Enemies in the Church (4)
Let us worship God.
“Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.”
“It is better to trust in the Lord then to put confidence in man.”
“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.”
Let us pray.
Almighty God our heavenly Father we thank thee that Thou hast promised thy blessings to all who trust in thee. O Lord our God increase our faith, give us a day by day total trust and reliance on thee, that in all things we may learn to commit ourselves totally into thy keeping, to take hands-off our lives in the confidence that what thou hast begun Thou wilt accomplish. Bless us this day and by thy word and by thy Spirit speak to us the word that we need, empower us for thy service, in Christ’s name, amen.
Our scripture is Jude verses seventeen to twenty-five our subject ‘The Battle.’
“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. 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.”
Faced by false teachers, many in the church have been, and are today, easily discouraged. Some leave large denominations that are clearly astray, only to find that there are problems in smaller and reform-minded churches and groups. Their despairing attitude becomes: “what’s the use?!” Jude now warns against this danger. What can they expect? Will the enemy lie down and die because they have come to the truth? Will he not in fact rage all the more? In verses seventeen through twenty, Jude reminds his readers that the Apostles predicted such a development. Jesus Christ has created a new human race by His atoning grace and resurrection, and by His regenerating power they are involved in the great of the ages. And it will not be settled at once, nor in their lifetime, nor in ours. Therefore, Jude says: “remember the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In verse eighteen he refers to ‘the last days,’ meaning thereby, as does every such reference, the time from Christ’s resurrection to the general resurrection at the end of time. These are the last times in which all Christians live. These last times are marked, Jude says, by ‘mockers.’ Their purpose is to put down Christ, His disciples, and His people, by mockery. In verse fifteen, the word ‘ungodly’ is used four times to describe Christ’s enemies. It is used here again in verse eighteen. History now sees that mockery, a savage contempt and hostility to Christ and His people. Holiness is a separation to God, but the ungodly have their own form of separation to unholiness. These unholy people, verse nineteen says, having not the Spirit separate themselves to a purely sensual or physical existence. Meaning for them is radically personal, not cosmic, man-centered and not God-centered.
Jude tells his readers that is against this, they must grow and build themselves “on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” he says in verse twenty. As against the self-righteousness of their enemies, they grow by prayer. Prayer is a recognition of our needs and of our dependence on the triune God. Knowing our sins and shortcomings we keep ourselves, verse twenty, “…in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Our salvation is an act of mercy and grace on Christ’s part, and Jude reminds Christians of this fact. They must not presume on the Lord’s grace by assuming, once saved, that they are now a member of a deserving group, from the start to finish they are entirely dependent on the Lord’s grace and mercy.
In verse twenty-two Jude having spoken very plainly about the heretics, the false teachers, the trouble-makers, now makes a distinction. Some are not of the same sort as the others, but are rather redeemable, have compassion, and make a difference between them. This does not mean being less clear about their errors and sins. Like firemen, pull them out of the fire. As we do so we must be fearful of the contagion of sin. Thus, our kindliness to them is not our indifference to their sin. “Hating even the garments spotted by the flesh,” verse twenty-three, refers to the care of someone with a contagious disease. Jude speaks of sin as a contagious disease. Our concern for their recovery does not blind us to the need of care, lest we be infected.
In verses twenty-four and twenty-five we have a superb benediction, much used over the generations, it tells us first that God preserves His own. He keeps us from falling. This is the doctrine of ‘the preservation of the saints.’ Second; God shall present us in time to the very fullness of His glory “…with exceeding joy.” Therefore, third; we must ascribe: “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” verse twenty-five concludes. For all eternity God will be joyfully praised, God is our infinite, almighty, and omniscient resource, and His praise is a well-spring of life and joy.
In verse three, Jude spoke of our common salvation, that is the same for all. The Gnostics had an elitists faith, one reserved for intellectuals who could follow their scientific and philosophical thinking into strange byways. Antinomianism marked them because their faith was metaphysical and not ethical. Isn’t it interesting? To this day the heirs of the Gnostics stress metaphysics, not ethics, not morality. For Marcion, God being superior, meant that He did not judge, interesting how the superior religiously feel they are above us Bible-believers, they ‘don’t judge,’ except judging us, of course. How constant the strains of heresy are! Way back then were the Gnostics, you had the ‘love babies’ who loved everybody except those who disagreed with them and called attention to their errors.
Well, we can see why Jude’s condemnation, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is so sharp. We can also understand contemporary gnosticism whether called ‘New Age’ thinking, theosophy, Aquarian age ideas, or anything else, because all seek to live beyond good and evil and beyond morality. They are metaphysical, they are superior. As against contemporary faiths which by-pass morality as the Bible defines it for worship of life and nature, Jude’s brief letter is a devastating indictment. A more wretched and beggarly faith than gnosticism is hard to imagine, and yet in each new form over the centuries, in fact generation after generation after generation, its followers have been legion. Their position is for anything but the truth, and anyone other than Jesus Christ. Those who love the truth will be hated by all who love and believe in a lie, and such people are now very, very many. The direction of antinomianism is a religion without morality, it is another spiritual gnosticism. Let us pray.
Our Father we give thanks unto thee for Jude’s letter and for His warning. Indeed we see the same evil all around us, and we thank thee that by thy grace and mercy we have been summoned, not because of our good sense, but because of thy grace into thy truth. Make us strong there-in, grant that day by day our total reliance is on thee and on thy word, and that we may serve thee with all our heart, mind, and being. In Christ’s name, amen.
Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books. Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder