Let me begin with a story that illustrates how important the book of Jude is for today. Years ago seven of us pastors started the Christian Evangelical Leaders Network. And it was a fantastic group that prayed and worked and fellowshipped together. This group eventually grew to over 500 pastors who issued joint statements on political issues, opposed abortion, wrote a joint statement on marriage against an LGBT group of pastors, we trained a rapid response team for disasters, and were involved in various ethical and moral issues of the day. There was a lot of good that it was doing.
I got the board to draft a solid evangelical doctrinal statement that everyone had to sign. Initially they didn't want to do that, claiming that liberals would never want to be a part of this group anyway, so why do we need this formality. I disagreed. I pointed out from the book of Nehemiah that heretics Sanballat and Tobiah volunteered to join Nehemiah in the project of building the wall, but they actually had ulterior motives. They may not have realized it, but Satan was behind their volunteering. And I gave illustrations of Sanballats and Tobiah's in every age and how another evangelical organization in Omaha had been taken over. I said that these false believers were parasites that have no life of their own, so they want to join significant ministries to have a sense of life and significance and to give themselves legitimacy. I also pointed out that without an exclusionary doctrinal wall around Jerusalem, the world encroaches on Jerusalem. So we crafted and adopted a fantastic doctrinal statement. I served for several years on the board, then took a break for three years.
When I came back onto the board I was surprised to find people whom I knew to be heretics serving on the board. I confronted the original leaders, asking them what was going on. They had no idea that they had already been infiltrated by hostile players who had signed on to the doctrinal statement with crossed fingers. When they expressed skepticism, I pointed out that there were Sanballats and Tobiahs in the room right now, and I went around the room pointing them out. "That woman pastor over there is not even a Christian because she is not a Trinitarian. She worships a different god than I do. This pastor is soft on homosexuality - a stronghold that we want torn down. This pastor denies the inerrancy of Scripture, which is tantamount to calling God a liar. This pastor recently told me that he thinks that Mormons ought to be allowed to join this organization. He has a different view of the church." Etc. And I tried over the next few months to get them to kick people off the board - to no avail. It just seemed too mean-spirited to them. It didn't seem loving; they wanted to think the best of these guys. So I left and the organization eventually foundered.
I bring that story up to illustrate how even solid organizations can be so quickly taken over by false teachers if the church does not have the will to fight. The book of Jude is a call to fight false doctrine earnestly - not half-heartedly.
So far in our Bible Survey series we have seen that Paul, Peter, John, and now Jude have had to deal with false teachers and gnostics who had infiltrated the church in the first century. The church was in a fight for its life. This was the time of the Great Apostasy predicted by Jesus. The church had become filled with theological parasites that were sucking the life out of it. Or to use another metaphor, they were Sanballats and Tobiahs that were tearing down the walls of Jerusalem.
But praise God, as a result of the instruction of these last few books, the church saw a Reformation and an explosive growth of the church after AD 70 and into the next three centuries that pretty much took over the Roman Empire. Out of the darkness that Jude paints came incredible light. But that reformation happened only because the Christian remnant was willing to expose error and fight against error in all of its forms. The moment the church gets soft in condemning error, it begins to lose its power. This is why I fear for the modern church. It has not yet embraced the fight in most denominations.
Now, you will notice in your outlines that this book is constructed as a chiasm. The heart of the chiasm is verse 11 where Jude uses three archetypes of these parasites that have a pretense of life, and worship, and loyalty, but who are in reality enemies of God.
An overview of the book taking both parallel parts of the chiasm together
Let's go through the book by taking each of the parallel points of the chiasm together.
The A sections - The true church is called to keep separate (vv. 1-2,24-25)
The two A sections, which form the introduction and the conclusion, both speak of what keeps the remnant pure. I love these two A points that assure us that God can keep His elect from stumbling. Praise God! Apostasy does not have to be inevitable.
And I want you to notice that it isn't Jude or any other church leader who is the key to keeping the church pure. Jude calls himself simply a bondslave of Jesus Christ, and like his brother James is simply a spokesman for Christ. He doesn’t even appeal to the fact that he and James were siblings of Jesus. It is Christ who is the Lord of the church and it is Christ who can preserve it. So verse 1 goes on to say,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ
These are the first three things that distinguish a true Christian from a fake Christian. True Christians are called (that's the first characteristic - they are called) out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light. Already he is setting up antithesis. There are some who are called and there are some who are not called by the Holy Spirit.
Second, they are sanctified, which means that they are set apart from something by God the Father. Being set apart is also a mandate to antithesis.
And thirdly they are preserved. True believers will not apostatize. So don't get discouraged when apostates leave the church. That is a purification of the church. The elect will be preserved. Praise God!
The next three things that preserve true Christians and make them quite different from Sanballats and Tobiahs are the three things listed in verse 2. "Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you." True believers are humble enough to recognize a multitude of sins in their own lives and therefore recognize the need for mercy to be multiplied. In contrast, Sanballats are proud and self-sufficient and see no need for mercy.
True believers see the need for Biblical peace, which is the reversal of everything lost in the Fall. Sanballats are occupied with other things.
And true love is also one of the marks of the church - as Francis Schaeffer has pointed out. Those are encouraging words in the face of darkness.
So Jude knows that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are able to keep this antithesis going forward from generation to generation. They are able to preserve the church and keep it from falling into the clutches of Satan.
The second A section (that's the conclusion in verses 24-25) says much the same thing, but in different words. It says,
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.
So both A sections are encouraging us that God is sufficient for this battle. There is no question about God's power, glory, grace, and ability. The question is whether we will side with Him and fight for Him or whether we will defect to the enemy's army. Our Commander in Chief is able to keep us from stumbling if we will commit ourselves to Him. Both A sections call us to fix our eyes on the Triune God. And there is a lot more in those two sections that we don't have time to get into.
The B sections - The true church is called to fight for the faith (vv. 3,20-23)
The two B sections go on to show that if you are a true believer, you are called to fight compromise with all your might. If you are not fighting, you are part of the problem. The first call to fight is in verse 3:
Jude 3 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.
The Greek word translated as "contend" is ἐπαγωνίζομαι, and means to engage in intense struggle for something. In Hebrews it was used of a soldier fighting to the shedding of blood. It is intense fighting. It was also used in athletics for wrestlers who exerted their all to win against an opponent. So he is introducing the theme of the book which needs to become the theme of modern churches. If you are not fighting the effects of the Fall in every area of life, those effects will eventually suffocate and overcome.
Of course, before you can defend the faith, you have to know what doctrines constitute the true faith. Doctrine is critical to any Reformation; it’s critical to holiness. It is critical to Christianity. And yet there are many pastors in Omaha who hate doctrine. They have told me so. I have heard several pastors explicitly say, “Doctrine divides. Love unites.” Well, you can't even define true love without doctrine. And while it is true that doctrine divides, it is the division between light and darkness, truth and error, belief and unbelief. It's called antithesis. Without antithesis Christianity is dead. Verse 3 goes contrary to modern feel-good pluralism.
The second call to fight for the faith is given in verses 20-22 - the second B section. And this one has both an inward and outward focus to the fight.
Jude 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
The verbs that Jude uses show that every believer is to be very active in putting on, defending, and promoting the faith. Let me go through six things we need to do if we are to be successful in promoting reformation and keeping the church from descending into compromise. These are not in your outline.
First, we must build ourselves up in the most holy faith. You can hardly bring reformation to the church if you are not bringing reformation to yourself. Building ourselves up in the most holy faith involves ongoing study and application of doctrine humbling ourselves before God and having a teachable spirit.
Second, verse 20 says we must be praying in the Holy Spirit. This involves spiritual warfare. We are coming into agreement with the Holy Spirit who intercedes from within us with groanings. He is groaning because He is upset with what is going on. Prayer that is not stirred up by the Holy Spirit does not get past the ceiling.
Third, we are called to keep ourselves in the love of God. This involves a refusal to fall from our first love. If we allow our heart passion to God to subside it is easy for demons to gain an advantage.
Fourth, we are called to keep looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Baukham's commentary (p. 114) says that this is an active looking that implies progressive mercy being extended until the final day. History has progress in applying God's mercies. This shows how important hope (or eschatology) is for this fight.
The fifth antidote to apostasy is to recognize the need to rescue sheep from apostate denominations. Look at verses 22-23. "And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh." Jude is saying that sheep rescuing is not a vice. It is a virtue. The whole context of his discussion has been discussing problems within the church. He isn’t talking about evangelism of pagans. He is talking about rescuing Christians who have bought into the false doctrines of the apostates. They need to be rescued. So, putting it into our modern context, he is talking about rescuing people from the Methodist churches, the United Presbyterian Churches, the Catholic Churches, the cults, etc. Jude says that if you love these people, you aren’t going to rest until they leave those churches. And you are going to approach this work with fear and trembling - because getting close to those you are rescuing could involve you in contamination. That is definitely something to worry about.
Let me read a few Scriptures that call for separation from apostates and apostate denominations. 2 Corinthians 6:17 says, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” Romans 16:17 says, "avoid them." 1 Timothy 6:3-5 says, "from such withdraw yourself." 2 Timothy 3:5 says, "and from such people turn away." He doesn’t say that tolerance of heresy is a virtue. Quite the opposite. If you have any compassion whatsoever, you will be involved in sheep rescuing and encouraging the sheep to separate. Revelation said these words to true believers who remained in apostate churches in the first century: "And I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.'" (Rev. 18:4). Those who stay in an apostate church end up sharing in her sins and in her plagues. And I have seen how families have drifted further and further from the Lord, all the time feeling like they are still a reforming influence. But they don't realize that the influence has also gone in the other direction and negatively impacted them. They have been defiled.
Now I will hasten to say that we aren't talking about churches that have minor doctrinal errors, but about churches whose fundamental orientation has been away from the doctrines articulated in this book: the full authority and inerrancy of the Scriptures, the doctrine of salvation mentioned in verse 3, the doctrine of God, of Christ, of hell, etc. And the mainline denominations have all tolerated flagrant attacks upon those foundational doctrines.
The last thing that Jude calls for in those verses is for us to hate what God hates. Jude says, "hating even the garment defiled by the flesh." Now, obviously it is a metaphor - when you pull a person out of the smelly sewer, you want to throw away the clothes,and you are going to try hard not to get any of the sewer onto your clothing. He is asking us to have that kind of distaste for false teaching and false practice. It takes that kind of emotional distaste to motivate us to engage in the kind of intense fight that this book calls for.
The two C sections - our motivation for fighting - the first and last mentions of false teachers (vv. 4,19)
The two C sections give us motivation to be involved in this fray. Both mention the destructive influence that these heretics can have upon the church. Verse 4 says,
4 For [So here comes the motivation or the reason for contending - 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.
Notice that these men crept in unnoticed, or as some translate it, by stealth. This is what happened to CELNET (the Christian Evangelical Leaders Network). The leaders didn't even realize it was happening. And it has happened to many other organizations. Liberals took over Skyline Manor and Retirement Center in the same way. It was started by evangelicals, and liberals signed the evangelical doctrinal statement even though they didn't believe the statement. And then they started taking away all evangelical influences - even asking the state to change laws to that effect Thankfully we were for the most part able to take that organization back. My father-in-law and I were brought onto the board to engage in that fight before it was too late. But the point is that they snuck in by pretending to be Evangelicals. It's a form of lying, but they have taken over numerous formerly good denominations this way - like the American Baptist Conference, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, The PCUSA, and several others.
And they can sound so righteous in their doctrinal deviations. For example, they can talk about grace in glowing terms, but they use it as a cover for violating God's laws. They sound so loving, but do not define love by God's law. Here's a partial list of people who preached many good things in the past 30 years, but who used their reputation to justify their own sin: Ted Haggard, Bill Gothard, Ravi Zacharias, Sammy Nuckolls, Tony Alamo, Bob Coy, Dave Reynolds, Jimmy Swaggart, David Hyles, Bill Hybels, Todd Bentley, Mike Hintz, Eddie Long, Tullian Tchividjian, Carl Lentz of Hillsong. And this list could go on and on. The point is that Jude is a book for today. Many evangelicals go soft because the pastors (or sometimes the musicians that they love - like Hillsong) have gone soft. And the negative influence incrementally takes over. The PCA has been going bad over the last two decades. Pray that that denomination will start to fight back. Well, let's move on.
The two D sections - warnings from the past (vv. 5-7, 17-18)
The two D sections give warnings from the past to show that they should not have been surprised by this. Verses 5-7 give three warnings of God's judgments from the Old Testament. Verse 5 warns us about an entire generation of professing believers who mostly died in unbelief in the wilderness. If you don't think unbelief can take over a congregation under a good pastor, look at what happened under the very nose of Moses. God doesn't blame Moses for that.
Verse 6 warns us about angels who were judged for their rebellion.
And verse 7 warns us about God's judgments on Sodom and Gomorrah. This is to make it clear that judgment is not simply about hell in the future. God makes clear with these historical judgments that God is not mocked. He will bring retribution upon even the non-elect in history.
But those examples are also intended to make us realize that no organization is exempt from these sneak attacks of demonically motivated men and women. And no individual is exempt. Even righteous Lot was negatively influenced by his associates and he lost most of his family as a result. He did not maintain antithesis.
Verses 17-18 (which is the second D section) remind us about the warnings that Jesus gave in the Gospels of false teachers that would arise in the last days of the Old Covenant. The point of these two sections is that they shouldn't have been naive. There had been plenty of warning in the Scripture that these kinds of things could happen. Yet the church tends to be naive. We don't learn from history. We make the same mistakes over and over again. And sadly, when pastors fail, many Christians bail from the church because they have been wounded and hurt so badly. Jude says that that is not the way to go either. We need each other. But the point of these two sections is that we need to learn from history.
The two E sections - attributes of these false teachers (vv. 8,16)
The two E sections begin a list of attributes of false teachers that will be picked up again in the two G sections. I'm not sure why Jude broke the lists up, but it certainly helps to form the chiasm doesn't it? Let's go through verse 8:
Jude 8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.
I'll quickly run through each attribute. Commentaries point out that the word "dreamers" refers to claims to new revelation. Not all apostates have had claims that God guided them to reject certain biblical doctrines, but even non-charismatics claim to be in the will of God even though they are violating the Bible. That really amounts to the same thing. I grew up with a close friend who became a an evangelical pastor, the a charismatic pastor, and then liberal pastor who rejected doctrine after doctrine and eventually rejected the God of the Old and New Testaments, but continued to be a pastor. I asked him where he got his strange idea of god from - and he said that he had a personal relationship with his god who loves everyone and affirms the LGBTQ+ community. He knows this god and he knows he is not like what the Bible describes. I told him that if someone did reveal himself to him it was a demon and not God, since God would never contradict His Word.
I tried to talk to another evangelical pastor about his unbiblical idea of divorcing his wife and marrying someone in his congregation. It didn't matter how many Scriptures I brought to his attention, his response was, "What I'm doing may not be God's perfect will, but God has led me to do it anyway." Dreamers. They justify their compromises by claiming that God is OK with it. Nowadays liberal pastors confidently claim that God is OK with the whole alphabet of LGBTQ+ perverts.
The next word is "defile the flesh." That hardly needs explanation nowadays. At least some of the backslidden pastors I mentioned earlier defiled their flesh with perverse sexual relationships. And its astonishing how long some of them kept it secret. And when you hear of no repentance on the part of Ravi Zacharias even in the last months on his death bed, it makes me wonder if he was even regenerate.
The next word is "reject authority." Obviously if you reject God's authority in the Bible, it will soon follow that you will reject the authority of God's representatives. So it is not surprising that most of those leaders that I mentioned rejected the authority of those trying to hold them accountable. In fact, they would go on the attack against anyone who held them accountable.
The next phrase says, "speak evil of dignitaries." There is debate on whether these dignitaries are angelic, demonic, human, or all of those three. But in one sense it doesn't matter. We will see in a moment that the next verse highlights why our opposition to demons or humans is meaningless unless we are bringing God's rebuke through Scripture. We have no authority in ourselves. Our only authority against demons or human dignitaries is God's Word. But these people set themselves up to be the judges. It's an abuse of their office.
The second E section is verse 16, and it continues this description of the typical attributes of these false teachers. It says,
Jude 16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.
Wow! What a perfect description of many of these mega church leaders. The first word is obvious - grumbling was the sin that God most often judged in the Old Testament. It reveals a heart that has lost all sense of stewardship before God; all sense of our being His bondslaves.
The second word is badly translated. It's not a synonym to the first word, but the inward heart disposition of discontentment. This is what drives them to change organizations. They are always pushing leaders to incrementally compromise more and more - all in the name of love.
The third word is lusts or desires. They may often hide the fact, but these men allow their own desires to dictate behavior rather than conforming behavior to the Bible.
The fourth word is ὑπέρογκος, which speaks of prideful words. These are words that fail to see our own unworthiness.
And the last clause is flattering people for their own gain. These teachers teach what will appeal to the crowds rather than preaching what the crowds need to hear. But they do it for personal gain rather than to serve the Lord. Of the teachers I mentioned, it is amazing how many of them gained vast wealth from the poor people that they made impossible promises to - promises of health and wealth.
Does every bad teacher have every bad attribute? No. But you can find every one of these descriptions in at least some false teachers of the church today.
The two F sections - Examples from non-canonical history (vv. 9,14-15)
The two F sections are controversial. Before I get into how they fit into the flow of Jude's argument, let me deal with that controversy. People wonder why Jude would appeal to a false pseudepigrapha book, and they have conscience issues as to whether this book might be Scripture. I've written a book that shows exegetical arguments on why the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha are not part of the Bible. But for now, let me prove that Jude did not quote the Pseudepigraphal book of 1 Enoch.
Now, it is true that both Jude and 1 Enoch record the same stories (just like many cultures still retain creation and flood stories), but the pseudepigrapha does not do so accurately. I'll just talk about verses 14-15 to illustrate that it is not a quote of 1 Enoch 1:9 as so many people claim. Beginning at verse 14:
Jude 14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
1 Enoch 1:9 also claims to quote Enoch, but with different words. Let me read that portion of the apocrypha from Heiser's translation.
Behold, he will arrive with ten million of the holy ones in order to execute judgment upon all. He will destroy the wicked ones and censure all flesh on account of everything that they have done, that which the sinners and the wicked ones committed against him.1
I've done a careful analysis of the two passages in the original Greek of each to see how close they are. And I’ve put that chart into your outline.
Now, that is the Greek translation. I find it interesting that scholars can't agree on which version of 1 Enoch Jude quotes. And the reason is obvious - none of the versions of Enoch matches Jude - none. Since the Ethiopic,2 Syriac,3 and Latin4 versions of 1 Enoch were translated much later, the only existing versions of Enoch 1:9 that we can point to are the Aramaic fragment and the Greek.
But I’m just going to focus on the Greek in your outlines. The Greek version of Enoch is also far off from the Greek version of Jude.
If you count up the words in that chart, 1 Enoch 1:9 has 31 words whereas the Greek of Jude's quote has 36. Of Jude's 36 Greek words, only 26 are the same as in 1 Enoch. Enoch adds or changes 16 words that are not in Jude and Jude adds or changes 9 words that are not in Enoch.
If Jude had 1 Enoch in front of him, it is clear that he was deliberately changing the wording. Jude says, "Behold the Lord comes with myriads of his holy ones." In that first clause only three words are the same in the Greek. Enoch says "Because," while Jude says "Behold." Enoch says "comes," while Jude uses the past tense "came" (ἦλθεν).7 Enoch says "he" while Jude says "the Lord." Enoch has holy ones in the masculine, while Jude has them in the feminine - referring to a specific kind of angel. Jude's phrase "with his myriads of holy ones" is shorter than the more complex version in Enoch. Jude's phrase, "to convict all the ungodly" is shorter and stresses God's judgment and convictions whereas Enoch adds the words "and destroy." Jude is more specific about the kinds of speech being judged (reviling speech) whereas Enoch speaks of generic evil deeds and words. Enoch adds the words "and," "all flesh," "the," and "destroy," and it inverts two phrases. In my opinion there is absolutely no way that this could be a quote.8
It is better to say that this ancient history was passed down in Jewish lore just like the creation story and the flood story have been passed down in corrupted forms in most cultures of the world. Those stories are corrupted to varying degrees because there was no inspiration to preserve each jot and tittle of the story in those cultures. But it shouldn't be surprising that so many cultures have a creation story, flood story, tower of Babel story, etc. On this story of Enoch's prophecy, only Jude preserves the story 100% accurately. The bottom line is that Jude clearly did not quote the book of 1 Enoch. But enough on that rabbit trail.
The first F section is the story of Michael arguing over the body of Moses. Verse 9 says,
9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
He uses Michael to illustrate that the only authority we have is the authority of the Lord. Even angels appeal to the Lord and His authority, not their own. We should not oppose any evil powers in our own strength. This is basically a condemnation of most modern politics, which refuses to use the Bible in its critiques. People use their own opinions or the opinions of others. But you know, the same is true in spiritual warfare. I have seen charismatic pastors yelling at demons as they had some intrinsic authority. They do not. Our authority is the authority of the Bible.
The second F section that we have already looked at is an inspired prophecy of Enoch from the Old Testament that used God's authority against all the sin and sinners that he was surrounded with. Again, the same point is made. God's representatives must be sola Scriptura representatives. They use the wisdom of God, not the wisdom of man.
The two G sections - More attributes of false teachers (vv. 10, 12-13)
The same cannot be said for the false teachers that had invaded the church. In the two G sections we have two more descriptions of the attributes that help to identify false teachers in every age. Verse 10 says,
10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.
It's obvious that these false teachers think they know something, or they wouldn't be teaching. So why does Jude say that they speak evil of whatever they do not know. It's because they can’t know whether it is evil or not if Scripture doesn’t define it as being evil. I'll just illustrate in the realm of politics. We have political parties slinging accusations against each other and no one stops to ask anyone how they know whether Biden's and Trump's actions have been evil. They both call each other evil, but how do they know? If the Republicans aren’t willing to contend from Scripture they have no way of showing the evil of the Democrat's positions. And likewise the Democrats with the Republicans. If they do not start with Scripture, they have no knowledge they can justify. And what they do know from instinct (in other words, general revelation written on their hearts), they use like animals – for their own selfish interests.
Verses 12-13 finish off the descriptions of these false teachers - at least it finishes it off if you are working from front and back to the center of the book. Starting at verse 12 I will highlight each word. And I want you to notice how these false teachers have no ultimate power to transform society as they are hoping to do. Their only power is to soil and to destroy.
Jude 12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
The first word "spots" is translated as "shoals" in some versions. Spots defile clothing and shoals sink ships. So they do have a power, but it's not a power to help. It's a power to defile or destroy.
Second, they have no conscience. "they feast with you without fear." Anyone who comes to the Lord's Table week after week without confessing his sin shows the same hardened heart that these false teachers had. I would be scared to death to partake of the Lord's Table with unconfessed sin. Yet unregenerate people seem to do so with no fear. It’s amazing.
Next, they are said to be "serving only themselves." This is why false religion and pagan politics will eventually alienate people and fall apart - they serve only themselves, not the public. They make a pretense of serving the public, but they are ultimately self-serving. Count up how much pork barrel spending is in the 1.9 trillion dollar Covid Relief package and you will see what it is really about. Look at the sermons that liberal pastors preach and you will see that they have no prophetic voice against sin or against rebels.
Most of the ministers that I listed for you that had massive falls were self-serving ministers. In contrast, God’s grace enables true believers to lay down their lives for their friends, to love their enemies and to have Spirit-given graces which can conquer the world. Now here is a scary thought. If you are doing nothing sacrificial to promote the cause of Christ; if you are only serving yourselves, you are living like these men and women who stand under God's condemnation. You are part of the problem. So stewardship (in other words, seeing all that we are and have as belonging to God and using it to serve Christ) spells the difference between these false teachers and good teachers. Each of these points serves as a point of antithesis between false Christianity and true Christianity. You are probably recognizing by now that this was a common theme in the last books of the Bible that we have looked at.
The next phrase says that they are "clouds without water." Clouds give the promise of rain, but when they pass overhead and disappear without delivering a single drop, you are disappointed. Well, these false teachers make promises that if you invest $1000 in their ministry, God will make you rich. A friend of mine showed me a mass mailing (it was obviously a form letter) from a very prominent televangelist who said that God woke him up during the night to pray for ________ and it had my friend's misspelled name in places scattered throughout the letter. God supposedly laid this name (and probably a million more names) on this evangelist's heart that God wanted this him to have the privilege of donating money to his ministry with the promise that he would become rich. The same evangelist made promises of healing to those who bought his anointed handkerchiefs. But how many poor and sick people get suckered into these things?
The next phrase is "carried about by the winds." Without absolutes, change is constant. The Evangelical Church of today has lost the absolutes of God's law and its no wonder that they are more and more buying into Woke theology. But you know, being carried about by the winds gives a sense of rootlessness and dissatisfaction to the human heart. Post-modernism is going to produce this rootlessness. We need absolutes. God has built man to need absolutes. Unfortunately the post-modern church is not preaching absolutes. They want a new, kinder, friendlier Christianity without law, judgment, hell, or even disapproval. But that leaves them with nothing concrete to offer. And eventually such false forms of Christianity will disappear because they disappoint. And I praise God that they will disappear. This kind of theology is self-defeating.
The next phrase is "late autumn trees without fruit." Why do the mainline Presbyterian churches, the Methodist Churches, the American Baptist churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Churches, etc. continue to have such influence? In part it is because those churches at one time produced fruit. They have a reputation for being fruit trees. In part it is because they still have money laid up from previous faithful generations. But once the fruitlessness of these denominations has become apparent, they start losing members like crazy. And this is happening to all them. Praise God! They are hemorrhaging members. And that is as it should be. They are late autumn trees without fruit.
The next phrase is "twice dead." They are dead in the previous sense of being past fruit bearing years. But they are dead in the root as well. Now that the evangelical and emerging church has rejected both the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, they have lost their root. And without a root the plant dies. Don’t expect culture-changing life from any church that rejects the five solas of the Reformation. It was those five solas that made the church once again able to turn the world upside down at the time of the Reformation. Sola Scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, Solus Christus, sole deo Gloria. Those five solas must be recaptured.
The next phrase says, "pulled up by the roots." Praise Jesus! I am praying that these ungodly liberal denominations will be pulled up by their roots. That is an appropriate prayer. I am praying that Planned Parenthood will be pulled up by the roots. I am praying that anything (whether liberal or conservative) that is not rooted in God would be pulled up by the roots. This is exactly what happened in AD 70. Through God's judgments the true church began to flourish and to take over Rome.
The next phrase says, "raging waves of the sea." And we are probably going to be seeing more raging of Satan's kingdom against the church in America in the next few years. But that’s OK. It will expose the reality of their system to deluded Christians who still tend to think that they can be friends. It will wake up and purify the church. But the waves of false Christianity cannot go one inch past the bounds that God has set for them.
The waves of false teachers have been raging against John Piper, Kevin Swanson, Peter Hammond, James White, and any other leader who tries to push back. The waves of false Christianity have raged against Calvinism, postmillennialism, theonomy, or any other doctrine that gives people hope and a reason to have a victorious faith. Even genuine believers who embrace humanism will tend to rage against the truth. Part of it can be explained by the demonic. But part of it can be explained because they don’t have a credible answer to our positions. I guess the feeling is that if you can’t win the debate, attack the person. And that is what verse 13 goes on to describe.
It says, "foaming up their own shame." As the PCUSA and Methodist church has been foaming up their own shame by promoting abortion, homosexuality, LGBTQ issues, goddess worship, and other shameful things, people have started voting with their feet. This is not the time to despair, but set up a banner to which the elect can repair.
The last phrase says, "wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." I take the wandering stars as a reference to comets. I don’t think it is a reference to planets. They knew the planets did not wander. Jude is referring to comets that every once in a while wander by but then soon pass off the scene and are swallowed up by darkness. That is such a fitting picture of all forms of man-centered false teaching! This speaks of the fact that though these movements can attract a great deal of attention through the light they supposedly bring, and can even produce a lot of fear and amazement, after a season their effect will be swallowed up and men will return to the orderly arrangement that God ordained at creation. Humanism is not the norm for human history. It is an aberration. It is a comet. It is a wandering star. Comets are not the norm for human history. There are times and seasons when God allows them. But this speaks to me of the permanence of true Christianity and the temporary nature of apostasy. And that can encourage us to continue advancing Christ’s kingdom.
The central section pronounces the same woes that came upon the archetype false religionists of the past - Cain, Balaam, and Korah (v. 11)
But that brings us to the central verse of this book - verse 11. In verse 11 Jude pronounces God's judgments or woes upon all false teaching. It says,
Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
Cain illustrates everything that is wrong with the modern church's rejection of the Regulative Principle of Worship. He brought what he thought was a good sacrifice, and when God rejected it, he got mad. Apart from blood atonement, man's worship is worthless, so Abel came sacrificing God-appointed blood sacrifices that looked forward to Jesus. Cain ignored Christ's blood sacrifice and brought his own dominion - as if it was acceptable to God apart from Jesus. But commentaries also point out that Cain deliberately disobeyed God's law - not just in that sacrifice, but in his later life. Lucas and Green say,
...Jude... is saying that they understand very clearly the standards that God expects, but that they take it upon themselves to decide whether they are going to accept them or not. Of course, they would not say, ‘Those are God’s rules and I will reject them.’ They are as subtle as ... Cain ... denying that there is such a thing as right and wrong, and that God will ever judge our muddled world by his absolute standards. That is the way of Cain.9
The same authors say about Balaam,
Balaam takes the mistake of Cain one step further. He not only knowingly rebels against God; he encourages others to do so as well.10
Balaam illustrates everything that is wrong about self-serving religion. He tried to give Balak what he wanted in the worship services that Balak had paid for, and when God prevented Balaam from being successful, he offered Balak antinomian side-advice. He promoted immorality with the women of Moab. And it was a very successful strategy - at least for a time - until God dealt with it.
The same authors say of the rebellion of Korah, "What started out as freethinking sin (Cain) and turned into an undermining weakness (Balaam) now becomes a full-scale revolt which ends in judgment."11 Korah used the doctrine of the universal priesthood of believers to overthrow the authority of Moses, Levi, and the elders. And when Moses prayed to God, God opened up the earth and swallowed the rebels up. We are living in a time of Korah when false teachers no longer make a pretense of being submissive. Initially when they are sneaking in they pretend to be submissive, but as they gain numbers they become more bold. Overthrow of lawful authority can be seen in every quarter. And God pronounces His woes against that.
And I believe it is appropriate for us to pronounce God's woes and judgments upon the post-modern church that has rejected the law and embraced socialism, evolutionism, antinomianism, feminism, woke theology, the Revoice movement, and other viewpoints that undermine the Gospel and the sufficiency of Scripture. And so we will end this morning's service by singing an imprecatory Psalm (Psalm 68) against the false teachers and parasites who are undermining the life of the church today. But before we do so, let's pray.
Father, it grieves us to see Reformed and evangelical churches compromising on the LGBTQ issues of our day. It grieves us to see denominations like the CRC, the ELC, and other formerly sound denominations embracing homosexuals and women pastors. It grieves us to see ministries like Ravi Zacharias International Ministries being sidelined by the immorality of a leader. It grieves us to see powerful preachers using their positions to rake in millions of dollars all the while compromising the sufficiency of Scripture. It grieves us to see charlatans commanding the weather in the name of Jesus. It grieves us to see antinomianism running rampant in the church of Jesus Christ. It grieves us to see so much rejection of the paradigms you have established forever in the Bible.
But we know that it grieves you far far more. And we take comfort from the book of Jude. It encourages us that you hate these compromises far more than we do. And we come to you asking that Your will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. That the darkness that has invaded the church would be washed away. That wolves would be removed from the pulpits. That ministries who besmirch your name would be destroyed. That the church would once again become a holy army totally sold out to Jesus and advancing His cause.
And as we sing Psalm 68 against the false teachers of our day, we pray that cleansing fires would flow from Your throne in heaven and bring revival and reformation and restored antithesis. By the power of your grace I pray that you would teach the church to once again contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. And just as Jude promises that you are able to keep us from stumbling and that you will preserve us through Jesus Christ, we pray for your protection would rest on each one here. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus. Amen.
Michael S. Heiser, Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers & The Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2017), 205. ↩
The Ethiopic version (መጽሐፈ ሄኖክ) has been preserved in 29 manuscripts. Though the Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims that Enoch prophesied in Ethiopic, there is no evidence for that, and it appears that the book of Enoch was translated into Ethiopic from the Greek long after Jude was written. Indeed, most scholars believe that Ethiopic (Ge'ez) did not emerge as a written language until the 4th century AD, and literary Coptic did not emerge till the 2nd century AD at the earliest. ↩
Though there is a fragment of Enoch that is preserved in Michael the Syrian's Chronicle, several scholars have shown that Michael's source was a 5th century Greek book written by Annianus of Alexandria. Thus, Milik observes that there was no version of Enoch in the Syriac language. J. Milik, The Books of Enoch, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976), 83. ↩
Milik makes a similar conclusion with respect to the possibility of a Latin version of 1 Enoch: having reviewed all the known Patristic Latin quotations of 1 Enoch, he observes “there is no irrefutable evidence for the existence of a Latin version of the Enochic writings.” Ibid., 81. Pseudo-Cyprian references Enoch 1:9 in Latin and Pseudo-Vigillus quotes Enoch 106:1-18. Whether these are quotes or translation is debated. ↩
The three phrases are, "the myriads of his holy ones ... flesh for all their ...arrogant and wicked." The conjecture of what might have been in the text was constructed by Davids. It reads, "16 [when he comes with] the myriads of his holy ones [to carry out the sentence against everyone; and he will destroy all the wicked] 17 [and he will accuse all] flesh for all their [wicked deeds which they have committed by word and deed] 18 [and for all their] arrogant and wicked [words which wicked sinners have directed against him]." Peter H. Davids, The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2006), 78. ↩
The three additions are "flesh... arrogant and wicked." ↩
Some have speculated that the ἦλθεν reflects a Hebrew perfect, but aside from being bad Greek, that is merely a conjecture (that the Hebrew had a perfect) of another conjecture (that the Hebrew was the original source). Scholars debate both conjectures. ↩
The same is true when examining the other versions. No matter which version is compared, it is crystal clear that Jude is not directly quoting any of them. Consider this comparison: ↩
R. C. Lucas and Christopher Green, The Message of 2 Peter & Jude: The Promise of His Coming, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 198. ↩
Ibid., p. 199. ↩
Ibid., p. 200. ↩