An Insurance Nightmare and An Internet Video Hit

Over the weekend I saw an ubelievable video of a youth camp activity on-line.  As a youth minister I can tell you that this activity will surely get you in trouble with some parents as well as the Elders.  But at the same time you will be the camp hero of the universe, and an godtube video star.  In case you are wondering what this video is think gigantic combustible engine propelled human slingshot! Unfortunately wordpress still does not allow GodTube videos to be embedded on wordpress blogs so I can’t put the video on my blog but here is the link.  It is less than a minute and it is well worth the time. 

Advertisements

Jude 3-4: Fight for the Faith (pt. II)

Introduction:

Today we will finish looking at Jude 4, and here Jude will provide us with a detailed description of what the spiritual terrorists who were attacking the truth of the gospel looked like. This passage will provide us invaluable information as we seek to fight for the faith for two reasons. First, it will show us what false teachers look like so that we can be on the look out for them. Second, it will show us the lies about the gospel that false teachers often use so that we can fight against the truth. Remember, our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against lies and ungodly ideas. It is important that we know what false teachers look like so that we can identify them and be ready to combat the lies that they will try and deceive the church with. It is on this note that Jude provides us with a description of the “certain individual” who had crept into the church.

 b. Jude’s description of these individuals.

We already mentioned that these “certain persons” snuck into the church unnoticed. This is what makes them so dangerous. Jude understood this danger and this is why Jude wrote to point out these people to the church. In all likelihood it was for this very reason – to point out these people- that Jude describes these individuals here in this section. Jude knew that these individuals had crept in unnoticed and he wanted the church to know what these people looked like, and be on the lookout for them. So, what did these individuals look like? First, Jude tells us that they were “long beforehand marked out for this condemnation.” It is important that we understand what Jude means with this phrase. The word that is translated “beforehand marked out” literally means to “previously write.” Paul used this word in Ephesians 3:3 to refer to something that he had written earlier in the letter. This translation does not seem to make much sense here in Jude’s letter. However, the use of this same word in Revelation 15:4 helps us to understand what Jude is talking about. There this word is referring to what was previously written in Scripture:

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Could this be the same meaning that Jude had in mind? I think that it definitely is. Jude is telling his readers that false teachers (like the certain “persons”) and their judgment have already been prophesied about. This fits very well within the context of this letter because in the following verses (5-16) Jude cites 6 examples from Scripture and one example from a historical book that point out the doom of people like these “certain persons.” So in v. 4 Jude tells us that the immanent doom of people like this has been written about, and then provides several examples in the following verses to support this statement. Jude’s purpose in al of this is to point out that these people are destined for destruction, or in other words they are not real Christians. It is important that we understand this because if these false teachers are not Christians then those who are following them (believing what they teach) are not Christians either. This is why the fight for the truth is so important; souls are at stake.

The second way that Jude describes these “certain persons” is that they were “ungodly persons.” These individuals had smuggled themselves into the community of God’s people, however they were the exact opposite of God’s people – being ungodly. In 2 Peter 3:7 we see what the ultimate fate of the ungodly is,

But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

Just as we saw earlier these individuals were not real Christians. They were individuals destined for God’s wrath because they were ungodly. This word (ἀσεβεῖς) is quite an important word in the book of Jude. Jude uses this word (or some form of it) six times in this short letter. So, what does it mean? In short, to be ungodly is to be without any fear or reverence for God. To be ungodly is to live your life like you are the final authority rather than God. It would be like someone today using the term atheist. It is an utter disregard for God’s authority, and a denial of God all together. It is to continue to sin even though you know God has commanded you not to because you think it is ok. So often we try to set ourselves up as the final authority in this world by the way that we live. We even value our opinions more than the revealed word of God. This is why we choose to do what we want instead of what God has commanded. If you are a Christian then you will do this occasionally, and then you will repent. However, these certain individuals were not Christians and so their lives were marked by an ungodly attitude of pride against God. These “certain persons” tried to disguise their ungodliness by claiming to be Christians. They did not openly deny God, but because of the way they lived their lives Jude was able to identify these individuals as practical atheists. Jude will further explain what it is to be ungodly in the next two descriptions of these “certain persons.”

Jude’s third description of these “certain persons” was that they “turned the Grace of our God into licentiousness…” Here we see how Jude identified these people as fakes. Their actions were evil, and what is worse is that they were justifying their actions on the basis of God’s grace. The apostle Paul anticipated this very error in Romans chapter six. In the preceding chapters Paul presented the foundational doctrines of the Gospel. Paul mainly focused on the doctrine of justification by faith alone. This doctrine teaches that man is not able to save himself, and put his faith in Jesus in order to be saved. We see this clearly taught in Romans 5:1,

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…

This is the grace of God that the “certain persons” in Jude were trying to pervert. They were teaching something along the lines of “since we are all under God’s grace we might as well just keep sinning and ask for forgiveness when we are done.” You have all probably heard the phrase “it is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission;” well this is that attitude that these individuals were trying to spread. Paul dealt with this very issue in Romans 6:1-6,

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

Let me summarize Paul’s response. First, are we to keep sinning because we can always fall back on God’s grace? No. Paul is emphatically clear on this point. But why? Because as Paul explains the doctrine of faith alone does not mean that we get a “get out of jail free card,” it means that through faith we are united with Christ. If we have been saved by faith in Jesus then we have died to sin and we have been raised into newness of life. This means that we will no longer have to sin, because we are free from sin. It also means that we have a new life, and it is now possible to submit to God. These factors cannot be separated from justification by faith. When we are talking about someone accepting Jesus and being saved all of this is included. So when these “certain individuals” try to turn the grace of God into licentiousness they are revealing that their ideas about the gospel are not true. These people were attempting to spread a gospel that was not the true gospel of Jesus and this is why Jude was so emphatic about fighting the ideas of these people.

The fourth and final description that Jude gives in v. 4 is that these certain individuals “deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” By refusing to obey Christ’s moral demands these individuals were in effect disowning Him as master, and rejecting His authority as Lord. Based on the actions of these individuals I think that it is quite clear that they resented the Lordship of Jesus. They were rebellious and they wanted to do whatever pleased their earthly desires. They were seeking their own gratification rather than the glorification of God. However, they did not make this obvious. They claimed that Jesus was Lord, but the way that they lived their lives proved that they did not believe that Jesus was Lord. You may be wondering how in the world I can know this for certain. I know this for certain because they would not have been able to sneak into the church unless they had disguised their denial of Jesus. These individuals were the epitome of Titus 1:16,

They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

As we look closely at the beliefs of these people, again we see that these individuals were spreading a gospel that was not the true gospel. This time the lie was that Jesus is not the Master and the Lord. This lie is incredibly serious for two obvious reasons. First, it creates a gospel that does not revolve around Jesus. The Gospel centers on Jesus, and what He has accomplished. So much could be said on this subject that as John said to close his gospel account “if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” Suffice it to say that Jesus is the Gospel. If you hear someone teaching a gospel that is not Christ-centered then you can know for sure that it is not the gospel that is found in Scripture.

The second obvious reason that the gospel these people were teaching was a lie is that their gospel denied the Lordship of Jesus. In Romans 10:9 it says that in order for someone to be saved they must “confess with [their] mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in [their] heart that God has raised him from the dead.” If you are paying close attention you may be thinking to yourself that these people in Jude did confess with their mouth’s that Jesus is Lord. And you are right. But if we will take closer look at the Romans 9 we will see that this confession of the mouth is only true submission to Jesus as Lord if it comes from a true belief. In v. 14 this is explained:

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?

So first comes the believing, and then the calling. If the calling, or the confessing with the mouth, does not come from a heart of belief then it is no good. The person who makes an empty confession like this will find himself in the same situation that we read about in Matthew 7:21-23:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
 The “certain persons” that we find in Jude 4 were headed toward the same end that these men faced, and if the people of the church do not take Jude’s warning seriously then many others will face this same destruction.

Conclusion:

Jude wrote this letter to warn that “certain persons” were sneaking into the church bringing with them a false gospel. He wrote to point these individuals out, and to appeal to the real Christians to fight against the false doctrine of these people. Here we have a description of what these individuals will look like, and we have a description of the false gospel they will be bringing. We need to ask ourselves, as the church about 2000 years after this letter was written, do we recognize when these people try to sneak into the church? And are we fighting against their false gospels with the true gospel?

Of God’s Eternal Decree

1. God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

> God has unchangeably decreed what will happen because why would He change His mind?

>God is not the author of sin, but in His sovereignty allows it for His own glory (Rom 9:22)

2. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions; yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, as that which would come to pass, upon such conditions.

>God’s decree is not contingent His foreknowledge of what man may or may not do. To take this view would be to place man at the forefront of God’s redemptive plan. To make God’s decree dependant upon His foreknowledge would be to make God a reactionary God – even if He is reacting before the actual event.

3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death.

>Here we see that the divnes ascribed to the doctrines of sovereign election and reprobation.

>Ultimately all of God’s working in men and angels and salvations and wrath is for His glory.

4. These angels and men, thus predestinated and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
> Nothing can change what God has decreed.

5. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his free grace and love alone, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace.

>This sentence boils down, as succinctly as possible, the truth of God’s work in man’s salvation. To say it as simply as possible, the salvation of man is completely a work of God.

6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, fore-ordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

>God has worked out a means of salvation for the elect so that He can remain just yet also be the justifier of sinners. (Rom 3:26)

7. The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.

>The phrase “to pass by” is an important on in this point. It is true that God predestines some to wrath, but this predestination must be in some sense different from His predestination to glory because all men have sinned and deserve wrath. It may be said that God passively allows the reprobate to be condemned for their sin while He actively pursues the elect with His irresistible grace.

8. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending to the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.

>This point was added in wisdom to warn those who understand these lofty doctrines about the dangers of pride. These doctrines properly understood and applied should result in praise, reverence, humility, diligence, and an overall godly life.

Reading List

As some of you might have noticed I have not changed the “what I am reading” sidebar in quite a while. This is not because I am not reading, quite frankly it is because I am lazy. With this in mind I am making a change. The “what I am reading” sidebar will be done away with. In its place I will be creating a page that I will title “07 Reading List.  On this page I will provide a list of a book that I have read this year.  Additionally I will link to any book reviews that I have done, and I will try to indicate in some way whether or not I would recommend a particular book.  Hopefully this will be helpful to the readers here.  As always your feedback is valued.

Book Review: An Educated Choice

By Frank A. Brockan-educated-choice.jpg

This time of year is always exciting for our high school seniors. Of the twenty-or-so students I lead here at our church 4 of them are graduating this May. All four of these young ladies are very focused individuals who have all been accepted into well respected schools. As similar as these young ladies are they have all been accepted into four very different schools to pursue differing degrees. In this situation it is particularly encouraging for me to see the families of these young ladies become involved in their choice of schools. This task of deciding whether or not to go to college, and then what college to choose is always a daunting task. It is on this very subject that Frank A. Brock has written the book An Educated Choice: Advice for Parents of College-Bound Students. Brock is an educator whose resume includes a 15 year stint as the president of Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. It is from his vantage point as a college president that Brock writes this book. Brock’s best contribution to this discussion is in the area of what to look for in a college. Brock is very clear that the goal of a good college should be much more that just to graduate students. As he states,

No matter what type of students it admits, a college, a good college, helps those students make significant progress in developing skills, knowledge, and values that will provide a foundation for the rest of life.

This is why it is so important that students work hard to find a school that is going to fulfill their needs in these areas. The problem is, as Brock states numerous times, that most students and parents see a college degree as a means to a better job rather than an educational opportunity. In other words, it is more important to get a degree than it is to get an education. Brock has a word of advice to parents with regards to this assumption,

If you choose a college because you think it’s going to ensure your child a good job, you are probably making the decision based on a false expectation. You might be setting yourself and your child up for disappointment.

Overall this book is quite helpful in thinking through the issues of higher education. Brock definitely writes from the prospective of an educator, and thus I found his conclusions to be a bit one sided at times. For instance, there were several times that I could not help but wonder if Brock had over-generalized the immaturity of today’s college student. There are also times in the book when Brock may over estimate the value of a college education, and the role that colleges play in this country. Brock himself admitted “the idealism of this book” in his introduction.

One thing that did make me a bit uncomfortable with this book was Brock’s tendency to keep coming back to the subject of “self-worth.” Brock even suggests that “functional people” have these three characteristics: 1) a sense of purpose; 2) a sense of self-worth; 3) they feel they are capable of doing what they are doing. I must admit that there is some truth in this point; however I do not think that a low sense of self-worth is a major problem in today’s students. Quite frankly I think that the biggest problem, as it has been since Adam, is pride. But this was not a major point in Brock’s book, so it should not be a major point of concern.

I did find that Brock’s practical advice to parents was quite thought provoking, and would be of considerable value to families as they discuss this issue. There are numerous issues, and specific questions that Brock brings up which I would have never thought about. In one of the best paragraphs in the book Brock said,

It must be kept in mind, however, that parents need to emphasize the importance of college for some students. Not all students are college material. And parents also need to be careful with what kind of expectations they have for their children. Sadly, many parents seem more interested in telling their friends that their child got a scholarship to brand X prestigious college (or athletic program) than in their child’s well-being.

In the end I would not give a wholesale endorsement to all the opinions of this book. However, I would highly recommend it as a resource for families that are preparing to send a student off to college.

 You can purchase this title through P&R Publishing for $12.99.

Jude 3-4: Fight for the Faith (pt. II)

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. 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.

II. The reason for Jude’s new purpose. (v. 4)

a. Because certain individuals have crept into the church unnoticed.

In verse 4 Jude makes it very clear why he would change the focus of his letter when he writes, “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…” As Jude was preparing to write his letter he changed the focus of his letter because certain individuals had snuck into the church teaching false doctrines. These individuals are people who claimed to be Christians but were distorting the truth of the Christian faith. Jude knew that he had to write to point out these individuals and to charge the true Christians to fight against the teaching of these individuals. The word that is translated “crept in unnoticed” is used in other literature to describe “the cunning craftiness of a lawyer who, through clever argumentation, infiltrated the minds of courtroom officials and corrupted their thinking. ” These individuals were sneaking in trying to corrupt people’s thinking. What makes them particularly dangerous is that they make themselves look like Christians. This is why John MacArthur refers to these individuals as spiritual terrorist. Instead of wearing the uniform of the enemy and attacking the church from the outside these terrorist snuck in trying to look like Christians so that they could attack the church from the inside. As we think about the true Christians who let these individuals sneak into the church we might have the tendency to think that we could never be so careless. But the truth of the matter is that this has always been a problem for the church. From the very beginning of the Christian faith false teachers have been sneaking in with lies and false doctrines trying to pervert the church. In Revelation 2 and 3 Christ specifically addressed 7 churches. Of those seven churches Christ rebuked 4 of them for this very thing.

In the fourth century, just a few hundred years after the apostles, we find another example of heresy sneaking into the church. This heresy, known as Arianism, was introduced by a church leader named Arius. Arius taught that Christ was not God, but instead was a created being. He claimed that Christ was like an archangel who was to be worshipped, but that he was not God. At this point you may be thinking that this guy was a nut, and that he was surely kicked out of the church immediately. Unfortunately this is not what happened. Arius gained a following that became quite large and influential. At first the church condemned this heresy, but as time went on many church leaders just got tired of fighting for the truth and they compromised. Because of this complacency Arius was allowed back in the church and his following continued to grow. Eventually Arianism became the popular view and there were very few church leaders who continued to fight against it. One of those leaders was Athanasius. Because Athanasius fought against this heresy he was persecuted and threatened, but in the end his faithfulness paid off and Arianism was purged from the church.
My point in telling this story to you is that there always have been, and there always will be “certain individuals” sneaking into the church trying to pervert the truth. If we refuse to stand up to these lies and false doctrines they will overrun the church just as Arianism did. This is why we must, as Jude implores us to do, fight for the faith.

b. Jude’s description of these individuals. (Next Week we will look at this point)