Jude was determined to write to believers about the wonderful subject of Salvation. As he lifted his pen to write concerning this glorious salvation he states that "it was needful" or necessary for him to write and exhort them "that [they] should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Within the subject of true, full and free salvation in Jesus Christ "contending" (struggle; agonize) for the faith is a vital part. Some people want to just talk about the blessings of salvation but not the contending that must take place to protect the precious truth of salvation in Christ.
A part of this contending was to make a stand against false brethren who were in their midst or who were once in their midst who although professing Christ lived like the Devil. He makes clear that judgement awaited such men. Jude would not allow it to be considered that these rebellious, worldly hypocrites could be considered within the boundaries of true salvation. Such men are on their way to Hell and would suffer the "vengeance of eternal fire."
After dealing with this contending for the faith he instructs them: "keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (v21). He is talking to genuine believers. In verse 1 he said that they were "preserved in Jesus Christ" - that is they were watched, fortressed about, kept. Now he tells them "keep yourselves." there is no contradiction in such truths. They are complementary. We are preserved - this is for our comfort. But we must keep ourselves - this is our practical responsibility.
To these genuine believers he gives instruction in saving men who are on their way to an eternal Hell or who are living in such a manner of sin in the church that if they were to die in their present state would find themselves in Hell. He wisely instructs them not to treat all men the same or use a special technique in winning them over. We need the wisdom of God and the guidance of the Holy Ghost in saving souls.
First he speaks of saving "some" by having "compassion." There are those we must approach gently, tenderly, wisely but clearly in seeking their salvation. Note that he say's "some" not all. There are those who need Christ and must be saved from Hell fire who need a gentle, wise, touch in showing them the road to Heaven. Have you ever stopped to consider such?
Secondly he speaks of: "others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire;" Now these are approached differently than the first. He says "making a difference:" In other words you must distinguish between the two. Most must be saved in this manner. They must be awakened to the fearful state they are in. Only fear will waken them out of their onward march to Hell. Some say a man should not come to Christ through fear. But Scripture says a man should flee Hell through such fear. The sin these walk in will land them in Hell (Zech.3:2). Their sin is as good as them already being in Hell unless they repent. To turn them from such sins to Christ is to pull them out of the fire. They stand on the edge of a lost eternity. It is time to "pull" them out - the word means to seize them violently or to force them. This is no casual user-friendly evangelism. This is urgent soul-saving evangelism. This is evangelism accomplished in the light of a real eternal Hell.
All of these are on their way to Hell but not all are approached the same way. We must make a difference between these two. This is not saying that we should not warn all of Hell but that our manner should be distinct - not the message. Some are approached by compassion but others by fear.
As we do this we should do it with an attitude of "hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." In other words our outreach and evangelism should not involve us in their sin. Neither should discipleship. In all we do in saving souls we are to maintain our own purity. Soul saving work is a holy work. Christ would never commend evangelism which leads to compromise or conformity to the world.
However holiness which leads to evangelism is highly commended. Outreach to those on their way to Hell makes up a part of holiness. Any teaching that makes a man so holy that he will not soil his hands in pulling sinners out of the fire is no holiness at all. Seperation is different from segregation. As Mr C.T. Studd said so clearly: "Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell."
Amen let it be so.