Buckets of Blessing
“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more! Amen” (vss. 24, 25, NIV)
I think the first time I hear these verses was from the lips of one of our summer interns. He had preached what I suspect was his first sermon and was about to close the service. Looking back on the scene, I imagine that he was nervous; afraid that he would forget the words he’d so carefully memorized. Someone had told him that he needed to hold out one of his arms as though he were placing his hand on someone’s head in blessing. It looked awkward, though I’m sure the gesture became more familiar with time and practice. With a fierce look of concentration on his face, he pronounced this blessing from the book of Jude.
Since then I’ve heard the words quoted many times. I’ve quoted them myself. But this morning I got to thinking, not about the first part, which is our usual focus since we need so desperately to wrap ourselves in the promises of God. My mind turned to the last half of the quote and to the deliberate choice of words that Jude made in describing God.
“…to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more! Amen.”
It sounds as though it is Jesus who is bringing all these elements to God. Yet it is God who is described as the Saviour. This process of bringing all these things to God has been going on from before the beginning of time and will continue forever. I’m not sure I have a handle on this yet—and I might never really understand—but here is where I am in the journey.
Salvation began in the heart of God. It was God who knew the desperate state we would put ourselves in and who loved us enough to send us the only person who could rescue us—the representation of Himself in human form in the person of His Son, Jesus (John 3:16).
What Christ did, and its effect on the redeemed, brings glory to God. Our Lord brought glory to His Father by carrying out the Father’s will. He says in His prayer on that last night with His disciples: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 7:4, NIV). Our salvation being God glory as we see in passages like Ephesians 1:5, 6, 12-14 (NIV) when Paul says that we have been “…adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves…in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory…Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
“Majesty” suggests to me that when we acknowledge Christ as our Saviour we also acknowledge His Sovereignty over us as the King of our lives. God is, as Paul writes to Timothy: “…the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light known no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:15, NIV). We can’t remove Him from His throne by any action or thought, but when we come to faith through Christ, we abdicate the throne of our lives in His favour, and acknowledge that our coup attempt failed, and that sovereignty over our lives belongs to the One who is as much our King as He is King of everything else.
Of course none of this would be possible if God were not powerful enough to carry it out. He is able to save us because of His great power. That He is also willing to bother with a creation in rebellion against Him and use His power to bring about the means of our salvation through Jesus Christ, is the grounds for so much praise and thankfulness and joy and expressions of love for Him that, as the song goes, no ocean made of ink would be enough to write it all down.
As Creator and Sustainer of everything—including us—God has the right to do what He wills with us. Through Christ, that authority is being exercised for our redemption and restoration rather than our punishment and destruction. Jude remarks a little earlier in this same letter that: “…the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (vss. 14, 15, NIV). I don’t think he could have gotten too many more “ungodly” words in there, but you get the point! We, as believers in Jesus, have escaped all that it is God’s right to do because of our sin.
So when we go back to the beginning of the blessing we are so encouraged to know that because Jesus Christ carried out God’s eternal redemptive purpose without fail and brought to light all the qualities of God involved in the process, we can count on being presented one day, without fault, to God, the Father.
It doesn’t get any better than that.