Today we pick up from where we left off last week on our expository journey through the Epistle of Jude. Today we will examine verse 8 where Jude now starts to profile these apostates. This is a part of my verse by verse exposition through the Epistle of Jude for our church plant in Denmark - Kristuskirken. I must also acknowledge that I have leant very heavily on John Macarthur's exposition of this passage.
There is a spiritual war going on. There is a war going on inside the church being waged in terrorist fashion because the enemy is disguised as an angel of light, because he clothes himself in sheep's clothing. The terrorists who are hidden in the church are far more dangerous than the terrorists who are hidden in the world because those terrorists can only kill the body, but the terrorists in the church destroy the truth and leave a rubble of lies that damns men's souls. This is why Jude was written.
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. 5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. 8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. (Jude 1-8)
In verses five through seven Jude has given us three examples of the certainty of judgment on apostates. In verse four he reminds his readers that the apostates who infiltrate the church are people "who long ago were designated for this condemnation". Their damnation is certain and in verse five we are reminded of the Israelites being judged for their rebellion after the exodus out of Egypt. In verse six we are reminded of the judgment on angels who "left their proper dwelling" (go to Part 12 for a discussion on this intriguing subject). And in verse seven we are given an example of judgment on the Gentiles as Jude reminds his audience of the fire and brimstone that rained down on the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Now, as Jude moves into verse eight he starts to describe the lifestyles and characteristics of apostates:
Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. (Jude 8)
The first description of apostates that Jude gives in verse eight is that they rely on their "dreams". This happens a lot in the more extreme Charismatic and Word Faith churches where leaders can appeal to some form of personal revelation to justify an aspect of their teaching or practice. Here is what John Macarthur said:
Did you look at that and wonder what is that saying to us, by dreaming? Actually in the Greek, houtoi(??) enupniazomenoi(??), big long word. It says this in the Greek, "Likewise these dreamers," it categorically says that apostates are dreamers . . . It's a word in the New Testament associated with visions and prophecies. So we say then it's selected because it refers to revelatory dreams, associated with visions and prophecies . . . So what we have here then at best is that false teachers, now follow this, false teachers inevitably have to have a source for their deception. And they have to have a source that's believable. They have to have a source that has some authority, or that is convincing. So they can't just say, "I think..." They can't just say, "I feel..." They can't just say, "We've got a committee in our group and we came up with this deal." The really effective false teachers and apostates will inevitably tell you God communicates to them in secret ways, in their dreams, in their visions. These are revelatory experiences. Apostate false teachers from Joseph Smith to Benny Hinn and everybody in between claim that God speaks to them in their dreams, in their visions. And this, of course, transcends the necessity to be submissive to the Word of God which is not in their hearts anyway. And it gives them the illusion of authority and God gets blamed for all their aberrations. They reject the Word of God . . . inevitably these dreamers are immoral, insubordinate and irreverent. Now let me hasten to say, not all the poor, witless people who may be true Christians who follow along after them are the same as they are. They are...they're being taken, they're being had, they're being made merchandise of. But inevitably though not always public visible, these people are immoral and they are insubordinate to the Word of God and they are irreverent, blasphemous. They may cover it up and you may never know them. It's not like it used to be in the world. If you heard somebody speak, you were there and you heard them and they maybe lived in your community and you knew the reality of their lives. But now they're in a box or on a radio or in a book and you don't know anything about their life.
This appeal to supernatural and personal revelation is in sharp contrast to the Apostle Peter who said:
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21)
Paul agreed with Peter:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Next week we'll look at the next characteristic of false teachers in Jude verse 8 - that they defile the flesh.
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