Jude:  We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

Jude: We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us


We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation,
ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the
only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:4

Churchill once said, borrowing from an old African proverb, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”  While there is much truth to that proverb, the opposite is also true.  “When the enemy is within, the enemies outside can hurt you.”  And they can hurt you bad.  Often permanently.

This was the situation Jude was warning the church about in his letter, and the same situation we find ourselves today.  The enemy has breached our walls and is now inside the camp.  What are we to do?


Who Are These Certain Men?

Jude, after calling believers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), begins to tell us why it’s so imperative to defend our faith.  He says, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed” (Jude 1:4).

There are several words that need further scrutiny.

The first of these is certain.  The Greek word is tis and means “a certain one, some person whom one cannot or does not wish to name.”2  In other words, “It’s one of those guys.  You know who they are.  I don’t even need to call them by name.”

These certain men have crept (pareisdúō) into the church unnoticed, or by stealth.  The word means to “enter in craftily, under cover of darkness, like a thief.”3  They, like a terrorist sleeper cell, blend in with the others waiting for a time to attack from the inside, from the unprotected underbelly of the church.  They are most sinister.

But who are these guys?

Jude describes them as those “who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4).  But we’ll look more into this at a later time.

They are, in effect, pastors void of holiness.

Businessmen, masquerading as pastors, who see the church as their next current startup.

They’re entrepreneurs, building their own product, brand, and empire within the church.

Jesus called them “false prophets”— ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15).

And we don’t seem to care they’re among us, spreading like kudzu.


Bread and Games

We’ve allowed them to take root in the hallowed halls of the church.  We’ve let our guard down, chosen not to make waves, and go along with what feels good for a moment.  We’ve sat idly by and watched our church become a business where we offer a Sunday product of cotton candy to satisfy the sweet cravings of the carnal and uncommitted.  We’ve continually judged our success by how many tickets we sell to our Sunday matinee or how large is the crowd.  And we have no problem changing our preaching to make people feel good in their sin and apathy.  For us, bigger always means better.  But that’s not necessarily true in the kingdom of God.

It’s just like it was in Rome.  “Bread and games to satisfy the masses.”

How did they get in unnoticed?  Where were the watchmen on the wall?4

Pastors, over the years, sought after success defined by the likes of Rick Warren or Bill Hybels, and now Andy Stanley.  They became more concerned with their personal brand than with the gospel of Christ.

And the church bought into this “Bigger Means Better” mantra.  “If it works on Wall Street,” we reasoned, “it should work in the church.”  We hired, not Spirit-filled pastors and Bible teachers to reveal to us the deeper things of God, but Madison Avenue marketing gurus and visionaries, all promising to take our church to the next level.

But the pastor’s job is not to be a visionary.  That’s Jesus’ job.  The pastor is to simply implement the vision of the Lord, our Master, as a faithful slave, or doúlos to Him.5  Even if Andy Stanley says going to a small church is “stinking selfish.”6

Now, it seems, we need multiple campuses all watching our hip, relevant, popular pastor live-streamed on video.  And we call that community or family?  Far from it.


The Need for Watchmen

Remember, the men who’ve entered the church unnoticed, under the cloak of darkness, are defined by Jude as evil men, ungodly men, who long ago were marked out for commendation (Jude 1:4).  These are lost, unregenerate men, traitors to the faith, hidden sleeper cells, that have found a home in the church— much like the birds of the air found a home in the branches of the mustard tree (Matt. 13:32).

What are we to do?

Now it gets personal.

We need watchmen on the walls of the church.  We need those who will strive to keep the body of Christ as a “glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle” and contend earnestly to keep her “holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).

In practical terms, here are a few examples of what you can do.

If your pastor shows R-rated movie clips to illustrate a biblical principal or uses coarse language to seem relevant to the world, you must confront that carnality.  But you must do so with respect for his position as pastor, even if the man is disqualified (Rom. 13:1).  If nothing changes, remove yourself and your family from that gathering and let the Lord direct you to another church.

If the gospel and true biblical preaching is replaced with a sweet tasting, feel good message, have a frank discussion with your pastor and, if nothing changes, remove you and your family from that church.  Don’t worry about where you will go.  The Lord will direct you to a place where you can grow in your faith and understanding of the Scriptures.

And if you church approves of homosexuality, or any sin that is now culturally acceptable, it’s time to find a new church.  Now.  Immediately.  Post haste.

Remember this important warning:

1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

Or, to put it another way, “Bad company corrupts good character” (NIV).

Don’t let yourself be corrupted by certain men (and you know who they are) who have crept into your church unnoticed, or under the cloak of darkness.  Even if these men may be pastors or elders.  Point them out.  Contend earnestly for the faith.  Do all you can with respect and honor.  And if nothing changes:

“Adios amigos.”

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Notes

1. The title comes from a quote from the syndicated Pogo comic strip that was created by Walt Kelly (1913-
1973). The strip ran from October 4, 1948, until July 20, 1975.
2. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (pp. 1385-1386). Chattanooga,
TN: AMG.
3. Ibid., 1117.
4. See Ezekiel 33.
5. Zodhiates, p. 483.
6. http://www.christianitytoday.com/karl-vaters/2016/march/dear-andy-stanley-please-be-small-churchs-ally-
not-our-enem.html.
7. Spanish for “Goodbye, friends.”

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Jude:  Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith

Jude: Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith


Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation,
I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jude 1:3

We are engaged in a bloody war.  It’s a war taken to us, laid on our doorsteps— a war we cannot afford to lose.  To the victor goes the heart and mind of the church.

In the past, Satan has attacked the church both outwardly and inwardly with mixed results.  In Acts, for example, the external attacks from the religious establishment were countered by the church speaking “the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).  And the internal attacks only led to “great fear came upon all the church” (Acts 5:11) and increased ministry to others (Acts 6:7).

In each of these, the church only grew stronger.


A Single Voice

In its early history, the church would meet in authoritative councils to define truth or orthodoxy and address heresy.  When a falsehood would arise that became popular among the people and threatened to lead them away from the truth of the gospel, church leaders from all over the world would gather to examine the heresy, compare it to Scripture, and issue a binding statement that would define Christian belief for the church at large.  These binding statements became known as creeds. Some of them, the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed for example, codified for us the doctrines we often take for granted.

But today it’s different.

There’s no authoritative voice for the church and little accountability.  With the internet, pretty much anything goes.  And with most Bible-believing Christians not believing the Bible, the spread of heresy and false doctrine is rampant.


Paganism 2.0

We have heresies today that are promoted by popular ex-pastors, such as Rob Bell, that deny God’s sovereignty in salvation, the reality of hell and the punishment for sin, the atonement of Christ, sanctification, and the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture.  This is repackaged paganism.  Or Paganism 2.0.

Then there’s the growing Prosperity Gospel and the Word of Faith Movement.  This heresy, at its core, claims that mere man has the power to bind our sovereign God by the words we speak and demand He does our bidding even if it’s against His will.  That’s witchcraft with a fresh veneer.  They “claim” and “agree” that God has to bless them with material or financial blessings and He, like their pet genie-in-a-bottle, must give what they demand.

“I mean, doesn’t everyone deserve health, wealth, and prosperity? Isn’t the purpose of our faith to reward us with money and long life and straight teeth?  Didn’t God secure for us, through the death of His Son, Your Best Life Now?”1

No. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

In Hebrews 11, we have what is known as the roll call of faith.  It lists great men and women of faith and how their faith was rewarded.  Look how the chapter closes.  This is not exactly what the prosperity preachers promise as a reward for faith.

Hebrews 11:37-38 – They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword.  They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

Do we believe the saints listed in Hebrews— Moses, Joseph, David, Samuel, and the rest— were less spiritual than those in the church today?  They received anything but health, wealth, and prosperity as the supposed rewards of their faith.  Yet Scripture says they were “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:37).  This is the type of heresy only an opulent, self-satisfied, and narcissistic church could invent.  And that’s what we are.


Once For All

But this is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And it’s certainly not the faith that was once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).  Our faith (pístis), as defined by Hebrews, is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).  It’s the “basis, the underpinning, the foundation of what we confidently expect; and the proof, the assurance of things we cannot see with our own eyes.”2

But in practical terms, faith means trust.  To have faith is to surrender to the Lordship of Christ (Rom. 10:9) and to give life allegiance to the kingdom of God (John 3:3).  And it’s the King of this kingdom that “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13).  It’s the kingdom in which we live and the kingdom of which Christ preached (Mark 1:15).  And it’s faith, or trust, in this kingdom, and its King, that was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).  Our faith is not open to interpretation or change.  It’s a finite, secure, immutable faith.


To Contend for the Faith

To contend or fight earnestly for the faith does not always take place between believers and the world.  More often than not, our striving for truth is against those who have infiltrated the church and seek to draw it away into perversion and heresy.  As politically correct, tolerant Westerners, we’ve opened the big tent and invited every form of sin and deviant teaching into the church.  And it’s only by their fruits, or lack thereof, that we can tell the difference between those who belong to Christ and those who don’t (Matt. 7:15-20).

So it’s our duty and calling to willfully contend for that faith given us at such a precious cost— the blood of our Savior and the blood of His saints.  And it’s our mandate to stand for truth, especially within the walls of the church.  Are you ready?  Are you able to discern the real from the counterfeit?  Do you know the difference between the “broad way that leads to destruction” and the “narrow” gate that “leads to life”? (Matt. 7:13-14).

You need to know.  That knowledge begins with a deep fervency for His Word (Ps. 1:2), a committed life of prayer (1 Thess. 5:17), and fully embracing all the Holy Spirit wants to show you (1 Cor. 2:9-12).

Will you join with me as we put on our spiritual armor and prepare to contend for the faith? (Eph. 6:13).  Will you take your stand with me, first within the walls of the church, and then against the gates of hell? (Matt. 16:18).  Will you choose to shine as “the light of the world”? (Matt. 5:14).  After all, our Lord said:

John 3:19-21 – “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

Be encouraged.  Christ has already defeated the enemy and overcome the world (John 16:33).  And we are secure — our “life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).

It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Notes

1. Yes, this does refer to Joel Osteen’s bestselling book, Your Best Life Now!
2. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (pp. 1163-1165). Chattanooga,
TN: AMG.

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398:  When Our Blessings Become Curses

398: When Our Blessings Become Curses

One of the greatest blessings the church has experienced has become its greatest curse.  And that is wealth.  Opulence.  The ability to run ahead of God rather than waiting on Him to provide what His church needs and when it needs it.  Then there’s the great blessing that comes with persecution that a wealthy church always views as a curse.  How did it become so upside down?

The early church understood the blessings that come with persecution.  Because they remembered the promise of Jesus when He preached His sermon on the mount where He said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).

And later, Paul would tell his son Timothy that “Yes, and all who (condition) desire to live godly in Christ Jesus (result) will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).  Do you see the condition and the result?  If you desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, which most Christians would say they do, then you will suffer persecution because of your godly life in Christ.  It’s a given.  A promise.

And the opposite of this promise is also true.  If you are not suffering persecution, then it stands to reason you do not desire to live godly in Christ Jesus.  Sobering, isn’t it?  This is not how the early church lived.  They embraced every opportunity to live godly in Christ, regardless of how they suffered.  Do you want to know more about people who love Jesus that way?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Acts 4:1-35.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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Jude:  The Non-Negotiables of Salvation

Jude: The Non-Negotiables of Salvation


The Non-Negotiables of Salvation

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation,
I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jude 1:3

Jude’s intention was to write about their common salvation— the salvation believers share together.  One of the definitions of the word common (koinós) means “belonging to several, of which several are partakers.”1  Jude’s letter was originally designed to talk about the salvation they shared and what it all means.

But something changed.  Now the Holy Spirit has moved Jude on to a related, yet new topic.  He finds it now necessary to encourage those who share this common salvation to learn how to contend or strive or fight earnestly for the faith on which their salvation was built.  It’s as if the object of their faith was under attack, which it was.  To “contend earnestly for the faith” implies it’s a single, finite faith. It’s a faith that isn’t fluid or breathing, or doesn’t change with the whims of each generation.  This is the faith “which was once for all (final) delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

And the faith that undergirds their common salvation is what we call the gospel.


Look What We Done With the Gospel

If the faith, the gospel, is unchanging and finite, why do we see so many interpretations of the gospel within the Christian church?  At last count, it has been reported there were over 33,000 Christian denominations worldwide, which reeks of chaos.  No single entity now speaks authoritatively for the church at large.  If the world, for example, wants to know the Christian view on homosexuality, they can ask ten different pastors and get seven different answers.  But our faith, like prophecy, is not open to private interpretation (2 Peter 1:2).  It’s a faith that was delivered from Jesus Christ based on His rules and standards, and accountable only to Him.  We didn’t secure the way to salvation through consensus. He paid for it with His own blood.

What we’ve done to His church is splinter it into a million different fragments all separated by personal nuances that seem to work with our personalities.  If someone preaches holiness too much for our taste, they’re legalistic.  If someone is more licentious than we feel comfortable with, then they’re liberal.  We judge everything by ourselves, creating God in our image and according to our personal likes and dislikes.  Assuming, of course, that God feels like we feel and thinks like we think.  Which He doesn’t (Isa. 55:8-9).

Otherwise, how can you have one Bible and so many interpretations?  How can some churches teach homosexuality is not a sin and hold to the same Scriptures that clearly teach it is?  You have some churches teaching you can lose your salvation because your salvation is based on your obedience to Him.  And other churches teach one’s salvation is secure because it’s a sovereign act of God He determined “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).  How can they both be right?

They’re not.

Jude was writing about their common salvation, something they shared together.  It’s not how they got saved, the when and where, but the basis of their salvation.  One person may have been saved in a one-on-one encounter with a Christian at a local Wal-Mart.  And another person may have received salvation by reading the Bible, alone, late one evening in their hotel room.  The way salvation takes place, or the means by which it takes place are as infinite and as varied as there are individual Christians.

But the basis, the faith of that salvation must be the same.  Are you saved by grace, through faith, plus works and obedience and faithfulness in tithing to your local church or by receiving the approved religious sacraments?  Or are you saved by grace, through faith, plus nothing?


Stuff On Which We Must Agree

For centuries, the church has tried to come up with an agreed upon set of non-negotiable, basic standards that must be believed before one can declare themselves a Christian.  We may disagree on modes of baptism, gifts of the Spirit, or Bible translations.  But the one thing the church can never disagree on is salvation.  How does someone come to faith in Jesus Christ?  What must they believe to be saved?

Let me close by listing for you a few of the agreed-upon, non-negotiables of salvation.  These are the common truths of our common salvation.  These truths must be understood, embraced, and fully believed for someone to have true salvation.

  • You must believe that Jesus is God.  Now, it may take some time to understand the doctrine of the Trinity, but this core belief undergirds all the rest. It’s a non-negotiable.
  • You must believe you are saved by grace and not on your own merits (Eph. 2:8-9).  Salvation is a gift paid for by the sacrifice of Jesus.  There is nothing more you can do except receive the gift of salvation on His terms, which is by faith.
  • You must believe salvation comes through Jesus alone.  He is the only way to God, not one of many ways (John 14:6).
  • You must believe Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sins.  That’s you. Your sins. It’s a personal, one-on-one sacrifice He made for you.
  • You must believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:14).  If not, everything else is pointless.
  • You must receive Him into your life as Lord (Rom. 10:9-10).  Not just savior, or friend, or something less than the sovereign God and Lord of all creation. Because that’s who He is.

This is our common salvation.  This is what we have in common with all those who we disagree with on subjects that divide rather than bring us together in unity as one.

So remember, when you come upon a believer who views baptism different than you do, focus on what you can agree on, your common salvation, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

After all, the final prayer of our Lord was for unity in His church (John 17:23).  So let that unity begin with you and me.

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Notes

1. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (p. 872). Chattanooga, TN: AMG.

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Jude:  Why is Diligence Such a Neglected Discipline Today?

Jude: Why is Diligence Such a Neglected Discipline Today?


Why is Diligence Such a Neglected Discipline Today?

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation,
I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jude 1:3

There seems to be a difference between those whom God uses in a mighty way, and the rest of Christianity.  It’s not their skill or education that makes them most likely to succeed in the kingdom of God.  It’s certainly not their pedigree or upbringing that matters.  For 1 Corinthians teaches that “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise” (1 Cor. 1:27).  God can take anyone, of any background and experience, and turn them into a D.L. Moody or a Billy Graham.

It seems the single attribute that separates those who serve Him with reckless abandon and those who just go through the motions, is commitment.  Or, to use the words of Jude, being very diligent.


Some Background

It appears Jude had a different intention for this letter.  He begins by saying he wanted to “write to you concerning our common salvation (Jude 1:3).  But in the span of the same sentence, Jude pivots by saying something has changed.  “I find it necessary (as the Holy Spirit changes his focus) to write to you exhorting (helping, encouraging) you to contend (strive, struggle) earnestly (not casually or haphazardly) for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).  In other words, what began as a letter exploring the nature of our “common salvation” has now changed.  The Holy Spirit is moving in a different direction.

It’s this new direction, the warning and rebuking of the apostates within the walls of the church, that gives Jude a special place in the New Testament.  But we’ll talk more about that later.


Very Diligent

The phrase Jude uses, very diligent, means “speed, haste, earnest in accomplishing something, zeal.”1  It implies someone who is totally committed or single-focused with tunnel vision aimed at completing the task set before them.

It’s a trait we honor in every area of life except the spiritual.  Michael Phelps, for example, won more Olympic Gold Medals than anyone in history.  Do you think he was able to accomplish that feat with a haphazard attitude towards his sport?  Of course not.  We applaud his commitment, his diligence, and the obvious sacrifices he made to achieve success in his field.  But do we applaud the same in other Christians?

For some reason, we see diligence and commitment as a necessary element of success in every form of life except in our relationship with Christ.  We admire those who make sacrifices to attain certain levels of success, like Michael Phelps, yet we assume the same is not required of us.  When we study the lives of great men of God, we see that’s not true.  Those who accomplished great things for God also sacrificed great things for God.  They were very diligent about serving Him.  As Jim Elliott said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”2

Plus, there are promises made, not to the casual believers, but to the one who seeks the Lord with his whole heart.  Or, as Jude would say, is very diligent about the things of God.  And each of these promises is conditional.  They only belong to the diligent and committed, and not the casual or carnal.  Consider the following:

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the LORD with (condition) all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In (condition) all your ways acknowledge Him, and (promise) He shall direct your paths.

Note the conditions and the promise.  If you want the promise, you must first meet the condition.  You must be very diligent about the things of God.  It’s Contract Law, 101.

Jeremiah 29:13 – And (promise) you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me (condition) with all your heart.

Again, note the condition and the promise.  If you want to find God, you must meet the condition He sets for that revelation.  And, as always, it’s “with all your heart.”  Jude would call that being very diligent about the things of God.


No Pain, No Gain

We’re all familiar with the No Pain, No Gain mantra when it comes to working out or getting a graduate degree.  It shows how much we’re willing to sacrifice to achieve our goals.  The same is true with the things of God.  For some reason, God seems to honor the fervent, the committed, and the diligent— and not the casual.  And we do the same.  What employee gets the raise and promotion?  The one who works hard and is trustworthy?  Or the one who shows up when it’s only convenient for him?

One final thought.  Paul understood this principle in his life.  Look at what he said about sacrifice and commitment:

1 Corinthians 9:24 – Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

That’s run with sacrifice, commitment, diligence.  It’s getting up early and training harder than the rest.  It’s doing your best and giving your all to the race that’s set before you.  In fact, Paul goes one step further:

1 Corinthians 9:27 – But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

By disciplining his body, Paul is saying “no” to the distractions, to the things that don’t bring him closer to his goal.  In the spiritual life, we call this living with fervency, with total commitment.  Or, as Jude says, being very diligent.

Examine your life today and ask the Lord what you’re wasting it on?  And then burn those bridges and center your life on Him and Him alone.  Run the race the Lord has set before you— and don’t get distracted and don’t look back.

Be very diligent in all you do for Him.

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Notes

1. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (p. 1307). Chattanooga, TN: AMG.

2. Jim Elliot (1927-1956) was a missionary who gave his life, along with four others, while trying to evangelize the Huaorani people, also known as the Auca, in Ecuador. He was 29 when he was martyred. This quote is from one of his journals, written on October 28, 1949.

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