Jude is now going to turn what has been a rather bleak picture into one of positive instruction and hope. He still has one more negative aspect to present about these godless men. Jude does so as he presents his Biblical Building Plan to deal with the godless infiltrators that have challenged the authority of our Lord and His Word.
Jude once again bids us to remember. First he lovingly exhorted the believers to remember several past histories of the ungodly. Now they are lovingly exhorted to remember the Scriptures again but from a more recent history. Jude begins his Biblical Building Plan on the foundation of the historic and God breathed words of the apostles.
The words of the apostles contain both their oral and written teachings. Not every Christian back then heard the apostles. With slow means of travel and communication in those days, the apostles chiefly communicated the gospel through letter. The apostles no doubt wrote many letters. It is safe to assume a good number of these letters were exchanged among the churches (e.g. Colossians with Ladocians and Ephesians may have been a circular letter as the earliest manuscripts do not have “at Ephesus”). We know next to nothing about the apostle’s ministries except for a little of Peter and more of Paul, none the less all the apostles were the representatives of Christ. They were commissioned directly by Him and spoke with absolute authority in His name.
Verse 18 may be an exact quote. Peter also refers to this saying as well. Most likely here it is a summary statement of the apostolic teaching about different aspects of truth that the opponents to the Faith ridiculed.
The last days are both present and future. They embrace the time between the first and second comings of Christ.
At the start of the study, I began by referring to our Lord’s discourse on the last things. The very first thing our Lord spoke about was deceivers. He warned of false Christ’s and false prophets doing their dirty work of deception throughout this present evil age.
Paul reminded the Ephesian elders that the time would come when savage wolves would arise in the church bent on wrecking havoc with the flock of God. He warned Timothy that in the later times some will fall away from the faith (apostasy) embracing teachings dripping with deceit and demon inspired doctrines. He also warned Timothy that the last days will be marked by difficult times. Paul unleashed a volley of their ungodly conduct. These evil men and impostors the apostle says will keep sliding downhill – going from bad to worse. He warns there will be those who will accumulate to themselves teachers who will scratch itching ears – tell them what they want to hear rather than the sound truth of the gospel. Paul even mentions some of his wayward contemporaries by name – Hymenaeus and Philetus who were leading people astray about the resurrection.
The apostles constantly reminded believers to beware of false teachers. These deceivers have and will continue to try and lead people astray till the very end of the age.
Awhile back I visited Bush Gardens in Williamsburg Va. There was a recreation of a village in Old England. In it was found Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The play we saw was called Ghosts of the Globe which featured many leading Shakespearean characters – good and bad - like Macbeth and King Lear. All around the balcony were busts of the famous play-write. During the action whenever the forces of evil were prevailing there would be sinister sounding music and the busts of Shakespeare would glow red. Then when the forces of good were prevailing there would be the sound of heavenly music and the glow of blue.
As we approach the end of the age the Scripture’s tell us to expect an increase in ungodliness and love-less-ness. The wheat (saved) and tares (lost) will grow together till the harvest. There will be times when the red glow of evil will have the upper hand and times when the blue glow of good, will make headway. Jesus asks, When the Son of Man returns will He find The Faith on the earth? There is going to be lots of weeds crowding about the fields of wheat. We can be sure of a large concentrated and final assault on God’s truth and God’s people. The NT writers are forewarning us.
Before working on the new house I purchased in rural Pennsylvania, I would begin the day with a run along the road up behind the house. There two new homes were being constructed. From between them I espied what looked like hogs making their way unto the road. Before long I was confronted by two mean ugly growling dogs…big ones…bull dog/pit bull looking…less than 10 feet away. They would not let me pass and I feared they would attack – so I keep looking straight ahead – walked backward – slowly – praying fervently – as soon they disappeared over the brow of the hill, I turned and ran the mile and some back home in record time. Now I carry pepper spray and am very cautious on my runs or hikes. I was forewarned and now am forearmed.
To be forewarned by the apostles of the Lord also means we are to be forearmed so that we are ready for whatever befalls us and able to contend for the Faith as Jude bid us at the start of his letter.
These apostates will mock – scoff – at the truths of the gospel. Peter gives us one target of their mockery – the Lord’s Second coming. Jude in his brief way is most likely giving us an overall picture – a shot from high up – surveying the entire ‘playing field.’
To mock the truth of the Word is to mock God Himself. The Psalmist describes such as those reclining in ‘the seat of scoffers.’ Sitting means to take the posture of a teacher. Mockers are those who go about making people or things look ridiculous, inadequate, or unsuccessful. Like the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers listening to Paul…first they called the apostle an idle babbler and then they sneered at the doctrine of the resurrection.
These apostates had the same snickering look on their faces and same mocking tone to their voices when it came to the great truths of the gospel.
I mentioned to you the late 19th century Down Grade Controversy which Charles Spurgeon and a very few other evangelicals back then saw correctly and fought against – the ridiculing of God’s Word. This was a slow starting but quick acting deadly poison to the Orthodox Faith. Its serious aftershocks continue into our 21st century.
We have plenty of scoffers in academic circles - philosophical halls – media outlets - and under church steeples who make sport of our Faith. You’re all fanatics. You are all so rigid…lighten up...relax…enjoy yourself…don’t take things too seriously…nothing wrong with some fresh ideas…ease up on sin…no one’s perfect…after all sin is not really so bad if its really sin at all – those things you Christian’s teach about family and marriage and so forth are outdated - a little of the ways of the world won’t do no harm. Like Festus in Acts they cry out, “Paul, Christian, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad.” Mockers however turn themselves unto paths of insanity which cause them to err both theologically and ethically – following after their ungodly lusts or desires.
Verse 19 is Jude’s final 3 shots at the ungodly mockers. Their contempt for the Word of God brings about division. Jude says, these are the one’s who cause divisions. The scoffers have built an edifice of division. Division means the act of splitting something into parts by forming a boundary between them. They drive a wedge between truth and everything else that is claimed to be truth. Nothing is more harmful to the unity of the church – the common salvation we share – the faith we proclaim and live than divisions – splits among the community of believers. It is one of Satan’s favorite tactics to get Christians unfocused and off track from walking in truth, love, and obedience. These trouble makers revel in the disunity and disharmony they create.
Division brings with it all manner of evil – name calling, character assassination, isolation, love-less-ness, and the toleration of error both theologically and ethically. Jude is giving an antidote for the poison of error – he says: remember the apostolic teachings and adhere to them so that they can avoid these troublesome schisms. Otherwise as Paul warned the Philippians, they will bite and devour one another and cause great harm to the cause of Christ.
The basis for their divisive actions is found in the parched sand of a spiritual wasteland. They are full of the sensual and empty of the Spirit. The apostates may have claimed to have the Spirit and to be spiritually minded. But upon closer examination they are merely natural. They operate by the dictates of fallen human nature – function on instinct – sensual – everything is related to gratifying the physical senses. Paul puts it in perspective for us: A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (1 Cor.2:14)..
To put it very plainly Jude says they are devoid – empty – of the Spirit. Bottom line: If anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, he or she does not belong to Christ in the bonds of saving faith. It is said that natural men are spiritual monsters. The Scottish Puritan and pastor Thomas Boston summarized natural – unspiritual people this way:
The natural man’s heart is where his feet should be, fixed on earth. His heels are lifted up against heaven – which his heart should be set on. His face is towards hell – his back towards heaven. He loves what he should hate and hates what he should love…..Joys in what he ought to mourn for and mourns for what he should rejoice in. Glories in his shame and is ashamed of his glory…Abhors what he should desire and desires what he should abhor.
May God be pleased to make us like Bunyan’s Pilgrim. Christian sets his eyes upon the shinning light which illumines the door of salvation - Christ and when the voices of dissent call him back – he puts his fingers in his ears and runs forward crying out: Life – life – eternal life!