The Doxology of the Christian Life
The Doxology of the Christian Life
The little book of Jude is an interesting study. It is the only book in the New Testament that is given completely to the subject of apostasy, defecting from real, genuine faith. And in these short 25 verses, Jude writes to condemn the apostates and encourage the church to stand strong.
Tonight I want to take a look with you at the closing two verses. As Jude contemplates the work of the enemy, he ends up on with this tremendous praise chorus which is really a confession of faith.
I think the right word to describe what we have here is a doxology. A doxology is really nothing more than a praise saying. It comes from two Greek words: “doxa” which means glory and” logas” which means to say or a word or a saying. So a doxology is a saying about God's glory, a praise saying.
Those of my generation and older are familiar with the word because we often sang “The Doxology” which says, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts, praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”
Now, as you can tell, they are not really prayers. They are more confessions of faith. They are declarations of what we believe. And in that regard, what we find here int eh closing two verses of Jude is a doxology.
It is pronounced against the black background of all that has been said concerning the last days in which we now find ourselves. And as Jude reflects on what he has written and said, he then comes out with this tremendous doxology, this confession of his faith.
Notice how verse 24 begins. Even though I can’t find a translation that begins this way, I think a better way to begin the verse would be with the word “but”. There is such a stark contrast between what has been said and what is now being said, it needs a conjunction that differentiates between the two so that it reads like this:
“But to Him that is able to keep you from stumbling , and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power both now and forever. Amen.”
Have you ever had the experience of getting an image in your mind and not being able to get rid of it? That image has a way of dominating your life. It captures your thoughts and controls you. It is that kind of power that often haunts those returning from times of war or devastating car accidents or severe traumas.
Have you ever thought about how that’s true in the spiritual realm also? You and I can look around today and see and experience a great many things that cause fear and panic and uneasiness. But we are also privileged to open our Bibles and read of the beauty and grace and power and majesty of our God.
Now what I’ve determined is what we look at either brings us rest or restlessness. And very often, it is the last look, the image of which remains in you conscious or your subconscious long after the object is passed away…and whatever that image is that you have concentrated and has imbedded itself…that will either give you rest and assurance or will give you restlessness.
Now, there are many things that you and I can look at today that are going to cause us to be restless, discouraged, and depressed. Just reading the headlines or listening to the news is a traumatic experience. Things are bad, and they are likely to get worse.
And if a person walks through this world looking only outward, seeing all the problems, seeing all the dishonesty, seeing all the disruption of what is going on, he’s not going to be able to have any of the assurance or rest and the peace that passes understanding and the joy unspeakable that Scripture promises.
The same goes for looking inwardly. As Christians, we feel this responsibility to be involved and be a part of the solution, and yet it is out of our hands and control. We understand our weakness and we are outnumbered and values are turned upside down. The Bible is ignored.
So looking inwardly only increases the despair. So we cannot let the outward look or the inward look be our last look or we will be discouraged. .
So what does Jude do? He takes an upward look. In the first twenty or so verses, he takes a good hard look at what is going on around him and it is a very depressing picture. In vivid detail, he describes the dangers that are threatening us and threatening our Christian life, that are threatening the fellowship of the church…that are threatening society.
Jude is a realist. He doesn’t pretend everything is going to be okay and he’ll just think positively and it’ll all work out.
He presents this very real picture of the evils and the wastefulness and the sinfulness that is around about us. He sees all of that surrounding him outwardly.
Then he looks inwardly to see the innate wickedness and weakness that is in every man.
But he doesn’t stop there. As he closes this letter, he brings us in to the place where there can always be absolute assurance and he ends it on a note of victory with this doxology.
Now, I want to tell you something. The only person in the world who can walk through this world with all its problems, with all its hypocrisy, with all its dangers and still end up in a doxology, instead of a groan is the person who has placed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And I’ll just be honest with you this evening. If you are a professing Christian, and cannot walk through this world, regardless how godless this world may be, you cannot walk through it in doxology, there’s something wrong.
And so as Jude ends this letter, he gives us the upward look, and he says, “All of these things are true…things are bad…and they’re just going to get worse. Evil men are going to wax worse and worse.”
Jesus predicted it and all the way through His ministry. The Bible states that evil men shall wax worse and worse and the love of many shall grow cold and the longer this world exists the colder it’s going to be and the more indifferent and the more wicked, but Jude doesn’t stop there. He closes out this tremendous little letter, by saying, “BUT…don’t let that be your last look…But unto Him who is able to keep you from falling….”
Every Christian’s life ought to be a doxology. And regardless of the situation in which you find yourself, regardless of the temptation that confronts you today, I want to tell you something…you ought to be able to meet it all with a doxology, and with this confession of faith.
So how do we develop that? How do we learn to do that? Well, Jude shows us how to do that. In order to inspire assurance and confidence and rejoicing in the hearts of these people who are living in much worse times than you and I can ever imagine, he points them to God.
He gives them a vision of God and he says, “Let this be your last look. Keep this image in your mind. Concentrate on this and as you walk through this world with this vision imbedded in your minds and hearts, you’ll be able to rejoice!”
So let’s take a look at these two verses and see what it is He shows them about God.
First, he presents God as a
This is most essential. It is indispensably essential that you and I, if we are to live in confidence and calm and poise and peace, we must see our God as a God of sovereignty.
Now that word, sovereignty, is a theological word that means “the ability to do anything you want to do and to do it right”. That’s what sovereignty is. The power and the ability to do anything you want to do and to do it right. And the first and foremost thing that Jude reveals to us about our God in this doxology is that He is a sovereign God…a God of absolute sovereignty.
There are two things that point out this sovereignty.
First of all, in verse 25, he describes God as
Now underline that word, “only.” His sovereignty is seen in His aloneness. He is the only God. You say, “Now, Pastor…we already know that. Why are you laboring this point about God being the only God? We all know that!” Well, some of you don’t live as though you know it.
As a matter of fact, a great many Christians that I know live as though there were two Gods, or three Gods, or four Gods, and they are in mortal combat and there is some doubt as to who will come victorious. You see, when you think about God, what do you think of? What does the word “God” mean to you? What does that word signify?
Well, lit signifies One who is all powerful, all knowing. It signifies One who is in control of every situation. It signifies One who has the last word in any discussion. It signifies One who is able to keep His word and keep His promise and everything else bows to Him in submission.
Now, a great many of us live as if there were more Gods. We live as though sometimes circumstances have the last word in our situation. We live as though our own weakness sometimes has the last word in every situation.
I think one of the things you and I need to be convinced of in this day is that there is only one God and He is the only One who is in absolute control of our lives. He has the last word to say on every subject.
It doesn’t matter what circumstances may be yours right now. It doesn’t matter what the enemy does. It doesn’t matter at all what the worldly crowd and what this Godless world is doing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a teacher at school who denies God and creation.
It doesn’t matter if an atheist gets on television and says that there’s no God. None of that makes any difference. There is one God and He is the only God and He is the One who is going to have the final say in everything that happens in this life.
To see that is to see Him sovereign in His aloneness. He shares His power with no one else. God is sovereign and He is solitary in that sovereignty.
So that’s the first thing we ought to see and know about God. He is sovereign.
Secondly, Jude tells us our God is a
The old King James says, “To the only wise God, our Savior…” That is a very rare and unusual expression in that we normally don’t see God referred to as Savior in the New Testament.
It is usually Jesus Who is called our Savior. But here it is God the Father Who is called our Savior. And I think what Jude is trying to do for us by using this phrase is help us develop a full dimensional vision of our God. We need to see Him as God Who is in the saving business.
So what does this word “Savior” mean? It means “the Deliverer”, “One who preserves and protects”, but there’s something else about this word that is very interesting thing about this word.
Back in the days of the New Testament, this word “Savior” had a very special usage. We find one example in
Let’s suppose that you are living in a little outpost under the authority of the Roman Empire. Over yonder in Rome is headquarters, the seat of government. That’s from where the Caesar rules. You live way out in the middle of nowhere is a little village. So far, so good. But the danger is you are vulnerable to anybody that wants to come and attack you.
So what would happen is if these little outlying villages and communities came under attack, they could send word to the emperor and the emperor would immediately mount up an army and would come to the rescue of these distant holdings because they didn’t want to surrender any territory to the enemy.
Now watch this: the title they gave to the king or the emperor in those situations was “savior.” It is used to describe a king who comes to the aid of his outpost. And Paul picks up that thought to say to the Philippian believers, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” That’s our home. We may be dwelling in the city of Philippi in enemy territory, but we are under the authority and care of the King of Heaven.”
There may be times when the enemy is bearing down on us, trying to destroy us, fill us with defeat and despair, but he says, “You need to recognize that our God is our Savior, He is One who always comes to the aid of those who belong to Him.”
Now, there’s something else about this text that is extremely important and I want to be sure you see it.
For some reason, the King James and New King James translators left out a line that is in the original texts. I don’t know why they left it out, you’ll have to ask them. But if you look in the original manuscripts you’ll see that this line is left out.
New American Standard, among others, gives us a good translation of what the text actually includes when it says, “to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
The phrase that is missing is “through Jesus Christ our Savior”. So what Jude is telling us is God is our Savior, but He is our Savior only through His Son, Jesus Christ.
In other words, the only way that God will save you, deliver you, preserve you is when you are rightly related with Jesus Christ as Lord.
God has no other means nor inclination to save anybody apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s salvation comes only through Jesus Christ our Lord. He’s the only Way. And if you think that God is going to save you and deliver you and preserve you without your submission to Jesus Christ, then you’re sadly mistaken.
So that’s verse 25. We are singing the doxology of God as Sovereign and Savior. Now let’s back up to verse 24 and see what that means for us who are living in a dark and dying world. And there we see Him as
I’m afraid that a great many of us who say we believe in Him have some doubt as to His sufficiency. So if you are tempted to doubt His sufficiency, notice, first of all, Jude says He is
That simply means that is able. He is adequate. He is sufficient for every situation that you encounter.
Let me just mention two settings in which He is able. First of all, He is sufficient for
I don’t know about you, but that’s where I live. I’m not too interested in the past. I have only a curious interest in the future. I live in the present. That’s where I really need some sufficiency and I’m afraid that too much preaching is so focused on the past and the future we forget to talk about the present.
I want you to know that God Who is our Sovereign Savior is sufficient for the here and now. This is really the focus of what Jude is writing.
He says, “I know you are living in hard times. I know you’re surrounded by everything that is contradictory to how you’re trying to live. But I want you to know that He is able to keep you from falling. He’s sufficient for the present.”
By the way, the word “keep” means “to watch over and guard”. He is able to watch over you and to keep you from literally stumbling. The King James says falling, but the word is literally stumbling. That’s makes all kinds of sense because typically, you stumble before you fall. God is not only able to prevent the fall, He can prevent the stumble that causes the fall.
The imagery behind the phrase is that of being sure-footed in slippery places and the picture that comes to mind is of a cautious rider getting off his horse and leading him along as they make their way down a slippery, rocky mountainside.
There are times are times when God just lets me fly. And there are other times when everything slows down. I’ve often wondered, “Why, Lord? Why are we moving so slowly? Why don’t you let me run?
Well, God knows I’m passing over some slippery places and so He takes me very gently and very slowly to keep me from stumbling. What does the old song say? “God leads His dear children along.” The Psalmist said, “He leads me beside the still waters.” They may be still, but they are still wet and slippery. And God is able to lead me through whatever kinds of circumstances I’m encountering.
Now I don’t know about you, but to me, that is a great encouragement because I don’t know what’s coming. I don’t’ know if it’s slippery or dry. I don’t know if there is quicksand or bedrock under me.
But I don’t have to know because my faith is in a God Who knows. I don’t care how slippery it is, I don’t care how treacherous it is…I don’t care how uncertain the future is…how uncertain your present is…if you will just commit yourself to this God, He will keep you from losing your balance.
He is sufficient for the present. But He is also sufficient for
Not only is He able to keep us from falling, He is also able to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. This means we will stand firm and confident in His presence.
Now as I pondered that, I thought to myself, “It might not be too hard for me to stand blameless before you.” I could do that because you don’t know everything there is to know about me. And like you, I can conceal a lot of things. See, you don’t know everything about me and I don’t know everything about you and that’s why we have so much respect for each other.
And really, it’s not too hard to be able to stand without blame before people today because there are so few that do. If you live a halfway decent life, you really stand out anymore! It you are halfway faithful to church, you are in the elite! If you come to prayer meeting and visitation, you’re way ahead of most!
But notice, he says, “You will stand without blame BEFORE GOD!” That’s hard to comprehend isn’t it? Just imagine being able to stand in the presence of God of all glory, the God before Whom all things are open, the God who searches the deep things of a man’s heart, the God who knows me through and through and who is holy and righteous and will tolerate nothing of un-holiness, to be able to stand in the presence of His glory and be glad about it”. After all, we not only stand without stumbling, we do it with joy.
And Jude is telling us that this sovereign, saving sufficient God of ours is able to do such a work in your life and mine through the Lord Jesus Christ that one day you and I will be able to stand before that piercing, scrutinizing gaze of the glory of God and stand erect, faultless, without a spot, without blemish, without anything in you that would make you unacceptable, and you’ll do it with great joy!! He is sufficient for the present. He is sufficient for the future.
Now you have here a very simple little secret of how to live in doxology no matter what. And the pattern is right here in this little letter of Jude. I don’t care what you go through, listen…if you will end every circumstance of life with this confession of faith you’ll be able to live in assurance.
You may say, “I’m going through a hard time…financially, materially, but unto Him who is able to keep me from falling and to present me faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy…unto Him be glory and power and majesty and dominion forever.”
And you can substitute any set of circumstances you want into the sentence.
I may be going through a hard time emotionally. . .
I may be going through a difficult time in my family life. . .
I may be going through a hard time physically. . .
It doesn’t matter what your circumstances, the truth is every possible scenario that could come your way needs to filtered through this declaration of faith that declares,
“but unto Him who is able to keep me from falling and to present me faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy…unto Him be glory and power and majesty and dominion forever.”
To every Christian who walks through the valleys of this life, I don’t care what he sees, how evil it is, how desperate the situation may be, if he will end his assessment of the situation with this confession of faith, he will be able to live his life in praise and doxology, instead of groaning and moaning and being depressed.
The song we commonly refer to as “The Doxology” was written by Thomas Ken back in the late 1600s. Ken was an Englishman and an ordained Anglican priest. He served as Rector of several parishes, was briefly chaplain to Princess Mary, and later to the British fleet. He published many poems, along with a Manual of Prayers.
After his parents died, Thomas was enrolled by his sister into an all- boy's school, Winchester College.
He would return to the same school as Chaplain many years later and it was during that time when he wrote a three-verse hymn to motivate his students in their devotions. One verse was to be sung upon waking and one before bed. The third verse was to be sung at midnight, if a boy found sleep difficult.
That sounds a little foreign to us today, but in that day, the writing of this hymn for such a purpose was somewhat revolutionary. For centuries hymns of the church were sung only by monks. Although at this point in history protestant churches in some countries were beginning to introduce hymns into congregational singing, it would be several years before England would officially sanction the practice.
But Thomas Ken believed every child of God had a reason to praise and a need to praise and so he encouraged those who were under his tutelage to begin and end their days singing and praising God and when they were burdened in the middle of the night, to praise God then as well.
And I would suggest we should do the same. As I said earlier, it all depends on what you have on your mind.
I’ve never been much of a fan of modern art, but I will admit I find this piece fascinating. Look at the four dots in the center of thirty seconds, then close your eyes and look up toward the light.
Now what we’ve done with that picture is good advice for life.
No one denies there is chaos all around us. But I would encourage you to raise your eyes toward heaven and look at the light. Carry His image in your heart and mind.
“to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”