OceanSide church of Christ
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Jude 1 - Falling from Grace
Victor M. Eskew
One of the cardinal doctrines of Calvinism is the perseverance of the saints. This doctrine proclaims that a child of God cannot fall from the grace of God. In other words, it is impossible for the true believer to ever lose his salvation.
Those who hold to this teaching believe that the scriptures uphold it. There are several verses to which they turn for their “proof-texts.” One such verse is Jude 1. The brother of the Lord begins his brief epistle with these words: “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.” The emphasis for the Calvinist is upon the word “preserved.” Webster defines the word “preserved” as “to save from decay; to keep in a sound state.” Making application of this definition to Jude’s statement, it seems that the Calvinist has a strong case. Those who are sanctified are in a sound state and safe from decay.
Instead of trusting Webster’s definition, one needs to turn to a reliable Greek lexicon in order to acquire the definition of the word “preserved.” Such a lexicon will give the meaning of the word as Jude intended it. The Greek word is “tereo” (5083). Thayer says that it means “to attend carefully, take care of, to guard.” Strong says that the word literally means “a watch.” He continues by stating it means “to guard” or “keeping the eye on.” He also says that it is different from 5442, “which is properly to prevent escaping.” It is interesting that Jude could have used a word that means “to prevent escaping,” but he did not. He used a word that means that Jesus keeps His eyes upon us.
Jesus does watch us once we are His. He carefully guards us from all the enemies that are without. However, He does not force our hearts to serve Him. He will not hold us captive against our wills. If we choose to cease to abide in Him, He will allow us to depart. This helps us to understand the warning of Hebrews 3:12. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” If the child of God cannot develop an evil heart of unbelief, this warning is meaningless. The reality is that unbelief can invade the hearts of God’s children. It invaded the minds of the Israelites in the wilderness (Heb. 3:7-11). If we allow such to happen, Jesus will not prevent us from leaving His fold. He will only guard us as long as we allow Him to stand watch over our souls.
The church at Laodicea had cast Jesus out from His watchful post. In Revelation 3:20, He sates: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man will hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Note that Jesus is standing outside the door. He was desirous of coming in. His knocking will not continue forever, however. It is possible for men to reach a point when “it is impossible…if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance…” (Heb. 6:4-6). This is why it is imperative for those who are made partakers of Christ to hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end (Heb. 3:14).