Category Archives: Civilizations

End of Political Opportunists

• The end game for unspiritual political opportunists (Jd 13): The descriptive conclusion and final end of those who would use their brethren as an opportunity for either financial gain or political goals is not bright. Jude was rich with metaphors as he defined the character and reward of these ungodly political insurrectionists who were in the fellowship of the church: “They are raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering starts for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jd 13).

The doxology of judgment of Jude 14-16 was first delivered to humanity by Enoch in reference to the flood of Noah’s day. It was the time before the flood when “God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gn 6:5).

Every judgment of God in time is a metaphor of His final judgment at the end of time. But in the context of both Jude and Peter, a similar judgment in time was going to be released upon national Israel, which judgment was illustrated by the flood of Noah’s day. It was a judgment that was prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24, and was to occur soon in the lives of those Jewish brethren to whom both Jude and Peter wrote.

As the A. D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem loomed just over the horizon, it was a time that the disciples of that time to be warned, or reminded of what Jesus had prophesied of the event forty years before (See Mt 24). It would be in the destruction of Jerusalem that the Lord would come in time “to execute judgment on all [unbelieving Jews], and to convict all who are ungodly among [the Jews] of all their ungodly deeds that they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against Him [the Lord Jesus Christ] (Jd 15).

Jude concluded with a description of how the Jewish nationalists among the brethren were politically seeking to recruit fellow Jewish friends and family members to take up arms against Rome. These insurrectionists spoke in secret of things they would do to bring down Roman domination in Palestine. They continually complained about how oppressive the Romans were. And thus they walked according to their desires to throw off Roman oppression. And in order to recruit fellow Jews to join them in the resistance, they made great promises of freedom from the tyrant in Rome. They behaved as good politicians by speaking “great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage” (Jd 16).

If we could conclude Jude’s final words to the Jewish insurrectionists among the early church, it would be that brethren should never in any way behave as ungodly political leaders among the brethren. If one does such, he is as Paul stated in the following exhortation to the Corinthians, among whom some were behaving politically:

“For we dare not class or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Co 10:12).

A final exhortation was in order for the faithful. During times of social chaos—the times in which the innocent Christians of those years of Rome’s onslaught against Jewish insurrection—the faithful needed to remember who was in total control of all things. So as a reminder and encouragement for the faithful, Jude concluded with the following statement:

“To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, before all time and now and forever. Amen (Jd 25).

[Series will continue.]

Blemishes

• Blemishes at the dinner table (Jd 12): Most of the time when the contexts of Jude and 2 Peter are considered, commentators want to take individuals that under consideration by both authors outside the fellowship of the church. But in these contexts, unbelievers are not directly under consideration. Both Jude and Peter are specific as to who is the problem. Jude identified these ungodly individuals as Christians: “These are spots in your love feast when they feast with you” (Jd 12). Unless we assume that these ungodly political activists were invited guests at the love feast/Lord’s supper of the church, then Jude was speaking of fellow brothers or sisters in Christ who were involved in some insurrectionists activity. At the time, these were in the very core of Christian fellowship, the love feast. They were sitting across the table and “feeding themselves without fear” of the reprisals of government and the impending destruction that was coming upon all those who would join the Jewish anarchist’s movement against Rome.

The Jewish insurrectionists who were promising “showers of blessings” when Palestine was delivered from Roman occupation, were dreamers who promised rain when they themselves were only empty clouds with political ambitions. They were like politicians who make great promises, but deliver no results when they are voted into office. In this case, they were recruiting among the membership of the Jewish disciples in order to stir up a rebellion against Rome.

These were those who were carried along by the populous vote of those who “speak evil of those things that they do not know” (Jd 10). Peter was more descriptive in identifying these misguided Jewish brethren: “They are stains and blemishes, carousing themselves with their own deceptions while they feast with you” (2 Pt 2:13).

And as all politically motivated individuals, their work in eating at the love feast was for the purpose of “enticing unstable souls” (2 Pt 2:14). But Peter warned those who would vote for these brute political beasts among the brethren: “These are wells without water, clouds and mists that are carried by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved” (2 Pt 2:17; see 2 Th 1:6-9).

Now in those days, Paul wrote that “the Spirit clearly says that in the latter times [of national Israel], some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Tm 4:1).

Paul prophesied of the times about which both Peter and Jude lived and wrote. We have found that many would–be prophets today miss this critical point when they are deceiving the people concerning “end-of-time” prognostications. These false prophets forget that Paul, Peter and Jude, as well as James, were addressing Christians of their day who were about to endure tremendous social calamity. These New Testament writers did not skip over two thousand years of time in order to write concerning world events of our day. They simply did not steal from their immediate readers prophecies of social and political calamity that their readers would have to endure in just a few years after the inspired letters were written.

In fact, it seems quite inconceivable that some today would steal away warnings that were delivered directly to the early Christians in the first century in order that save their lives in not joining with the insurrectionists. As is so evident in the epistle of Jude, there were political Jewish brethren working among the early disciples in order to recruit volunteers. There were those who were recruiting volunteers to join in the resistance against Rome. If the faithful succumbed to the intimidation of the recruiters, then the possibility some would be killed in the coming destruction of A.D. 70. There are those today, however, who are persisted to be prophetic thieves in order to satisfy their own thirst to capture an innocent audience today who would follow their misleading prognostications.

“While they promise them liberty [from Roman oppression], they themselves [at the time Peter wrote] are the bondservants of corruption” (2 Pt 2:19). The Holy Spirit defined the characters in Paul’s letter to Timothy that they came among the early disciples, “speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tm 4:2). This is as the corrupt false teacher who has concealed his personal corruption, while at the same time encourages the deceived populous to vote for him. In order to gain the vote of the people in order to continue his corruption, he must work with deceit lest the voting populous discover his true motives. Peter’s following conclusion is a description of the character of these individuals who existed among the brethren of his readership: “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of he world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the later end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Pt 2:20).

The latter end is worse because the revealed gospel of grace no longer appealed to them. It no longer had any power to change their behavior because they had become as the Hebrew writer wrote in reference to his readers who lived at the same time, “We have many things to say, and hard to explain, seeing you have become dull of hearing” (Hb 5:11). Since these ungodly characters were using the innocent sheep of God, the church, as an opportunity to promote their political ambitions, they had turned away from the grace by which they were saved. If there were ever a clear statement to be made in Scripture that we should abhor such behavior in the church, the preceding statement of 2 Peter 2:20 would be the statement.

The ungodly practice of these political religionists was so grave that the Holy Spirit said that “it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment [of the gospel of grace] delivered to them [through the preaching of the gospel](2 Pt 2:21). We can understand now why Peter exhorted his readers with the following statement: “Grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pt 3:18). Those who continue to grow in their understanding of the grace of God will be kept by God. Jude concluded, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jd 24).

[Next in series: Dec. 18]

Destiny Of Anarchists

• The destiny of political anarchists (Jd 11): Those who are quick to speak evil against those government officials with whom they disagree “have gone in the way of Cain,” one who murdered even his own brother (Jd 11). They are jealous to the point that they commit murder with the weapon of their news media posts and Twitter messages. They would encourage the violent insurrectionists of a society to threaten the families of those with whom they politically disagree. These are insurrectionists who march on streets and burn buildings, carrying placards that slander their government officials. They would slander with hateful and poisonous words in order to stir up those who feel politically marginalized, or those who simply suffer from a cultural inferiority complex. This is the “way of Cain,” who envied Abel, his brother.

Jude is not finished with these unspiritual zombies. “They run greedily after the error of Balaam or reward” (Jd 11). The Jewish Sadducees were the corporate magnates of Jude’s day, and the one’s about whom Jude may have been referring. At least these corporate rich were in the mind of James when he wrote that at the time both Peter and Jude addressed their epistles to those who were in danger of falling victim to the schemes of the rich: James asked the faithful, “Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into courts?” Therefore, James warned of the impending judgment that was coming on the rich Sadducean Jews who were evidently plotting tax relief through insurrection against Rome: “Come now you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you” (Js 5:1). This was an impending judgment upon the rich who were exploiting the poor. James was not discussing something that would transpire two thousand years later.

Nevertheless, we must not be fooled today, that in the political arena of democracies around the world, the ultimate goal of all politicians is money. Power is sought in order to be in control of the wealth of a nation. If one does not understand this, then he or she may be quite naive concerning the ambitions of many politicians who run for some office. There are those who seek to be true “civil servants,” but sometimes their proclamation from podiums to serve the people, is simply a cover for glory and gain. We have found in developing country democracies running for office to be a “civil servant” is not primary in the hearts of the would be politician. What is in his or her is money.

It the political West, it is now the corporations who contribute to the ambitions of the politicians who will govern according to the corporations’ desire to control the wealth of the country. Unfortunately, in Western democracies, politicians must conform to the desires of the corporations, for it is the corporations who make massive contributions to their favorite politician. Even if the politician would seek to be a true “civil servant,” he must bow to the money of the corporations in order to have his campaign financed. If the corporations want a politician voted out of power, then they will contribute massive funds to an opposition politician.

Add to this the news media corporations, to whom the business corporations also make large contributions. It would be correct to conclude that Western democracies are basically controlled by the money that originates from global corporations who manipulate politicians through contributions the money that are necessary for a politician to win an election. Therefore, the “error of Balaam” is not reserved only for individuals. If an individual would seek to be a politician, then he or she must often conform to the wishes of the corporations more than the voting constituency. Balaam became political when he preached against the people of God for the sake of money.

The voting constituency today is often controlled by the news media that is sustained either by massive contributions from the corporations who run their advertisements on each news media broadcast. People will be people, and thus, Jude’s indictment must not be confined to a first century social and economic upheaval in the Roman Empire. Money still controls who is in power. The insurrectionists then, as well as today, are following the money. In fighting against Rome, the Jews were seeking tax relief from the Empire. It was through massive taxes that supported the military that the Roman Empire continued to exist. When the taxes diminished, so did the Empire, which thing eventually came to fruition in A.D. 476 with the fall of the city of Rome.

But in reference to the times of Jude’s readers, those Jewish insurrectionists who participated in rebellion against the God-ordain authority of Moses “perish in the rebellion of Korah” (Jd 11). As Korah and his cohorts who rebelled against the authority of Moses were swallowed up by the earth, so would those who rebel against God’s ordained authority a the time Jude wrote, would be swallowed up by Rome in the destruction of Jerusalem (See Nm 16:1-3,31-35).

Rebellion against the Roman government authority would not go unpunished. It is estimated that about one million Jews perished in the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70. Those who would perish today in such a rebellion, may not so perish directly in this life, but certainly they will when King Jesus comes with His fiery destruction of this world (2 Th 1:6-9). Insurrectionists will be destroyed from the presence of God because of their rebellious spirit in life that revealed that they were not candidates for heaven. In reference to any brother who would involved himself in such an insurrection, he would be a false prophet who was bringing forth bad fruit in the fellowship of the disciples.

[Next in series: Dec. 16]

Loss of Integrity & Dignity

LOSS OF INTEGRITY & DIGNITY
• Political anarchists have lost their integrity and dignity (Jd 9,10): They have certainly not followed the example of the chief angel of God, Michael. We have in this and Peter’s text the only reference to this event that took place sometime immediately after the death of Moses. “Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him [the devil] a railing accusation” (Jd 9).

We have always found it quite interesting to note that there are those who are quick to condemn Caesar for some political misdemeanor that is inconsequential to the governance of a nation. In doing such, many political opponents have lost their moral integrity. Such people should be shamed by the example of Michael. Michael simply said to the devil, “I will not personally argue with you about this matter. It is not my place. ‘The Lord rebuke you’” (Jd 9). If we rail against those in government who have the responsibility to keep us safe, then we lose our integrity, if not the security of the nation in which we live.

We have discovered throughout the years that those who resent authority often lose their integrity and dignity by posting nonsense in the social news media in reference to “arguments about the body of Moses.” In reference to Christians, this would be an onslaught against “the faith.” Instead of defending the faith, some Christians are ravenous in their political proclamations about those things of which they have little knowledge. This was the case with those to whom both Peter and Jude wrote They are as Jude continued, “These speak evil of those things that they do not know” (Jd 10). In doing such they reveal their lack of integrity. They are as “brute beasts” who speak in a manner by which they corrupt themselves (Jd 10). They are as raging “bulls in a China closet,” destroying everything in their rampage in order to promote those things about which they know nothing. No Christian should be caught, either in speech or behavior, as a “brute beast” in the fellowship of the disciples.

Many years before Peter and Jude wrote their judgments against such “brute beasts” in the fellowship of the church, Jesus warned of such people who would come among His disciples: “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Mt 7:15). Jesus was not speaking about those who taught false doctrines, though the behavior of the wolves was based on that which is false. He spoke of those who would devour the sheep of God through their destructive speech and behavior.

Jesus continued to explain, “You will know them by their fruits” (Mt 7:16). Ravenous wolves would be known by their fruits, not by their teachings. This is the commentary of those about whom both Peter and Jude identified, at the time of their writing, who existed among the sheep. In Matthew 7, Jesus handed the early disciples a dictionary that would define the “false prophet” as one who would come in among the fellowship of the saints with his or her own hidden agenda. These would be those who would sit right there in the midst of the love feast, feeding themselves with the purpose of influencing grace-driven disciples with their own political or social ambitions. The readers of those times needed to remember what Jesus said: “A good tree cannot bring forth bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bring forth good fruit” (Mt 7:18). Unfortunately, some of the ravenous wolves must be among us long enough for them to reveal their bad fruit. They then can go out from us because they were not, as John wrote, of us (1 Jn 2:18,19). We must be careful in reference to what forest in which we dwell.

[Next in series: Dec. 14]

Loss Of Moral Compas

• Immoral behavior reveals the demise of godly moral standards (Jd 7): Jude used the phrase “in like manner” in order to connect the dots between the moral standards of the cities of the plain that God destroyed with the same moral behavior of those anarchists in the context of insurrection against Roman government (See Gn 10:19; 14:2). The lost of moral standards reveals a society that is no longer interested in moral controls that preserve society. In this cast, sexual dysfunction within the society (fornication) led to all sorts of immoral behavior. “Going-after-strange-flesh” identified the dysfunctional relationships of homosexuality of men with men and lesbianism of women with women. Paul explained that such people become fools (Rm 1:22). For this reason …

“… God gave them up to vile passions, for even their women changed the natural use of the body into that which is against nature. And also in the same way the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one [man] toward another, men with men working what is indecent and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error that was due” (Rm 1:26,27).

Such is a moral picture of the decrepid social behavior that was characteristic of those who lived before the flood of Noah’s day. This was the socially dysfunctional society of Sodom and Gomorrah in which Lot lived (2 Pt 2:6). Lot was a “righteous man, living among them, was vexed in his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their unlawful deeds” (2 Pt 2:8).

It is a frightful thing to understand the conclusion to both Peter and Jude as they revealed the moral degradation of the political opportunists of their day who would live rebelliously against God’s ordained authority of government. If a brother or sister would in any way identify themselves with such a dysfunctional social order, they have denied the faith. They have crucified to themselves the Lord Jesus Christ who died in order to cleanse them of such behavior (See Hb 6:4-6). It is for this reason that those, who through the social media of our day, should be quite cautious about posting those opinions that would identify oneself with an immoral political opposition that has set itself against government, since it is government that must bring stability to any society. Jude, as well as Peter, moved into this political field of behavior by identifying what people do when they lose their moral compass.

Peter introduced the political behavior of these immoralists. These are “those who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority” (2 Pt 2:10). They are quick to condemn the existing president, hypocritically accusing him because he would disagree with their behavior. Peter continued to define what he meant in the statement that they “despise authority.” “They are presumptuous and self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries [caesars and presidents]” (2 Pt 2:10). Sound familiar?

Those who reject any moral codes that would be pressed on them by any authority also reject all authority. They are thus quick to write and propagate statements that rail against any existing government official. They “speak evil” in the sense of trying to discredit the moral integrity of those who would lead in government. They would accuse government authorities (dignitaries) to be “racist,” or “narcissistic” or “self-centered” or “liars.”

When one is void of moral standards, he or she is quick to accuse the leaders of violating some moral standard of which they themselves are often guilty. We have discovered that in the modern political world of democracies around the world that those who seek power themselves are often quick to attack the character of their opponents, and not their policies. Since it is the nature of the accuser to have few moral standards upon which to base policies, the best way to win an election is to attack the moral character of one’s opponents.

Jude simply calls these political opportunists dreamers who “defile the flesh” by their behavior (Jd 8). They “despise dominion, and speak evil of dignitaries” (Jd 8). In the last few years we have witnessed no few Christians who have involved themselves in such behavior in reference to the political chaos of the nation in which they lived. Some of Jude’s readers had been caught up in the political insanity of the moment of day in which both Jude and Peter lived.

The exhortations of both 2 Peter 2 and Jude should not be taken lightly. Both writers were writing in an era of the Roman Empire in which there was tremendous political chaos going on throughout the Empire. Caesars were rising and falling. Civil wars were occurring throughout the Empire. It was a time that Jesus had prophesied when He warned His disciples forty years before, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Mt 24:6). In making this prophecy forty years before both Jude and Peter wrote, Jesus gave a warning to His disciples: “See that you are not troubled” (Mt 24:6).

If a Christian is caught up in the political chaos of the nation in which he or she lives, then he or she is in trouble. If one is troubled by political trouble, then his soul is in trouble. It is in trouble because he might be tempted to become involved in the social chaos of the moment. Both Jude and Peter were writing in order to warn their Jewish readers not to become involved in the political campaigning of the times. They were concerned about Jewish insurrectionists who were urging all Jews to join in rebellion against the existing government of the time.
When a society loses its moral compass it is easy to be caught up in the political anxiety of the moment. But if one is caught up in such, he or she is aligning himself or herself with those who “speak evil of government officials.” And if one involves himself or herself in such, then both inspired writers have some final words to say in reference to such brothers or sisters.

[Next in series: Dec. 12]

Imminent Destruction

• Destruction of the saved (Jd 5): We must connect the dots. The preceding individuals came “in” because they were baptized into Christ in order to be saved (See Mk 16:16; At 22:16). It was as the time when God delivered the Israelites out of Egyptian captivity fifteen hundred years before. Those who were delivered “all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from a spiritual Rock that followed them. And that Rock was Christ” (1 Co 10:4). Those unspiritual zombies who came into the fellowship of the church likewise drank from the spiritual Rock of Jesus Christ. However, they were spiritually unaffected, and thus there was no change in their lives because there was no change in their hearts. Therefore, “God was not pleased with many of them, for they were scattered in the wilderness” (1 Co 10:5). But before those Jews were scattered, many were destroyed in the rebellion of Korah (Nm 16). The earth swallowed them up.

Though the Lord had saved “the people out of the land of Egypt,” He later destroyed those who were not fit to enter into the promised land (Jd 5). This is indeed a most frightening statement. It is true that one can be a baptized believer, and saved in Christ, but later be destroyed by the Lord. These are the ones upon whom Jesus will reign vengeance when He comes again (2 Th 1:6-9). Through the writing of the epistle of Jude, God the Holy Spirit wanted to warn those brothers and sisters who would engage in anarchist speech and behavior. Their behavior is a denial of the power of the grace of God to change lives. And because it is a denial of the grace of God, they too, as the rebellious Israelites, will be destroyed from the presence of God when the Lord Jesus Christ returns with His mighty angels. On that great and final day, He will say to these, “Depart from Me you cursed into everlasting fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:41).

• Destiny of those who align themselves with the devil’s angels (Jd 6): So speaking of those angels who will be condemned to everlasting fire, in their company will be all those who would behave as anarchists. In other words, if one who involved himself or herself in the behavior of anarchy through social media and political debates, or out on the streets marching against a God-ordained government, then their end is the same as the devil’s angels for whom is reserved everlasting destruction.

These angels had been created to dwell in a spiritual realm of existence. This was “their first domain” (Jd 6). But these angels committed the sin of rebellion. Subsequently, the Lord “cast them down to pits of darkness and reserved them for judgment” (2 Pt 2:4). Those brothers and sisters who have engaged themselves in speaking evil against government officials—more on this later—have forfeited their right to the fellowship of Christians who will eventually transition into eternal glory. It is simply a fact of Christian behavior that the Lord will under no circumstances tolerate anarchist behavior that is revealed through either speech or actions.

[Next in series: Dec. 10]

Truth Of The Gospel

• Falling from the truth of the gospel: When Paul wrote to Timothy, he reminded Timothy that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tm 2:4). When he used the phrase “the truth” in the context of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, Paul was using it as an abbreviated form of the complete phrase, “the truth of the gospel” that he used in the letter to the Galatians.

The “gospel” is not an outline of true points of a church catechism. The “truth of the gospel” is not some systematic theology that is assembled together through the organization of favorite proof texts. The “truth” is not a reference to doctrine, though doctrine of the New Testament is true. But in reference to “the truth” as the phrase is connected with the word “gospel,” it is truth in reference to a Divine being. Jesus explained, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). Jesus said that He was “the truth.” This is person, not doctrine.

Though the religionists to whom Jesus spoke on the occasion of the preceding statement in John 14 were seeking some systematic theology of traditions or doctrinal statements from Jesus, at the time, they, as well as the disciples who stood with Jesus on the occasion, still could not understand that He was the incarnate “Word of God.” He was the truth that was revealed from God as God sent through Him the message of the gospel to mankind.

Now consider this point in reference to Jesus, the incarnate Word of God, who stood before Pilate. Jesus said to Pilate, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this cause I came into he world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (Jn 18:37). This statement befuddled Pilate, so he responded to Jesus, “What is truth?” (Jn 18:38). What Pilate did not understand is that the “what” was the “who” who was standing before him. Jesus was the message of the Word to mankind, but this truth was far outside the understanding of Pilate at the time. The King who was before him was “the truth” who had come into the world.

Nevertheless, regardless of Pilate’s limited understanding of these spiritual matters, he was certainly not asking from Jesus some doctrinal outline that would explain some systematic theology that Jesus was preaching. At the time, Pilate was frustrated, seeing Jesus only as a man whom the Jews sought to have eliminated. But he could find no fault in His behavior that was worthy of death (Jn 18:38).

This definition that Jesus is “the truth” is brought out in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. In the same context of those who would not walk according to the gospel in Jerusalem, Paul wrote, “To whom [the legalistic Jewish religionists] we did not yield in subjection even for an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Gl 2:5). These were those who “were not straighforward about the truth of the gospel” (Gl 2:14). Jesus was the good news that was revealed in this world. He is the truth to which all people must gravitate. It is as Jesus said during His earthly ministry, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Me” (Jn 12:32).

When the apostles first went forth to preach the gospel, people heard “the word of the truth of the gospel” (Cl 1:5). There is a difference between the medium of the preached word by which the gospel of Jesus is communicated to the world, and the gospel itself (See 1 Co 15:1-4). The gospel is good news about the truth of Jesus’ incarnation, sacrificial offering, resurrection, ascension and reign at the right hand of God. We use words to communicate this salvational journey into and out of this world. It is the significance of these truthful events that must be preached to the world in order that all those who desire to hear might “come to the knowledge of the truth [of the gospel]” (1 Tm 2:4).

When one ceases to believe the word by which the gospel is communicated, then he begins to turn from the truth of who Jesus is. His doubt assumes that he no longer believes any of the events of the gospel. There are those who enter into the body of Christ who were initially convicted by the truth of the gospel. But later they begin to doubt the historical events of the gospel, and thus they erode the foundation of Jesus Christ (1 Co 3:11).

When belief in Jesus as the Christ and Son of God is preached, church happens (See Mt 16:18,19). The church in turn becomes the medium through which the truth of the gospel is preached to the world (1 Tm 3:15). Nevertheless, there are those in the church who become “destitute of the truth [of the gospel]” (1 Tm 6:5). They are as Hymanaeus and Philetus, “who concerning the truth [of the gospel] have strayed” (2 Tm 2:18). In their case, these two brothers denied the gospel even of the resurrection. And by making such a denial, “they overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tm 2:18).

God desires that we continue to grow in our knowledge of the gospel. The textbook of the New Testament must be devoured lest we ourselves be devoured by Satan. For this reason, the early evangelists returned to Christians who had responded to the gospel in order that they might come to “a full knowledge of the truth [of the gospel]” (2 Tm 2:26). On one occasion, this was the reason why Paul wanted to make a trip to Rome in order that he might bear fruit among the Christians there through his continued teaching of the gospel to them (See Rm 1:13-16). He knew that some are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth [of the gospel]” (2 Tm 3:7). Therefore, Christians must take every opportunity to study and discuss matters concerning the truth of the gospel.

In view of the fact that there are always present among the disciples “men of corrupt minds” (2 Tm 3:8), it is the work of every evangelist to continue to teach the gospel to the disciples in order that they might come to a full knowledge of the gospel. This is necessary because there are always those in the fellowship of the church who “will turn away their ears from the truth [of the gospel] and will be turned to fables” (2 Tm 4:4). In the first century, these were those who gave “heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth [of the gospel]” (Ti 1:14). Such people need to remember the final warning of the Hebrew writer in reference to some Jewish Christians who were returning to the religion of the Jews: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth [of the gospel], there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hb 10:26).

• Turning from the gospel is ungodliness: As we continue to journey through the revealing text of Jude, we must not forget that it was the Holy Spirit who was inspiring these very words to be written. Therefore, we must not take lightly Jude’s use of the word “ungodly.” Those who would behave in a manner that portrays an anarchist spirit against government, are ungodly. And all ungodly people are destined for condemnation. They are so destined because the grace of God that they presumed to have accepted, did not lead to any change in their lives. They subsequently “turn the grace of our God into licentiousness” (Jd 4). Their behavior reveals that “they deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jd 4). Jesus is no longer the Master of their lives. They refuse to have Him as their Lord. And because He is neither Master or Lord in their lives, they presume that they can speak and behave as anarchist against government, and above all, King Jesus in heaven. They live without fear of both King Jesus in heaven and God-ordained government on earth.

[Next in series: Dec. 8]

Unspiritual Zombies

• Devoured by unspiritual zombies (Jd 4): Paul’s exhortations concerning those who sought to devour were written in specific reference to those who came into the fellowship of the church. These were those Jewish members who denied the truth of the gospel by their anarchist speech. However, by the time both Peter and Jude wrote about twenty years later, these devouring zombies were using the close fellowship of the church as an opportunity to entice the Jewish Christians to participate in the nationalistic insurrection that was building among the Jews throughout the Roman Empire.

At the time Jude wrote, the political environment was far different than the days of Paul. Both Peter and Jude wrote to those Jewish Christians who were living in the final days of national Israel, just a few years before the fall of Jerusalem in A. D. 70. However, both Peter and Jude reached back to Paul’s writings in order to glean concepts that were relevant to those to whom they wrote directly.

Peter warned, “Be sober, be vigilant. Your adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pt 5:8). This is exactly what Satan tried to do as soon as the Son of God was incarnate into the flesh of man on this earth (See Rv 12:4). If Satan sought to devour the Son of God as soon as He was born into this world, then certainly he would seek to do the same with those who are born again by their obedience to the gospel of Jesus. And such was happening in the first century when the Holy Spirit turned the thoughts of Peter and Jude to alert the church of the fact that there were unspiritual zombies wandering among the fellowship of disciples, devouring their faith.

The devouring work of Satan in reference to another matter was happening among the Gentile disciples in Achaia two decades before Jude and Peter penned their warnings in reference to devouring Jews. Paul chastised the faithful disciples in Achaia for allowing themselves to be devoured by unspiritual thieves: “For you tolerate it if one [these spiritual thieves] brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes [contributions] from you, if one exalts himself [to be your leader], if one strikes you on the face” (2 Co 11:20). As Diotrephes, these devouring church leaders throughout the province of Achaia were bringing the disciples into the bondage of their own control (See 3 Jn 8,9). They were profiteering unspiritual zombies who were extracting money from the members as they roamed from one group of disciples to another throughout the province of Achaia. They were allowed by the church in Achaia to exalt themselves as want-to-be leaders. And in some cases, they were striking the disciples in order to subjugate the disciples to their control. (We have witnessed this same ungodly behavior in some assemblies where the preacher sought to subjugate an individual in the audience in order to strike some demon out of a supposedly possessed person.)

There were unspiritual zombies roaming among the disciples throughout the province of Achaia. These were the same devouring zombies about whom both Peter and Jude wrote who were in the midst of the disciples of their readership. Jude alerted his readers, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed” (Jd 4). Since these were those who “crept” in, we would assume that these were friends or relatives of those who were already “in.” And by being “in,” we assume that Jude was opening up the discussion here concerning those who were of the faith, and thus in the fellowship of the church. It may be as those spies in Jerusalem whom Paul identified as “false brethren.” These spies “sneaked in to spy out our liberty that we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage” (Gl 2:4).

Jude seems to be speaking on the front side of those who “were not of us,” about whom John wrote: “They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us” (1 Jn 2:19). Jude spoke of these unspiritual intruders who came in the front door, and John spoke of some, and possibly the same, who went out the back door. Between their entrance and exit they devoured members of the body by bringing some into the bondage of their religious fantasies.

If we connect the dots between Jude and John, we would concluded that those about whom Jude spoke were never “Christian” in heart in the first place. They did not have the heart of God. They gave the pretense of being of the faith, but they were just passing through the fellowship of the saints in order to satisfy their desire to lord over the sheep of God. They never understood the grace of the cross, and thus never behaved with gratitude for the grace by which they were saved (See 2 Co 4:15). The fact that they did not was revealed in the fact that they were simply passing through the fellowship of those who were truly of “the faith.” Unspiritual zombies behave in this matter. They simply pass through in order to consume, and then go on their way. They never come to a knowledge of the power of the grace of the gospel. Paul spoke of such people who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth [of the gospel]” (2 Tm 3:7).

[Next in series: Dec. 6]

Urgency If The Times

One of the most shocking contexts of Holy Scripture are the pronouncements that God made in Jude 3-16 and 2 Peter 2. In all the Bible, what is stated in these similar contexts by the Holy Spirit is harsh, direct and needs little interpretation. Both Jude and Peter address problems that invaded the fellowship of the church, and thus the contexts are not directed to unbelievers, but believers. The texts speak of the political environment of the day, as well as the demise of moral standards that were being violated by some in the church during those days of tremendous political upheaval throughout the Roman Empire. Jude and Peter speak of the social and political environment of the in-time judgment that God was about to bring upon national Israel in order to fulfill all those prophecies that were made in reference to the consummation of Israel.

Unfortunately, the political upheaval of the day drew out of some Christians a behavior that was totally against “the faith” that the apostles and early evangelists had given their lives for forty years to preach across the Roman Empire. We believe that there is no greater contexts of Scripture, therefore, that we should reconsider in view of the world in which we now live, particularly in those democratic governments throughout the world wherein free speech is a “human right” that is now under attack. What transpired during those years would certainly illustrate what often occurs when civilizations are suffering from a moral implosion through the loss of a moral compass that made them great.

The direct reprimand of the contexts comes alive when we consider the stark pronouncements of God the Holy Spirit in the historical context of the times when both Peter and Jude, the brother of James, and thus, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, recorded these matters. When Jude thus spoke of “the faith” in verse 3, he was speaking in reference to faith in his brother Jesus who was executed on a cross outside Jerusalem about forty years before. Therefore, Jude at the time of writing was an old man, possibly in his late seventies, or even into his early eighties. We would also assume that Peter would possibly be older, or at least the same age as Jude.

The date of writing is only a few years before the social and economic calamity that was soon to befall the Jews in the destruction of their cultural and economical center of Jerusalem. This calamity occurred in A. D. 70. Leading up to the calamity as a whole, the Jews had stimulated a cultural insurrectionist movement throughout the Roman Empire in order to rid themselves of Roman oppression. The driving force of the movement was to once again restore Jewish pride in being an autonomous nation as in the glorious days when their great kings ruled.

• Seizing the opportunity for a power grab (Jd 3): The political upheaval that was occurring throughout the Roman Empire at the time both writers inscribed their documents laid the foundation for the nationalistic Jews to seize the opportunity for their own political and nationalistic ambitions. In A. D. 68, Nero, the Caesar of the Roman Empire committed suicide. After the death of Nero, there were four Caesars who came to power in Rome in one year. Galba first claimed the throne of Rome in A. D. 68. But only after three months, in January 69, he was assassinated. Otho was then proclaimed Caesar by his army, but he lasted only until April of 69 before he was eliminated. Then came Vitellus who was assassinated in December of the same year. Vespasian was then anointed Caesar.

During this year of political turmoil in Rome, there were civil wars throughout the Roman Empire because different political groups sought to take the opportunity to be independent from Rome. Therefore, it was a time for Jewish insurrectionists in Palestine to also seize the opportunity to establish their own political ambitions. While Rome was preoccupied with their troops scattered throughout the Empire in an effort to put down civil wars, the nationalistic Jews intensified their efforts in Palestine to also free themselves from the control of Rome, and thus initiate efforts against the Roman occupation of Palestine. Great political upheaval through the Roman Empire became the opportunity for power-hungry politicians to take control over their own suppressed nationalities.

The political frenzy of the time was generated by a spirit of anarchy against centralized control in Rome. Anarchists subsequently arose to the occasion to rebel against Rome. This rebellious spirit also found its way into the society of the nationalistic Jews, thus inspiring the Jewish rebellion that was eventually culminated in A. D. 70. The Jewish spirit of anarchy was so embedded in the culture of the Jews during those years that it even found its way into the church among Jewish members.

The threat to the church was so grave that the Holy Spirit changed the theme of the book. Jude originally wanted to write concerning the common salvation of the gospel of grace, but the Holy Spirit changed his theme to something that was more urgent at the time (Jd 3). Upon possibly hearing reports that some Jewish brothers and sisters had been influenced by the spirit of anarchy that prevailed among the nationalistic Jews, Jude wrote, “I felt it necessary to write to you, exhorting that you earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jd 3). In other words, some of the Jewish Christians at the time were in danger of losing “the faith” in the gospel because of the political turmoil of the times. The politics of the times was distracting their attention away from the faith.

“The faith” in this statement was not some canonized legal list of doctrines that they may have failed to memorize. This “faith” was the very foundation upon which they existed as Christians. This was their faith in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which faith, if compromised, would lead to their termination as the people of God. In other words, some in the church had in mind and behavior possibly considered joining some of their fellow unbelieving Jewish relatives in an insurrectionist movement against the rule of government. These Jewish insurrections had been “marching” in the streets and assassinating Roman soldiers in Palestine for years, and now it was supposed that they should rise up in rebellion against Rome.

Knowing that some Jewish Christians might buy into this anarchist venture, which anarchy would eventually be squashed in A. D. 70, the Holy Spirit had a few years before through Paul warned those Christians who lived in the very seat of government in Rome with the following words: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God. The authorities that exist are ordained by God” (Rm 13:). In democracies around the world, it is often easy to forget this admonition, especially in those democracies where free speech is judged to be a “human right.” The problem that now prevailed when both Jude and Peter wrote was that the free speech written on placards during the “marches in the streets” for the last few decades was now about to be implemented into a full blown armed revolt to free the Jews from Roman occupation.

Some of the Christians in Jude’s readership had forgotten the Holy Spirit’s admonition through Paul in the Roman letter. They had forgotten his point in Romans 13 to the extent that some were joining in with the anarchist speech and behavior against the rule of government, which at the time was the Roman government. We must not miss the point. If a Christian behaves in an anarchist manner in reference to the authority of government, then he or she is denying “the faith.”

In order not to be misunderstood on this point, we would add that if a brother or sister either behaves or speaks in an insurrectionist manner of anarchy against an existing “ordained government” of the land, then he or she has denied the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, this denial of the faith is not in reference to doctrinal beliefs, but specifically in reference to speech and behavior that is contrary to living the gospel of grace in a nation that is governed by civil law. It is ungodly speech and behavior of which one must repent.

This brings us to what God the Holy Spirit said on this matter in the two strikingly clear mandates of 2 Peter 2 and Jude, particularly in Jude. In Jude 3, Jude gave only the introduction to how some in those times denied the faith by their anarchist speech and behavior. In verse 4 Jude carried on in order to identify such people, and to remind us today how serious God is about not allowing such anarchist speech and behavior to destroy the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[Next in series: Dec. 4]

Warning Signs (E)

  • WARNING: Frigid society: “The love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24:12). Imploding civilizations that are based on economic inequity, seek to marginalize the poor of the society, just as James explained was the case in Israel at the time he wrote. Such societies become as the society of the northern kingdom of Israel when that civilization of Israel at that time came to an end. God said that “they [the rich elite] sold the righteous [poor] for silver and the poor for a pair of shoes. They pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor and pervert the way of the meek” (Am 2:6,7). God was preparing the northern kingdom of Israel for their demise.   He wanted them to know exactly why He was bringing judgment upon them. As with the elite Sadducean Jews of the prophecy of Jesus, God was bringing judgment upon northern Israel because of those who exploited the poor:

“Therefore, because you [rich elite] trample on the poor and you take from him tribute of grain, and have built mansions of hewn stone, you will not dwell in them. You have planted pleasant vineyards, but you will not drink wine from them” (Am 5:11).

The judgment that God unleased on the elite of the last generation of the northern kingdom of Israel, was the same judgment He was going to unleash on the last generation of Israel about which Jesus prophesied. “I will smite the winter house [of the rich elite] with the summer house. And the houses of ivory will perish, and the great houses will have an end” (Am 3:15).

In the last section of Jesus’ prophecy concerning the consummation of national Israel, Matthew 24:14 is probably one of those statements of Scripture that has been misinterpreted more than most statements of the Bible. In the historical context of Jesus’ statements, He had the consummation of national Israel in mind in reference to the fulfillment of the prophecies of both Daniel and Ezekiel.

The prophecy of Matthew 24 would be fulfilled within forty years from the year in which Jesus made the prophecy. In order to spare Jewish Christians as much suffering as possible during the conflicts that led up to the final destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Jesus wanted to sift out of national Israel all those who were children of God by faith. These were those who would believe in Jesus as the Messiah. In order to call out of Israel all those who would obey the gospel, then the gospel had to be preached from synagogue to synagogue throughout the Roman Empire. All Jews had to be given an opportunity to obey the gospel in order to escape the coming consummation of Israel. In order to do this, Jesus promised, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, and then will the end come (Mt 24:14). Those who believed and obeyed the gospel would also believe Jesus’ prophecy of Matthew 24.

The phrase “all the world” was in reference to all the world of the Roman Empire. It was all the world that would suffer from Roman’s wrath that she would pour out on rebellious Jews. The “end” would be the end of Israel, the consummation of all that a Jew was nationally.   The end would be a tragedy for every Jew.

While in prison in Rome in A.D. 61, Paul wrote to the Colossians concerning “the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was preached to every creature that is under heaven (Cl 1:23).   We must affirm that the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise in prophecy of Matthew 24:14 had been fulfilled by the time Paul wrote to the Colossians in A.D. 61. In only a few years after Paul wrote that the gospel had been preached to every creature under heaven, Rome commenced her campaign to bring national Israel to an end. Paul’s statement in Colossians 1:23 was his indirect affirmation that Jesus’ prophecy of Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled.

In the first consummation of Israel in the days of Amos, God warned the people through the prophets. Amos wrote, Surely the Lord God will do nothing without first revealing His plans to His servants the prophets (Am 3:7). And in reference to the end of national Israel in A.D. 70, this He did through Jesus and James. He warned the Jews to get out of Judaism through obedience to the gospel.   And in getting out of Judaism, they would listen to the warning of Matthew 24 to get out of Jerusalem.   Therefore, the warning to all those of Israel prior to the termination of national Israel in the first century, the words of Amos still rang loud in the ears of those who knew the work of God:

“Therefore, thus I will do to you, O [unbelieving] Israel. And because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel” (Am 4:12).

Those who recognize the fall of civilizations, prepare for such by the renewal of their commitment to the unchanging Jesus Christ. When Christ becomes unfashionable, then the faithful renew their faith in he incarnational Son of God who gave His life that our existence will permeate any fallen civilization of this world.

The beautiful thing about being a Christian in this life is that Christians need not to fear when civilizations either fall through military conflict, or fall to the change of in moral standards and systems of government. Jesus and His moral standards have existed unchanged throughout the fall of numerous civilizations over the past two thousand years. Civilizations come and go, but the Christian can trust in the following words of Jesus regardless of the rise and fall of civilizations.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rv 1:8).

“I Am He who lives. And I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. And I have the keys of death and of Hades” (Rv 1:18).

[I will post when I have more!]