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Jude 12

Winning Souls

This time we are going to consider verses 22 and 23.  In these verses Jude is writing about the winning of souls.

Here is Jude’s final message before his closing benediction.  He tells us that this matter of winning men and women for Christ is the serious and sacred responsibility of all Christian believers.  It is our duty towards those who are without Christ and without hope in the world.  Our God, the only Living God, is full of compassion for those whom He has made who have rebelled against Him. 

He is also a holy God whose righteous judgement against sin is very terrible. 

But there are those who will be saved from thatjudgement, they are those for whom the Lord Jesus Christ died, whose redemption He accomplished on Calvary’s cross.  They are those who respond to his call as He draws them to Himself.  All must hear the Gospel of Christ if they are to be saved for without the Saviour all are lost.  It is for us who belong to Christ to seek the lost and bring them the message so that God may, by his grace, save them. 

Verse 22 flows right through to verse 23.  This is what they say: "Be merciful to those who doubt, snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. "

Jude’s final words concerning soul winning are like the parting words of the Lord Jesus to his disciples recorded in Luke 24 verses 46 to 48:

"He told them, "this is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things. ""

In these verses Jude gives us three kinds of people to whom we must witness.  There are those who need compassionate tenderness because they are plagued with uncertainties.  He says, "Be merciful to those who doubt. " Then there are those who require urgent boldness if they are to be snatched away from an eternity of fiery judgement.  Thirdly there are those who must be helped with cautious wisdom lest the Christian becomes contaminated by their sins. 

So, in verse 22, in our witness to those who are lost there is a need for compassionate tenderness.  We are the recipients of God’s great mercy towards us, so we too should show the same kind of mercy and compassion towards those who do not know our Saviour.  We must be sensitive to the different situations that people are in.  They may be hurting or confused; they may be seeking help; they may be struggling with fears and doubts.  Our place as we witness to these is to be considerate, showing the patience and love of Christ.  We are not to be proud, or harsh or judgmental, even to those who wilfully oppose us.  Our God is forgiving and gracious, and we must be forgiving and gracious. 

So we need patience and compassion as we try to help people full of doubts.  They need to know that they must cry "Lord save me!" and trust entirely in Christ. 

In verse 23 we are told that others are to be snatched from the fire and brought to safety.  The expression suggests a rescue at the very last moment.  In the Old Testament, Lot and his daughters were snatched as brands for the burning from the wicked city of Sodom.  Amos declares the word of the Lord to Israel concerning his mercy when they deserved his judgement, "You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire. " If the stick had not be snatched from the fire it would have been destroyed.  How this emphasises the urgency of our task.  The whole world is lost in the darkness of sin.  Men and women and young people are going to a lost eternity.  Many may have only one opportunity to hear the good news that Christ has died for their sins to rescue them from eternal judgement.  You may be the one to tell them.  We are to be bold and positive and urgent in our witness.  Evangelism is a serious and sensitive work.  People have to be pulled from the fire.  They are in a tragic and hopeless condition.  They are heading for the fire of divine judgement. 

Then in verse 23 Jude counsels us have wisdom in our approach to the third group of people.  These are they whose life-style is corrupt and evil.  Strong words are used here.  Words such as "fear" and "hating".  "Fear" is the word "phobos" in the original Greek.  In English we have the word "phobia" which means the fear of something.  "Phobos" means dread or terror or it can also mean reverential fear, the fear of displeasing God.  In witnessing to those whose lives have been corrupted by all kinds of evil practices, we must never underestimate the power of Satan to ensnare us and bring us down, even by contact with the very ones we are trying to win.  So we are to hate everything that is associated with their evil practices.  The Good News Version of the Bible translates the last part of verse 23 like this: "Hate their very clothes, stained by their sinful lusts. " Great care and great wisdom is needed by those who go among the most corrupt in order to win them for Christ.  But here too there is to be mercy, no pride or condemnation of the individuals themselves, only an abhorrence of their sin.  We always remember that the precious blood of the Lord Jesus cleanses from all sin.  Faith in Him can truly make the vilest sinner clean. 

The heart of God is towards the lost.  He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.  He has given to his people the privilege and awesome responsibility of being Christ’s ambassadors in this sinful world.  He calls on us to go with the Gospel to our family, friends and neighbours with an urgency borne out of love for those who are lost.  In the verses we have been discovering today, Jude has shown us how we should approach this task as we witness to different groups of people.  The faithful soul-winner is sensitive towards those who doubt; urgent to save those who are dying, and wise in dealing with those whose lives are being destroyed by their sin. 

Do you care about the lost?  Do you have a soul-winners heart? May we all learn the lessons we have discovered.

Click here for part 13.