Friday, July 8, 2011

Exposing And Expelling Heretics (Part 3)

Today we continue on our expository journey through the Epistle of Jude. Jude represents the first expository assignment I have been tasked with in our church plant in Denmark - Kristuskirken. Though short in length, Jude is a letter jam packed with information on why we should hunt down false teachers that conceal themselves in the church, how we should identify them, and that we as Christians should go to war against them secure in the knowledge of being kept in the safety of God's preserving grace. Much of the credit for this series must go to John MacArthur whose teaching on this Epistle has been my major source. This teaching is too vital not to post in this forum and I hope it will pour fuel on our fire to "contend earnestly for the once for all delivered faith".

1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1-3)

In verse three we hear Jude’s motivation for this letter. He wanted to write to the church about their common salvation but found it necessary to call them to war against the false teachers that were among them. Jude doesn’t get a kick out of exposing heretics. It is driven by his love for their common salvation, his love for the Gospel. Those of us who think we are in discernment ministries need to constantly check that we are driven out of a love for Christ and the salvation we find in Him.

We don’t know exactly which church it was written to and what their specific situation was but we know that it was probably written just before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. This was a very dangerous time for the church. The Roman government was attacking the Christians from the outside and the Gnostic heretics were attacking the church from the inside. All of the Apostles except for John had been killed and the church was very vulnerable.

Jude was convicted that it was:

necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 3b-4)

This is the war that we are called to and we will be exploring this in great detail as I continue through this little book in the coming weeks. But knowing what this book is about gives us the reason for what Jude wrote in the rest of verse one and verse two:

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. (Jude 1b-2)

As Jude speaks to the soldiers before they enter the battle he desires to comfort them with the wonderful doctrines of election and perseverance. Jude is telling them that if God has called them then they are loved by God. And if they are loved by God then God will keep them and keep them from being corrupted by these evil false teachers. He is echoing the words of Jesus when He said:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37)

One of the questions that is going to come to mind is this...if all this is going on in the church, if all this corruption and apostasy is escalating and escalating, is God really sovereign? Are things spiraling out of control because God really is not sovereign over all of this? And if that's the case then we might be engaging in this battle exposed to deadly things that could rob us of our salvation. But the fact that we are called, we are loved, we are kept, and we are blessed in the midst of an escalating apostasy, protects both the sovereignty of God and the security of believers. It's true that Apostasy does escalate and is dangerous. And that's why Jude begins by saying, "You have nothing to fear. You're the called, the loved, the kept and the blessed." That's how he begins the letter and look how he finishes off:

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. (Jude 24-25)

Whatever is happening all around us, God is still running the whole universe and working all things together for His glory. This includes saving the worst of sinners. Jude is reminding the church that salvation is totally a work of God.

Are you going to heaven when you die? If you think you’ll go to heaven because of your baptism, or because you do good, or because God sees your heart - then you are deceived and headed for hell. God does see your heart and that is the problem. He not only sees your lying, and stealing, and blaspheming; he sees the thoughts of your heart. Jesus said that impure lustful thoughts are actually adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). The Bible concludes that all men are guilty before God, without excuse, and under God’s wrath (Romans 1:18-20). Do you agree with God about this? If you don’t get this then you will never understand the cross. CJ Mahaney says that:

You will never see the cross as something done for you until you see it as something done by you.

The cross was the place where Jesus who was fully God and fully man perfectly kept all of God’s laws that we have broken. He then suffered the wrath of God on the cross that we deserve. He takes our sins upon himself and credits his righteousness to our account. God treats Jesus as if he lived our life so that He can treat us as if we lived Jesus’ life. This way God can show His great love without being corrupt because his justice is satisfied. Jesus rose from the dead proving this was true and we know it was true because Jude repented of his sinful ways and put his faith in the one he had rejected. Jude is right, salvation is totally of God. It is His gracious gift that we receive by faith, it is the gift of God, not of works so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). In the coming weeks as we hear Jude’s call to fight for the Gospel let us be comforted in the knowledge that Jude reminded his readers - if salvation is all of God, then our eternal preservation from corruption is also done by God.

To be continued next Friday . . .

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Christian walk is a call to war!