After identifying himself to his readers, Jude identifies the recipients of his epistle by three distinguishing characteristics: called, beloved, and kept. The called are identified as those who are loved in God and kept for Christ. First, notice the clear Trinitarian reference to the work of salvation. Believers are called by the Spirit because they were loved in the Father and, thus, kept or preserved for Jesus Christ who purchased them.
First, believers are called (Romans 1:6, 7; 8:28; Revelation 17:14). There are two aspects of this call to repentance and faith; one is outward and general (Matthew 22:14), and the other is inward and specific (1 Corinthians 1:9). Not everyone who is called by the outward work of the gospel is saved but only those who are inwardly called by the Spirit. As the gospel is preached, there are those who hear it, being awakened from spiritual death by the quickening power of grace (Ephesians 2:4, 5). In this awakened state, the hearer responds to the truth presented and repents, calling upon the Savior to save him (Romans 10:13). Many hear words, but do not hear the Spirit call them to life. That is why Jesus declared, “He who has ears to hear [with gospel awakened ears], let him hear [to exercise effectual faith in the gospel].
Pay close attention to what Christ said in John 5:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word [of judgment, see v. 22] and believes him [the Father] who sent me has [not gets but already has] eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has [past perfect, already has] passed from death to life.” No one who is dead can hear. Only those who have been quickened to life can hear. Those who hear the gospel actually hear Christ’s voice speaking resurrection life (eternal life) into them, not by audible syllables but inwardly through the Word and Spirit. Jesus declared that His sheep hear His voice and that He knows them savingly. They respond to His voice by following Him in obedience (John 10:27).
Therefore, the called are effectually brought to salvation, resulting in their being a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). This new creation is demonstrated in Abraham’s servant’s prayer: “By this I shall know that you have created [Hebrew, asah] steadfast love [saving grace] in my master” (Genesis 24:14; see also Galatians 6:15; Romans 4:17). God speaks life into dead sinners through the creative power of His Word. Abraham’s servant was thus assured of the promises to Abraham concerning Jesus Christ because God had created covenant life in Abraham. None dare identify with Christ and His cause who cannot evidence their effectual calling. In Matthew 22:11–14 Jesus illustrated this truth by the wedding guest who did not have a wedding garment as provided by the king. He was summarily cast into outer darkness. On the other hand, those properly attired in salvation evidence that they are savingly called and are wecomed into His kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14).