Jude: A Serious Warning From Jesus’ Half Brother

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“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude v4 NASB)

The Book of Jude in the Bible was written by the Lord Jesus’ half-brother Jude (Judas in the Greek), who is named among the Lord’s brethren in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. He is also the full brother of James, the head of the early Church in Jerusalem. Jude warns that certain people in the early church were perverting the grace of God. His message is needed today because the grace of God has been and continues to be perverted.

In verse 3, Jude says he set out to write about our common salvation, when the Holy Spirit burdened him to exhort true believers to earnestly contend for The Faith, once delivered to the saints. The term “faith” does not refer to individual faith, but to The Faith, Christianity itself, in its historic doctrines and life-giving salvation. There is only one Faith and another will not be given. Understanding this, highlights the serious danger these people presented.

In Part One, we will look at the two things the false teachers were deceitfully propagating.

In verse 4 he writes:

“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed….ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

  1. They turned the grace of God into licentiousness (NASB).

We first need to look at what the “grace of God” is to understand what the false teachers corrupted.

God called us in the sphere of grace. That is when He effectually summoned us to a participation in the salvation procured by His Son on the Cross. It was on a basis, not of works, but of a salvation unmerited by us and freely bestowed with no strings tied to it, offered as a free gift to be accepted by the outstretched hand of faith. God’s ultimate purpose in offering this grace is to conform a group of people to the derived image of His Dear Son, Jesus. God said this through Paul in Romans:

“And we know with absolute knowledge that those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely-summoned ones according to HIS PURPOSE. Because, those whom He foreordained He also marked out beforehand as those who were to be CONFORMED TO THE DERIVED IMAGE OF HIS SON, with the result that He is firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8: 28-30 Wuest ET Emphasis mine)

Wuest explains this beautifully:

“…in the process of sanctification, the saint is transformed in his inner heart life to resemble the Lord Jesus, which inner change results in a change of outward expression that reflects the beauty of the Lord Jesus. The word “image” is eikon, a derived likeness. The image of the Lord Jesus in the saint is not accidental but derived, as the likeness of a child is derived from its parents. Through the new birth we become children of Jesus Christ (Hebrew 2:13) and thus inherit his image. This image, indistinct in the new convert, becomes progressively clearer and distinct as that believer grows in the Christian life.”

By exercising our faith to receive this “grace of God” we become partakers of the promises of God (II Peter 1: 3-4); whereby, we can walk in agape love for our Father,  Christ Jesus and our neighbor (kingdom duties) which will mature us in agape love (I John 4) making the image of Jesus more distinct in us. Paul’s instructions to the Philippians talks about our “duties”:

“Only [since my only reason for remaining on earth is for your pioneer advance in the Christian life], see to it that you recognize YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS CITIZENS [OF HEAVEN] and put yourselves to the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF PERFORMING THE DUTIES DEVOLVING UPON YOU IN THAT POSITION, doing this in a manner which weighs as much as the good news concerning the Christ… ” (Phil.1: 27 Wuest Emphasis Mine)

Therefore, I believe, the term “grace of God”, as used by Jude, is another way of saying The Faith or Christian system of belief (which is what Jude wants us to earnestly contend for) and all that it entails, including the change in our character/behavior, that results in this image of Jesus being developed.

In the place of His holy grace, these false teachers, through their deception, convinced some of the Lord’s bond servants that they could be their own lord and do what they wished including being immoral. Wuest says that the best English word to translate aselgeia (licentiousness) is wantonness” which is “being without check or limitation” and “the meaning of the word partakes of the spirit of anarchy….which refuses to acknowledge the authority of God’s Word, and itself sits in judgement upon it.” This brings us to the second point.

2. They denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

In the original language of the NT, “deny” was “used of those who deny God and Christ, who by cherishing and disseminating pernicious opinions and immorality, are judged to have apostatized from The Father God and Christ (Thayer).” When someone is apostatized they have chosen to refuse to continue to follow or obey God’s commands. As redeemed people in God’s kingdom, we have to obey the authority of the Kingdom. The false teachers did just the opposite by leading those that they seduced in the visible church to do things directly opposite to what God The Father and the Lord Jesus commanded by His apostles. To them there was no need to seperate from the things of the world and sin, but instead they encouraged a “if it feels good, do it” attitude. Some scholars believe this may have been the forerunner of the Gnostics that believed that the spiritual was good and matter evil; therefore, what you did with the human body was not important; hence, immorality was rampant.

Therefore, in conclusion, God saved us for a purpose and it is our responsibility to be conformed to the image of Jesus in our inner being. The false teachers taught no restraints, no Father or Lord, no commandments, you could do what you wanted including immorality; thereby, changing the grace of God into wantonness or licentiousness. As we shall see, our Lord did not tolerate this. If this is not clear to you now, it will be abundantly clear as our study progresses.

Did they come into the early church and preach this openly? No, they did not because the leadership would have put them out immediately. As we look at the false teacher’s character in the next post, we will see how they manipulated Jesus’ bond servants.

Please join us as we continue our study. Thank you and let us thank Him for all the blessings He has blessed us with! Comments and questions welcome.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lust which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY.”” (I Peter 1: 15-16 NASB)

Carl

Need A Little Motivation In Your Christian Walk?

“But my heart stands in awe of Thy words. I rejoice at Thy word, as one who finds great spoil.” (Psalm 119: 161b-162)

We all need motivation sometimes. One of my son-in-laws and I have recently been discussing scripture memorization. Something I used to do a lot of but over the years had gotten away from.

I recently found the above scripture while studying I John 2:14 and thought it was the perfect motivation to restart scripture memorization.  If the psalmist could say this of the Old Testament, how should we, born again believers, feel about the New Testament’s

“…precious and exceedingly great promises…” that are given us “…in order that through these you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped by flight the corruption which is in the world in the sphere of passionate carvings.” (II Peter 1: 4 Wuest)

If need be, may these scriptures motivate you like it did me  to restart hiding the Word of Life in your heart. It is eternal and unchanging because He is eternal and unchanging. And you and I as born again believers are eternal! Think on that today.

Have a blessed day.

Carl

The Grace of God

“Where sin increased, grace superabounded, and then some on top of that.” (Romans 5:20b Wuest)

Today we want to look at the Greek word charis translated grace in our Bibles. This is one of the most important words in the New Testament.

Since the New Testament was written in the common Greek language of the first century AD, we will first look at the Greek meaning.

In the ethical terminology of the Greek schools, charis or grace implied a favor freely done, without claim or expectation of return.

“Aristotle [ancient Greek philosopher] lays the whole stress of the word on this very point, that it is conferred freely, with no expectation of return, and finding its only motive in the bounty and free-heartedness of the givers” (Trench).

In the New Testament the Holy Spirit took the meaning infinitely further. I quote Kenneth Wuest on the use of the word:

“But how this purely classical meaning of the word describes what took place at Calvary. All the human race could expect in view of its sin, was the righteous wrath of a holy God, that and eternal banishment from His glorious presence. But instead, the holy God stepped down from His judgment seat and took upon Himself at Calvary’s Cross, the guilt and penalty of human sin, thus satisfying His justice and making possible the bestowal of His mercy. And this He did, not for those who were His friends, but His bitter enemies, unlovely creatures saturated with sin. Charis in classical Greek referred to a favor conferred freely, with no expectation of return, and finding its only motive in the bounty and free-heartedness of the giver. This favor was always done to a friend, never to an enemy. RIGHT HERE CHARIS LEAPS FORWARD AN INFINITE DISTANCE, FOR THE LORD JESUS DIED FOR HIS ENEMIES (Romans 5: 8-10), A THING UNHEARD OF IN THE HUMAN RACE. Surely this was beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected and is therefore commendable. This is what John is speaking of in his first epistle (3.1) when he says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God.” The words “what manner of” are from a Greek word which means “what foreign kind of.” That is, the love shown by God at the Cross is foreign to the human race. Man simply does not act that way (Rom. 5:7,8,10). That is why God’s action on the Cross in dying for lost humanity is an action beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected and is therefore commendable. HERE IS ONE OF THE STRONGEST PROOFS OF THE DIVINE SOURCE OF THE BIBLE. The substitutionary atonement never came from the philosophies of man but from the heart of God.”

“Thus, the word charis comes to its highest and most exalted content of meaning in the New Testament. It refers to God’s offer of salvation with all that implies, which salvation was procured at Calvary’s Cross with all the personal sacrifice which that included, offered to one who is His bitter enemy, and who is not only underserving of that salvation but deserves condign [appropriate] punishment for his sins, offered without any expectation of return, but given out of the bounty and free heartedness of the giver. This means that there is no room for good works on the part of the sinner as a means whereby he could earn his salvation, or after salvation, whereby he might retain that salvation. Paul sets grace over against works as things directly in opposition to one another as fas as the means of salvation is concerned (Rom 4:4, 5, 11:6). But Paul is very careful to make plain that good works naturally issue from and are required by grace (Titus 2:11-12). (Ephesians – Kenneth Wuest emphasis mine)

I hope you are blessed by this explanation. I’m still marveling at what God has done for us, totally undeserving humans. God bless you and thank you for your time,

Father God, we praise you for your underserved mercy and grace!!!! Amen.

Carl

In Honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

It has been 500 years since the German priest Luther nailed his 95 theses or propositions on the Castle Church door (above) at Wittenberg, Germany. Little did he realize then the far reaching impact of what he had done. The Reformation was born and Christianity and all of Western civilization was changed. The other night we watched online as one of our daughters participated in a very large Reformation anniversary celebration in one of the European capital cities. It was a glorious event. They even sang my grandmothers favorite hymn in their mother tongue. It was quite moving.

To celebrate this august occasion, I offer this quote from Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley:

“Luther’s greatest contribution to history, however, was not political. It was religious. He took four basic Catholic concerns and offered invigorating new answers. To the question how is a person saved, Luther replied: not by works but by faith alone. To the question where does religious authority lie, he answered: not in the visible institution called the Roman church but in the Word of God found in the Bible. To the question – what is the church? —- he responded: the whole community of Christian believers, since all are priest before God. To the question — what is the essence of Christian living? —- he replied: serving God in any useful calling, whether ordained or lay. To this day any classical description of Protestantism must echo those central truths.”

And you know what? The Bible today still says the same things. Thank you Lord Jesus for the Bibles we have. It is really a miracle. Let us remember the men, such as John Wyclif and William Tyndall, who translated the Greek NT manuscripts into our mother tongue, so we, the common man, could understand what God had said.

Thank you for your time. God Bless you.

Carl

The New Testament

“The New Testament is of full authority, and open to the understanding of simple men, as to the points that be most needful to salvation…He that keepeth meekness and charity [love] hath the true understanding and perfection of all Holy Writ,” for “Christ did not write his laws on tables, or on skins of animals, but in the hearts of men.”

John Wyclif (1320 -1384), the English reformer, headed a group that translated the Latin Bible into the English common language. (Addition mine)

From Church History in Plain Language — Bruce L. Shelley 

Five Christian Categories

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In the book, Insanity of Obedience, author Nik Ripken,  lists five Christian categories by  Paul Marshall.  Mr. Ripken has served as a missionary in several African countries including Sudan. He has spent a significant number of years meeting with persecuted Christians around the globe to document their experience and expand the church’s understanding of persecution. I heartily recommend this book and his first book, Insanity of God.

The term “Christian” is used in various ways in different cultures and, as a result, is sometimes hard to define. These categories are not perfect but help us to get a handle on a definition. Please review the list and see which category you fit into.

1. “Census Christians are people who, if asked about their religion, would say, “Christian.” This designation might not relate at all to anything that these people believe or practice. Often, this is a cultural answer. If asked about their religion in certain geographic areas, for example, many people might answer, “Of course I’m a Christian. Isn’t everybody?” These people, according to Marshall, are “census Christians”. On a census, these people would check the “Christian” box.  What the designation actually means is anybody’s guess.”

2. “Member Christians claim some sort of identification with a particular Christian institution or organization. Again, this does not mean that these people necessarily participate or even show up at their church. These people simply have some sort of personal connection with a church and they identify themselves with that church. They might say, “I am Catholic,” or “I am Baptist,” or “I am Methodist.”

3.”Practicing Christians actually participate in the life of a church. They typically attend worship services. In some fashion, these people are involved in the forms and rituals of the faith. Often their connection with the church is limited to weddings, baptisms, and funerals.”

4.”Believers (or Committed Believers) are people for whom the Christian faith is central and shaping. These Christians strive to live out their faith and communicate their faith to others. To use the language of the evangelical world, the people have a personal relationship with Jesus. Often they will use the language of John 3 and talk about being “born again”.

5.”Hidden Christians are people who believe secretly. Fearful of persecution, these people keep their faith to themselves. In some settings, these believers might keep their faith secret from government officials and employers.  In other settings, they might keep their faith secret from even family members and friends. These believers might not even experience specifics acts of outward persecution, but the fear of persecution has caused their faith to be completely inward. For the most part, their faith, though real, is hidden. In most cases, they have not “joined” a church, though this might be an artificial measurement since, in many settings, there is no official institutional church to join.”

Did you fit in anywhere?  We hope so. If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior, we would love to send you some literature if you would send us your address.

The articles on this blog are geared to the encouragement and exhortation of the Believers (or Committed Believers) and Hidden Christians. Of course, everyone is welcome and we hope all deepen their walk with God through Jesus Christ.  Thank you for your time. May God bless you!!

“Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord know those who are His,” and “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19)

Carl