Friday, August 19, 2011

Exposing And Expelling Heretics (Part 7)

Today we pick up from where we left off on our expository journey through the Epistle of Jude. Jude represents the first expository assignment I have been tasked with in our church plant in Denmark - Kristuskirken. Though short in length, Jude is a letter jam packed with information on why we should hunt down false teachers that conceal themselves in the church, how we should identify them, and that we as Christians should go to war against them secure in the knowledge of being kept in the safety of God's preserving grace. Much of the credit for this series must go to John MacArthur whose teaching on this Epistle has been my major source.

1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1-4)

In John 6 we see a great apostacy when Jesus has a great crowd following Him and most of them leave because of Jesus’ hard sayings. In the Old Testament apostacy always refers to Israel when they abandon God and Jeremiah 2 is a great example of this. But let’s look again at verse 4 of Jude as we head to one of the very controversial parts of Jude and perhaps in all of the Bible. Jude describes these apostates as people "who long ago were designated for this condemnation“. We know that this apostacy had been prophecied long ago, even as far back as Enoch before the flood of Noah. Jude says in verses 14 and 15 that:

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 14-15)

But there is even more to this. We have already discussed how Jude comforts the believers with the doctrine of their election. Those who God elects He calls, those who God calls He keeps. The same is true of these apostates. These are false teachers that God has already appointed to damnation. This is a doctrine which I cannot deal with by pretending it is not in Scripture. I cannot deal with it by ignoring it. And I cannot fully explain it within the infinite mind of God. But I will tell you what the Scripture says of it. When Arminians ask if I believe in double Predestination I find it to be a redundant and antagonistic term. Antagonistic because they find the idea of God predestining people to damnation to be repulsive. Redundant because I can't see how God's Sovereign predestination could mean anything other than everyone being predestined otherwise God is not Sovereign. But there is far more to the equation than the oversimplified Arminian objections as we shall see from Scripture.

First of all we should not argue with God about anything because He made everything, He owns everything, and He knows a lot of things that we don’t know:

Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? (Matthew 20:15)

Second, the wicked serve their own evil desires, but this still ultimately serves the sovereign purposes of God:

The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.(Proverbs 16:4)

Third, even though God works all things together, including evil, for His glory – they are fully responsible for their sin.

You refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:40)

Fourth God desires to see wicked people come to repentance:

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? (Ezekiel 18:23)

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

And fifth, though we struggle to understand this, all these things fit together in the infinite mind of God:

You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory — even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea, "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" "And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" (Romans 9:19-26)

This is a difficult subject and these verses are well worth meditating on. This is a real subject but one I prefer to leave in the hands of the Sovereign God Whose work is perfect and all His ways are just. As Abraham said "shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is right" (Genesis 18:25b). I also recommend RC Sproul's very helpful book on this subject - “Chosen by God”.

To be continued in three weeks time . . .

Go On To Part 8
Go Back To Part 6
Go Back To Part 1

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reprobation is a difficult doctrine to speak about. Good biblical balance here!