He tells us in verse 1 that God’s people, all who are true believers are…· “Sanctified by God the Father:” chosen, redeemed, and made holy by the work of God’s eternal, immutable grace in Christ. “And preserved in Jesus Christ:” preserved from eternity, preserved before their calling, preserved after their calling, preserved unto glory, preserved by blood, preserved by grace, and preserved by the very power of God. “And called” by God the Holy Spirit, called to life and faith in Christ by the omnipotent mercy and irresistible grace of God the Spirit, called by the gift and calling of God that cannot be reversed.
Then, he assures us that being sanctified, preserved and called, the mercy, peace and love of God toward us shall be multiplied (v. 2).
In verse 3 he assures us that we all, that is to say all who are truly saved by the grace of God, possess a “common salvation.” We are all saved by grace, without works, trusting Christ alone as our Savior. We are saved by the work of God in eternity, the work of God at Calvary, and the work of God in our hearts.
With that as the backdrop, the Apostle then urges us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Then, drops this bombshell, telling us why there is an urgent, present necessity for us to “earnestly contend for the faith.”…
(Jude 1:4) “For there are certain men crept in unawares, 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.”
While Jude gives more detail in describing false prophets than any of the other inspired writers, he does not name any. Jude leaves these deceivers, these wolves in sheep’s clothing, unnamed for a reason. It was not that charity forbids the naming of such men. Sometimes charity demands it, as was often the case with the Apostles in the Book of Acts and in the Epistles of the New Testament. Though he is obviously talking about specific men of reputation in the churches, Jude suppresses the names of these false prophets so that we might learn that…
· Our warfare in the cause of Christ is not just a conflict of personalities, but a vital warfare between truth and error, between Christ and antichrist. The issues at stake are the glory of God, the souls of men and between heaven and hell.
· We must examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith, or in some false way (2 Cor. 13:5).
· If we love the truth, if we love Christ and the gospel of the grace of God in Christ, we are to hate every false way.
That which is opposed to the gospel of God’s grace and glory in Christ ought to set us on edge and inspire us to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Psalm 119:101-104, 113, 127-128, 162-165).
(Psalms 119:101-104) “I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. (102) I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. (103) How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (104) Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.”
(Psalms 119:113) “I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.”
(Psalms 119:127-128) “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. (128) Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.”
(Psalms 119:162-165) “I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. (163) I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love. (164) Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments. (165) Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”
Read 2 Timothy 2:24-26, and learn how we are to contend for the faith.
(2 Timothy 2:24-26) “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (26) And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
When we are confronted by people who oppose the gospel, let us hold fast and contend for the faith unwaveringly. Yet, we should deal with such people as those who have been taken captive by Satan, with he hope that by the knowledge of the gospel “they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil,” “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.”
Proposition: In this fourth verse of his Epistle Jude gives us specific reasons why we must in these perilous days “earnestly contend for the faith.” Let’s look at just two of them today.
1. First, Jude tells us that we must earnestly contend for the faith because “there are certain men crept in unawares.”
False prophets worm their way into the church. It does not do any good for Satan to have false prophet on a deserted island. An isolated false prophet wouldn’t affect anyone. They infiltrate local churches, teaching false doctrine. It is not the threat of persecution that has been hard on the church. The blood of the martyrs has always been the seed of the church. Rather, it is apostasy that destroys churches like a canker at its heart. Apostasy penetrates the very life and leadership of the church.
False prophets are cunning infiltrators. Jude indicates that the apostates “crept in unawares.” Their plan is to subtly infiltrate the church. The Greek verb used here is never used anywhere else in the New Testament. It is a very rare word that has to do with cunning words and clever debaters.
For instance, the word is used in a legal sense to speak of someone who pleads a case very cleverly with guile, or of a lawyer who plants a thought in the minds of a judge or a jury by trickery. In other extrabiblical literature, it is used to describe a criminal who secretly slips back into the country after being exiled from it.
The word means “entered in secretly,” which is precisely what false prophets always do. They never come in announcing, “I am a messenger of Satan, and I would like to join your church.” The word literally means “to go down into and alongside.” False prophets go down into the church and get alongside believers. They pretend to believe, but they are Satan’s counterfeit prophets whose desire is to destroy the work of God. Such infiltration had already begun in Jude’s day. False prophets had moved into the church and were beginning to sow lies about who Christ is, what he has accomplished, and how he saves sinners. That form of attack is nothing new. It has gone on through the centuries, is still going on today, and will continue to go on until Christ comes again.
“When the Christian church began…there were adverse powers without ready to crush it, and Libertines who, like worms bred within the body, sought to devour the entrails and eat the very bowels of it. The first ringleader was Simon Magus, and there followed many…who, being once turned aside from the truth and the fellowship of the faithful, lost all awe of God, and were given up to a sottish judgment to believe all kinds of fables and fancies….In succeeding ages the devil hath often played over the old game, sometimes oppressing the church by the tyranny of pseudo-Christians…at other times corrupting the truth by error, or rendering it suspicious by the divisions about it. Heresies revolve as fashions, and in the course of a few years antiquated errors revive again.”
People keep regurgitating the same false doctrine, the vomit of freewill/works religion in one form or another; and dogs keep lapping it up. Therefore, we must fight it. We cannot and must not be passive about the corruption of the faith. We must “earnestly contend for the faith.”
Jude tells us that these men creep in unawares. Paul tells us that they are false brethren privily brought in to spy our liberty in Christ (Gal. 2:4). They are like those adversaries of Israel described in Ezra 4:2, who came to Zerubbabel saying, “Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him,” though it was their intent to disrupt the work. They are like Simon Magus in Acts 8 who wanted to be baptized and acknowledged as a follower of Christ, though he was an enemy to Christ. Peter tells us, “There were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pet. 2:1).
But how do these false prophets manage to creep into and infiltrate the kingdom of God? It is obvious that their infiltration is by divine design. They could not find their way into Zion if the Lord our God did not wisely ordain it and permit it for good reasons. One of those reasons is stated plainly in 1 Corinthians 11:19. When heretics come among us, the Lord makes manifest who are his. His sheep hear the Good Shepherd’s voice and follow him. They hear not the voice of strangers.
(1 Corinthians 11:19) “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”
· They sneak into the church by making a hypocritical profession of faith in Christ.
· They enter into the churches’ pulpits by intruding into the office of a gospel preacher and teacher, offering themselves as men called of God. — None are so prone to error as those who run without being sent.
· And they worm their way into people’s affections by pretense and insinuation (2 Tim. 3:1-7).
(2 Timothy 3:1-7) “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2) For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (3) Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, (4) Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (5) Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (6) For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, (7) Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
These false prophets claim to promote righteousness and truth, yet their doctrine is so corrupt and their motives so vile that they know their success depends entirely upon deceit. It is no marvel that Paul; wrote to the Corinthian church as he did in 2 Corinthians 11, warning them to mark those who sought to destroy their souls with the beguiling doctrines of works righteousness and legality!
Our most dangerous enemies are not godless politicians, but godless preachers, subtle enemies inside the church (2 Peter 2:1; 1 Tim. 4:1-3)
(1 Timothy 4:1-3) “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (2) Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; (3) Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
In the night, when men sleep, Satan sows his tares among the wheat, he might corrupt the church. His messengers creep into the church unsuspected, under falsely professed faith (Matt. 7:15; 2 Cor. 11:13-15).
(Matthew 7:15) “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
(2 Corinthians 11:13-15) “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (15) Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
2. Second, Jude tells us that these false prophets were of old condemned by God. — “who were before of old ordained to this condemnation.”
I have already shown you that these deceivers are not somehow out of God’s control. Rather, everything about them, including their work and their end is according to the determinate counsel and eternal purpose of our all-wise and sovereign God.
I will make no attempt t pry into things beyond me, but I will not make Jude’s words say less than they do. Here, God the Holy Spirit tells us that these apostates are men “who were before of old ordained to this condemnation.”
I am fully aware that the word here translated “ordained” means “written beforehand.” Many use that fact to try to make Jude’s words less offensive or even to make it appear that Jude is not talking about God’s eternal decree. But that is exactly what Jude is talking about. Just as our Lord Jesus was betrayed and delivered up to the hands of wicked men by the purpose of God, so our trials, even those that come by the infiltration of false prophets and their heresies are according to God’s eternal purpose and sovereign decree (Ps. 76:10; 109:7-8; Pro. 16:4; John 17:12; 19:11; Acts 2:23; Rom. 9:17; 11:33-36). Either “all things are of God,” as the Book says they are, or they are not! The condemnation of these men was written in a book, the book of God’s eternal predestination, before the world began. They were “of old,” that is from eternity, “ordained to this condemnation.” That is exactly how the words “of old” are used in Proverbs 8:22.
Jude is assuring us that though they creep in unawares to us, they do not take God by surprise. His purpose is not altered by their evil deeds, but rather is perfectly fulfilled. They were written down in God’s book for judgment, or condemnation.
I am also fully aware of the fact that those who oppose God’s absolute sovereignty as God respond to what I have just said (to what God has just said) like this. — “That makes God the author of sin.” James tells us that is not the case (James 1:13). Doesn’t he? — Others will say, “Well, if they were ordained to this condemnation, they had no choice in the matter.” But, again, the Scriptures tell us that while the actions of such wicked men are “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” they are the deeds of their own wicked wills (Acts 2:23), actions for which they alone are responsible.
The puritan, Thomas Manton, wrote, “Heresies and errors do not fall out by chance, but according to the certain pre-ordination and foreknowledge of God…Nothing can come to pass without his will, and nothing can come to pass against his will.” Manton went on to show four distinct ways revealed in Holy Scripture, in which the Lord God accomplishes his purpose regarding such reprobates as Jude describes. I will give them to you in his words.
(1.) “He denieth grace and light which might direct and sanctify. He is debtor to no man, and may do with his own according to his good pleasure (Matt. 20:15).” — Our Savior said the same thing in Matthew 11:25).
(Matthew 11:25) “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”
(2.) “He leaveth difficulty enough in the word that men who will not be satisfied may be hardened (Mark 4:11-12), for a punishment of their willful blindness and hardness.”
(3.) “God leaveth them to follow the course of their own hearts (Hosea 4:17).”
(4.) “God ordereth it for good (Ex. 9:16)…causing the truths that are questioned to shine more brightly.”
To what does Jude refer when he speaks of “this condemnation”? Let the text itself answer that question.
· The condemnation to which they were ordained is the condemnation of the apostasy described in this Epistle. — Because they suppress the truth in unrighteousness, God gives them over to a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:18-32). — Because they receive not the love of the truth, God sends them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie that they might be damned (2 Thess. 2:9-12).
· The condemnation to which all apostates, all who will not hear and obey the gospel, are of old ordained is the everlasting wrath of God, spoken of by Enoch (Jude 1:14-15).
(Jude 1:14-15) “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, (15) 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.”
CAUSE FOR JOY
Now, turn to the passage we read in our Scripture reading earlier, and I will show you our great comfort and joy (1 Thess. 5:9-12; 2 Thess. 2:11-15).
(1 Thessalonians 5:9-12) “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (10) Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (11) Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. (12) And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;”
(2 Thessalonians 2:11-15) “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (12) That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (13) But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (14) Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (15) Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”
This is our joy, our comfort, and the cause of our unceasing praise and gratitude to our God. He would not leave us to ourselves!\
Now, it is my heart’s prayer and desire to God for you that he will not leave you to yourself. It is in the light of God’s absolute sovereignty that I call upon you to come to Christ, that you may obtain mercy, just as our Lord himself does in Matthew 11.
(Matthew 11:25-30) “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. (26) Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. (27) All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The only wise course of action for any treasonous rebel in the land of an absolute sovereign is to sue for mercy.
1. Come humble sinner, in whose breast
A thousand thoughts revolve;
Come with your guilt and fear oppressed,
And make this last resolve.
2. “I’ll go to Jesus, though my sins
Like mountains round me close;
I know his courts, I’ll enter in,
Whatever may oppose.
3. Prostrate I’ll lie before his throne,
And there my guilt confess;
I’ll tell him I’m a wretch undone
Without his sovereign grace.”
4. I’ll to the gracious King approach,
Whose scepter pardon gives;
Perhaps He may command my touch,
And then the suppliant lives!
5. Perhaps He will admit my plea,
Perhaps will hear my prayer;
But if I perish, I will pray,
And perish only there.
6. I can but perish if I go,
I am resolved to try;
For if I stay away, I know,
I must forever die.
7. But if I die with mercy sought,
When I the King have tried,
This were to die (Delightful thought!) —
As sinner never died!”
Let’s turn to #57 in the Songs of Grace book and sing “A Rebel’s Surrender.” We will sing it to the tune of “Come Thou Fount” (#17).
A REBEL’S SURRENDER
1. O Lord, a stubborn rebel bows,
Compelled by sovereign grace,
My heart surrenders all to Thee,
Thy Son I now embrace.
My Heart, like flint, before Thy law
Was hard and would not break;
But when in Christ I saw Thy love,
This heart began to ache.
2. Though Sinai’s wrath, like thunder, rolled
And terror seized my soul,
I would not bend my stubborn will
And yield to Thy control.
But mercy has my heart subdued,
Thy grace has broken in:
A bleeding Savior I have seen,
And now I hate my sin.
3. Now, Lord, I would be Thine alone,
For Thou hast set me free;
Come, take possession of my heart,
I long to live for Thee.
As it has pleased Thee, dearest Lord,
To save a wretch like me,
Come, rule me by Thy sovereign grace,
To serve and honor Thee.