A Battle Cry for the Church

October 17, 2021 ()

Bible Text: Jude 20-21 |

A Battle Cry for the Church | Jude 20-21, 24-25
Brian Hedges | October 17, 2021

Let me invite you to turn in your Bibles this morning to the book of Jude. It’s really just a small letter, the letter of Jude. It’s at the very end of the Bible, if you need some help finding it, next to the last book, right before the book of Revelation, at the end of the New Testament. If you’re using one of the Bibles in the chair in front of you it’s on page 1027.

I love epic films. Some of my favorite scenes in a film are right before a great battle takes place. Probably everybody, or almost everybody, has seen the movie Braveheart. You remember that scene where Mel Gibson is playing William Wallace, dying for the freedom of Scotland, his face is all painted blue, and there’s this scene where he’s gathered all of these men of Scotland together, and they are going to fight against tyranny. He says, “Fight and you may die, run and you’ll live, at least for a while, and dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance—just one chance—to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” You hear a speech like that and you’re ready to climb on a horse, right? You’re ready to charge off into war! So I think we’re all inspired when we see these kinds of films, we hear these battle cries, these battle speeches.

I start with that this morning because the passage I want to look at this morning is a battle cry for the church that is meant to inspire us to take action. It really is a call to arms here in the book of Jude.

Now, I’m using this partly because I believe the men of the DeColores retreat have studied this passage together this week, but it is appropriate, I think, for all of us, and for those of us here at Redeemer Church. It is a call to keep ourselves in the love of God. It’s given in the context of a letter that is both a warning and a battle cry, a call to arms.

The warning is against false teachers, that there are those who will come into the church who will twist the grace of God, turning it into license, false teachers leading away from the gospel. The call (you see this in Jude 3) is to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. But the real marching orders are found in verses 20-21, which I want to read together this morning. In fact, I want to read verses 20-21, and then I want to read the end of the letter, verses 24-25. I want us to view this as a battle cry for the church. So Jude 20, and you can follow along on the screen or in your own copy of God’s word.

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”

Drop down to verse 24.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory 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.”

This is God’s word.

I want you to see this morning that there is a central command, which is, “Keep yourselves in the love of God,” in verse 21. Then there are three subordinate commands, which really are three practical ways to keep yourselves in the love of God. These are the participles in the two verses; it’s the words “building,” “praying,” “waiting.” In the version I’m using here, the ESV, each of those words ends with “-ing”: building, praying, waiting. They are the means by which we obey this central command or imperative, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.”

Then I want you to see that there is a great foundational promise that supports all of that, and that, of course, is found in the doxology. So let’s look at each of these three things together.

The Central Command

First of all, the central command, “Keep yourselves in the love of God,” verse 21.

We have to ask, what is it that Jude means here? What is the love of God in this passage? Is it God’s love for us or is it our love for him? What does he mean when he says, “Keep yourselves in the love of God?”

I like an illustration that Charles Haddon Spurgeon used. Spurgeon was this great 19th-century preacher in England, probably they greatest preacher of the 19th century, and Spurgeon essentially said that the love of God is like a bright, blazing sun, but if you hold up a magnifying glass, the rays of the sun refracted through that glass will ignite, say, a pile of kindling and a small pile of wood, it will ignite that into a fire. He says that the love of God is both God’s love for us, which is the sun, but refracted through this magnifying glass it kindles love for God in our own hearts.

Both those things are probably included here. We keep ourselves in the love of God, that is, in the consciousness of his love for us, so that there is in our own hearts a response of love for him. We love him in return.

Now, when it says, “Keep yourselves in the love of God,” does it mean that you have to do something to be sure that God keeps loving you? I think the answer is certainly not. Scripture is very clear that God loved us when we were sinners, God loved us when we were without strength, God loved us even when we were his enemies (Romans 5:6, 8, and 10), and that all who are in Christ, nothing can separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. The love of God in Christ Jesus is unbreakable love. It is love that is secure.

But here’s what I think Jude means. To keep yourselves in the love of God is to keep yourself in the consciousness of that love, under the influence of that love, thinking about the magnitude of that love for you, so that there is a response of your love for him in your heart and in your life.

What Jude is saying here is that this is the front line of defense against sin, against backsliding, against apostasy, against false teaching; it is to keep yourselves in the love of God. Remind yourself constantly that God loves you, and preach it to yourself so much and so often that the response of your own heart is love for him. You might think of this as the fortress on the front line of battle by which we defend ourselves against any kind of departure from God.

Now, I think we even know this in our earthly relationships. We know that when love grows cold, relationships unravel. Any of you remember—if you ever listen to the oldies radio station, you’ll remember this—you remember The Righteous Brothers? You remember that song, "You’ve Lost that Lovin' Feelin'"?

You never close your eyes anymore
When I kiss your lips,
And there’s no tenderness like before
In your fingertips.
You’re trying hard not to show it,
But baby, baby, I know it,
You’ve lost that lovin' feelin'.
Oh, that loving feelin',
You’ve lost that lovin' feelin',
And now it’s gone, gone, gone.”

Did you know that Jesus says essentially the same thing to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2? Their doctrine was right, they were hardworking and serving, but he said, “I have this against you: you have left your first love.”

This is the first thing that goes. You can be sure that every time there is a departure in your life from Christ, when you are turning from him in sin or you are veering off of the straight and narrow way, it is because you’ve left your first love. It’s because you’ve not kept yourselves in the love of God. So this is first. This is the first line of defense, is to keep yourselves in the consciousness of his love for you, so that the fire of love in your own heart, your love for him is burning bright. Keep yourselves in the love of God. That is the central command; that’s the main point of the message this morning, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.”

Three Ways to Keep Ourselves in the Love of God

But the question, of course, is how do you do that? What does that look like? What does it look like in our daily lives to keep ourselves in the love of God? I think the very way this is structured and put together by Jude shows us how. He gives us three ways. There are three subordinate commands, as I said, signaled by these three other verbs, which really support the main imperative of the passage. These are the words “building,” “praying,” and “waiting.” They suggest for us three ways in which we keep ourselves in the love of God. To use theological words, we might call them edification, supplication, and expectation. I want you to see each one of these.

You might think of keeping yourselves in the love of God, if this is the fortress on the front line of defense, these three things are the three towers in the fortress, and these towers have to be manned in order for the fortress to be strong.

(1) Edification: Building yourselves up in your most holy faith

Here’s the first one: edification. Look at verse 20. He says, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith . . . keep yourselves in the love of God.” That’s the idea. As you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, you will keep yourselves in the love of God.

This means growing in our understanding and application of the faith. “Building yourselves up in your most holy faith.” By this I think he means the objective, revealed content of the faith, because in verse 3 he said that he was writing to encourage them, to urge them to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” So the idea here isn’t so much your subject faith as it is the faith, the body of doctrine of Christian truth. He says we are to be building ourselves up in our most holy faith.

I think that word is important, the word “building.” That is architectural language, building something. So that’s why I call it edification. Edification is a fancy theological word, it’s a churchy word, but it really relates to the idea of building—building an edifice. What is an edifice? It’s a structure, it’s a building, it’s a house or a church or a temple or a fortress. It’s a building. Edification is the process of building something. To edify something or someone is to build them up. What Jude is saying here is that the way in which you keep yourselves in the love of God is to build yourself up in the faith.

If you just think about that image of building for a minute, it’s very suggestive, I think, of things in the Christian life. Building takes time, doesn’t it? You don’t build something overnight. In the same way, building yourself up in your faith is a process that takes time. You grow not over days, but over months and over years.

Building also requires effort and intentionality. A building doesn’t build itself. You can put a pile of lumber out on a lot and leave it there all day long, all week long—you can leave it there for a year—but if somebody doesn’t put some effort into it, no building is going to be built. There’s going to be no structure.

In the same way, in the Christian life, you don’t grow automatically. You have to put something into it. You have to put effort into it. You have to read your Bible, you have to build Christian relationships, you have to serve others in the body of Christ, you have to share your faith with others, you have to use your spiritual gifts. You have to do things that help you to grow.

Building also takes a team, right? Buildings aren’t built by one person, generally, but by a team of people, maybe by multiple teams of people. I think it’s significant here that Jude says, “Building yourselves [plural] up in your most holy faith,” which means you need a community, you need a church. You need Christian friendships. You need people that you can lock arms with so that you are building yourselves up in the love of God, in your most holy faith, keeping yourselves in the love of God.

Then there is an order to building something. A wise builder is always going to follow a blueprint, where a foundation is laid first, and then the superstructure, right, and then a roof. Then things start getting filled out. You run the electricity, you run the plumbing, you throw up the drywall, the paint, the carpet. There’s an order in which you do things.

In the same way, in the Christian life there is an order to building yourselves up in your most holy faith.

You begin with the foundation of Jesus Christ and him crucified, the gospel. Jesus died for our sins on the cross, and he was raised from the dead on the third day. That’s right at the heart. And then the response to that, faith and repentance.

Then we start building the superstructure as we tease out the implications and the application of the gospel. If this is true, how are we to live? If this is true, how does it relate to these other parts of Christian doctrine? That’s the superstructure that comes up.

You might ask yourself, “How do you do this? How does this work practically?” How do you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, practically? This is going to be painfully obvious—this is what you might expect me to say—but brothers and sisters, it starts with this book. It starts with the Bible. You have to be in your Bible.

I’d just ask you this morning, what’s your devotional life like? Are you reading Scripture? Are you meditating on Scripture? Are you taking the word into your life? You say, “I don’t know how to do that. The Bible’s overwhelming. That’s a hard book, it’s a confusing book, it’s a long book.”

I grant, there are things in the Bible I sure don’t understand! I get it, and I’ve been studying it for 30-plus years, so I get it. It’s hard to understand parts of the Bible. But here’s what you can do. Take one book of the Bible—I recommended this to our congregation last week—take the Gospel of Mark, read one chapter a day for 16 days. When you finish that, take another book of the Bible. Take the book of Romans; read one chapter a day for 16 days. There are 16 chapters in each of those books. That’ll give you a month’s worth of reading right there; 32 chapters, two books of the Bible. You get the basic life of Jesus in Mark, you get the basic outline of the gospel in Romans.

Here’s what you can do: use this threefold framework for reading and applying Scripture: head, heart, hands.

  • Head: Is there something here for me to understand? What do I need to know from this passage? Write it down.
  • Heart: How should this change my heart? How should this shape my desires, my priorities? How should this call out my affections of love and of worship and of joy?
  • Hands: What should I do as a result? What is this passage telling me that I need to do in obedience to Jesus Christ?

Head, heart, hands. You can use that every day, that simple framework. It will give you some hooks to hang things on when you read Scripture. If you do that and you do that consistently, you will build yourselves up in the faith. You’ll grow.

That’s first; edification, building yourselves up in your most holy faith.

(2) Supplication: Praying in the Holy Spirit

But the word has to be supplemented with prayer. So the second thing Jude says is, “. . . praying in the Holy Spirit,” or supplication. It’s also in verse 20.

Of course, we all know this, don’t we? I think we intuitively know this, that prayer is absolutely vital to a Christian’s relationship with God. The word is vital, but prayer is vital as well. We dare not pit these two things against one another.

One of the old hymn-writers said,

“Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air,
The watchword at the gates of death;
He enters heaven with prayer.”

I like that imagery. Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath, his native air. In fact, some have suggested this, and I think it’s really helpful: prayer is spiritual breathing. What do you do when you breathe? You inhale and you exhale, right? You inhale oxygen, you exhale carbon dioxide. Prayer is like that. You inhale and you exhale. If you think about this as your daily rhythm of walking with God, this is what you are doing; you are inhaling and you’re exhaling. You are exhaling as you confess your sins and as you bring your needs to the Lord. You’re pouring something out as you bring it to the Lord, and you’re inhaling in adoration, worship, and praise as you are breathing in God’s grace, God’s presence, God’s promises into your life.

Notice that Jude here says, “. . . praying in [or by] the Holy Spirit.” What does that mean? It means praying in the strength of the Spirit, praying by the grace of the Spirit, praying in step with the Spirit, praying in the power of the Spirit. It means that the Spirit of God within us is the one who is moving us to God in prayer.

This really is what prayer is. Prayer is being in relationship with the Triune God. We speak to God our Father, we speak to him in and through the name and the work of Jesus Christ his Son, and we speak to him as we are empowered and led by the Holy Spirit.

C.S. Lewis, in his wonderful book Mere Christianity, I think puts this as simply as I’ve ever seen it. He says, “An ordinary, simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get in touch with God, but if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God—God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the man who was God; that is, that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening,” Lewis says. “God is the thing to which he is praying, the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on, the mode of power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal, so that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers.”

Have you ever wondered what’s the practical use of the doctrine of the Trinity? That’s it, right there! You are praying to God, but as you pray to God you’re praying in the Holy Spirit, which means God himself is working in you to lead you to pray, and you are praying through Jesus Christ because of what he has done for you. It’s simple yet profound.

So of course we have to ask ourselves another application question, right? How is our prayer life? Listen, Christian; are you talking to God regularly? If you don’t have a consistent prayer life, do not wonder that your love grows cold. You will not keep yourselves in the love of God if you are not praying in the Holy Spirit. How do you do that? How do you pray in the Holy Spirit? How do you do that regularly?

Once again, I would suggest that you take this head-heart-hands paradigm and connect it to your Bible reading, connect it to your time in the word. Don’t separate these things, don’t have Bible time one part of the day and prayer time another part of the day. Connect these things so that your reading and your praying go together.

  • Head: pray for understanding. Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
  • Heart: pray for the Lord to work in your heart, in your desires, in your affections. Psalm 119:36, “Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain.” Seek him for heart-transforming grace.
  • Hands: prayerfully commit yourself to obedience. Psalm 119:5, “O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!”

I think if you’ll put those two things together, the word and prayer, head, hands, heart—you do that regularly, it will keep you in the love of God.

(3) Expectation: Waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ

There’s one more piece of this. This is the third tower in this fortress. It’s the tower of expectation. Look at verse 21. “Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”

This means living with the second coming of Christ constantly in view. That’s the idea of this word “waiting.” Waiting means to wait for something with eager expectation, looking forward to the arrival of something or someone. It’s the word that Paul uses in Titus 2:13 when he says that we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” That’s what we’re waiting for! It means that we are living with the coming of Christ on our minds, in our hearts. We’re looking for him, waiting for him.

What happens when Jesus comes? Mercy! That’s what the believer is waiting for; it’s mercy, mercy that leads to eternal life, Jude says. We’re waiting for Christ to come again, when he will bring saving mercy to his people and he will make all things new, he will lead us into the eternal state.

Whatever your eschatology is, whatever the sequence of events you think is going to happen at the end times, at the end of the day, this is what really matters. This is what we all can be sure of, this is what we can be confident in. Jesus is coming, and when he comes, it’s going to be good. This is what you need, this is what you’re longing for, this is what you’re waiting for in your heart of hearts if you are a believer.

I read a story many years ago about this couple named George and Mary. They were engaged to be married, and I suppose this must have taken place maybe in World War II, because George went off to fight in the war. They were not married yet; he went off to fight in the war. So they were writing letters back and forth, exchanging these letters. Mary would get the letter, she would read these letters, tears streaming down her face. She just missed her beloved fiance, George, so much.

Sadly, she received news one day that he had been killed in battle. She was heartbroken, devastated. The weeks go by, the months go by. One day she was missing George so deeply, she went up into her upstairs bedroom, she pulled out the letters, she started reading them. She pulled out her wedding dress. She put on the wedding dress. She was imagining what might have been but was never to be.

There was a knock on the door. Her mom, who was downstairs, answered the door. There was a sudden commotion downstairs! What was going on? She opened her bedroom door, and there was standing George! He was alive after all, and he had returned.

She kissed him, she hugged him, and George saw her standing there in the wedding dress, and he said, “Honey, I knew that when I came back you’d be ready to marry me, but I didn’t know you’d be this ready!”

Are you ready?

I had a mentor who said that a preacher should always be ready to do three things: preach, pray, and die, or meet Jesus. But you know, that’s pretty good advice for the Christian. Christians should always be ready to do three things: share Christ with others, pray, and ready to meet Jesus. Are you ready?

Do you live your day to day life knowing that Jesus is coming soon? How do you do that? Head, heart, hands. I want you to get this, okay? This will help you out.

  • Head: you think about the second coming of Christ.
  • Heart: you set your affections on things above, your heart on eternal things.
  • Hands: you live every day with the second coming in view, which just means be faithful to what God has called you—faithful in your work, faithful in your family, faithful in your marriage, faithful to your children, faithful in your church, faithful in service, faithful to Jesus. You’re doing it because you want to be ready to see him, like a bride prepared for the bridegroom.

This is how you do it. This is how you keep yourselves in the love of God: by building yourselves up in the faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit, by waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. That’s the fortress. That’s the front line of defense. This is what will keep you in the way, walking with Christ.

The Foundational Promise

There’s one more thing to see here, and that is the great foundational promise that really supports all of this. Everything I’ve said so far is essentially what you need to do, right? This is kind of a “do this” sermon. Scripture tells us what to do. That’s important. We have to follow what the Scripture says; it gives us commands.

But the Bible never gives us commands without supporting it with great gospel promises, because at the end of the day the gospel is not “do,” what you are to do; it’s “done,” it’s what God has done. Even when the Bible commands us to do things, it’s not just what we are to do, working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, as Paul says, but it is what God does to work in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

So, here’s the great foundational promises in verses 24 and 25, at the very end of this letter to Jude. If keeping yourselves in the love of God is this fortress with three towers, this is the granite foundation underneath that fortress that keeps it standing.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.”

There’s a lot packed into that. That’s a doxology. That is a call to worship. That is an expression of worship which ascribes to God and to the Lord Jesus Christ glory and majesty and dominion and authority.

But, as is true with pretty much all doxologies in Scripture, when you come to a doxology like this it is written in terms, with words and with language that accord with the theme of what’s been preceding it. That’s true in this letter. Jude has been writing a warning, “Earnestly contend for the faith once delivered for the saints,” a warning against false teachers. This call, “Keep yourselves in the love of God,” is the theme of this letter. But notice the terms in which Jude now expresses this doxology. He says, “Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy . . .” He’s looking now to the power of God.

It’s the power of God to do two things: to keep you and to present you blameless; the power of God that preserves you, that keeps you from falling. I think that’s better than stumbling. It’s not just that it keeps you from making mistakes. We all make mistakes. It’s that he keeps you from falling away from Christ. He keeps you in the faith; he preserves you.

But he also is able to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy. You know what that means? It means that someday you’re going to be perfect.

I heard a preacher one time say—he was kind of talking about the stress and things that sometimes come with the pastoral ministry—and he said, “I don’t stress, I don’t worry. I sleep well at night. You know why? Because I know that all these people someday are going to be perfect! It’s not what I’m doing, it’s what God is going to do.”

That’s really, really helpful! It’s helpful, whatever you’re going through in your life, right now—personally, spiritually, emotionally, family, whatever—it’s temporary, folks. Someday you’re going to be perfect. He’s going to present you before his glory as perfect and blameless. There will be great joy in that.

You see what this is? After issuing this really strong call to keep yourselves in the love of God, Jude reminds us that, after all, it is God who is the one who’s keeping us.

I read a story one time about Native Americans, and it was a story of a young brave who, on his 13th birthday, after being taught how to fish and hunt and do all these things that were necessary for the survival of the tribe, on his 13th birthday there was one final excruciating test. He was taken deep, deep into the woods, blindfolded, and he was left there to spend the night alone; to be watchful against enemies, against predators, against anything that would come, but to spend a night alone. Pretty scary for a 13-year-old boy!

The blindfold comes off and there he is; he’s left. He hears the snap of every twig, every rustle in the bush. It seems like morning will never come. But then, at the first blush of dawn, he notices that 20 or 30 feet away there’s the outline of a man, and as the sun comes up he suddenly realizes it was his father. He was right there watching him all night long.

You may sometimes feel in the Christian life like you’re doing all the work; you’re trying to keep yourselves in the love of God. The Christian life requires effort; it does. But listen, there’s always somebody who’s watching you. There’s always someone who is keeping you. God is the one who keeps you from stumbling.

That’s our confidence. Not, at the end of the day, that we are keeping ourselves, but that he’s keeping us. He’s the one who keeps us keeping on. He secures us, and it’s his mighty grasp of us that keeps us secure in his love.

My friends, we’ve heard the battle cry this morning to keep ourselves in the love of God by building ourselves up in the most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit, by waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. We see that the foundational promise that secures us is God’s faithfulness to keep us.

In a few minutes we’re going to sing one of my favorite hymns; it’s called “He Will Hold Me Fast.” Some you maybe know this song, some of you may not. Let me give you just a little bit of the background.

This song was written about a hundred years ago by a woman named Ada Ruth Haversham. Nobody’s been singing this song, up until about ten years ago, and a guy named Matthew Merker discovered this song. He and some friends put it to new music, wrote a few fresh lyrics, and now the song has become pretty popular over the last few years. I’ve heard thousands of people sing this together in conferences.

This is what was going on. Matthew Merker came across these words during a time in his life when he was really struggling with doubt. He was really struggling with his faith. He wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to keep on. He came across these words, and about the same time he heard a sermon on the last two verses of Jude, Jude 24-25 that we just looked at, God who is able to keep you from falling, and it bolstered his faith. He fell in love with this song, and then they gave it fresh, new music and we’re singing it in churches today.

Here’s how the lyrics go.

When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast.
When the tempter would prevail,
He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path,
For my love is often cold;
He must hold me fast.

Those he saves are his delight;
Christ will hold me fast.
Precious in his holy sight,
He will hold me fast.
He’ll not let my soul be lost;
His promises shall last.
Bought by him at such a price,
He will hold me fast.

For my life he bled and died;
Christ will hold me fast.
Justice has been satisfied;
He will hold me fast.
Raised with him to endless life,
He will hold me fast,
Till our faith is turned to sight,
When he comes at last.

He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so,
He will hold me fast.

Do you know how Jude began his letter? I haven’t said this yet. He addressed his letter to those who are called, beloved, and kept. He bookends the letter with the fact that God called you, loves you, and keeps you, and at the end with, “he who is able to keep you from falling.” Then it’s in the middle, between this great assurance that you are called, loved, and kept and that God will keep you, it’s in the middle that he says, “Now keep yourselves.”

Brothers and sisters, keep yourselves in the love of God, but as you do it, do it with this great confidence that he will hold you fast. Let’s pray together.

Our gracious Lord, how we thank you this morning for these wonderful truths of your word, that we are secure in Christ, our Savior. If you have loved us and if you have called us, you will also keep us; you will hold us. We pray, Father, that in light of these great promises that you would enable us, therefore, to keep ourselves in the love of God.

Lord, I pray that you would work in each one of our hearts and lives. I pray that we would hear this battle cry to defend ourselves against the many things that would pull us off the path of righteousness. I pray especially that we would live in the abiding consciousness, the great love you have for us and that you have shown in your Son, Jesus Christ.

As we come to the Lord’s table this morning, may that be what is uppermost in our hearts and minds—not so much our sins by which we have sinned against you, for they are many, but the mercy that you have shown us in forgiving our sins and forgiving us for Jesus’s sake. We ask you to draw near to us in these moments. As we take these elements, may we do so with faith in Jesus Christ and what he has done and with love for you. May you be glorified. We pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.