Now lets turn in our Bibles to that little book of Jude again, as we continue in the series: 'The Acts of the Apostates' - looking at the apostasy that was in the world when Jude was alive, and applying it to our world today and the church situation at large, not just in Northern Ireland but across the whole of Europe. Let me say, while you're turning to that passage, there won't be an open air this Friday night. I was wrong in announcing that, due to the children's meeting - or Wednesday night, even - there won't be an open air...there won't be one on Friday night either!
OK, Jude - and we're only going to read the verses that we looked at the last week that we studied it - and we looked at the prophet that was named in verse 14, the prophet Enoch. And we did a character study of his life, how Enoch walked with God, how it was said of Enoch that he pleased God. But this week we're going to look at what Enoch said, not the prophet, but the prophecy that he gave, verse 14: "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers", or grumblers, "complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit".
Let us pray: Our Father we have turned to Thine inspired truth and we ask this day, as we read these words, that we would all apply them to our hearts. And for those who cannot because of their state apply them, that it would be applied by Thy Spirit. Help us to see into the mirror of Thy truth, help us to walk according to Thy law, help us to repent of those things we must repent of, and help us to waken up to those truths that we have forgotten or neglected. Lord meet our need today, and meet my need by the filling of the Holy Ghost I pray. In Jesus name. Amen.
Apostasy is alive and well in Belfast. I wonder what you would think if I said apostasy is alive and well here in the Iron Hall? Because in theory that is the case and, whether it be open apostasy or the seed of apostasy beginning to spring up or grow, the fact remains that the apostle Peter told us in 2 Peter 2 verse 1: 'There shall be false teachers among you'. And that is his emphasis there to make us realize that it is from among the church of Jesus Christ that false teachers rise up. We know through studying this little book, that the word 'apostate' simply means 'someone who has fallen away from the Christian truth', the faith found within the word of God. And as we study this little book, and especially the book of Romans, we find here, in verse 19, that these apostates are those that have not the Spirit of God. And the book of Romans tells us that those without the Spirit of God are not of God, they are not converted, they are not the children of God. So not only are apostates those who, apparently by the naked eye, fall away from the truth of the word of God, but they never had the life of God in them in the first place. They were never born of God, they never had a regeneration in their hearts, they never had a conversion, they were never born again of the Spirit of God. But as we look at this little book, you might ask the question: 'Well, have things got any worse? In the realm of apostasy are things as bad in the church of Jesus Christ as you are making them out to be?'.
A careful study of the New Testament Scriptures, and indeed the whole of the word of God, will give you an outline of the calendar of God to the future. If you read the book of Revelation and some of Paul's epistles, you will find there that God has a revealed, clear calendar of events to come at the end of the age. We read in the word of God that things are to get worse and worse. Indeed apostasy within the church of Jesus Christ, as we near the end of the age, is to increase and increase, year after year - and eventually it finally is personified in the person of Antichrist. He will be the epitome of all apostasy and all ungodliness. If you were to turn this morning to 2 Thessalonians 2 and verse 3 and 7, Paul writes here - listen to this: 'Let no man deceive you, for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first', you could translate that: 'until there come an apostasization'. The day of Jesus Christ, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth to reign, will not happen until there is a falling away within the church of Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to say, 'and that man of sin - the antichrist - be revealed, the son of perdition', he will be the epitome, the public representation of all apostasy, backsliding and falling away throughout the whole of church history. Paul goes on to say in verse 7, listen: 'the mystery of iniquity doth already work'. We ask the question, 'Is it worse than ever today?' - of course it is! As we approach the end of the age, the word of God teaches that things within the church of Jesus Christ, and indeed within the world at large, will grow worse and worse - until eventually all the evil and apostasy and false teaching in the world will be personified in one figure, one man who will be worshipped: the antichrist.
The spirit of apostasy is ripening. As we approach the end of the age, apostasy is getting more and more - and it is the chief sign that we need to get ready because Christ is coming! We were singing in the breaking of bread: 'Jesus is coming, is coming again' - and we don't even have to worry about that fact, it is something we can see in the signs that are around us - that as things get worse and worse we know for sure, according to the New Testament, that Jesus is coming again.
The situation that Enoch was prophesying to, we looked at a few of weeks ago, but let's recap in Genesis chapter 5 - I beg your pardon, chapter 6, Genesis 6 and verse 5. And God looked down at the situation of mankind at this particular time in history and He said in chapter 6 of Genesis verse 5: '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 it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart'. Man's thoughts were only evil continually. And you'll remember we saw that there were only two men recorded within the word of God that walked holy lives before God, that was Noah and Enoch. Noah was saved in the ark through the flood, Enoch was taken as he walked with God one day, 'He was not', the Bible says. God translated him from earth to Heaven, took him without dying. Two godly men and both of them were saved from the wrath to come upon the earth.
But what was the occasion, what was the environment these men were living in? The verse tells us that it was a time, before the flood, which socially was permissive, scientifically was progressive, and spiritually was presumptive. Socially anything went, everything goes - as long as it feels good to you, you do it - whether you name the name of Christ or not, you can get away with anything. As Jude says they were turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, changing the grace of God, because they were freed from their sin they thought that they could live the life that they wanted to. There was scientific progressiveness, you remember we read how angels, fallen angels, had come down and procreated with the daughters of men - and they created monsters, half demon, half human, that roamed on the earth - something that we may see in a day to come. Thirdly, they were spiritually presumptuous, because we see in the book of Genesis that they began to go their own way after God. And they built a tower called Babel, and they made the top as heaven and they put idols in it, and they went there to worship God their own way, and their own gods, their own religion. They didn't want God's way, like Cain, they would not go by the way of blood and by the way of faith, they wanted the way of works.
Do we not live in an age such as this? Enoch was prophesying to that age, Jude was prophesying to that age, and we can see in our world around us that we are approaching - if not even in - an age such as this as we speak! Do you remember how Enoch was given a little boy called Methuselah? And that name Methuselah meant: 'when he dies it shall come' - and God was speaking to Enoch and saying, 'When this little child's life is run there will be a judgement upon the earth'. And the judgement came in the form of a flood - and the word of God testifies, that when that child was born, and Enoch was told that the judgement was coming, Enoch walked with God.
In Enoch's day there was a declaration of judgement, in Jude's day there was a declaration of judgement, and in our day there is the same declaration of judgement from God - and Jude's aim in these verses, 14 and 15 especially, is to impress upon the church of Jesus Christ the serious nature of apostasy. That there is coming a day, when apostasy will be severely judged by the hand of none other than God Himself.
William Gurnell said these words: 'None sink so far into hell as those who come nearest to heaven, because they fall from the greatest height'. Those who have a form of godliness, those who worship - they think God - in a way that they think they ought to worship God. They talk the talk, they seem to walk the walk, they have everything right, the Bible, prayer, 'churchianity' - but there is coming a day when those who are nearest the door of heaven, will fall headlong into hell. Why? Because they missed God's will. You my friend, if you're classed in that category, will have the highest of falls. And that is why Jude wrote, and I've entitled my message today 'The Apostates Final Fall'. They have fallen all along into false doctrine, into the sensuality, and sin, and religious permissiveness, and presumption - but there will come a day when they will fall for the last time, and they will not get up!
I want you to see two things today, in verse 14 the coming judge and His justice. And in verse 16, the condemned and their character. Let's look at verses 14 and 15: the coming judge and His justice - what is Jude saying? He is simply affirming to us, that Christ is coming again to judge. It's like that Christian gentleman that framed and printed in his room, in his bedroom, this little picture which said: 'Perhaps Today'. Jesus is coming again! It could be today, it may be tomorrow, but the fact is this: we do not know when He is coming - but we can read the signs and we can see that He is coming very, very soon.
And the first thing that Jude wants us to see about the coming judge and His justice is found in verse 14, and that's this: the reality of His coming. This is something that is real! Oh, it is denied by the apostates, they want to shear it out! But why do they want to do that? Because it says that He is coming to execute judgement! And if He is coming to execute judgement, it will be upon the apostates that He will do that. And men in the universities, men in high churches, many men of the cloth, and scholars, and theologians want to deny or dilute the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ - and I believe, spiritually speaking, underneath it all it is fear of the Judge and His justice. They fear that day.
And you know, it's not just the pagans who ask the question, 'where is the promise of His coming?'. Harry Ironside, that great preacher on the second coming was taking a meeting and, as he was closing in prayer, he heard the shuffle of a woman going down the aisle and out the door. And as he was standing at the door shaking hands he noticed that the woman was pacing to and fro at the door and she was muttering away to herself, 'How dare he say that! How dare he pray such a prayer!'. And he tried to remember what he had prayed at the end of his meeting and he had simply said, 'Come quickly, Lord Jesus'. As he questioned her more she said, 'I don't want Him to come quickly! I don't want Him to come now, because if He came now, He would break in on all my plans that I have'. Mr. Ironside replied, 'My dear young woman, Jesus is coming whether you want it or not'.
My friend, Jesus is coming whether you like it or not. It's not something you can stop, you can't make ulterior plans for this - and I want to ask you today, are you ready? Enoch was ready when God called, and the word of God says that he was 'translated' - that literally means he was carried across death. God took him away from death, God raptured him out of death, and Genesis 5 tells us that he was not found. Imagine! Enoch's wife running and looking: 'He's gone a long way today! Why isn't he coming in for his tea today?'. And the children, Methuselah and all the rest of them wondering: 'Where's Daddy?'. The neighbourhood looking and saying, 'Enoch hasn't come back tonight. That's two days he hasn't been back'. Listen my friend, there is a day coming when some will say that of believers! Indeed there's a day coming that you may say it of your family. 'Where's mother? Where's father gone? Where have the children gone? They've just disappeared!'. They are not found, they're looked for, they are missed because God has taken them when Jesus Christ comes again.
It's amazing that when God told Enoch, 'when this child dies it shall come' - the judgement of God. Do you know that Methuselah was the longest living human being that we have recorded? Nine hundred and sixty nine years long. Now we have one man today, who's a senior citizen, he's 65 today - but he hasn't reached that, 969! Do you see the grace of God? God had pronounced judgement upon that world, God had done it! But God was giving them all the chances that He could, in order that no one could turn to Him and say: 'You're not gracious!'. And my friend there is a day coming, when you will never be able to turn round and say to God: 'God, You never gave me a chance!'. For God says to you, 'I am not mocked. My patience is longsuffering, not willing that any sheep should perish, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited - and you didn't come in'.
My friend, are you ready? For there is the reality of His coming and secondly in verse 14, verse 15a, there is the reason for His coming. We have passages of Scripture such as John 14, 1 Thessalonians 4, we have many passages that depict for the believer what joy there will be when the Lord Jesus comes and they thrive on the theme of joy, satisfaction, glorification but this passage is not like that. This passage has a different aspect. And it is the reason for His coming and He doesn't speak of a separation between saved and lost, although there will be that, but His separation here is categorized between godliness and ungodliness. Not simply claiming to be a Christian, not simply claiming to be saved but the fruit of your life tested by the holy rule of God.
You see God never looks at salvation purely as a confession. He looks at it as a changed life. You will be judged by that. My friend, remember that the backdrop and the context of what is being said here is the life of Enoch. That holy life, the epitome of all godliness, the one who it is said, pleased God. The one who walked with God, and God by His Spirit is saying, 'You've got to exhibit those attributes in your life', if, when you stand before God, you are not [to be] counted among the ungodly sinners who have done all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed - in verse 15.
Do you do ungodly deeds? The way you live - I don't really care whether you call yourself a Christian or not, for it will be self evident through your ungodly deeds, the way that you live, the way that you behave. Jude says verse 15, 'ungodly words', that is audible words, the things you say and also the inaudible ones, the ones you think and would love to say but you don't. Taking the name of the Lord your God in vain - and I'm not talking about swearing, I'm talking about taking the name of God and Christ, but you're not His! God is not mocked, and He says in the book of Hebrews, 'follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man shall see God', no one will see God without a holy life!
A man was murdered, and the murderer threw his body into Lake Michigan and, as far as he was concerned, the body floated away. Three days later it washed up right in front of the murderers cabin! And the guilty man got so troubled and convicted in his conscience, that he confessed his crime to the authorities and he surrendered himself - and all could be heard was his exclaiming, 'The tides did it! The tides did it! The tides did it!'. And there will be a day that will come, when the tides of God's justice will bring to shore every hidden thing that has been in your mind, in your mouth and in your life. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God because He is coming, and it's real and He is coming and the reason is to execute judgement against all ungodliness. The hymn writer put it like this:
Lo, the last long separation,
As the cleaving crowds divide,
And the dread adjudication send each soul to either side.
Lord of mercy, how shall I that day abide?
My friend that day is coming, how will you abide it? Are you prepared? You can know you're prepared by seeing the condemned in their character in verse 16, because they're described in three ways: Grumblers, lusters and flatterers. Grumblers, lusters, flatterers - all in verse 16. They murmur, they walk after their own lusts, they speak great swelling words having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. And Jude is saying these are the ungodly traits that you will see in your heart, not necessarily outwardly, but you will know them in your heart and you will know false teachers because of them.
Look at the first: grumblers. They are murmurers and complainers. Apostates grumble, they are busybodies, they are problem people, they are the thorn in the flesh of the church of Jesus Christ. Thomas Watson said, 'Our murmuring is the devil's music!'. My friends, if we murmur, whether as apostates or as Christians, we are dancing to his tune. We are doing his work! Another puritan said, 'Murmuring is the mother sin of many sins, just as the Nile brings forth scorpions, crocodiles, serpents and snakes of every kind, by one rush and one flood, so the sin of murmuring brings forth other sins'. It is like the mythological creature 'Hydra', that when you cut off her head three heads grow, four heads grow and the more you cut off, the more grows - and this is the mother sin to so many. For it breeds disobedience, contempt, ingratitude, impatience, distrust, rebellion, cursing, carnality and in the end it breeds blasphemy against the name of God.
The history books tell us that one day Caesar prepared a great feast. It was to be outside, and the greatest food and wine was all prepared, the greatest entertainment. And what often happens in Ulster, happened in Rome, and the weather didn't show up. Everybody was there, but the weather didn't permit the great feast and banquet taking place - and Caesar, in his anger, told every person at that banquet to take their bow and arrow and point it at Jupiter, their god, and fire it! And as they fired, in their anger and wrath against [their] god, those arrows came tumbling down upon them and thrust them through. My friend, that is what grumbling and complaining does. So much of your murmuring will not reach the person murmured at or will even reach the throne of God. But, my friend, in judgement one day they will reach you. They are grumblers, do you grumble? Don't grumble.
Secondly they are lusters. They walk after their own lusts, apostate, they lust. That's a characteristic of them. They want to move the bounds of marital morality, they want to let the homosexual into the pulpit, they want to canonize, and make holy, and sanctify a live-in relationship of an unmarried man and woman - and now two men and two women. They want to see it as morally correct, and they will even move the bounds of the word of God and misinterpret it, in order to allow their own perversion, wandering and pornography. Lust is a great problem and in a great company, as this, there are many who lust, but couldn't share it. And in the nation that we live in, in the 21st century, there are diseases and viruses and bacterias breeding on people that they couldn't tell their nearest and dearest about, because of their sin of lust. But the mentality of this sin is that they continually go back to it again, and again, and again. It's like the fool putting his head into the stocks, it's like the sheep about to be slain licking the knife of the killer. And like a dog returning to its own vomit, and a pig wallowing in the mud, lust conquerors. My friend is lust conquering you? For if you can't conquer lust, that is one sure sign that you are not in the kingdom of God. And if you are in the kingdom of God and lust is conquering you, that's one sure sign that you've got big problems.
The puritan said, 'What lust is so sweet, or so profitable, that it is worth burning in hell for?'. Do you hear me? What sin - and all sin starts from the lust within, not just sexual lust, but lust for money, lust for drink, lust for food, lust for pride, lust for status or business, lust for anything, all of it starts from within - but let me ask you the question: what lust is worth burning in hell for? A child when it pitter-patters on to the frozen river of ice, as soon as its father cups his hands and cries to it, 'Be careful, come back, you'll fall through it', it runs! But many of us, when we hear the warnings of God, go back, go back, go back.
There are grumblers, and lusters, and thirdly: there are flatterers. Look at the verse 16, at the end, 'speaking great swelling words having men's persons in admiration because of advantage'. They flatter, as Paul states, flatter. One man said, 'Flattery has turned more heads than garlic'. Isn't that true? It is intoxicating. Benjamin Disraeli, the prime minister, previous prime minister years ago, said, 'Talk to a man about himself, and he will listen to you for hours'.
My friend, it is so powerful for the devil to use flattery in your life - and men may say what a good person you are, and what good things you do, and it intoxicates, and flattery is telling a person exactly what he thinks of himself. That is why so many don't like the Gospel because it tells it as it is. It tells a man in his sin where he is heading, what is going to happen to him if he does not repent of his sin. It tells people what we are really like in the inside - we may have a façade, and like to think a certain thing - but it does not flatter, and the Lord Jesus did not flatter, but apostates flatter.
What does a chameleon do? It makes friends with everyone by changing to its present environment. And whatever is the nearest thing to it, it changes to that colour - and so many men are like that, whatever doctrine, whatever teaching is prevalent at that particular time. Whatever environment of people they are in, they change to that colour. Oh, the chameleon makes more friends than the porcupine, but the fact is this: eventually he doesn't know what he is.
Do you know what you are today? Flattery is the devil's net, and we need to beware that we do not fall into it. For at the temptation of Christ, the devil came to the Lord Jesus Himself and took Him to the pinnacle of the temple and he said basically, 'The world is at Your feet, You can have it all!', and He defeated the devil - do you know why? Because there was no sin in Him, there was no lust in Him. And the word of God tells us that the devil allures us through the lust of the flesh, that's how he gets us - through the lust, to be what we think we are, rather than to realize what we are in the sight of God, and begin to be what He wants us to be.
Grumblers, lusters, flatterers listen to the word of God. Romans 13:12: 'The night is far spent, the day is at hand, let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armour of light'. Ephesians 5:11: 'And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them'.
Christ is coming, and He is coming to judge with the justice of God. It is a fact that must be faced. Do you exhibit the characteristics of a child of God, or the characteristics of the spirit of apostasy? Let me encourage all those that name the name of Christ, be done with this spirit of the age, have the truth, love the truth, live for the truth. Can I ask you, Christian, are you contradicting and counteracting the spirit of apostasy, like Enoch, with a holy life that is pleasing to God? Are you? Because that is the only way you will counteract it. Because in the context of apostates, that Peter was writing about in his second epistle chapter 3 and 11, he tells us: 'Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved at the end of the age, what manner of persons ought ye to be in holy conversation and godliness'. Are you holy? I believe that the cup of iniquity, and apostate Christianity, is almost full. It's almost full to overflowing, and then will be the cry from Revelation chapter 18: 'Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues'. There is the spirit of apostasy, and many here could be in it.
I'll finish with this story. Archbishop Cranmer was one of the first protestants, and one of the first fathers of the Anglican Church. During the reformation he was forced by the pressure of the Queen upon him and of the court, to renounce and to recant from his protestant beliefs. And his hand signed a declaration to say, that everything he believed about faith in God and justification by faith through grace alone was wrong - against the teachings of the Church. He signed it. And when he got free from all the pressure of the Queen and of the court, out of guilt he re-established his protestant beliefs. And the wrath of Bloody Mary came upon him, and he stood one day in the flames, the faggots burning around him, because of his faith in Christ. And do you know what he did? He thrust the hand that signed that damnable declaration right into the fire, and he held it in 'til the flames consumed it, and said: 'That unworthy hand!'.
Isn't it better for us to put that hand of apostasy in and watch it burn, than for at the end of the age, for body, soul and spirit to be cast into the lake of fire? My friend, believer, we live in dark days. But the Lord Jesus would say to us because he comes with ten thousands of His saints. 'Hold the fort! For I am coming'.
Our Father we thank Thee, for the great truth that Jesus told us, 'I will go but I will come again'. And Lord we pray, this morning, that everyone in this gathering will have that assurance that if He comes again, He will come as the Saviour and not as the Judge. And Lord for those who are Thy children, who are dabbling in the deadly sins of apostasy, whether literally or spiritually speaking, that Lord, they would be done with the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Bless us now as we part and give grace for every decision whether of the saint or of the sinner. For Christ's sake. 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 fifth tape in his 'Jude: The Acts Of The Apostates' series, titled "The Apostates Final Fall" - Transcribed by Judith Watkins, Preach The Word.
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