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Living for Jesus in an Un-Christian World! (A Study of Jude) Message #4

Friends: I recently preached four messages on the little epistle of Jude. Here’s the fourth (and final) message (about 28 minutes long). Comments welcome!

Discussion Questions for Message #4: “Praise God Daily As You Serve Him in This World!” (Jude 24-25)

1. Are there specific questions you wish to discuss about our study of Jude up to this point?

2. “He is able to keep us from stumbling” (v. 24). My home church was split down the middle by a young brother who got into Calvinism and pushed it on everyone he could. How do we avoid dividing God’s people over such issues?

3. Do you think of God’s singing over you with joy? Why or why not?

4. Are you looking forward to that “presentation” (v. 24)? If this is referring to what is called “the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10), how can we get ready for that day of presentation?

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2020 in Jude

 

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Living for Jesus in an Un-Christian World! (A Study of Jude) Message #3

Friends: I recently preached four messages on the little epistle of Jude. Here’s the third message (about 29 minutes long). Comments welcome!

Discussion Questions for Message #3: “Grow Deeply in Your Own Christian Life!” (Jude 20-23)

1. What would you say is the greatest challenge for you in growing deeper in your walk with Christ?

2. How do you look at reading as a tool for Christian growth? What books are you presently working on?

3. This issue of evangelism — what scares you about sharing your faith? Why?

4. Becoming a friend of sinners — How does that practice help us practically in our own spiritual growth?

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2020 in Jude

 

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Living for Jesus in an Un-Christian World! (A Study of Jude) Message #2

Friends: I recently preached four messages on the little epistle of Jude. Here’s the second message (about 31 minutes long). Comments welcome!

Here are some suggested post-message discussion questions:
1. How do we address the unbelief of our friends?
2. How do we change the mindset that God won’t judge anyone?
3. How do we recover a proper fear of God?
4. How can our church leaders help us avoid false teachers and false teaching?

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2020 in Jude

 

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Living for Jesus in an Un-Christian World! (A Study of Jude) Message #1

Friends: I recently preached four messages on the little epistle of Jude. Here’s the first message (about 24 minutes long). Comments welcome!

If you were to put together a few study questions based on this message, what would they be?

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2020 in Jude

 

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Self-Pollution! (A Study of Jude verse 8)

We live in a fallen, polluted world. And sometimes the biggest polluter of us . . . is us (“we” for you grammarians). How do we pollute ourselves? And what are some of the pollutants we must avoid?

I. They Don’t Know God!

First of all, these false teachers are described as “ungodly.” That’s the beginning of self-pollution — a lack of relationship with the living God.

II. They Pollute Their Own Bodies!

God cares very much what we do with our physical bodies. Romans 12:1-2 challenge the believer to present his body as a living sacrifice. Biblical Christianity is not anti-body or anti-matter. As C.S. Lewis says, “God likes matter. He created it!” And I Corinthians 3 and 6 teach that our bodies are temples in which the Holy Spirit Himself dwells!

III. They Reject Authority!

This rejecting of authority isn’t necessarily an explanation of their self-polluting, but it is an attendant sin that greatly impacts these false teachers. We presently live in an anti-authority culture. And resisting duly-elected authority is anti-God!

IV. They Abuse Angels!

How do they do this? The text doesn’t really tell us. But that category of created beings — angels — are spiritual spectators for whom there is no salvation. They are God’s servants to do His will. Those who fell are now called demons. The rest of the angelic world are “confirmed in holiness” (as theologians put it), so there will be no further angelic rebellion in heaven. We are not to worship angels. We are to be aware that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. What angels do, as Thomas Howard put it, is most of the time none of our business!

Today’s Challenge: Ask God how you may presently be self-polluting. And pray for specific help from the Holy Spirit to ingest, both physically and spiritually, what best helps you in your walk with Christ!

 

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2020 in Jude

 

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Dealing with DOUBT . . . and DOUBTERS! (A Study of Jude 22-23)

I. Show them mercy!

We don’t always treat doubters with kindness. We seem to resent their questions and can become angry at their unbelief. Os Guinness wrote a great book a few years ago entitled Doubt. It has been re-issued as In Two Minds. He’s also written an excellent article entitled “I Believe in Doubt” which may be found here.

We must give room for seekers to express their doubts and ask their questions. And that calls for MERCY!

II. Don’t lose the urgency of the gospel — “snatching them from the fire”

How close is your unsaved friend to eternity? One breath. One heartbeat. It’s not surprising that we Jesus-followers are sometimes over-zealous in presenting the gospel. Eternity is at stake! If I truly believe the gospel, sometimes I will feel compelled by the Holy Spirit to speak about eternal lostness. And so should you.

III. Have a godly fear yourself!

“mixed with fear”  — of what? Perhaps that doubt might begin to erode your own confidence in God. We are to show mercy mixed with fear. If this is a reference to the fear of the evangelist, then it might be a holy terror of what will happen to those who reject God’s mercy.

[I’m reminded of Galatians 6:1 which says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” There is risk involved in ministry . . . and in evangelism.]

IV. Don’t lose your hatred of sin!

‘“hating even their clothing stained by corrupted flesh”! What an expression! There is such a thing as godly hatred. And here that godly hatred is expressed hyperbolically as directed at the lost person’s clothing! That’s how much we should HATE SIN!

Today’s Challenge: Do you really care about lost people? Do their questions irritate you — or cause you to respond in mercy and love? Does their continual refusal to believe the gospel discourage you (me, too!)? May God renew you and me in a passion for the gospel, a love for the lost, and a clarity about the truth!

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2020 in Jude

 

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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — What Do We Learn from Philemon and Jude about the Holy Spirit?

There are two ways of approaching the doctrines of the Scriptures. One way is to collect all the data throughout the Bible into logical categories (called “systematic theology”). The other way is to work through individual books of the Bible, collecting the data on a particular subject (this is called “biblical theology,” although the term is used in other ways in less than conservative circles). When we ask, what do the epistles of Philemon and Jude say about God the Holy Spirit, we are taking a kind of biblical theology approach. Our conviction in these posts is that, while some believers overemphasize the Spirit, others overlook Him. We want to do neither, but long to have a balanced view of the Third Member of the Trinity.

What do we find when we unit-read (read straight through at one sitting) the epistles of Philemon and Jude?

Philemon has a binitarian verse 3 which refers to the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (but no reference to the Spirit). Otherwise, there are no overt references to the Spirit in this one-chapter letter.

In Jude we have a binitarian reference in verse 1 regarding those who “are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.” A similar omission of the Spirit occurs in verse four where we read of the false teachers that “They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

We do read in verses 17-19 – 17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. What does it mean that they “do not have the Spirit”? The reference is to scoffers who follow their own ungodly desires and who divide God’s people. We do read in Romans 8:9 the following: “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” To not have the Spirit = to not belong to Christ!

We then have the incredible challenge in verses 20-21 — 20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. What does it mean to pray in the Holy Spirit? We have a similar charge in Ephesians 6:18 which says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” “Praying in the Spirit” (as we suggest in our article “The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit”) means becoming aware of and cooperating with His ministries in our lives.

We have a similar binitarian references in verses 24-25 which conclude this short epistle: 24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. It seems that Jude follows other NT writers in keeping the Spirit in the background.

The Challenge: If you and I “have the Spirit” we should not follow mere natural instincts. And we should “pray in the Holy Spirit” so that we understand and cooperate with His ministries in our lives!

 

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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What on Earth Are We to Do about Unbelief? (Part 3 of 10)

FirefoxScreenSnapz689How should believers in Jesus respond to the UNBELIEF they see in the world around them?  We know that we are to evangelize, that is, spread the Good News about Jesus.  How else ought we to respond?

We have already seen in verses 1-4 that we must keep ourselves strong in the faith (vv. 1-4).  We’ve also noticed, second, that we must be aware of attacks on the Christian Faith (vv. 3-4).

Let’s notice the third part of our response to the unbelief of the world:
Step #3-  We must Be Prepared to Do Battle for the Faith (vv. 3-4)!

When I was in high school, I dreaded wrestling class.  In North Carolina, it was referred to as “wraslin’ class,” but I still hated it.  It seemed that I would always be paired with some sweaty fat guy who would pin me with no difficulty.  The wraslin’ room had pads on the floor and posters on the ceiling that had sayings like, “If you can read this, congratulations!  You’ve been pinned!”  Or “How’s the view, Loser?”  I was the speed reader of those signs for my entire gym class.

FirefoxScreenSnapz690No one likes to get pinned, but contending for the faith involves wrestling on behalf of its truth.  We must prepare ourselves for such battles.  For myself, I have found that I need to occassionally read books that attack the Christian faith so I will know what the specific challenges are. (to be continued)

“I will not die without fighting for a life I am not yet done living.”
― Bethany Wiggins, Stung

“Always walk away from a fight. Then ambush.”
― Tim Dorsey, Gator A-Go-Go

“That fighting of a battle without belief is, I think, the sorriest task which ever falls to the lot of any man.” (Anthony Trollope, Orley Farm)

“The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards.” (Thucydides)

Questions:
1.  What is one specific battle that you are fighting right now?  Is it worth it?

2.  What role does prayer play in your battle for the souls of men and women?

 

 

 

Questions:
1.  In what way(s) do you see your Christian life more as a vacation than as a battle?

2.  If it is truly a battle, what one practical step can you take to get in the battle?

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2014 in unbelief

 

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What on Earth Are We to Do about Unbelief? (Part 2 of 10)

FirefoxScreenSnapz689What are Christians to do about the unbelief of the world?  Are we to ignore it?  Get depressed about it?  How should we respond?  The little letter of Jude deals with this issue.  We have already seen in verses 1-4 that we must keep ourselves strong in the faith (vv. 1-4)!

Let’s notice the second part of our response to the unbelief of the world:
Step #2-  We must Be Aware of Attacks on the Christian Faith (vv. 3-4)!

It appears that Jude wanted to write a letter of joy about our salvation, but he hears of false teachers slipping in among God’s people.  And so, guided by the Spirit of God, he changes the purpose and content of his letter to become a  battle plan for believers.  He felt compelled (v. 3) to urge them to contend for the faith.  It seems he moves from his original intention of contentment in the gospel to contention for the gospel.FirefoxScreenSnapz690

He challenges these believers to fight for the faith, to stand strong for the content of truth (= “the faith”) which God has entrusted to His holy people.  There may be a slight rebuke of these believers as he says that these false teachers have “secretly slipped in among you.”

We would all prefer to bask in the sunlight of our salvation, much like a person on vacation in his beach chair soaking up the sun’s rays.  But we are not on vacation!  Life is not a vacation.  The Christian needs to wrestle, to struggle, in behalf of the content of truth God has given.  May I ask you: How’s the wrestling match going?  (to be continued)

“The battle is raging today all around, but many are perishing because we Christians have failed to engage the enemy at the point of attack.  We not only flinch; for the most part we are not even looking in the right direction.” (Chuck Colson, Who Speaks for God?)

Questions:
1.  In what way(s) do you see your Christian life more as a vacation than as a battle?

2.  If it is truly a battle, what one practical step can you take to get in the battle?

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in unbelief

 

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What On Earth Are We to Do about UNBELIEF? (Part 1 of 10)

FirefoxScreenSnapz596How is the believer in Jesus to respond to the unbelief in our world?  If we are seeking to be a friend of sinners as Jesus was (Mt. 11:19), we have encountered a variety of people who don’t believe the gospel, who don’t believe the Bible, who don’t believe in Jesus! What do we do about that?

My favorite epistle answers this question!  Let’s dive into the little letter of Jude.  It’s only one chapter long, but that chapter packs a wallop!  We read in the first few verses:

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,  To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:  Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.  Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Step #1- We Must Keep Ourselves Strong in the Faith (vv. 1-4)!

Jude (not his actual photo)

Jude (not his actual photo)

Jude, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus, did not originally believe in Jesus as the Messiah (see John 7).  It is fascinating that he begins his letter not by referring to himself as the brother or the half-brother of Jesus, but as “a servant of Jesus Christ.”  Jude’s life had been changed by the gospel and he self-identifies as Jesus’ servant.  If I see myself as Jesus’ servant, my only question for today ought to be, KeynoteScreenSnapz148“How may I best serve You today, Lord?”

He is writing to those who have been called, loved by God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ (v. 1).  What a wonderful trinity of terms:  called, loved, kept.  If I grasp the truth, or even some of the truth, of those three actions of God in my life, I’ll want to stay true to His Word, solid in my commitment, and eager to impact others. (to be continued)

William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1940’s, said, “Christianity is the total commitment of all I know of me to all I know of Jesus Christ.”

Questions:

1.  In what specific way do you see yourself as a “servant” of Jesus Christ?

2.  What differences are being made in your life as a result of your being called, loved, and kept in Jesus Christ?

 

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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