Jan 30, 2011

Jude, Gateway to Revelation (Part 1)

Jack KelleyBy Jack Kelley

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The Book of Acts is sometimes called the Acts of the Apostles because it’s a record of their experiences in building the early Church. That being the case, the Book of Jude could be called the Acts of the Apostates because it’s devoted to warning the Church of the false teachers who were coming. This being the time of the Great Apostasy (2 Thes. 2:3) we should review Jude’s one chapter letter to the Church and see what it says to us today.

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. (Jude:1-2)
The author identified himself as a servant of Jesus and a brother of James, who was head of the Church in Jerusalem in the years between Pentecost and his death just prior to Jerusalem’s destruction. Since James was a half brother of Jesus, Jude would also have been the Lord’s half brother. Neither James nor Jude were believers until after the resurrection. (John 7:5)

Jude was clearly writing to the Church. The Greek word translated “called” in verse 1 means sanctified (set apart) and is from the word for saint. The claim that we are loved by God and kept by Jesus Christ combines John 3:16 (For God so loved the world) and John 6:39 (my father’s will is that I should lose none of all that He has given me) and confirms other passages that say once we’re saved the Lord takes responsibility for keeping us that way.
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude: 3-4)
Jude wanted to write about loftier things, but already the Church was being invaded by false teachers, something that continues to this day, and he felt the need to warn us about them. Like it is today, these teachers were saying sin doesn’t matter, Jesus wasn’t really God in the flesh, and he’s not the only way to salvation. Back then this was called the gnostic error, one teaching of which held that all Spirit is pure and all matter is evil, so what we do in the flesh is irrelevant to our spiritual life.

This same teaching held that God, being spirit, is pure and could never have dwelt in a physical body so Jesus could not have been divine. They said the Spirit of God came to be with Him for a time but departed before His crucifixion leaving Him to die a broken man. Followers of gnosticism believed that salvation could not be attained through the death of a man, but by the acquisition of secret knowledge. (The Greek word gnosis means to know.) The New Age religions are modern examples that build on this kind of thinking.

The doctrine of inclusivism in liberal Christian theology teaches that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. Different religious philosophies outline their own beliefs and as long as people are sincere in practicing the beliefs of their chosen religion, they can find the way to God. They say it would be arrogant of Christians to insist that ours is the only way.
Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home — these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude:5-7)
These people might think they’re smart, behaving like they do. The way they intellectualize the Scriptures and emphasize their advanced degrees shows them to have a superior attitude, acting as if they’re the only ones who really understand. But we should remember what happened to those who thought they were too smart for God in the past. Paul said, “Although they claimed to be wise they became fools” (Romans 1:22) and reminded us that God promised the wisdom of the wise will perish and the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish. He was quoting Isaiah 29:14. Having learned nothing from history these people who think they’re so smart will find themselves repeating it.

Even the angels had to learn this. When some of them thought they could rebel and begin a new order, they took on human form without permission, chose human women as wives and produced a hybrid race of super humans (Genesis 6:4). Before long the human gene pool was almost entirely corrupted. But God brought the Great flood and destroyed them all, preserving only Noah and his family to begin again. Those who led this rebellion have been chained in darkness for over 4,000 years, awaiting their judgment. Peter also had this in mind when he wrote,
“God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4)
Later, Satan tried to pull this same stunt again, infesting the land God promised to His people with giants to frighten the Israelites away. It worked for a while, but God gave His people supernatural strength and courage to drive them out.

Some are convinced Satan will try this one more time, as the End of the Age approaches. They say the Nephilim of Genesis 6 are returning as extra-terrestrials to help Satan kick God off the planet for good. I have no first hand evidence to prove or disprove this theory. But this I know. The Bible says it has happened before, and there are hints it could happen again. (For our complete study on the Nephilim go here)

And who could deny the current effort to re-create Sodom and Gomorrah in our midst? Using the law of the land to force the acceptance of deviant behavior on the people pits human governments directly against the Word of God and will produce the same response that has followed every preceding attempt. Judgment.
In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals — these are the very things that destroy them. (Jude:8-10)
The Gnostics of old felt comfortable indulging to excess in every form of perversity. And if you think this kind of thing only happened long ago, just watch a few prime time TV shows. A short generation ago such behavior would have been scandalous, unfit even for public discussion. Now it’s openly celebrated, and even admired.

In this passage we come closer than any other place in the Bible to understanding why God allows Satan into His presence. Satan is a dignitary, a celestial being at the top of the order. Even Michael the Archangel, occupying the second highest position in the angelic hierarchy cannot speak disrespectfully to him. With all the harm Satan has done to the creation, at least for now he is still afforded the courtesy due his position.

But the false teachers of yesterday and today feel free to slander anybody, including God, who they don’t understand. They even rebel against the things they intuitively know are right. One of these is the indisputable fact that our world had to have been created. In Romans 1:18-19 Paul wrote,
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
Scientists are intelligent enough to read the signs God has plainly shown them in the Creation. Their insistence upon believing the so-called theory of evolution is not due to the fact that they’ve proven it to be true. In fact a growing mountain of evidence is showing it to be false. It’s due to the fact that they don’t want to believe the Biblical account which they intuitively know to be true, and so they suppress the truth by promoting a lie.

Another self-evident truth is when life begins. There isn’t a person alive who doesn’t know deep in his or her heart that a pre-born child is a living being. And yet these false teachers relentlessly spout theories that contradict their intuitive knowledge in a failed effort to justify their behavior. These are the ones to whom God will one day shout, “What were you thinking?” as He shows them the millions of defenseless children they’ve murdered.

Now don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m only talking about the secular world here. Remember, Jude said these teachings would come into the Church. And so they have. Today only a minority of those who call themselves Christian believe the Bible is true just as it’s written.

Speaking of these false teachers Peter said,
“Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand.” (2 Peter 2:10-12)
And Jude continues,
Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.(Jude:11)
The way of Cain is to offer the works of our hands as payment for our sins rather than accept the sacrifice of an innocent substitute (Genesis 4:3-4). The Bible says Cain knew what was right, but refused to do what was right (Genesis 4:6). Similarly some preachers today put their flocks in greater bondage than they were before they were saved by teaching that although Jesus died so we could be saved it’s up to us to earn the right to stay that way.

Balaam’s error was to offer false prophecies for a fee. He loved the wages of wickedness (2 Peter 2:15) Today we would say, “He’s in it for the money.” Some of our most prominent televangelists teach things they know in their heart to be untrue just to get money from their gullible followers.

Korah rebelled against God’s chosen one (Moses) inciting the people to disobedience (Numbers 16). Because of him many people refused to follow God’s constituted authority. For the Church today, God’s constituted authority is His word. But I get emails almost every day from people who can’t find a Bible believing church where they live. Others write to bemoan the fact that the church they’ve grown up in is suddenly taking a dramatic turn away from the Bible into things its writers have repeatedly warned us against doing.

So far it’s not looking good for the false teachers whether of Jude’s time or ours. But Jude is far from concluding his rant against them and before we’re finished Peter will have more to say too. Better stay tuned. Selah

Related Links
Sons of God and Daughters of Men - BPB (Tony Garland)
The Last Days Apostasy of the Church (Part 1) - BPB (Andy Woods)
The Fate of False Teachers - GraceThruFaith.com (Jack Kelley)
Is eternal security Biblical? - GotQuestions.org
What About the Fallen Angels? - GraceThruFaith.com (Jack Kelley)