1. Jude's Message For A Modern World
It is amazing how up-to-date the Bible is! The Old Testament book of Esther took place around 2500 years ago, and yet its story of a Persian man who seeks to destroy the Jewish nation is so similar to modern day. What was then Persia is today called Iran. Long ago it was Haman who hoped to wipe out the Israelites, but in today's world it is the Iranian President who said on September 24, 2012, that "Israel will be eliminated." Isn't it interesting that what happened in Esther's world is happening again today? However, the most up-to-date book in the Bible is probably the little New Testament book of Jude. It is only one chapter, but it deals with how Christians must "contend for the faith" in a world that is drifting farther and farther away from God and His unchanging Word. For the next couple of weeks we will zoom in on this tiny book that is packed with so many warnings of what is happening in our modern world.
2. Contending For The Faith
1" Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." Jude 1-4
Jude had planned to write a letter dealing with "the common salvation" (vs.3), but God led him instead to deal with the theme of how to "contend for the faith" (vs.3). Our faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), which Jude says was "delivered unto the saints." (vs.3) But certain men and ideas have "crept in unawares" to our way of thinking and our view of the world and ourselves. In vs. 4 Jude lists some of these dangerous ideas. First he mentions "ungodly men". So many people today could be classified this way; they are not wicked men, not evil men, not horrible men, just "ungodly men." People who are morally upright can still be ungodly. Then he tells of how some have turned the "grace of our God into lasciviousness." Many modern day people believe that they can sin all that they want to because they believe that God's grace will always forgive them. A modern day translation of "lasciviousness" is "a license to sin." Paul says in Romans 6:1, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" Then he goes on to say, "God forbid." If we are to contend for the faith, we must stand against that which is wrong, and a faith that allows a person to continue living a sinful lifestyle on and on is NOT a Biblical faith! Notice how Jude finishes verse 4: "... denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." Turning God's grace into "a license to sin" denies that Jesus is Lord. So many people want God to save them from their sins (and thus from themselves, from the consequences of sin, from an eternal hell), but they do not want Jesus Christ to be the Lord of their life. And yet that is how salvation must come. It is not enough to believe that Jesus was a good man. It is not even enough to believe that Jesus is God. The demon possessed individuals in the gospels fell trembling at the feet of Jesus. Mark 5:6-7 tells of a demon possessed man who called Jesus the "Son of the most high" and even fell and worshipped. But the true question is this: have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you accepted what the Lord Jesus did on Calvary for your sins? All sins have to be paid for. Will you accept the Lord's work on the cross, or will you pay for your sins yourself? That is the Gospel--the faith that we must contend for and fight for--the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Falling Away
5 "I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Jude 5-7
In the first four verses, Jude has given his theme of "contending for the faith", and he has also given some examples of how the faith is being changed by "certain men." Jude is predicting an "apostasy". Even though the actual word "apostasy" is never used in the Bible, Paul does speak of a "falling away" from the truth. In 2nd Thessalonians 2:3 he says, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;" Jude is saying that we must "contend for the faith", because many will "fall away" from the truth. Then in verses 5-7 Jude gives three severe historical examples of "falling away". First, he cites some of those who were saved out of Egypt. Sadly, many were destroyed before they reached the Promised Land because they "believed not." Secondly, he uses the example of fallen angels, who will be destroyed in the last days. Lastly, in verse seven he gives the example of Sodom and Gomorrha and the cities around them. What horrible judgment occurred all because the people fell away from the truth and "gave themselves over" to their own desires. It is easy to see a correlation to modern man. It is blatantly obvious in our entire American political system. How do our leaders determine their stance on the issues? They look at public opinion surveys, and make their decision based on how the public views the issue, regardless of what God's Word says about it. Jude puts us on notice: if we do not "contend for the faith", if we do not take a stand alongside God's truth, if we "fall away", our ending will be similar to the ending faced by the three examples that he gave. He calls it "the vengeance of eternal fire." What a somber and sad conclusion will also await modern man if he does not line up with God's truth.
4. Warning: The Way Of Cain
8 "Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." Jude 8-11
Jude continues his sobering discussion of the "falling away" from God's truth with a description of those who teach false ideas. Again, he pulls no punches with his strong words. He calls them "filthy dreamers" and says that they speak evil of both "dignities" and "those things which they know not." Spiritual things have never been more evil spoken of than they are today. Modern man only knows "what they know naturally", or only the things that they can understand with their natural senses. And since they do not understand holy or godly things, they criticize and reproach them. Then comes verse 11, which contains three ancient philosophies that are prevalent in our modern world. We will cover these one by one. The first is "the way of Cain". Cain believed in God, and even practiced religion, but he approached God in his own merit. How sad that millions of Americans believe that God will have a balance, and if their good outweighs their bad, then they will go into heaven. This is one of Satan's greatest lies. Cain is the man who rejects redemption by blood, and therefore he is rejected by God. Jesus is the Door, and only through the blood sacrifice that He gave on the cross can we hope to enter into Heaven. We must "contend for the faith" and take a stand against those who suggest alternative ways other than God's plan of salvation.
5. Warning: The Error Of Balaam
"Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." Jude 11
In this one verse Jude gives three false beliefs or philosophies that began in ancient days and are stronger than ever in our modern day. Yesterday we looked at "the way of Cain". Today we examine those who "ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward." There is so much to say about the prophet Balaam, even the amazing account of a talking donkey. But the philosophy that Jude is warning about is that of putting material gain above spiritual matters. If you read the account in Numbers 22, Balaam seeks only to get material gain by using his gift of prophecy. He cares more about money than about spiritual matters. Does that sound familiar? People today rush towards anything that promises them a material gain. Mark 8:36 says, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" How sad that people are more concerned about their bank accounts, their possessions, and "the bottom line" than they are about their spiritual condition. Again, we must "contend for the faith", and put spiritual concerns above material concerns. Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
6. Warning: The Gainsaying Of Core
"Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." Jude 11
We have discussed "the way of Cain", which is simply humanism, and the "error of Balaam for reward", which is materialism. The third philosophy Jude covers in this verse is "the gainsaying of Core." Core is a reference to Korah, the man who rebelled against the leadership of Moses in Numbers 16. The word "gainsaying" literally means "saying against" or "contradicting". So the third philosophy is rebellion, and again this is a concept that runs rampant in modern society. We see rebellion in the home, in our schools, in our government, and sadly enough even in our churches. My former pastor told of a woman in a church who confronted him about something he had preached. When he explained that he was simply preaching what God's Word said, she stated, "I don't care what the Bible says, you are wrong!" In our effort to "contend for the faith", we must be sure not to confront the truth of the faith with our personal beliefs and opinions. King Jeoiakim was listening to God's Word when Jehudi came across something with which he disagreed. Jeremiah 36:23 says, "And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth." We would never take our knife and cut pages out of the Bible. But do we ever simply choose to disobey sections of the Bible that we find difficult? Rebellion can creep into any heart. But a look at Jude 11 again shows the result of those who participate in "the gainsaying of Core.": they perish!
7. Warnings Continued
"These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." Jude 12-13
After Jude discusses the three false philosophies that go against God's truth, he describes the people who believe these false ideas. He says that these people often stand out when the church has a love feast. Then he gives striking metaphors to describe these people. They are clouds "without water". If a cloud does not have water, its only purpose is decoration, and it simply goes whichever way the wind blows it. (Sound like anyone you know?) They are "trees...without fruit." Again, if a tree does not bear fruit, most of the other uses for it are simply ornamental or decorative. Jude describes these people as "twice dead." There is no hope for fruit if a tree is "twice dead." Of course, the spiritual concept of a person being "twice dead" is shown in the book that comes after Jude's little book. Revelation 21:8 says, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." How sad that people who are simply "fearful" and "unbelieving", people who may be very moral and upright, are cast into the same lake of fire where the "murderers" and the "abominable" are sent. This is the "second death." In verse 13 these people are compared to "wandering stars." We call them shooting stars, and they are not stars that are fixed in their place, but rather they shoot like meteors, and then go out. What then? Darkness. A darkness that is eternal. I am reminded of what I once heard a preacher say about sinners. He said that many sinners want nothing to do with God, and that will be their judgment. They will have nothing to do with God--throughout all eternity. How sad.
8. Warnings Concluded
"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." Jude 14-19
Jude finishes up his warnings in verses 14-19. He points back in time to where Enoch prophesied about how those who do not accept God will face judgment. Then he points forward to the last days and quotes the disciples of Jesus as saying there will be "mockers in the last time" that will turn away from God's truth. The key word is obvious in this section. Look at the word that appears four times in verse 15 and once in verse 18: "ungodly". Again, this does not necessarily mean wicked or evil. It just means "ungodly". Our public school system is not necessarily wicked. But it has become increasingly "ungodly." Any mention of God there is frowned upon, and the Constitutional idea of the "separation of church and state" has been taken to such lengths that a child recently was not allowed to read a Bible during a time when children could freely read from any book they chose. If you leave God out of anything, it becomes "ungodly." You can be a moral, upright person, but if you leave God out of your life, your life is "ungodly."
9. "Building Up Yourselves On Your Most Holy Faith"
" But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." Jude 20-25
Jude has been very stern in his tone because his subject is very serious. We must "contend for the faith" as the days get more and more "ungodly" and as God's people become more and more outnumbered by the "ungodly". But at the end of his short letter, he changes his tone. He ends by giving seven positive steps that a Christian can take to stay close to God. Some refer to this as a Christian's "seven-fold duty", and we will deal with these one at a time. The first duty given in verse 20 says, "building up yourselves on your most holy faith." Our faith is founded on Jesus Christ and His Word. We are to "build up" ourselves by staying in the Word of God. How can we know that materialism and humanism are false unless we stay in the Bible? It is said that the government agents who investigate counterfeit money can recognize it so quickly because they have made an intense study of REAL money. They spot the counterfeit easily because they are used to handling and studying the real thing. This is true of a Christian and false doctrine. Stay in the Word and you will recognize false teaching. Our Christian walk is dependent on our study of God's instruction book. As one preacher said, "Sin will keep you from the Word of God, and the Word of God will keep you from sin."
10. "Praying In The Holy Ghost"
"But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost," Jude 20
The second way to stay true to the faith is "praying in the Holy Ghost." Prayer is the one aspect of a Christian's life that is stripped of any pride or self-glory. Others can see you witness, or preach, or sing, or put your tithe in the offering plate. But Jesus instructed us to pray in secret. One great preacher said, "The church goes forward only on its knees." Maybe this is why we see so little progress. John Wesley said, "Prayer is where the action is." Maybe this is why we see so little action in spiritual matters. Charles Spurgeon said, "“I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.” Joseph Scriven wrote the lyrics that stated:
"Oh, what peace we often forfeit; oh, what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."
But my favorite quote on prayer is from Vance Hafner: "Satan might can wall you up, but he cannot roof you in!" Unfortunately, I am guilty of talking a lot about prayer, but praying only a little.
11. "Keep Yourselves In The Love of God"
" Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 21
The third duty of the Christian is to "keep yourselves in the love of God." Remember that when you become a Christian, you become a child of God. Nothing you can do can change your relationship with God as far as your position in Christ. The most well-known verse in the Bible (John 3:16) promises "everlasting life" to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Everlasting life is life that lasts forever. If life is everlasting, then it can never end. You cannot lose your "sonship" with Christ. But sin can change your relationship with God as far as fellowship. Sin can come between us and the Father, ruining our fellowship with Him. Psalms 51:12 says, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit." Sin can not cause us to lose our salvation, but it can cause us to lose the joy of our salvation. D. L. Moody was once walking down the sidewalks of Chicago with a friend when he suddenly dropped to one knee. His friend was surprised and asked Moody if he was okay. Moody's answer was that an evil thought had come into his mind and he wanted to ask God to forgive him of it right away. We should be so quick to keep sin out of our lives. That is how we can "keep ourselves in the love of God."
12. "Looking For the Mercy Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Unto Eternal Life"
"Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 21
The fourth duty of the Christian is to be "looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." This has to do with living our lives with the expectation of the secong coming of the Lord. If we live in anticipation of His return, we will not get accustomed to this world and the snares of sin that are in it. The rapture of the saints will involve all those who have experienced the "mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ", and the rapture itself will be another way of God showing us mercy, because we will be "taken up" to heaven and will miss the Great Tribulation that is shown in the book of Revelation. As one songwriter put it, we should get up singing, "What A Beautiful Day for the Lord To Come Again."
13. "And Of Some Have Compassion, Making A Difference"
" And of some have compassion, making a difference:" Jude 22
What an incredible verse! It is amazing what a difference compassion can make in your dealings with other people. A friend of mine grew up in church, but he was not saved. He said he learned as a teenager to tune out a lot of the preaching, but that he could not escape the ladies in his mother's Sunday School class. Every service several of them would come up to him and let him know that they were praying for him, and he said he often saw tears coming down their faces. At night he would lay in bed thinking about all of those ladies who were praying for him and shedding tears for him. What a difference it makes in our witnessing if the people we are witnessing to know that we really care about them. It does no good to tell someone that they are headed for an eternal hell if we seem to be happy about it! Jude says it is compassion that makes a difference. Do we have compassion for others? Do our churches have compassion for people in sin? My former pastor said that it was a shame that a person could get more understanding and help from their drinking buddies at the bar than they could at the local church. Search the gospels and notice how many times Jesus is shown having compassion for others. Do we have that compassion? It makes a difference.
14. "And Others Save With Fear, Pulling Them Out Of The Fire"
"And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." Jude 23
Jude 22 tells us, " And of some have compassion, making a difference:" But verse 23 shows a contrast, another way of witnessing. Some people are moved by love, but others are moved by fear. I like the way one preacher explained the process of witnessing. He said that if a person is in a sinful, sad condition we must show them love and compassion. We must be gentle with them because they know their condition--they know that they need help. But he went on to say that if a person is morally good and self-righteous, you must first get them to understand that they are lost and sinful. A person will not get saved until they see themselves as lost. Matthew Henry says, "We must distinguish between the weak and the wilful." Stern warnings about the severity of God's righteousness and the reality of eternal judgment are necessary with some people. Don't give up on them. Jude says we must "pull them out of the fire." We must pray that God gives us the right words to say to every person to whom we witness. Only the Holy Spirit can show us who needs gentleness and a helping hand, and who needs to understand the reality of an eternity without God.
"Hating Even the Garment Spotted By the Flesh."
"And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." (Jude verse 23)
The last of the seven duties of a Christian is in the last part of verse 23. There are a lot of voices in the Christian world today that say there is no place for the word "hate" in Christianity. But these voices are wrong. The Bible teaches that we are to hate sin. Amos 5:15 says, "Hate the evil, and love the good..." Proverbs 8:13 says, "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." Psalms 97:10 says, "Ye that love the LORD, hate evil..." The problem for Christians is that we are to hate the sin, yet love the sinner. Hating sin is no excuse for being rude and self-righteous to people who have sin in their lives. Jude 22 teaches us to have compassion on some, making a difference. Jude 23 teaches us to hate the sin in their lives. Don't confuse the poor sinner who is far from God with the ugly "garment" of sin he wears. As my pastor often says, "This is easy preaching, but hard living." Love the sinner, but hate the sin. Jude closes out his short letter with these blessed words of praise to God: "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." (Jude verses 24-25) Amen.