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)
The next point Jude makes in verse 4 is that these apostates "pervert the grace of our God into sensuality". Jude doesn’t use any energy refuting their heresy. Instead he describes the character of these apostates. They are sensual and worldly, lovers of pleasure and power and money. Jesus said that we will know them by their fruit and Jude writes to the church and points out the lifestyles of these false teachers. Heresies come and heresies go but false teachers are always recognized by their worldly behavior – whether it be a love of money and things, a love of sexual immorality, or a love of power. Maybe some of us are frustrated by church elders we consider to be too careful with new methodologies and expressions of worship we would love to see integrated into our worship services. But it is better to be too careful than too lax because it is the false teachers who always want to change the rules and move the boundaries and relax the standards.
The final point Jude makes in verse 4 is a common thread in their heresy – they always attack the person of Christ. Jude says that they "deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." A lot of people get fooled in this area because many false teachers use the name of Jesus Christ. The problem is that the Jesus they are talking about is an idol. This very issue confused the pastor of America’s largest “church” when he was interviewed on Fox News.
What follows is the transcript of a conversation that took place between Joel Osteen and reporter Chris Wallace of Fox News:
WALLACE: And what about Mitt Romney? And I've got to ask you the question, because it is a question whether it should be or not in this campaign, is a Mormon a true Christian?
OSTEEN: Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior, and that's what I believe, so, you know, I'm not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are.
And so, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a man of character and integrity to me, and I don't think he would — anything would stop me from voting for him if that's what I felt like.
WALLACE: So, for instance, when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, and the golden tablets in upstate New York, and God assumes the shape of a man, do you not get hung up in those theological issues?
OSTEEN: I probably don't get hung up in them because I haven't really studied them or thought about them. And you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don't know. I certainly can't say that I agree with everything that I've heard about it, but from what I've heard from Mitt, when he says that Christ is his savior, to me that's a common bond.
Newsflash Pastor Osteen - the jesus of Mormonism is a created being, the brother of Satan, and someone who helps us get to heaven after we have done all that we can.
All the major heresies of history ultimately attack Jesus Christ as he is described in the Bible. The Jewish legalists denied the sufficiency of Christ’s work on the cross, the Gnostics denied Jesus’ humanity, Arianism denied that Jesus was fully God, Pelagianism denied His sovereignty, Socinianism denied His miracles (here is an interview I did with Phil Johnson on this very subject). We must define Jesus rightly which takes us back to what Jude said in verse 3 to "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints".
John clearly teaches in his first letter that we must know the right Jesus to know that we are truly saved:
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us-eternal life. (1 John 2:18-25)
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