now our faults fill us with fears, doubts, and sorrows. But be of good cheer; if we be sincere, we shall be - our dear Redeemer has undertaken for it. We shall be presented faultless; where there is no sin there will be no sorrow; where there is the perfection of holiness, there will be the perfection of joy. Surely, the God who can and will do this is worthy to have glory, majesty, dominion, and power, ascribed to Him, both now and for ever! And to this we may well, with the apostle, affix our hearty Amen.
Homegroup Study Notes
Read Jude 1-25
What does this brief letter teach us about the character and nature of God?
How are you challenged by the letter?
How are you encouraged?
Read verses 20-23 again.
How do these verses describe the role we are to play in this new life we are given by God’s grace?
What opportunities have you had recently to make a difference in the life of someone else?
In verse 24 Jude describes 2 things that God is able to do:
1) To prevent us from falling
2) To present us without fault
Discuss these in your group.
How has Jesus achieved these things for us?
What role does the Holy Spirit play in our lives right now in delivering these promises?
How are we presented blameless before God?
Compare Jude’s doxology with Paul’s in Ephesians 3:20-21.
Discuss the similarities and differences.
In which ways have you felt the power of God lifting you up during this past week, and how have you responded to His grace to you?
Close by singing Jude’s benediction together.