In 1976 the noted Christian philosopher and theologian, FRAN CIS A. SCHAEFFER, published a book entitled, How Should We Then Live? In it the author traces the reasons for modern society’s sorry and sordid state of affairs and presents the only viable alternative – namely, living by Christian ethics, acceptance of God’s revelation, and the total affirmation of the Bible’s morals, values, and meaning.
Dr. SCHAEFFER’s book title is taken from Ezekiel chapter 33 verse 10 amid the context of the prophet’s great watchman passage. ‘How should we then live?’ is a question which Christians may well ask themselves in these last days of the church age. The answer, of course, is found in the word of God.
Jude may well have asked it in his day, but, whether or not he did, he has, nevertheless, given us at least eight comm ands as to how all true believers should live as this age of grace draws swiftly to its close.
The first of these commands is:
Earnestly Contend for the Faith, v. 3
Today, false teachers have crept into the professing church and are actively proclaiming their subversive doctrines as never before. In view of this, true Christians must ‘contend for the faith’, that is, the truth of the Bible which was once for all de livered to the saints. Yet, at the same time, they must avoid being con tentious. For example, we must contend for: The inerrancy and infallibility of the scriptures. The deity of Christ. The virgin birth of Christ. The propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. Christ’s bodily resurrection. Christ’s coming again. Man’s fall through sin. Man’s need of salvation through faith in Christ and His shed blood. The eternal judgement of all who die in their sins without Christ.
The second command is:
Remember the Teaching and Warnings of the Apostles, v. 17
‘But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ’.
It is human to forget what we should remember and to remember what we should forget. Thus, Jude reminds his read ers, and us, how that the apostles ‘told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own un – godly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit’, vv. 18-19.
The next command is:
Building up yourselves on your most Holy Faith v. 20a
It should be stressed that the word for ‘building up’ is in the present tense. In other words, ‘keep on building up yourselves on your most holy faith’.
John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) was the sixth president of the United States (1825-29). As secretary of state, he helped formulate the Monroe Doctrine and later became an act ive campaigner against slavery. It was he who said, ‘My cus tom is to read four or five chapters of the Bible every morn ing immediately after rising. It seems to me the most suit able manner of beginning the day. It is an invaluable and inexhaustible mine of knowledge and virtue’.
The fourth command is:
Pray in the Holy Spirit, v. 20b
Again, it should be noted that the word for ‘pray’ is in the present tense. Prayer is one of the most important resources, if not the most important, that the true believer has on which to build up himself. But what does it mean to pray in the Holy Spirit? One thing, it does not mean the per – functory saying of prayers. Rather, it means true spiritual communion with the Lord, our praying being motivated, guided, and empowered by the Holy Spirit Himself, cf. Eph. 6. 18; Rom. 8. 26; Col. 4. 2, 12; 1 Thess. 5. 17. And this is only possible as we ‘walk in the Spirit’, Gal. 5. 16.
The fifth command is:
Keep yourselves in the Love of God, v. 21a
Of this command, DR. H. A. IRONSIDE has said, ‘It is as though I say to my child, “Keep in the sunshine”. The sun shines whether we enjoy it or not. And so God’s love abides un changing. But we need to keep in the conscious enjoyment of it. Let nothing make the tried soul doubt that love. Circum – stances cannot alter it, nor can our own failures. The soul needs to rely upon it, and thus be borne in triumph above the conflict and the discouraging episodes incident to the life of faith’.1
At a great flower exhibition in London, one of the prizes was taken by a magnificent geranium bloom in an old tin can, brought there by a child from a tenement house. Being interviewed by a patron of the exhibition on the success of her flower, she told him simply how a lady gave her a slip. She found an old can in the dustbin, scraped up the dirt from the alley to fill it, and planted the slip. ‘Then’, she said, ‘in the morning I put it in the east window, and in the afternoon I put it in the west window, and, well, sir, I just keep it in the sun’.
The next command is:
Expect the Rapture v. 21b
It should be noted that the word for ‘looking’ is in the pres ent tense, observing also that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are prominent in verses 20 and 21. It has been suggested that ‘building’ and ‘praying’ speak of the believer’s work of faith; ‘keeping’, of his labour of love; and ‘looking’ of his patience of hope, 1 Thess. 1. 3.
WARREN W. WIERSBE has stated that, ‘The word translated looking … means “earnestly expecting”. It describes an attitude of life that is motivated by the prom ise of our Lord’s return. The apostates can only look for judgment, but God’s people are looking for mercy. Not only is our salvation from sin the gift of God’s mercy, but so also is the deliverance of His church from this evil world. In His mercy, He will come for us and take us to Himself’.2
The seventh command is:
Evangelize the lost, vv. 22-23
In fulfilling our Lord’s commission to, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature’, Mark 16. 15, WIERSBE has discerningly commented that, ‘Not every Christ ian is equipped to deal with false teachers or with those they have influenced and captured. It takes a good knowledge of the word, a faithful walk with God, an understanding of Sat an’s devices, and certainly the fullness of the Spirit of God’.3
The eighth and last command is:
Guard the Purity of your Testimony v. 23b
In dealing with confused, deceived, lost people we need to ex ercise caution, lest we ourselves become contaminated by the sin of those we try to help. Sin is contagious. Thus, at all times, and in every circumstance, the Christian must be on his guard.
Here, then, are eight biblical guidelines for God’s people who live in a worldwide scene of abounding evil and increasing apostasy: earnestly contend for the faith, re member the teaching and warnings of the apostles, build up yourselves on your most holy faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, expect the rapture, evan gelize the lost, and guard the purity of your testimony.
‘Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Saviour, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen’, Jude 24-25 NKJV.
1 HARRY A. IRONSIDE, Exposition of the Epistle of Jude, p. 54.
2 WARREN W. WIERSBE, Be Alert, p. 162.
3 Ibid., p. 165.