Friday, July 15, 2011

Exposing And Expelling Heretics (Part 4)

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.

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. 4 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 1-4)

Jude wanted to comfort the true believers before he called them to fight a truth war against the false teachers who were among them. And he comforted them with the doctrine of election. Yes the doctrine that many people hate is the doctrine that Jude appeals to when he wants to comfort the true believers in the Father’s love.

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ. (Jude 1b)

Those that the Father calls, He loves. Those that He loves, he keeps. If it was up to us we would fall away.

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

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. (John 10:27-31)

As we can see, the Pharisees didn’t like election either. Some people argue that teaching this security is too much comfort. That it promotes freedom to sin. Is that the case? Teaching "once saved always saved" is not the problem. The problem these people have is a wrong understanding of conversion. Of the miraculous nature of conversion where God takes out our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh and causes us to walk in obedience to his laws. That’s why we have the story of the sheep and the goats. Because the works of the sheep did not earn them God’s favor, it demonstrated God’s transforming work in their lives. Our eternities rest completely in the finished work of our righteous substitute – Jesus Christ. What about free will? Unless God saves us and changes us then our free will, will always freely choose rebellion against God.

God’s church, the bride of Christ is beloved and precious to Him. It is difficult to discuss this in a therapeutic self-esteem society where we love ourselves so much. But if we understand our sinfulness and unworthiness then we have some context for how loved we are by God.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Well where is God when life is hard? Go forward to Romans chapter 8:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Now most of us know that verse but what comes after? Remember that Jude comforted the believers that those who God calls, He loves, and those who he loves He keeps:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:29-39)

Because Jude has experienced God’s great love he is able to express his love for his audience:

May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. (Jude 2)

As we go in to verse 3 we see that Jude’s call to fight false teachers was driven by his deep love for God and His church and His Gospel:

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 3)

Jude’s desire was to write to them about their common salvation – it is a common salvation. Christianity does not have a class structure. But what Jude is about to show is that it does have imposters, pretenders, and fakes. He could have warned about the lions in the coliseum but he was saying the greatest danger was from the inside. This common salvation was once for all delivered by Christ. There is One God, one Gospel, One Savior, one way. Don’t let people ever say to you that they think Jesus is one of many good teachers alongside Mohammed and Buddha and Gandhi. Paul said that:

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." (Acts 17:30-31)

Luke said there is no other Name given under heaven by which all men must be saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life (John 14:6) and there is no other way – everyone else is wrong! (Not very postmodern, that Jesus.) These people who claim that Jesus is one of several or many ways should at least have the integrity and courage to either reject Jesus as a false teacher or reject everyone else and embrace Him as the only True Savior. There is no middle ground with Jesus. This once for all delivered faith is worth fighting for and Jude is calling the church onto the battlefield. This Gospel is so sacred it leaves no room for alternatives, no room for change, no room for expansion, and no room for adjustment.

“We do what we can and Jesus does what we can’t” – wrong get out from among us! This One Gospel is for people who see that there is nothing they can do.

“God helps those who help themselves” – wrong get out! This One Gospel is for helpless people.

“Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone . . . but you have to get baptized first” – wrong get out! This One Gospel is 100% delivered.

“You are saved by trusting in Jesus Christ alone, and then you maintain your salvation through your works” – wrong get out NT Wright!

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

This once for all delivered faith is for hopeless, helpless, hell deserving sinners who realize that they can do nothing but look in repentance to a perfect, righteous, and merciful Savior to take the punishment that they deserve and give them His righteousness that they don’t deserve. If that was a job description – it would be describing the thief on the cross.

Have you ever noticed how many church leaders think that those who expose false teachers are unloving? Jude’s motive for writing here is love. What would you think of a doctor who told your mother that her health is fine when the scan revealed cancer? That doctor would get fired for malpractice. Any preacher who tells people that there is no hell and everyone is going to heaven should be forever banished from the pulpit for spiritual malpractice and sent out into the world in the hope that he might repent and get saved. I’ve heard it preached in churches in Denmark and I struggle to think of anything more evil and unloving than to preach a message that will damn people. Paul pronounces damnation on all those who preach any other Gospel (Galatians 1:8-9) than the one that was once for all delivered. We are in the business of life and death, heaven and hell, repent or perish. Should we expect anything less than a war? And this is not a place for those who get some cheap thrill out of tearing people down. It is for people like Jude who love God, love His truth, love His Gospel, and love His church. If you are unwilling to contend then you are unloving.

To be continued next Friday . . .

Go On To Part 5
Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jude's motive for writing his Epistle should not be forgotten in the discussion surrounding it.