This sermon is number 3 in a series of 7
Jude - The Acts Of The Apostates - Part 3
by David Legge | Copyright © 2000 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Now we're turning again to the little book of Jude, and this is our third study in this little letter of the apostle, and we've entitled our study today 'Remember, Remember'. We're going to begin by reading from verse 1 right down to verse 16.
"Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, the brother of James, to them that are sanctified" - we saw that means beloved - "by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: Mercy unto you, and peace and love, be multiplied. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once and for all delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares", and we saw about them last week, the creepers, "who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of that great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying" - or the rebellion - "of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever", and we'll finish our reading at verse 13.
Let's take a moment in prayer: Our Father, we ask that as we come to Thy word now in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that Thou wilt help us to understand and to hear the word of God to our hearts. Speak with us, we pray now, and be present by Thy Holy Spirit. In Jesus name we ask it, Amen.
You all know the rhyme: 'Remember, remember the 5th of November'. 'Remember, remember' is the topic that we see down before us from Jude the apostle. Many dates are remembered over the years, and Jack reminded us of some of them today, and we know all about dates here in Northern Ireland, it's either remember 1690 or remember 1916, depending on your persuasion. And why is [there that] call to remembrance of a date, or a time, or something that happened? Usually it is because, not of the year, or the number, or even the date, but of the occasion that took place and probably the principles that were set in motion, or set in concrete, for history and for the rest of time. Jude is asking these Christians to remember. We remember the Titanic, and ship builders from then on have remembered the Titanic, and they now remember to have enough lifeboats for those that are onboard. Something in the past has made them remember to do something important. And here in the book of Jude we see that the believers were about to commit the danger of forgetting to remember. Forgetting to remember!
It could be said that public enemy number one in the church of Jesus Christ today is apathy - forgetting to remember. Take for example the Lord's Supper: the Lord has asked us: 'Remember Me' - and on the first day of the week we are called as believers to remember Him. Yet that room up there is nothing [like] the size of the room down here as we were already hearing today, yet half of you are not there - you're apathetic, you're not too fussed about the Lord's Supper. And on this occasion in the book of Jude, the apathy was concerning the apostates, those who we read of in this epistle, verse 4, those who: 'Certain men crept in unawares who were before of old ordained'. These creepers - almost 'spies' - of Satan, that had wormed their way - you remember we saw that word means 'worming their way into the church of Jesus Christ' - and the believers were in danger of being apathetic towards the whole thing. 'Don't get too fussed about it! It's nothing to be worried about, they're in the minority! We believe the truth, they don't believe it, so there's no fear of any danger' - and Jude was warning them, you remember we saw that it's a trumpet call to arms to the church of Jesus Christ.
Now it's easy in everyday life, in the spheres that we live in, and in the political correctness that we have to listen to everyday, to opt for the statement: 'Let's go for the quiet life, let's not rock the boat, let's keep the status quo'. But we have to remember that, although we are the church of Jesus Christ and we believe in peace, we believe in love, we are also in a battle. And it is a spiritual battle, not with flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, and therefore our weapons are not carnal but they are spiritual. Can you imagine what General Montgomery, what a reaction he would have got from his battalions, if he had went out to the battle and he had shouted: 'Let's not rock the boat, let's not worry about the enemy, let's opt for surrender, for the quiet life, for the status quo, let's give them the ground that they have and not worry about it' - what would have happened? We probably, today, would have been enshrined in fascism.
My friends, it is the job of the church of Jesus Christ to teach Christians to know and to understand the Gospel. And once it is known and understood, it is our job to exhort you continually, over and over again, to remember what the Gospel is and not to budge an inch from it!
Jude knew his readers had a knowledge of the Old Testament. That's why some of the verses that we read together this morning, he is quoting from the Old Testament stories and incidents that he wants this people to remember. He wants them to see these aren't simply Sunday School stories that you tell to the children, this is something that is meaningful to you. The principles, the standards, what God was trying to tell His people in the Old Testament, there are lessons there for you and for me. We saw last week how in Philippians chapter 3, Paul told those believers: 'Remember! It is not grievous for you to remember, it is safe for you to remember' - why? Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. We saw how Paul, to the elders in Ephesus in chapter 20 of Acts and verse 28 on, continually told them: 'Take heed therefore unto yourselves, to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. For after my departing, shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. And of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember!'.
Do you remember? The prophet told us that there is nothing new under the sun - and that is why apostates today are the same as apostates ever have been. They have the same characteristics, the same makeup and even the same beliefs - and in essence, Satan is not very original in his battle plans. He dresses them up in new ways, but they are old untruths.
The first thing I want you to see this morning are the comparisons that Jude makes of the apostates with those in the Old Testament, who were effectively Old Testament apostates. And the first thing that he shows us, from verses 5 to 7, are three apostates populations. Three apostates populations, and then we see further on in those verses, verse 11 on, three apostate people. So first of all, and we saw that Jude is fond of threes, there are groups of threes right throughout his little book. But first of all he shows us a group of people, three of them that were apostates. And then, to narrow it in to individuals and to your personal experience, he brings before us three individuals who are apostates. Now let's look at the first of the three apostate populations, look at verse 5: 'I will therefore put you in remembrance,' circle that, 'though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not'.
Israel is the first apostate population. What is Jude getting at? You'll remember that Israel, as Jude said, were released and delivered - we read about it in the book of Exodus - from the slavery in Egypt and they sang the praises of God with Moses for their deliverance. And if you want to liken that to our salvation as believers, we have been freed from the slave market of sin, we're set free from the chains of our flesh, the world, and the devil - and the day we get saved we are rejoicing in the freedom that we have! But you know that for forty years the children of Israel wandered around in the wilderness. And I'm led to believe that the area, I don't know the exact calculations, but the area of the wilderness that they wandered around was extremely small, and they could have got across it in a matter of days perhaps, but they wandered round and round in circles for one reason: unbelief! They would not believe God. They wouldn't believe God that there was a promised land for them, they wouldn't believe His word that there was a place flowing with milk and honey, that He was going to defeat the enemies in the conquests. All the Amalekites, and the Hittites, and the Jebusites were going to be cleared out of the land, and there would be made a land for the people of God to dwell in, and worship God, and follow God - they would not believe Him! - and they rebelled against God's word. We see that in our nearer day, in the New Testament period, where their Messiah came to them and they did not recognize Him - and if they did recognize Him, they didn't want to recognize Him. They didn't want Him! 'He came unto His own, and His own received Him not'. With every privilege that we are given as believers, there are responsibilities that are required of God, and they had been given the privileges but they failed to meet the responsibilities. And Jude was warning these Christians: 'You have been given many privileges of receiving the truth, but if you follow and listen to false teachers there will be consequences for you to pay!'
What a warning that is to us in these days. We have not time to go through the myriad of false doctrine, and false teaching, that we find in so-called Christendom today. But my friend, if you are unstable and double-minded in all your ways, the chances are that you are blown about in the wind with every false doctrine because you are not rooted and grounded in the truth. And when you hear something you think: 'Well I wonder is that right? I wonder is there an element of truth in that? They seem so sincere, they seem to be so loving and the truth seems to be in them' - but because you are not grounded in the promises of God, and the word of God, you're deceived.
The second apostate population are the angels in verse 6: 'And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he' - God - 'hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of that great day'. Jude is talking about angels that despised their rank, they wilfully rebelled against God's divine claims upon their powers. They chose to opt out of God's divine plan for their life!
Why do we have people in the pulpit that can't preach? Why do we have missionaries on the mission field that aren't really missionaries? Because many people want to opt out of the plan that God has for them: 'I want to be a preacher. I want to be this, I want to be in the front line, I want to be in the lime light, I want to do this, I want to do that'. And it's all 'I want, I want!', and they don't get before the face of God on their faces, and seek God for His way, for His divine plan!
Jude is speaking of what we read in Genesis 6 and verses 1 to 5, I'll read it to you quickly: 'It came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually' - and in a few chapters time we read of the flood, God wipes them all out. What happened? The angels kept not their first estate, they weren't happy with their own environment, they had to come down to our environment - fallen angels, cast out of heaven - but they came among men. And the book of Genesis chapter 6 says that they saw the daughters of men, and reading between the lines, they slept with them. And they bore up these monster children, that we read of within the word of God: 'Giants were in the land', they kept not to their own ground, they kept not to their own kind, but they caused this abomination in the earth.
Now look at verse 7 of the book of Jude, we looked at this verse last week. It says that they: '[gave] themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh', and they're, 'set forth for an example' - and then we read about Sodom and Gomorrah, at the start of that verse. And what God is doing here by His Holy Spirit, is saying: 'Do you see the way the angels came down from heaven, and they slept with the daughters of men and created an abomination unto God? It's just like what Sodom and Gomorrah did in My face'. Just like, look at verse 7, the fornication that they give themselves to, going after strange flesh. Now you might look at that and say, 'What was the strange flesh that the people in Sodom and Gomorrah went after?', and you might say, 'Well, it was their own kind. Man went with man, woman went with woman, homosexuality, sodomy' - but that's not what I believe it means. 'They went after strange flesh', and you remember how Lot had those angels come to his door, and those men of that evil city - Sodom and Gomorrah - came to his door and would have plundered the house down to get their hands on those angels' flesh, to know them! They'd got dissatisfied with their own kind, the man slept with the woman and got fed up with her, so he slept with a man and he got fed up with him, and he wanted angels now.
It's all in the word of God my friend, it speaks of the dissatisfaction of sin - how you cannot satisfy that yearning. That's why he says in verse 8: 'Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities'. Verse 10b says: 'but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves'. And Jude is saying this: that the characteristic of an apostate is that - sensually speaking, and sexually speaking - they are perverse! It's an interesting link, that on the one hand they are very religious, in the middle category they despise dominion - in other words, they rebel against all authority on land, assembly, everywhere - and on the other hand they're messing about sexually. I would say, on the authority of the word of God, that if you are despising dominion in any way the chances are you're messing about, you're messing about with sin. And the characteristics - we see it in our land today, we see it in the ecclesiastical system, men in garb claiming to be the men of God and they are perverts! They hide perversion, they move them to a different parish! Is the word of God not true? Is it not crystal clear what we see here?
The first population is Israel not believing God, the second is, are the angels who kept not their first estate, the third is Sodom and Gomorrah that we've been thinking about, they went after animal-like sin, Romans 1:28 says: 'And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient'!
I was listening, in the last fortnight, to 909 Medium Wave BBC Radio News and Sport, and there was a psychologist on speaking of the tragic death of Sarah Payne. Do you know what he said about human nature? Listen to this very carefully now, he is not a believer, but he says this: 'Man with no restraints upon him, and left to himself, is base and vile'. In someone's house yesterday I lifted Saturday's edition of 'The Daily Mail', and the front headline was this: 'Sex can be shown on TV at any time'. The sub-heading was 'New rules clear the way for explicit scenes when children are watching'. And the story is that the ITC, the Independent Television Commission, has practically scrubbed out the nine o'clock watershed for children. Now the sexual scenes will be able to be shown in the daytime and in the morning and, even though parents think there's too much filth on the television at the moment, they continue to do this - why? They are brute beasts! Satisfying their own lusts, and God's word proclaims this judgement upon them: that they are set forth as an example suffering the vengeance of eternal fire! My friend, you note: eternal fire - and we have been exposed in recent days to what is called 'annihilationism', that when you die you're punished, and then when your punishment's done you're puffed out, like a cigarette, and that's the end of your existence. Listen to the word of God! Why will men not listen to the word of God? Eternal fire!
The book of Revelation, that speaks more about this subject, says that the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever. And it warns us, as believers, against apostasy by saying at the end of that book of Revelation, 'I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book'. Do you know what Jude's trying to say to us? Listen very carefully believers: for Israel who just didn't believe the promises, for the angels who didn't believe God's will and accept it for their life, and thirdly for Sodom and Gomorrah that followed a way of sensuality, he's saying this: 'You can't sin and win'. Do you know that the believer is not to sin? Oh we excuse it don't we? 'If I do it God's going to forgive me. If I do it I have the blood to plead', and I know that's all true my friend, but there's something seriously wrong in your mentality if that's the way you think before you sin. You can't sin and win! You can't sin and see your father saved! You can't sin and see your children brought up in the fear and the admonition of the Lord. God is a holy God!
And so he moves from three apostate populations to three apostate peoples, and I'm going to take time this morning to go through them. Verse 11 we see it: 'Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core' - and he brings three individual people from the Old Testament to our faces, why does he do that? He does it to shake us and to shock us!
You know how a depressed person with a nervous problem goes to the psychiatrist and psychologist, and they activate upon them shock treatment. It shocks them! - and shocks them out of the state that they are in, and this is what Jude is wanting to do for us today. Waken up! Get out of the apathy! Realize the danger that we are all in. Don't beat around the bush, don't pussyfoot around or dodge the issue. Oh God, give us unambiguous, clear men! That's what we need. Men who will preach the word of God, not dilute it, just preach it as it is. Just tell it as God tells it! Is there a better way than God's way? Is there a better word than God's word?
He tells us of three men, Cain a farmer, Balaam a prophet, and Korah a prince. Cain a working class man, a working class apostate, Balaam an ecclesiastical apostate, Korah a royal, rich apostate - and apostasy, like all disease and just like sin, is no respecter of persons. He speaks of Cain, you all know the story of Cain, that Cain offered of the fruit of the ground - he was a farmer, he tilled the ground and he brought to God that sacrifice of his vegetables and his fruit - and Abel brought the sacrifice of a little unblemished lamb, and shed its blood and gave a burnt offering to God. But to put it bluntly: Abel was true faith and God's faith, and Cain was man's faith, the faith of the flesh, the work of the flesh. The religion of mankind, the product of man's mind, the product of rationalism, where he said in the depths of his being, whether he was conscious or admitting it or not, 'My way is better and more acceptable than God's way'! And I suspect that the Holy Spirit was whispering down on planet earth, 'There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the way therefore is the way of death'. And Cain was grieved that God wouldn't accept his sacrifice - that's the same today isn't it? When you preach [that] there's one way to heaven and it's through the cross, the blood of the cross, people get upset. That's why men aren't preaching it today, when you tell them that if you don't accept God's way the alternative is hell, there's no inbetween, no limbo, that's the way it is and the hairs on their neck go up, their backs get up and they're all antagonistic - why? Because no-one likes to be told that 'Your way is no good'. My friend that was Cain's problem, he rejected God's way for his own way. But the major difference between his sacrifice and Abel's sacrifice was blood. Have you got it? Cain's religion was a bloodless religion and do you know what a bloodless religion brings? A Christless hell!
Cain was the first murderer, and it happens to be that those that believe in the bloodless Gospel, as they did in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ through Judaism, they murdered. Right through from the Puritans, the Reformers, so many who were martyred because they believed in a blood Gospel - and the arms of Esau's flesh have always been round the neck of Jacob's faith. They want to choke the child of God and the child of faith - and can I say this to the Gospel preachers in our meeting? If you can preach the Gospel, and not mention the cross, it is well nigh to apostasy. Paul said to the Corinthians, 'I am determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified'.
The religions of the world are based on man's effort - and that's why Cain's effort was rejected, it was his own works, because faith saves. And my friend I want you to see this, that this is seen in the old Philistines, in the Old Testament where God was saying: 'There is My way and no other way, I am the God, I am the only God to be worshiped, I will not share My glory with another, I will not be put in a trophy cabinet of gods and worshiped in a pluralistic religion or society'. The Philistines saw Jehovah, the God of the Israelites, and they wanted Him - and they fought with Israel, and because Israel were in sin God let the Philistines beat Israel, and the Philistines went and took the Ark of the Covenant and they brought it into the temple where their own fish god Dagon was sitting on a stand. And they went to sleep that evening, and they came to the tent the next morning, and Dagon's face was on the ground! I think they probably said: 'We're not having this', and they put Dagon back on the stand. And the next morning Dagon was smashed to pieces - 'I will not share My glory with another! I am God and there is none other! There is none beside Me!'. Do you see Cain? Reject the religion of Cain whatever you do. My friend, we need to get back to the book, we need to get back to the old Gospel that saved your soul!
There was Cain and then there's Balaam. It talks, look at verse 11: '...they ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward'. Do you know who Balaam was? He was a false prophet, and Balak the king of the Moabites wanted him to curse Israel in the name of the Lord, but he did it for reward that's the only reason why he went, for a reward, to get money. God told him 'You're not going!', he said, 'I am going!', and he went. And as he was on his way, the angel of the Lord rose up in the way and the ass that he was riding on saw the angel of the Lord, but he didn't see him - he was the ass! He didn't see the angel of the Lord, but he wasn't having it either. He devised a plan and he went to the king of the Moabites again and he said 'I've got a way to get Israel to sin and to get God's wrath upon them. You get Israelites to marry your daughters', now that wasn't allowed. And it says that through that - we could call it a 'sexplosion' - God reigned His wrath and anger upon His own children, because Balaam got them to sin sexually. And we have men, naming the name of Christ, who are in it for the money - and I'm talking about evangelicals - and we have men that are legitimizing sexual perversion through the word of God.
Cain, Balaam and thirdly, and finally, Korah. He's called Core, C-o-r-e, here but in the Old Testament it's translated Korah, K-o-r-a-h, and you read about it in Numbers chapter 16. It's called the gainsaying, look at verse 11: 'the gainsaying of Korah', that literally means the rebellion of Korah. I preached on this [in a] sermon about last year, so I'm sure you'll not remember it, but what it talked about was this man Korah that was not willing to accept God's ordained leaders. He said 'Why can't we come to God? Why can't we bring the sacrifice? Why can't we offer the incense? Why can't we go before God? Why can't we call the shots and rule the people?', and they wanted to overthrow the Lord's servant. And the word of God says that this is what God said to them: 'Moses, Aaron separate yourselves from among this congregation that I may consume them in a moment...And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation' - do you know why? Because God has told us in 1 Samuel 15 and verse 23 that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. My friend, Israel, the angels, Sodom and Gomorrah, Cain, Balaam, Korah in his rebellion, all exhort us to flee from apostasy.
Do you know what Spurgeon says, and I close with this, I quote him: 'The new views are not old truth in a better dress, but deadly errors with which we can have no fellowship. I cannot endure false doctrine however neatly it may be put before me. Would you have me eat poisoned meat because the dish is of the choicest wear?'
It weighs heavily upon me that, humanly speaking, the church of Jesus Christ is one generation away from extinction. And unless we see Jesus our Saviour standing, saying: 'I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it', and we get up and hear the cry, the trumpet call of militant Christianity, and get on our knees, and get into the word of God, and fast from our food, and seek God for His reviving! - there will be consequences before God. The word of God is piercing isn't it? Where are we failing? Where are we falling short?
My friend, if God is speaking to your soul, you must obey Him. Let us get back to God, and my friend if you're here and you are trusting in yourself for heaven, and you don't see the great High Priest that has died for you, and prepared a way for you to glory, and you don't want God's High Priest, you want your own way. Will you not take Him today, who is able to save to the uttermost all who will come unto God by Him? Be saved today.
Our Father, we thank Thee for this time. The word of God is so searching, Lord we pray that we will let it search our hearts. Lord, that we will let Thee come within us and take all the dross away and the failure, and let Thy Holy Spirit come in in His fulness to make us the Christian that Thou hast ordained that we should become. Hear us Lord, in Jesus name. Amen.
Judith Watkins for
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the third tape in his 'Jude: The Acts Of The Apostates' series, titled "Remember, Remember" - Transcribed by Judith Watkins, Preach The Word.
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