Hey, Jude

Survey of Jude

Episode 41

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Hey, Jude

Ok, I couldn’t resist.  Sorry, it’s just how I roll.

Let me just say from the outset, I’m a huge fan of the book of Jude. There are several verses that would allow a deeper study of several weeks, but we’ll just highlight a few of them and scratch the surface. I promise, though, we’ll come back later.

We know very little about Jude himself, other than his name. He identifies himself as the brother of James, which likely means he is a half brother of Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church say this is the Judas, aka, Thaddeus, who was one of the original 12 apostles.  Frankly, the majority of scholars and ancient Church leaders agree with the former understanding.  Do your own homework.

If you read this little letter right after, or right before, 2 Peter, you’ll immediately see there are similarities. They seem to be written for similar reasons, to a similar audiences, and about the same time. I date this book in the mid 60s A.D. Do your own homework if you really want to dig into that some more.

Jude begins his letter by saying he wanted to write about our common salvation, but feels the need to address some false teaching and teachers. How often have we heard that in recent weeks.

Jude wants to be positive, even joyful. His heart is to talk about our hope in Christ. Our eternal destiny in a Kingdom where all but love passes away. A place with no pain, no heartache, no sickness, no oppression, no death.  Who wouldn’t want to talk about that?

Unfortunately, the urgent matter of false teaching has reared it’s head and Jude feels compelled to address it. The bad guys here appear to be the same Gnostics, Peter, John, and Paul in his later years, had to confront in their letters.

We’ve talked about the Gnostics ad nausaeum the last few weeks, so I won’t go back over it. If you’re new to the show, go back and listen to the episodes on 2 Peter and the epistles of John.  For what it’s worth, this Gnostic problem plagued the Church for at least 300 years, and it made a big reappearance in the latter quarter of the 20th century and is nipping at the heels of the Gospel, even today.

Jude spends the overwhelming bulk of this letter, comparing these false teachers to just about every villain in the Old Testament.

As an aside, his many references to the Old Testament suggest strongly that Jude is writing primarily to Believers from a Jewish background.

Jude compares them to The Jews who sinned in the desert, to the angels who sinned in genesis 6, to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, Cain, Balaam and Korah.  Folks, that’s a Hall if Shame, if their ever once was.  This is like the anti Hebrews 11 chapter.

Jude also talks about them Denying the Lord Jesus. I am convinced this is a reference to the Gnostic teaching that Jesus was not really human.  The New Testament, on the other hand, constantly and consistently testifies to Jesus dual nature as both Man and God.

It’s also important to note, that Jude points to these false teachers’ love of money and sexual sin.  It would appear that not much has changed in the last 2,000 years.

When we come back to a deeper study of Jude, we’ll drill deeper into all these issues, but I want to spend just a moment on Verse 6.

Jud 1:6  And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—

Who are these angels?  I believe these are quite literally the fathers of what we call today, Demons.

I want to refer you to 2 Peter

2Pe 2:4  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

And to Genesis 6

Gen 6:1  When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them,

Gen 6:2  the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.

Gen 6:3  Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Gen 6:4  The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

Gen 6:5  The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

 

It is obvious from the language that these ‘fallen’ angels are not the Biblical Demons, because they are chained in gloomy dungeons awaiting judgement.  But when we look back to the story of their sin, we finally gain some clarity.

We’ll look at this subject several times during our Old Testament Survey,  but let’s do a flyover right now.

It appears from Genesis, that at some point between The Garden of Eden and Noah, that some Angels (sons of God) decided to intermarry with humans. It is not something God designed or ordained. It was a violation. The offspring of these marriages were human/angelic hybrids, called, Nephilim.  These Nephilim are evil and do all they can to interfere with God’s plan for His people. First, here in Genesis, then when the Israelis are trying to get from Egypt to the Promised land. They appear again during the United Kingdom as they try and prevent David from establishing a dynasty. Then they disappear, only to reappear as ‘unclean spirits’ during the ministry of Jesus. They make a final, albeit feeble stand during the ministry of the Apostles, then disappear from Scripture. It is my contention, though, that we will see a greater manifestation, a reappearance, as it were, as we grow closer to the return of Christ.

For now, these angels, await judgment , chained and incarcerated far away from the earth and humans they tried so hard to pervert.

Jude says that the false teachers he’s warning the Church of, are just like these fallen angels; evil, defiant, perverted and defeated.

Let’s finish this glance at Jude by looking a little closer to home. We have an abundance of teachers, preachers, pastors and evangelists who are truly devils in disguise. Just look at the prosperity Gospel peddlers. Everything is all about money. But the truth is, we can’t serve both God and money.

Think how many Christian Celebrities have been found out as adulterers and perverts.  I know of many so called shepherds who are constantly scanning the flock for easy prey. These monsters are not shepherds, but predators, wolves looking for their own pleasure and to satisfy their own appetites. I remember reading of a female Christian singer who said she would watch the crowd to find a boy to take back to her hotel after a concert.

Jude has had his fill of these predators, getting away with their green and lust and warns the Church to watch for them.

We need to be on the lookout for them, too. Don’t be sheep. Be like the Bereans who searched the scriptures daily.

And that’s all I got. Drop me a note with your thoughts. Next week, we’re finally in REVELATION. Can you believe it. I’m excited.  Until then, be blessed and be a blessing.

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Diotrephes, Demetrius, And Da Truth

Pergamum
Pergamum

Episode 40

3 John

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I hope you had a great week last week. It was busy around here as we prepared for our congregation’s 10th birthday party; and wow, what a day.  I won’t go into it, because unless you go to the same place we do, it will be pretty meaningless. I will say this, though, and it relates to the letters of John, if you are not attending a Church at all, or are going someplace that compromises on the truth, or does not practice Grace and Mercy, then let me know and I will help you find a good one. I’m not trying to be a jerk, but, as you can tell from John’s letters, there’s not time to put up with all the compromise and goofiness going on in many congregations these days. We need to be about the Father’s business rather than chasing some political or social agenda.  So if you need help finding a good congregation, email me, or use the comments section of the show notes.  If you include your name and where you live, I PROMISE to research and give you some suggestions. Yeah, it’s that important to me.

Speaking of important, let’s take a look at 3rd John.  Unlike 2nd John, or Revelation, this letter does not appear to be in code. John, kicks but and takes names, or at least names names, so he doesn’t seem to even make an attempt at discretion, so that suggests to me that he’s probably writing from his home base back in Ephesus.

John’s  frequent use of the word truth in his 3rd letter, just like the first two, maintains his pattern of emphasizing historic Christian doctrine in contrast to the mysterious Gnosticism that was so pervasive in Asia Minor during the latter decades of the first century.

Let’s face it, the New Testament’s emphasis on the uniqueness of Christian doctrine stands in stark contrast to the overwhelming opinions of the 21st century as well.  Christianity is rapidly becoming an unwelcome presence in the public arena.  I was recently reading a politically tinged article where the leftist magazine Salon, urged the Republican party to abandon their alliance with Christianity or fall into irrelevancy in our ‘post Christian’ America.

Wow.  I’m not going to spend one second on politics, but I didn’t know any party had an alliance with Christianity or with ‘Post Christian’ America either for that matter. But the article DOES imply that those who control the microphone, and editorial content of the mainstream have little tolerance for our faith.

So be it. It doesn’t change a thing. If we look at the New Testament writings, the early Church, and Jesus Himself during His ministry, saw truth as more important that acceptance.  Their attitude and practice was to tell the truth in love and let the chips fall where they may.

3rd John is a classic example of that. The letter is written to one, Gaius. That doesn’t tell us much at all. Several men by that name are mentioned in the New Testament. It was extremely common. Heck, it was even Julius Caesar’s first name.  Frankly, it’s like starting a letter, Dear Bill.  Without context, there’s just no knowing which Bill.

There is an ancient tradition that says John appointed a leader named Gaius as ‘Bishop of Pergamum.  While I’m not convinced that the Apostle appointed Bishops (we’ll leave that for another day), it is certainly possible that an elder by that name was the target of John’s letter.

Considering the possibility that John may have sent Gaius of Ephesus (see Acts 19) to Pergamum, this letter could be John’s welcome to Pergamum letter.

After a pleasant, if maybe a little lengthy, considering the brevity of the note, greeting, John identifies two other leaders for Gaius’ consideration. One, very negative and one, very positive.

The first of the two, Diotrephes, has become a pain in the rear for the Apostle. He is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture,  but because of the tradition of Gaius being the Pastor of the Church in Pergamum, I can’t help but associate Diotrephes with the letter to the Pergamum congregation in Revelation 2. Pergamum is dealing with a great deal of false teaching including Gnosticism.  I just see Diotrephes as the villain behind the problems. You do your own homework and see what you think.

At any rate, this Diotrephes, had assumed almost dictatorial control over the congregation. He does not recognize the authority of the Apostles, and even excommunicates people who do receive the apostles and their representatives. What a goofball.

I love verse 10, where John demonstrates there’s a little Boanerges left in his 90 plus year old frame. This ancient Son of Thunder says if he gets to come to Pergamum he’s going to face down Diotrephes. That verse always sends a tingle down  the back of my neck. I love it. The man of God refuses to back down to the enemy of truth.  I only hope I would be so bold under the same circumstance.

In contrast to Diotrephes, John mentions another member of the Church, one Demetrius. Again, there are far too many men of that name to identify who this is.  Going back to Acts 19 and the beginning of the Church in Ephesus, a silversmith by that name, was so upset at the Gospel for hurting his business, nearly caused a riot in the city.

Wouldn’t it be really cool if it was the same guy? An enemy of the Gospel, who became a Christ Follower and a great example of the Faith?  We have no way of knowing, but it would be awesome if it was him.

John says in verse 12, that Demetrius is a man of absolute integrity and character. He says even the truth itself offers testimony to Demetrius character. Oh how I pray that could be said of me.

Then suddenly, after brief remarks about these two contrasting men, John just shuts down the letter, just like he did in 2nd John.  He says here, Gaius, you rock, I’m so proud of you. Beware of Diotrephes, he’s a jerk, but Demetrius is a great guy. See you soon, Say hello to the Church.  See you soon, John.

It begs more questions than it answers, but you have to love it.  We have two great role models in Gaius and Demetrius, and we have one moron, Diotrephes.  Just change the names to modern ones and it could be anywhere.

All I know is, I want to be someone accused of walking in the truth. I hope you do too.

That’s all I got. I do hope you love this little note that way I do. Ping me and let me know. I can hardly wait until we look at Jude next week. It is STRONG. Until then, be blessed. And be a blessing.

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The Day The Apostle Paul Told A Bunch of Preachers to Go To Hell

Podcast Episode 24 – Galatians

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Show Notes

Galatians –

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Galatians is one of the easier New Tesament letters to understand. That’s why many Bible Study groups study this book early and often. It’s a great option for inexperience Preachers who want to begin preaching directly from the Bible rather than trying to come up with topics on a week by week basis.

Which brings me to my first rabbit trail today. It’s relevant but it really is a side road. This podcast was created to help you study through the Bible and understand it better so that you can make the Bible an integral part of your daily life. That’s why we’re going through the Bible Book by book. I’ve been reading lately, though, that some popular preachers are abandoning a through the Bible approach for a more current event or current issue methodology. One very popular mega church preacher has called this through the Bible teaching, Cheating.

I beg to differ. Yes, he has a huge congregation with many campuses. Yes, this guy has a huge platform and his word carries some weight in the Theological World, especially among younger Evangelicals and Millennials.  A large platform, however, doesn’t make one right. If I stick to going through the Bible, I know I’m on safe ground.  It’s when I digress from the Holy Spirit inspired scripture and going out on my own that I risk the thin ice of heterodoxy. Heterodoxy, now there’s a good preacher word for you.  It just means mixed doctrine. It’s kind of a gentle synonym for heresy.

But I digress.  Unlike the other letters Paul wrote to Churches, this one is to a group of Churches rather than to a single congregation. It’s kind of an open letter, or a round robin one. The Primary Churches are Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, with probably a few smaller congregations in between. None of the towns are huge like Corinth or Athens or Rome, but they are special to Paul because they are among the first churches he planted during his first missionary journey. He cares about them enough that he makes a quick stop back by on his second journey.  This is when Timothy joins the team.

Paul writes to these Churches to call them back to the simple truth of the Gospel of Salvation by grace through faith. That theme permeates the Galatian letter. It’s s message that never gets old.

Shortly after Paul leaves Galatia, a group nicknamed,  the Judaisers come to town and start telling the Jewish believers to stop associating with gentiles and the tell the gentile converts that they must obey the law of Moses, including circumcision and the special dietary laws.  Paul is outraged and, just as he will do with the Corinthians and Philippians he minces no words and takes no prisoners when dealing with these legalists.

In chapter one, he calls it a ‘different gospel’ and ‘no Gospel at all’. He suggests anyone teaching false doctrine should be sent straight to hell. We’ll come back to that in a minute.

In Chapter 3, the Apostle concludes they must be under a spell to believe such garbage. He uses the word, “Bewitched”.  Later on, he likens it to slavery instead of freedom.

As you read through Galatians, you’re going to see that the theme of grace being superior to law is the overwhelming theme.

But I want to spend a few minutes in Chapter one because, Paul has some very strong things to say about false teaching that sound incredible contrary in our new world of tolerance.

  1. He openly rejects this ‘different gospel’ and calls it no gospel at all. No ‘many paths to God’ for Paul.
  2. If that’s not strong enough language, he says anyone preaching a different Gospel should be ‘cursed, cut off from God’. In the original, that word is ‘anathema’. You’ve probably heard that word and maybe even used it. We kind of think of it as meaning something is a ‘no-no’, but it literally means, cut off from God with no hope of return. Paul could not have chosen a stronger expression of disdain. He says in essence, they can go to hell and rot.’ That kind of language will make you go viral on social media these days, and not in a good way. But, when eternity is at stake, sometimes we have to use strong language. We’re talking about people souls here. Paul is on a rescue mission for some of these Galatian Christians. He has no time to fool around.

The question is begged, How can we determine whether or not someone is preaching ‘a different doctrine’.

I’ve come up with 4 criteria that I use to determine whether or not a gospel, denomination, or even a religion is ‘different’.

Does it have a different:

God: Here Oh Israel, the Lord your God is One. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship him in Spirit and in Truth. I know, for example, a major religious group, that many Christians are slowly accepting teaches the God is an exalted man and that we may one day be gods and goddesses of our own worlds. Their statement is, As man now is, God once was. As God now is, man may become.

Jesus: Christianity believes Jesus is the Word (God) made flesh, virgin born, perfect, crucified, buried, raised, ascended, seated at the right hand of the Father and is coming again.  Some groups teach He did not die on the cross. Others that Jesus was not literally raised from the dead. Some teach he was married, even a polygamist.

Scripture: The Psalmist says, ‘Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” In fact, the whole 119th psalm is about the value of the Bible. In the New Testament, Paul wrote to Timothy that the Bible is ‘God Breathed’, or inspired. But some groups have different scripture in addition to the Bible. Some have changed the Bible because the Bible doesn’t teach their doctrines.

Plan of Salvation: The Bible is very clear that Salvation is by Grace through faith. Some, however, teach we have to practice certain rituals, or perform specific functions, or give a certain amount, or that Jesus blood doesn’t cover all your sins.

There is some really weird stuff going around out there, and its not all OK. I’m not going to pretend that it is. Here’s the bottom line: If a teaching has a different God, Jesus, Scripture, and or Plan of Salvation, it is NOT Christian. I’m not trying to be hateful, I’m trying to be truthful. Some things are ok to have different opinions about, but some things are either right or Anathema.

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