My friend was walking home with his son after church. The little boy said “Daddy, adults are very silly.” His dad said “Yes we are son but why exactly…” His son said “Well when you eat the bread and drink the wine, the pastor says you have to do it so you will remember that Jesus died for you … but how can you forget something so important?”
That little boy’s comments got us thinking about what we mean by “remembering.” It’s very important to what we are talking about tonight. You see, we are going to be told to remember something.
Remembering isn’t just about what we keep in our minds intellectually. It’s about living our lives each day as though the truth we remember is as real and as fresh and as new as it was the first day we knew it.
These past few weeks we have been learning about the problem of apostacy -how people fall away from the Gospel, how people can be led astray by false teachers. How are we to guard against that? The answer is that we are to remember God’s Word. It means relying on God’s Word completely in the sense I talked about just a moment ago. We live by God’s Word as though it is as fresh and as new today as the first day we heard it.Will your anchor hold?
We sometimes sing a song “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?” We’ve spent a lot of time in Jude and it may feel a bit stormy. There’s the storm of just keeping up with all this stuff. Some of it may seem a bit weird, who are these people like Balaam who go around cussing or Enoch with his prophecy, what’s all this about slandering Satan and isn’t the devil the bad guy anyway. Some of us may feel that it’s all been a bit negative a bit judgemental even.
But also, we may feel that life itself is stormy. We have all the mess of keeping our heads above water, all the things we often talk about, health and job worries, family issues. Then there’s the ups and downs of trying to live right, to be loving, kind, compassionate, unselfish, to live pure lives with all the temptations to stay away from. Now we are being told that we may not even be able to trust every person who claims to speak from God. Instead of the storm being calmed it has been added to.
We need an anchor and here in this passage it is a triple pronged anchor
V3-4a We have a shared salvation and a faith to contend for
V20-24 This faith means that we are built up and kept.
V17 – The teaching of the apostles
In other words, specifically, our anchor is in God’s Word and the Gospel it proclaims. This is so important because when circumstances, personalities and institutions let us down, this will not. It is important because all the negative Stuff between v 4b and v 19 is to do with warning us about being pulled away from this strong anchor.
You see, there is an agenda at work. The devil wants to destabilise your faith. Sheep that are separated out from the flock and away from the Shepherd’s voice are vulnerable to wolf attacks.
So, this week we have a little bit more to learn about the danger and how to avoid it.
What/Who do we need to watch out for?
In this section Jude has a little bit more to say about the false teachers and trouble causers. Now the important thing to remember is that we aren’t being given any surprises here. Jude tells us (v17) that the apostles have already warned about the danger in Scripture.
They talked about people who would turn up “in the Last Days.” When are the last days? The answer is very simply, all the time between Jesus’s resurrection and his return – we are in the last days – the church has always been in the last days. This means that these types of trouble causes have always been present in the church, that’s why Jude had to warn people in his time.
Jude tells us that the false teachers are:
– Grumblers and complainers (v16a). By the way, they literally complain against their own fate. They believe that “life owes them…” They have a sense of entitlement. By the way that’s where the idea that we can name and claim blessing and prosperity comes from. It’s the belief that God owes us and we just have to find the right formulas to get from him what is our due. That’s also the view of the prodigal son in Luke 15 isn’t it? Dad owes him. It’s the same with his older brother too!
– They brag loudly (v16b). Literally, their mouths are full of boasting. In other words, they are “full of it.” They want youo see how special they are, they want you to hang on their every word, to treat them as the experts and not to question them.
– They are people pleasers/flatterers (v16b) -they want to sweet talk people into their gang
– They are Scoffers (v18) -they like to mock … anyone who doesn’t fit their view, Scripture -even spiritual beings/ Get the sense of arrogance -they submit to no-one
– They follow their own ungodly desires (v18) They submit to no-one. This is important because we show that we love god by loving one another. In the same way we show that we submit to Christ by submitting to one another. For me personally, that means I am a part of a team of elders. There isn’t a hierarchy with me as pastor reporting directly to God. All of the elders together are accountable to one another and to the church under Christ.
– They cause divisions and splits (v19) This sort of person builds a personality cult around themselves. They want to want to divide people to get them away from sound teaching.
This matters because we can spot the obviously dodgy stuff fairly easy. It’s wacky and weird. However, this isn’t just about what is happening in wild west type churches. It’s not just about some rich mega church TV evangelists. It’s about the risk in every church.
The attack will come -and maybe already has come in Bearwood Chapel and in Nueva Vida. It will start plausibly. Someone will have a legitimate complaint. They will feel that something is missing, lacking, that the church is letting them or someone down. In 2 Samuel 14, David’s Son Absalom sits at the gate to the palace and intercepts every person coming in with a complaint to the King. “I wish I could help you” he says. The subtle message is “life would be better if I was in charge.”
The oldest temptation in the book is “You are not getting what you deserve, you are worth more ….” It goes right back to the serpent in the Garden. You should have this role -you should be doing this. The church should be providing this and this. You shouldn’t feel guilty when they preach, you should just feel encouraged. The service shouldn’t take up so much of your time.
So, what is the real clue that something is amiss? It’s not whether or not something is big, brash, spectacular, weird. It’s whether the focus is on Christ or on the person and their agenda. The question is whether or not we are being encouraged to keep our focus on Jesus or on a person or even on the congregation or church family. If it becomes about Bearwood Chapel, Nueva Vida, Dave Williams … then we are in trouble.
Now, whenever the Bible tells us about a problem or a danger, it always offers an antidote. Can you remember what it is here? It is to remember God’s Word, God’s Promise. God’s Gospel.” False teachers distract us from God’s word to their own ideas. False teachers use our guilt and shame to discourage us from walking with Christ and serving in his church. False teachers use those things to make us more dependent upon them.
Now, why are we talking about this now? We aren’t seeing false teachers turn up at Nueva Vida and cause these divisions. So why talk about it now. Well I find it fascinating that Jude tells us that the apostles had predicted and prepared the church for trouble in advance. Times will come when you will be tested. How will you be able to face those times? You will be able to face them by preparing.
Those of you who have children will have taken them for their inoculation injections. Some of you will have gone to the doctor for the flu jab in October. Were you sick with the flu when you went? No, you got the jab in advance so you were ready for the winter and protected against any possible epidemic.
Preparing now means:
- Make sure that you are rooted in Christ. Take time to pray. Get to know God’s word. Read your bible daily. Join a bible study group. Encourage each other.
- Learn to love and care for each other. Get to know each other better. Watch out for each other’s needs. This encourages humility and unity and protects from pride, selfishness and envy.
The aim of a passage like this is not so we can say “Wow weren’t those people terrible? Or even “Isn’t such and such a person group or church terrible” rather it is to remind us that we need to be firmly rooted and anchored in Christ.