February 21, 2011

Damnable Heresy

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Jude 5-7

Jude is now getting down to the nitty-gritty. Remember, this little letter was written, primarily, to warn the church about false teachers and their teachings. Verses 1-4 have simply been introductory. But now the persuasion, the warning, and the arguments really begin. Jude is going to pull out all the stops (or at least all the stops one can pull in a 25-verse letter) to try and convince his brothers and sisters in Christ not to fall into the trap of heresy. And the first thing he does; the first stop he pulls out is to remind the people that heresy is damnable. That’s what verses 5-7 are about. They are a reminder that those who turn away from “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (v.3) are destroyed. And Jude uses three examples to demonstrate this awful reality.

First, he reminds us of the children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness for forty years in the book of Exodus. Yes, God had been merciful to them. Yes, He had delivered them from slavery. But some of them still “did not believe”. Some of them still worshipped idols, and murmured against the true God. And verse 5 reminds us that every last one of those privileged, but unbelieving, Israelites perished in the wilderness – at God’s hand, and under His judgment. He left them out there until all the unbelieving adults died off.

And, in bringing that up, Jude’s point is simply to say to New Testament Christians: ‘If God did that to the Israelites; if, even after showing them such mercy in rescuing them from Egypt, He was willing to destroy them for their unbelief … what do you think will happen to us? Yes, we are greatly privileged. Yes, we get to hear the gospel week after week, and benefit from so much that the church is and does. But if any of us turns away from the truth; if any of us believes a false gospel … all the privileges we have been given will not be enough to save us. We must not simply be blessed by God. We must believe Him … and shun false teaching and practice!’

And then Jude teaches a similar lesson in verse 6. Not only was God willing to destroy humans who turned from the truth … but angels as well! And think of the privileges angels have. They worship around God’s throne. They deliver His messages in the world. They minister to the saints. They fight wars in heavenly places. And yet if they – even they! – turn from the truth … their end is hell; they are “kept in eternal bonds under darkness.” And if angels can go to hell, surely church folks can, too … if we’re not careful to believe and practice truth!

And then, in verse 7, Jude says, in effect: ‘And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah.’ In other words, if it seems far-fetched that God would really destroy people; if it seems like God is too nice to wipe people off the face of the earth … just read Genesis 19! God hates sin! Indeed, He hates it enough to burn its unrepentant practitioners away like kindling wood. Never doubt that! And, therefore, be very careful that you do not turn away from the truth. Be very careful that what you believe – and how you live – is biblical. Do not be led astray by unbiblical teachings. Because belief in unbiblical propositions leads to destruction of biblical proportions!

So, I urge you – know and cling to the truth; especially the truth as it is in Jesus. Know what the Bible teaches about Him! Know the biblical Jesus with clarity and precision, and believe in Him with all your heart. And cling to Him, and Him alone, with all your hope.

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