“Hey Jude? What is SIN, really?”

THE DOCTRINE OF SIN:

THE PURPOSE of Jude is a call for all Christians to DEFEND the Faith.

Jude is a tough, sobering, book in the Bible to read.  So get ready!

WHO WAS JUDE?

Jude 1

“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James…”

He was the brother of James, who presided at the Jerusalem Council and wrote the epistle of James, and was the half-brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3).

The Perversion within the Church

[Verse 4 ]  For certain men have crept in stealthily [gaining entrance secretly by a side door].  Their doom was predicted long ago, ungodly (impious, profane) persons who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favor) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality and disown and deny our sole Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  [AMP]

Jude talks about APOSTASY, basically a turning away from the Faith.  We learn that they are sneaky, ungodly and pervert the Grace of Jesus.  They deny that Jesus is Master and Lord.

And they stand condemned!

The media today is influencing the church.

The politically correct police are on high alert!  You can mention God as long as you don’t mention His absolute truth.  You can mention Jesus as long as He was just a good teacher.  Pastors are required to be politically correct rather than biblically correct to be accepted.  The trend in churches today is to be welcoming, but primarily affirming.  Sermons are designed to tickle the ear and not convict the heart.

God help us!

It’s sobering and it makes me sad to think of those I know who could very well fall into this category of being apostate.  Understand the APOSTASY is false teaching, its false living.  It is the Christian form of hypocrisy.  It’s saying you are a Christian but in truth, you are not.  Your action, your attitude, bear the lies that come out of your mouth.

So Jude gives a WARNING to the apostates, the enemy of the TRUE CHURCH.

He begins by giving us some examples of people who are exposed to the truth, to the grace, and totally reject it and face eternal punishment.  It truly squeezed my heart when rereading this passage of scripture because there are many I know today that could very well experience this punishment.

The LORD delivers people from bondage, but sometimes people fall back.

One Example:  God’s chosen nation (vs. 5)

[5] “Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the LORD at one time delivered His people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.” [NIV]

Jude says here that Jesus (more accurately translated LORD) saved a people in the land of Egypt.  That is the Hebrew people, the future nation of Israel.

Later, He destroyed those who rebelled and didn’t believe.

The word DESTROY literally means to abolish; to destroy completely.  [See footnote [i]]

Understand that God didn’t DESTROY the nation, but He did destroy many within the nation all because of their unbelief and disobedience.

It was continued unbelief and disobedience. 

This was an outward circumcision but not an inward circumcision of the heart.

A person can go through all the outward hoops and identifying with Jesus, but the only thing that really matters is your heart.

Does your heart belong to Him?

Are you TRUSTING Him alone to forgive you of your sin?

Are you TRUSTING Him for your SALVATION?

Are you TRUSTING Him in your life?

Are you denying Him, Master and Lord?

If your answer is “NO” to any of these questions, you fall under the same destruction.

BE WARNED!

God’s Chosen Servants–Messengers–Who were they? (vs. 6)

Judgment is coming. Hebrews 9: Jude 1:6. Acts 17: Timothy 4:8. John 12:48. Jude 1:6.

We see here that even ANGELS, heavenly beings, are subject to the great day of JUDGMENT.

Many commentators take this verse and its parallel in 2 Peter 2:4 to be a reference to the primordial fall in the bible of wicked angels under the leadership of Lucifer.  This creates somewhat of a dilemma.  Clearly, not all the dethroned angels are “cast into hell and committed to pits of DARKNESS”, reserved for judgment as Peter writes.  This same Peter says that Satan is still somewhat loose, and prowls around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).  

The simplest way to resolve this questioning is to take the “angels” in this passage of Jude is referenced to the Godly line of Seth in the Bible; the “sons of God.”

The Background of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6.

The angels portrayed here forsook what God ordained them to do.  They chose their own thing!  [i.e.  They became their own god.]

Numerous interpretations I have read suggested that the “sons of God” were fallen, angels who married earthly women and produced children…Giants in the land, although how “angels” could intermarry has never been explained.  Jesus clearly states that angels don’t marry (Matthew 22:30), and there’s no evidence that angels have gender or genitalia.   A few have suggested that “demon-possed men.” as an alternative theory, but this is still rather unsatisfactory, and neither of these interpretations offers anything of relevance to the historical evidence of Genesis 6.  [See footnote [ii] ].

The result was eternal punishment. 

They forsook being in God’s presence to follow their own path.

Bringing this all back to Jude, those who are APOSTATE are the ones who choose to be their own God.

I believe that the biggest ACT OF APOSTASY in our day is….you are a Christian, continuing to live like the world, or even worse than the world!  This type of SIN denies Lordship over one’s life.  It cheapens the GRACE that believers are supposed to live under.

If my understanding of the passage of Scripture is right, then that type of living is APOSTASY; to be judged by God just like the Hebrew people in the wilderness, just like the angels who denied their rightful place, just like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The LORD delivers people from bondage today as He did when the Hebrews were delivered out of Egypt from bondage.  But sometimes people fall back into bondage. We’ve all probably done this, but Jude lists some who didn’t and was punished.

  • Angels who left home.
  • People who left morality behind.

Whatever it is, God can deliver us!

BUT…but we must not turn back.

No Turning Back into our old ways will get us into trouble every time.  And for some people, it could mean eternal trouble.

GOD SAVE US!

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i]:   The word, DESTROY – Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words

Footnote [ii]:  “Who Were the Angels of Jude 6?” by Biblical Horizons (Copywrite).

Photo Images:  Google Image search.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or as noted.

Commentary:  Restoration, Sermon by Jeff Strite, Jude 1:1-7, Sermon Central.

 

Returning to One’s Own Vomit [Part One]

PROVERBS 26:11 (NIV)  

“AS A DOG RETURNS TO ITS VOMIT, SO A FOOL REPEATS HIS FOLLY.”


History Repeats Itself  [See Ecclesiastes 1:9].

I was reading an article the other day which prompted me to begin this study in Hebrews 6, believe it or not.  The article was entitled “Reasons why millennials are walking away from their faith,” by Stacia Hall.

The statistics show that 65% of them would not consider themselves to be religious.  This is a huge number, but when you’re talking about a cause-driven generation, who is very focused on community and are actually finding it both online and in person, you can see how the purpose of the church and God’s Word would be less necessary.  Being a grandparent, trust me, I’ve noticed.

But the statistics don’t end there. 

32% of them say they actually don’t believe in God’s existence.  1/3 of people between the ages of 18-30 don’t believe that God is, that He exists, that He started it all.  [See footnote [i] ]

Worse, many who at one time said they believed, and now don’t.  And let’s not just point fingers at the “millennials”.  Many people today from all generations are walking away from Christ.

Many are compliant but unconverted.  Some may come to Christ later.

Many of those are not denying that Jesus is the Son of God, they just don’t care!  Some have become enemies of the Gospel or embraced false religions.

Others just numb, deliberate rejection. 

That was the question the Messianic Jews had when they saw and heard their peers trashing Jesus and returning to mainstream Judaism.  We call this APOSTASY and shouldn’t be confused with falling into sin.  A lot of evangelical Christians, as many of us like to call ourselves, based on group dynamics, are a lot like the ancient Hebrews who followed Moses.  It was the thing to do.

Most of us agree I think, that someone whose FAITH & TRUST are not in Jesus is lost.

But what if they once professed the faith that they now deny?  What happened?  Were they SAVED then lost their salvation, or were they never really SAVED?  I believe the later.

In one sense, it doesn’t matter they are lost.  In another sense, it does matter, because if God ELECTS people to salvation, is God really in control here?  Is His SOVEREIGNTY broken?

We can anticipate knowing people who once claimed to be followers of Christ but later in life decided to disavow Him.

I’ve asked myself the question regarding a few members of my own family.  How could this have happened?

THE HISTORY LESSON ~

The lesson I’ve chosen for this study is built upon  The Rejection of the Promised Land (Numbers 13-14).

Most of the Hebrews were skeptics, even though they were ENLIGHTENED by God’s Word.  However, their commitment to Yahweh was flimsy, with reservation, not final, unreserved, and genuine.  It could have been a case of group dynamics and being overwhelmed.  Sound familiar?

They had seen God’s Power in miracle after miracle on their journey to the Promised Land.  Yet, in their hearts, they wanted to return to Egypt and worship the gods of Egypt.

The twelve spies were sent out to preview Canaan and then sorted out its challenges in two opposite ways.

They tasted the amazing produce of Canaan, including the giant grapes.

The people refused to believe God and honor His Word.

They couldn’t backtrack: too late.  So because of their ‘stiff-necks’ and their unbelief, they suffered God’s judgment [Numbers 14:32-37]:  Wandering 40 years in the wilderness until they dropped dead.

And their problem?

They didn’t actually Trust God’s character?

The same principle applies to those who have professed faith in Jesus to later reject Him.

Hebrews 6:4-12 (NIV Bible)

[4] If it is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,  [5] who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the [powers of the coming age,  [6] if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.  

[7] Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.  [8] But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed.  In the end, it will be burned.  

[9] Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case–things that accommodate salvation.  [10] God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  [11] We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.  [12] We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Applying this passage of Scripture to the people who professed their FAITH in Christ Jesus only to later REJECT Him is drawing parallels in some sense.

If you spend some time in the Book of Numbers account, it’s obvious that many or most of the Hebrews were not right with God, at least that first generation.  It’s not like they were ‘godly’ and then fell away.  They went along with Moses (sometimes), but did they take ownership of their relationship with the Lord?  No, they didn’t!  And this understanding is crucial.

Why has REPENTANCE become impossible?

It’s not that God won’t accept repentance, it’s, rather, that it’s impossible for these mentioned here to repent; they have crossed a boundary.  An expression I love to use in this regard is “You cannot put an impression on concrete once it’s dry.”

They had been ENLIGHTENED with the Gospel.

  • The Hebrews were enlightened by a pillar of fire/the Torah.
  • The Hebrews sampled the grapes, this sampled SALVATION.
  • They have tasted the produce of the HEAVENLY Canaan.  They haven’t entered the land and the rest that goes with it.

They have seen God’s POWER through the Holy Spirit in their lives and yet they desired to return to their previous religious status forsaking their inheritance that God had promised.  It’s one thing to doubt and it’s another thing to backslide.  And yet another to deny and reject Jesus!

They changed their INTERPRETATION of the Cross in unbelief and in their unbelief they’re agreeing with those who nailed Jesus to the cross.  If Jesus was a false teacher and a fake, then death was the appropriate penalty.

They cannot BACKTRACK and now accept the Messiah; too late!

Look closely at Peter’s words:

“wallowing in the mire” – Def. deep mud; wet, spongy earth.  To soil with mud or foul matter; to stick in a mire.

I was about 16 months in this old photo, but looking at my expression, I didn’t seem to be enjoying the “mire”.

At this point in the study, to correctly interpret any Scripture, we must know the basic rules of interpretation.

The FIRST RULE is to interpret Scripture in the context of the Entire Bible.

Secondly, we are to interpret in context with the Immediate Passage; we need to know the purpose of the letter or book that the text is written by looking at the verses immediately around our text, then interpret with the things as a backdrop for our interpretation.

And THIRDLY, we need to interpret Scripture using other Scripture.  Scripture isn’t going to contradict itself!

Finally, we want to interpret Scripture that is less clear with Scripture that is more clear.  So in this study, I have tried to use these principles in interpretation.

The verses in the first part of our passage of Scripture have been some of the most challenging for Christians throughout the centuries to interpret and taken by themselves, can seem to indicate that if you are a Christian and turn away from Christ, you can lose your salvation and there’s no hope of you ever being saved again.

THAT’S NOT WHAT IT’S SAYING AT ALL.

Verse 4 and 5 says it is impossible for those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become a sharer of the Holy Spirit, and have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come [AMP].

That certainly could be a Christian, but then the author goes on to say if they fall away, it would be impossible for them to be brought back to a place of repentance.

So, when trying to understand this in light of the context of the Bible, it would seem to contradict other Scriptures that say otherwise, because the Bible as a whole, teaches that Salvation is by Grace and Guaranteed to believers by God.

It teaches that a TRUE BELIEVER is eternally secure in their SALVATION when they have truly believed.  We’ll explore this in greater detail in Part Two of this study.

Ephesians 1:13-14

When a person has truly believed they are given the Holy Spirit–and God says through Paul that the indwelling Holy Spirit in a person’s life becomes a deposit that guarantees our salvation.

And other Bible verses give testimony to the same:  2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 2:8-9.

Additionally, I want us to be aware of what the author of Hebrews doesn’t say, that other writers of Scripture say when they are talking about someone who is actually saved.

He doesn’t say that the people he’s talking about have been sealed with the Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13, 4:30), or…

  • born again (John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:23), or…
  • chosen (Eph. 1:11; 1 Peter 1:12), or…
  • predestined (Roman. 8:29-32; Eph. 1:5, 11). or…
  • reconciled (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18; Col. 1:11), or…
  • forgiven (Luke 5:20, 7:48; 1 Jn. 2:12), or…
  • that they had never believed at all! (John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9-10; Eph. 1:13).

Those phrases are each used in multiple places to describe a person who is SAVED.

Here is what the author does say about those he’s talking about:

  • They’ve been enlightened.
  • tasted the heavenly gift.
  • shared in the Holy Spirit.
  • tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age.

Now while those things would certainly be true of a Christian, the QUESTION is…

“could they be true of a person who hasn’t received Christ as Savior”?

To answer that question you will have to continue the study in Part Two, Returning to One’s Own Vomit

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CREDITS:

Footnote [i] – everything.church, Jan. 5, 2016.

Photo Images:  Google Image Search.

Personal Photo:  “Muddy Mel” – Family Photo Album.  1943.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or as noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIGHTING, WARING, “Contending” for the FAITH

HOW DID GOD DO THAT?

Exodus 14:16-31
Exodus 14:16-31

Most of you know of the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus of the Bible, or do you? Here’s a borrowed version of that story:

It seems Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt–and now had Pharaoh and his armies in hot pursuit.

At their backs, certain annihilation– and, in front of them the Red Sea.  They were trapped. So Moses called his generals and other tribal leaders together and made a review of their desperate circumstances in what they might do.

“DID ANYONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS?” Moses asked.

One of the engineering types suggested the possibility of constructing a pontoon bridge–but as some pointed out, there was no time for that!

All kinds of crazy ideas popped-up in discussion–but none had any merit.

Finally, Moses asked,  “What if I were to pray to Jehovah Jireh (God will provide) and ask Him to send a mighty wind to sweep back the waters of the Red Sea so that dry land would appear?  We could then cross over the dry land and…when safely on the other side, wind could cease and the waters would rush back, drowning the Egyptian army.  What do you think of that idea?”

At this point Moses’ publicity man jumped up enthusiastically:  “Moses Baby, if you can pull that one-off, I guarantee I can get you two full pages in the Bible!”

We believe in the biblical record even though we don’t always understand the implications 

The LORD delivers people from their bondage, yet sometimes, people seem to fall back into that same old bondage (1 Timothy 1:7; Acts 8:23).

In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he writes “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him (Jesus), that the body of sin might be done away with and that we should no longer be in bondage to sin”  (ASV bible).

JUDE was the brother of James, who presided at the Jerusalem council and wrote the epistle of James, and he was a half-brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3).  The LETTER OF JUDE was addressed to Jewish Christians in Palestine and in verse 3, Jude indicates that he planned to write to them concerning their salvation but now changes his appeal in light of certain immoral men circulating among them who were perverting the TRUTH–the message of the gospel of Christ.

“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 [“fight”, “war”] for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints”  (Jude 3 – NIV bible).

Jude’s list of the “fallen backs”, now begins in verse 4 – People who left MORALITY behind.

[4] For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you…godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality…

And just in case you have forgotten–JUDE 5 (NRSV bible):

[5] Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed that the LORD, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”

[READ Numbers, chapter 16]

The Pretenders and False Teachers –

Albert Barnes makes an excellent statement concerning men/women who come into churches and lead others astray:

“The apostle (Jude) gives a reason for defending the TRUTH for there were artful and wicked men who had crept into the church, pretending to be religious, but whose doctrines tended to sap the very foundations of TRUTH.”

The fact that false teachers were able to creep into a church setting, shows the pastor of the church and/or the people who let their guard down, they clearly were complacent and content as gate keepers and asleep on the job.

Churches today are rarely destroyed from the outside.  It is the Devil’s cunningest to send an uncalled man, poorly trained and equipped for the ministry.  These “hirelings”, having no calling from God, aspiring to the ministry as a profession, who are smooth talkers often well versed in modern psychology.  Ring a bell?

sugarTheir MESSAGE is weak and watery, containing no meat.  In order to hold the attendance numbers, they turn and rely on the music and emotion.  NOTE: I’m not against “contemporary music” and heartfelt “emotional responses.”  Just not the service’s whole emphasis.

Titus 1:9-11 (NIV):

[9] Hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrines and refute those who oppose it.  [10] For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group.  [11] They must be silenced because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain.

ANGELS WHO LEFT HOME BEHIND –

Just because we haven’t seen God or angels, doesn’t mean they aren’t real!

Augustine, an early Christian theologian and philosopher once said,  “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men angels.”

Someone changed that and said,  “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men acceptable before God.”

“Are not the angels all ministering spirits (servants) sent out in the service [of God for assistance] of those who are to inherit salvation?”  (Hebrews 1:14).

Apparently, God sends His angels to minister to us who are truly believing saints in life.

We may or may not know when this happens.  One writer put it this way:  “Angels are spiritual beings created by God to serve Him; though created higher than man.  Some (the good angels) have remained obedient to Him to carry out His will, while others (fallen angels), disobeyed, fell from their holy position and now stand in active opposition to the work and plan of God.”

Jude 1:6 (NRSV bible):

[6] And the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgment of the great day.

I think most of us realize the DEVIL is a fallen angel.  He was so filled with PRIDE and wanted to be god and God cast him out of heaven.  SATAN abandoned his position of Authority.

And guess what’s going to happen to him?

Revelation 20:10:

[10] Then the devil who had led them astray [deceiving and seducing them] was hurled into the fiery lake of burning brimstone, where the beast and false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (through the ages of the ages).

**NOTE: Were ALL the fallen angels bound eternally in chains for eventual judgment? The answer is another study.  [See Footnote [i] for a study choice.]

If angels who are higher than man in creation can sin and thrown in the lake of fire, what about man?

People who left MORALITY in the trash can (verse 7):

[7] 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  (NIV bible).

What’s the deal with “Sodom and Gomorrah”?

[READ Genesis 19:1-5]

That sounded horrible after reading those verses.  And it was!  Sounds like today!

This Scripture (verse 7), makes things sound pretty dismal for some people and we should believe the Word of God.  The only HOPE for any SIN, sexual sin, sexual perversion, etc. is the LORD!

No one can be SAVED from eternal fire without the Lord’s grace!

In conclusion, MY STUDY’S REFLECTIONS –

Understand that APOSTASY is more than false teaching in the church today, it is FALSE LIVING.

It is the Christian form of HYPOCRISY–SAYING, YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN BUT IN TRUTH YOU ARE NOT.

Your ACTIONS, your ATTITUDES, are bearing the lies that come out of your mouth.

In VERSE 5:  I saw that the Lord delivers people out of their own EGYPTS, but sometimes people wander back into their sin and slavery.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!

JUDE says to us here in VERSE 5, that JESUS (more accurately translated LORD), SAVED a people out of the Land of Egypt.  That is, the Hebrew people, the future nation of Israel.

Later, He destroyed those who didn’t believe (Numbers 16:32-33).  DESTROY literally means to abolish, to destroy completely.

Understand that God didn’t destroy the nation but destroyed many–(250 in verse 35–14,700 later, in verse 49)–ALL because of their UNBELIEF and DISOBEDIENCE to God’s Word given through Moses.  It wasn’t because of occasional doubt and disobedience, but continually doubting, continually disobeying.

There was an OUTWARD CIRCUMCISION, but not an INWARD CIRCUMCISION of the heart.

4-x4-camo-camouflage-heart-gas-cap-bumper-sticker-decal-window-stickers-decals
Ref: https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/camouflaged-hearts/ ]
You can go through all the hoops of Churchianity to identify you with Jesus, but only one thing really matters is your HEART!

Yes, God DELIVERS people from their bondage, even laziness.  Whatever it might be, God can deliver us!

BUT…

But we must not turn back.

Turning back to our old sinful ways get us in trouble every time.  And for some, it could mean ETERNAL TROUBLE.

GOD SAVE US!

If I understand this passage in Scripture rightly, that type of living is APOSTASY and it is to be JUDGED by God… just like the Hebrew people in the wilderness, just like the angels who denied their rightful place, just like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Is that you?

Is God calling you to repentance?

 

 


 

BLOG-STUDY CREDITS:

FOOTNOTE [i] –  Biblical Horizons Newsletter No. 1: Who Were the Angels of Jude 6? by James B. Jordan January, 1989.

Bible Translations used:  NRSV – New Revised Standard Version, NIV – New International Version; AMP – Amplified bible.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Google Images Search.