Life-Study of 1, 2, & 3 John, Judeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In verses 20 through 23 Jude gives certain charges to the believers. In verses 20 and 21 he charges the believers to build themselves up in the holy faith and to live in the Triune God. Then in verses 22 and 23 he charges the believers to care for others with mercy in fear.
In verse 20 Jude says, “But you, beloved, building up yourselves in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” The faith here is objective faith and refers to the precious things of the New Testament in which we believe for our salvation in Christ. On the foundation of this holy faith and in the sphere of it, through praying in the Holy Spirit, we build up ourselves. The truth of the faith in our apprehension and the Holy Spirit through our prayer are necessary for our building up. Both the faith and the Spirit are holy.
It is correct to say that faith in verse 20 is objective faith. However, we need to realize that this objective faith produces subjective faith. Faith first refers to the truth contained in the Word of God and conveyed by the Word, The written word of God in the Bible and the spoken word in the genuine and proper preaching and teaching contain the truth and convey the truth to us. By truth we mean the reality of what God is, the reality of the process through which God has passed, and the reality of what He has accomplished, attained, and obtained. Hence, truth as reality includes all the facts concerning what God is, what God has passed through, what God has accomplished, and what God has attained and obtained. All this is revealed in the New Testament. We may read about this in the Bible, or we may hear it through someone’s preaching and teaching. But in either case this reality is contained in the holy Word and conveyed by the Word to us.
As we listen to the word that contains the truth, the Spirit of Christ works within us. The Spirit of Christ always works according to the Word and with the Word. This means that the Spirit of Christ cooperates with the Word. As a result of this cooperation, eventually in our experience there is a “click,” like that made by the shutter of a camera, and the “scene” of what is contained in the Word is impressed on our spirit and becomes our faith. As we pointed out in the Life-study of 2 Peter, this is the faith allotted to us as our portion from God (2 Pet. 1:1), and this portion is nothing less than the New Testament inheritance.
This faith is both objective and subjective. As we build ourselves up in our most holy faith, we build ourselves up in a faith that is not only objective but especially subjective. The subjective faith comes out of the objective faith. In other words, faith implies both what we believe in and also our believing. This is the most holy faith.
This faith is not something of ourselves. In ourselves we do not have such a faith. The most holy faith is a great blessing given to us from God, of God, and even with God. When this faith comes into us, it comes with God, with all that God is, with all that God has passed through, with all that God has accomplished in Christ and through the Spirit, and with all that God has obtained and attained. All this comes into us with God in this faith. As long as we have this faith, we have the processed God, redemption, regeneration, the divine life, and all things related to life and godliness. We are also positioned and privileged to partake of the divine nature and enjoy it. Therefore, once we have this faith, we have everything. Now we need to build ourselves up in this holy faith.
With what materials do we build ourselves up in our holy faith? The answer is that this faith is both the materials with which we build and also the base or foundation on which we build. If we do not have faith, we do not have the materials, and we do not have the base, the foundation, on which to build. This means that without faith we have nothing to build on and nothing to build with. As believers, we build ourselves up with the content of our most holy faith, and we build ourselves up on this faith as a foundation. Praise the Lord that we have such a faith!
The Chinese version of the Bible translates the Greek word for faith in verse 20 with a word that means “the true word.” Faith in this verse surely implies the true word, for faith is produced out of the contents of the true word, God’s revelation. The word of God’s revelation contains the divine reality of God’s being, process, redemptive work, accomplishment, and attainment, and this word conveys all this divine reality into us. When we hear the words concerning this reality, the Holy Spirit works within us in a way that corresponds to these words. The outcome is faith.
Although faith implies the true word, it implies much more than this. According to the New Testament, faith is all-inclusive. As long as we have faith, we have all the divine things. Therefore, with these divine things as the material and foundation, we may build ourselves up in our most holy faith.
To build ourselves up in the faith does not mean to build ourselves up with theological doctrines or biblical knowledge. Mere doctrine or knowledge is too objective and also empty. But truth as the reality of the holy Word is not empty. This truth is the content of the most holy faith. Therefore, with this content we have something real and solid with which and on which to build.
The building up in the most holy faith is not individualistic; rather, this building is a corporate matter. Jude is speaking to the believers corporately when he charges them to build up themselves in their most holy faith. If we would build up ourselves in the faith, we must do it in a corporate way; that is, we must do it in the Body, in the church life. Apart from the church life, we cannot build ourselves up in the faith. Outside the church life, there is not such a building. Actually, to build up ourselves in the most holy faith is to build up the Body of Christ.
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