When your feelings conflict with scripture | Dr. Chip Bennett
Blindspots | Wk. 3
So, you probably are like me, and you'll know this. Whether it's a book or a movie, there are plots that go on, and they end up having movies that make all kinds of money, books that sell all kinds of books. One of the plots — and we're all familiar with this. You start the movie out, you start the book out, and there's some data that's come in that there's going to be some sort of bad thing that's going to happen. Maybe somebody's going to shoot somebody, maybe there's going to be a bomb go off somewhere, or somebody’s going to introduce a pathogen into the water system in some city or whatever. So, you're like, “Oh my gosh. What’s going to happen?”
Then, usually, there's a team that's introduced. They’re like the A-Team, the secret team that nobody knows about. You find out about them, they’ve got this underground lair, and they’ve got all these cool computers that they can swipe. They’re looking around, trying to figure out what group or who's behind whatever this dastardly deed is. They spend all this time, and then, about midway through, because it's already tense because you’re like, “Is this going to happen? Is it not going to happen? Are they going to be able to foil the crime?”
They’re looking at everything, trying to figure out who would do it, and midway through the book, or midway through the movie, you find out that the person that's really doing this thing has actually moled their way into the A-Team. They're the one that's going to do it, but they're a part of the group that's supposed to be good, but nobody in the group knows it. You’re going, “You’ve got to find them. You’ve got to know that they're there.”
It creates all that tension. You're like, “You’ve got it! Come on.”
Then the movie ends, there's something that blows up or doesn't blow up, or they find the person, don't find the person, or whatever else. But it creates real tension. I say that about somebody secretly coming in and not being noticed. I just want you to hold that thought because we're going to talk about that, this weekend, as we look at a letter in the New Testament. We're currently in a series called “Blind Spots,” and what we're trying to do is look at some areas maybe in our lives, just be an open and honest about areas in our lives where maybe we're sort of blind to some things. Maybe we're sort of missing some things out in our relationship with God, how we relate to other people, or whatever it may be. We’re going to read a letter. I won't be able to read every single verse. I would love to, but I can't. I'm even struggling, with the time they give me, to get through this. So, if we’re a little late getting out, just give me some grace as you're fighting parking and all that.
“That pastor didn't get us out on time.”
I'm going to do my best. Okay? But I’ve got a lot of information, and I don't want to shortchange information. But we're going to look at a letter that, just so that you know, is the least preached-on letter in the New Testament. Nobody touches this letter. Okay? It's misunderstood. It's a letter that we don't know exactly who it was written to. It's a letter that we don't know exactly the date. I mean, it's first century, obviously, but we don't know exactly. Then there are quotations in this letter from what we would call extra-canonical or extra-biblical books. That usually gets people like, “Oh, what's going on?”
It's no big deal. It’s like me quoting Star Wars up here, and you go, “Yeah, we know what he's talking about. Yoda. The Force. But we're not thinking that he's saying that Yoda is Jesus or anything.”
You know? So, they’re quoting books that the Jewish people at the time would've been familiar with, but, for whatever reason, that spooks everybody out. Then you get all these YouTube videos saying all this stuff that's not true, and it freaks everybody out. This book is sort of like, “Ah.”
So, I feel like, after 13 years of pastoring the church, starting with a few people, and getting here, you all who come here know me, and I'm not here to give anybody a hard time. I'm not here to be snarky. I’m not here to do any of that stuff. But the book, usually, is read as this sort of hammer on people. It's not. It’s actually a very encouraging book, but we're misreading it, and we’re misunderstanding it. We’re going to wade into that. It is, in my estimation — that doesn't mean I'm right, but in my estimation, I think this is maybe the most important letter for the Church in America today.
If I could pick one thing out of Scripture, I'd say to read this.
So, the letter is short. I can't get through all of it, unfortunately, because it’s so packed with stuff, and it has to be explained. That's why it's so hard to teach on because there’s a lot of stuff to talk about. This book, if you went to the book of Revelation — and by the way, it's not “Revelations” with an “s.” That's a little thing I get frustrated when here.
“What's your view on the book of Revelations?”
I'm like, “There is no book. It's the book of Revelation.”
It tells you it's not the revelation of the future, but it says it's the Revelation Apokalupsis Jesu Cristo, the unveiling, the revelation, of Jesus. That's what it's about. Read the first three words. It reveals Jesus.
So, if you turn left, there's this little book that gets missed that’s called Jude. Some of you all just went, “Nah, nah-nah, nah-nah-nah, nah.”
That’s not it. This is the Bible, not The Beatles. Okay? So, stay with me. We're going to look at the book of Jude, we're going to get into it, and it should be fun and challenging. I'm just asking you to be open to allowing Scripture to read us as we go through it. So, let's get into it. Jude. “Ioudaios” is the Greek word for Jew, often translated “Judas.” It be translated “Judah,” and it could be translated “Jude.” Ioudaios is normally translated “Judah.” The English translations from day one decided not to use “Judas” because they felt like that might create some issues with people when they read it. Like, “Judas? Did he write a book? He was a bad guy. Wasn’t he the one that…”
So, they didn't want to do that, although his name was probably Judas. It could be Judah, but they didn't want to use Judah because it might freak people out, so they used Jude. Ioudaios is the Greek word. So, what do we know about Jude? Well, we know that he's a servant of Jesus Christ, and that's pretty normal in the biblical writers. Typically, they will say they're an apostle. Jude may or may not be an apostle. He doesn't use that as his authority. In fact, what he uses for his authority, we'll see — and it's potentially a blind spot for us, what he uses for his authority. He says that he’s a servant of Jesus Christ, but this is probative. He's the brother of James. That's huge because not telling you what James it is, the normal inclination would be, if you read this, that he's the brother of James, the leader of the Jerusalem church. If that's the case, which it probably is because we know in Mark 6:3 and in Matthew 13:55 that after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had four other boys. They also had some girls, as well, but James was one of Jesus' half-brothers. We also know that Ioudaios was one of Jesus' brothers. So, he's the brother of James, which means he's a half-brother to Jesus.
He doesn’t go, “Hey, guys. Listen to me. JC? Half-brother.”
He doesn't do that, so he's not using that as his authority. He's just sort of establishing who he is. The he starts off the letter, and he’s not mad. Many people think this letter's like he's just mad. No. Actually, this is an encouragement.
He says, “To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ…”
He uses triplets throughout. Everything is a triplet to Jude. Everything's in threes, but he says, “Hey, I'm writing not to people out there. This book's not written for people out there. It's written to the people who are called.”
It's interesting that that’s the way he sees it. You're called. It may feel icky to you, it may feel strange to you, but your salvation wasn't something that you initiated. It was something that God initiated. He called you and me. He's the one who sought you and me. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. That’s what Ephesians says. Not half dead, but we were dead. It says, “But God, who is rich in His love and mercy towards us, made us alive.”
God's the one who called. Like Jesus says in John, you can't even come unless the Spirit draws you. That may feel icky to some of us, but it just shows the priority of God. If salvation is up to you and me and how good we perform, ain't none of us getting in, just so you know. You may think that you're holy — H-O-L-E-Y. We're not. We’re not earning it. We're not getting it. Salvation is something that God has done for you and me, and we trust Him in faith for that. It's not something that we earn. Salvation is something that is given as a gift to you me. We're called. We’re beloved in God the Father. He called you because He loved you, and you're kept. I mean, I think it’s the greatest news in the world that, as a Christian, we are kept for Jesus. That's like the greatest news of all. You look at your life, like, “Man, I don't know. I, sometimes, don't really look that holy here,” but you're called, you’re beloved, and you’re kept. He’s going to tell you, at the end of the book, to keep yourself in the love of God. Because you're kept, you'll keep yourself. Because you keep yourself, it shows that you're kept. Because you're kept, you keep yourself. And you keep yourself because you're kept.
We go, “How does that work?”
That's it. That's all we get. That's what you get. That's it. But you know that you're called, you're beloved, and you're kept for Jesus Christ. Then he gives another triplet.
He says, “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”
Multiplied. You already have it, but even more mercy, the mercy that puts you in me — we didn't earn it or deserve it. We were given mercy so that we could be one of God's children. And peace with God. We're no longer at enmity. And love be multiplied. He says all these great things. So, he's starting off. He's like, “We’re good.”
It's not a hard letter. It’s an encouraging letter. Unfortunately, it just gets read wrong.
The he says, “Beloved,”
“In case you didn't hear me, you're the beloved of God.”
In fact, when he says that they're called, they're beloved, and they're kept, those are the words that are used in Isaiah 24 of Israel, of the people of God. “You're the people of God,” he’s saying. You are the people of God.
He says, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation,”
Like, “I really wanted to riff on being blessed, being kept, being called, and all these great things.”
He said, “…I found it necessary to write appealing to you...”
“Parakaleo” is the Greek word “to call alongside.” We need to huddle up here.
I needed to write to you, “…to contend for the faith…”
This is probably the most known verse in Jude. It's also the most misapplied verse in Jude because it gets read as if we're to be contentious for the faith, that we're to go out and fight out there. He’s not talking about that. He's talking to the beloved, the kept, and the called. He says, “What I need you to do is contend,” and this word “contend” is an athletic term. Within the word, we get our word “agony.” In other words, you're not going to be a great runner if you haven’t agonized at times. You're not going to be great at boxing if you haven't agonized. He says, “What I want you to do is — I need you all because you're the called of God. You're kept by Jesus. I need you to get back in the ring, and I need you to really work and agonize over the faith.”
It's a definite article. It’s a specific thing. In other words, it's known. What you're getting in the ring to do is known, and this faith that we're to contend for — not to be contentious, not to go out and fight. That's not what he's talking about. He's talking about making sure that, as the church — and he's going to tell you later on how to contend for the faith with praying, building ourselves up, and all this stuff. To do this, he says to contend for the faith, and here's what's important:
“…that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
In other words, there's not going to be something new that comes along later. Everything's been delivered to the saints. The things that we need to know, we’ve got them. So, nobody's going to come up and go, “Oh, man. God showed me something. It's new.”
No. We contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. He’s going to flesh that out to us here with what he means by that and what it looks like. He’s going to tell us now why he had to write something else.
He says, “For certain people have crept in unnoticed…”
“You were worried about everything out there. You were worried about all the stuff going on. You should have been contending for the faith. You should have been paying attention to the faith. You should have been working your faith muscles, individually and as the Church, because what's happened by not being in the ring is you didn't notice that there have been some people who have worked their way into the A-Team.”
This is important. You need to hear this.
He says, “…who long ago were designated…”
The word “designated” is two words in Greek. It's pro-graphē. “Graphē” is writing, and pro is before. Written about beforehand. Some translations actually translate that right. Written beforehand. Why has it been written beforehand? Because it's been once for all delivered. We’ve got everything that we need. Even these people were told about before. They were long ago designated, and who are they? Well, they're ungodly. They look like us, they smell like us, and they’re a part of us. We wouldn't think they weren't a part of us, but because we're not contending for the faith, because we're not in the gym doing the things that we need to do to make sure that we are living out the things that God wants us to live out to be the people that we need to be, some people have crept in, and they bring two very destructive things.
“…[they] pervert the grace of our God into sensuality…”
In other words, they make grace something that it's not, and sensuality is a real big umbrella term, but it typically has a very specific, although large umbrella, of dealing with things concerning sexuality.
“…[they] pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master…”
In other words, “I know God said this, but that's not really what that means.”
No. Contend for the faith that's once for all been delivered. They say, “No, no, but that's not — you don't have to do everything. God wants you to — you’ve got a lot of grace. Don't worry.”
Jude says, “Hey, listen. Because we've not been contending for the faith, we’ve got to pay attention here because some people have sort of crept in unnoticed, and they're bringing some things that we need to pay attention to.”
What’s his authority? Is it because he's Jesus' brother? Is it because he has an opinion? No. His authority is he goes back to Scripture. That's his authority. The authority in this letter is, “What has God said? What has He once for all delivered already that we know?”
He says, “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it,”
Because, once, you were in the ring. At one time, you were in the ring, and you were sort of really into this thing, but what happened is you got distracted. You looked about at other things, got distracted with other things, and then what happened is it came in. He says, “You once knew this,” and then he gives three examples from Scripture because everything's triplets.
He says, “…that Jesus, who saved the people out of the land of Egypt,”
So, Jesus is the only Savior, even back then. Jesus is there, and He's the one delivering them out of Egypt. People always go, “What’s in the Old Testament?”
Well, Jesus is in the Old Testament. He just says, right here, that Jesus was the one who delivered them out of the land of Egypt. You go, “Oh, I didn't read that in the Old Testament.”
No. It’s there, but now we can see the eyes that are there. A blind spot in this day is where people are going, “Ah, just get rid of the Old Testament.”
You can't get rid of the Old Testament because you’re getting rid of Jesus. It’s a blind spot. You’re like, “We don't need the Old Testament. Just get rid of that thing.”
No. It’s important.
He goes, “…afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”
God said, “Go, take that land,” and 10 of them said, “Yeah, man. I don't know. That doesn't feel right. That doesn’t look right. I mean, they're bigger than us, man. They're stronger. I mean, I don't know, man.”
God says, “No. if I tell you something, it's good.”
“Yeah, it doesn't seem right. It doesn’t really make sense to me.”
Ten of them didn't believe. Only two did. All these people that looked as if they were part of the group weren't part of the group. They were destroyed because they didn't believe. Then it gets progressively more.
He says, “And the angels…”
He’s quoting, here, from a book called 1 Enoch. It's a pseudepigrapha work. Pseudo: False. Graphē: Writings.
Enoch didn't write it. It's not part of the Bible, but it’s stuff that Jewish people knew. They’re books that they knew. He’s quoting from there not to say that this is the Bible, but he’s quoting there to make a point. He says, “There were some angels,” and they’re called “watchers” in the book of Enoch.
“…who didn't stay within their own position of authority,”
In other words, God said, “Here are your boundaries. Stay here.”
He said, “I'm not going to do that. I'm going to do what I want to do. I'm going to get outside of that boundary. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go do what I want to do.”
And what did the angels do? They came down and had relations with human women. He plays on it. Remember, he told you you were kept, and he's going to tell you to keep yourself, because if you keep yourself, you’re kept. He plays on that word, too, here. He says, “These people didn't keep, these angels didn't keep, their own position, so they've been kept in chains for judgment.”
So, he's saying, “Hey, you keep yourself in the love of God because you’re kept by God, but if you don't keep, then there's another keeping.”
So, these people are in bondage, these angels, and then he takes it to another step.
He says, “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah…”
You know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. You can read it.
“…and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
Now, none of these verses are written for you to go out and blast people outside the Church. That’s not what they're written for. They're written to the called, the beloved, the people of God who are kept. Like, read Scripture so that it reads you so that you can pay attention to what it is that we are called to be. Now, where does he say, “Go after these people? Go attack them.”
That’s not what he's doing at all. He's writing an encouragement, going, “Hey, you guys have been a little distracted. Let's get back in the ring a little bit.”
He says, “Yet in like manner…”
I just gave you three things. The people in Egypt that came out, the angels, Sodom and Gomorrah.
He goes, “In the same way these people, like them, want to do their own thing. What they do is they rely on their dreams.”
What that does is that allows them to discredit God's word.
“Oh, no, no, no. I know it says that, but God gave me a dream.”
Jude is like, “Timeout. Everything you need to contend for has once for all been delivered to the saints. You don't need some new dream. In fact, if it's a new dream that's going against what was once for all delivered to the saints, you know that dream is not good.”
And what happens because they rely on their dreams, and they reject God's Word? Three things because everything's triplets. They defile, they reject, and they blaspheme. They defile the flesh, which means they reject God's plan for sexuality. They reject authority.
“I'm the captain of my fate. I'm going to do what I want to do.”
And they blaspheme the glorious ones. That's a little bit more difficult. I can't get into it, but in Jewish tradition — and you see it in Galatians 3, and you see it in Hebrews 2 — the angels were in a mediatorial role in giving the law. What he's saying here is that they discredit even these angels because they don't want to have anybody telling them how to live, what to do, or whatever else, in any way, shape, or form. Then he gives another triplet that I'm not getting into. He says, “They went the way of Cain, they went the way of Balaam, they went the way of Korah.”
Then he says, “These people, they're just really not good, and you didn't catch them. They came in unnoticed.”
In fact, he says, “These are grumblers,”
Think about this. This is why this letter is so important. Grumbling, in the last several years, has become a fruit of the Spirit in the Church. It's crept in. It's just crept in. Malcontents. You see Christians there, like, “Ah, it's just the world here,” and whatever. It's like, “Oh, that's not the way we're supposed to live.”
“…following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters,”
In the history of Christianity, there's not one Christian that would've said, “Yeah. Do you know what we need to do? We need to be loud-mouthed boasters.”
Today, it's like a fruit of the Spirit. The louder somebody is, the louder they boast, “Yeah!”
We need to pay attention. Maybe in all the things we get distracted we've let some things creep in unnoticed because we were not contending for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
“…showing favoritism to gain advantage.”
The NLT says it this way: “These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires.”
I mean, I'm not trying to be mean or snarky, but I think you know, I mean, in America, there are a lot of consumer Christians. They want what they want, the way they want it, and they'll just shop everything around to figure out what it is. They'll go to 85 churches to figure out the one that just suits their needs the way it is, not looking for a place that might teach them, actually, the Word of God and make them feel a little uncomfortable every once in a while because, believe it or not, sometimes serving God can be a little uncomfortable. You’d better go to a church that teaches you the Word of God and reads out a Scripture rather than, “Jesus is your homeboy,” or whatever it is.
“They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want.”
Then what he says is, “But you must remember, beloved,”
“I'm writing this to encourage you. I'm writing because you’re kept, so keep. Just get back in the ring and contend because this is what we do. We believe in Jesus. He's our master, we’re His servant. We do this.”
He says, “But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
because it's already been said because. What you need to know has already been said. It's been once for all delivered to the saints.”
“They said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’”
“Scoffing at what? At God. Doing what they want to do, calling it Christianity, and slipping in. But not for you because you're the kept of God. You're not going to do that because you're going to contend for the faith. I know that. I know that. I know you're going to keep yourself in the love of God because that's who you are.”
He says, “It is these people who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.”
I mean, division has almost been like — I mean, people took that as a badge of honor over the last several years, dividing churches. Maybe we ought to pay attention. Maybe some things have crept in that we weren't paying attention to.
He says, “But you,”
“I’m not writing to give you a hard time. You're the beloved of God. I want you to keep yourselves in the love of God. I want you to build yourselves up in your most holy faith. You’ve got to contend. You’ve got to get back in the ring. I want you to pray in the Holy Spirit.”
A lot of prayers today, there ain't no Holy Spirit leading those prayers. When you're praying, “God, I just pray that You kill that person. I pray that you just strike them,” that's not godly prayers, folks.
“Yeah, I know. But in the Old Testament, there are these imprecatory psalms.”
Yeah, that's to tell you how not to pray. Just because they’re there doesn't mean you follow them. That shows you that, hey, sometimes even as followers of God we get it wrong. We're supposed to love enemies, turn the other cheek, and all this stuff. He says, “Praying in the Holy Spirit.”
He says, “…keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”
“And, by the way, beat up people who doubt.”
“And have mercy on people who doubt.”
It's not contentious for the faith. It's contending for the faith.
“And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire.”
Because you have mercy on them, not because you want to beat them up. It doesn't say, “Kick them into the fire,” but it says, “Go get them.”
“To others show mercy with fear,”
In other words, you have fear because you know that when you're going out and giving mercy, trying to reach people who are moving in a direction different than you, you’d better pay attention because you might get pulled along in some ways that you weren't expecting.
He says, “…hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”
In the New Testament, when they would baptize people, they would give them new garments, white garments, and it was like the newness of life. They didn't want to get any stains on them. He says, “That’s the way it is.”
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory…”
He’s the one, not you and me. We don’t have it so together that we do it perfectly. He’s saying, “You’ve got to go back and contend because it's easy to let things slip in that you didn't pay attention to, and it can keep you from being not only what God wants you to be, but it also ruins the witness of the Church. We need to be authentic.”
He says, “Now to him who is able to [do all these things], to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.”
What can we learn here? What are some potential blind spots that Jude shows us? Well, the first one we've said numerous times. Misunderstanding contending for the faith as being contentious for the faith. Contending is getting back in the gym. Duane Watson, Dr. Watson, has a great commentary on Jude. I'm going to read this quickly. You can take a picture of it with your phone, if you want. I think in the back of the chairs, if you lift up the little thing that's there in the chair, it's got a QR code. If you scan that little dude, I think you get the slides from every sermon. We maybe haven't communicated that very well, but that's there for you. We want you to see these things. Here's what he says. I'll read it pretty quickly.
“Jude's appeal to this church to contend for the faith is not a call to denigrate or abuse the false teachers, or to form committees to discuss the problems they create. Such approaches are not going to change the false teachers...”
You can’t change people because you got a committee together telling them they're terrible. That’s going to make them more mad.
“…or prevent the teaching from taking a further spiritual toll on the church. No. The only way to keep it from taking a further spiritual toll on the church is to take the positive action of contending for the faith. Contending involves commitment to living according to what the faith proclaims with the same dedication and drive that an athlete trains to win a sporting event. Contending involves building up the church in the faith, and proclaiming the faith to those who are no longer contending for it, in order to rescue them from judgment. Contending for the faith occurs in private and public prayer, in Bible study, in worship and outreach of any kind. Through these activities, the truth and strength of the faith are established as faith transforms individuals, groups, and institutions.”
This contending for the faith is what we do. We want to get in the ring and get our spiritual muscles right. The second potential blind spot — and this was one to really pay attention to. Misunderstanding that the real threat is from within, not without. We're all worried in the American church, yet we don't even realize what we've allowed to creep in. We've allowed all kinds of stuff to creep into our midst that we call godly. And when that happens, that's not the problem. It's in here. Because when we are not living out authentic Jesus, not only are we missing out on what God has for us, but we're also not giving them an authentic witness of Jesus. He says, “Certain people have crept in unnoticed. Pay attention to it. We weren’t looking for it. We weren’t doing what we should have been doing, which is contending for the faith.”
Listen to me. When we focus mostly or completely on the outside world, politics, cultural issues, and/or ethical or moral issues, we put ourselves in the position of allowing people to creep in unnoticed. The focus is not, “Whoa,” but the focus is, “I need to be contending for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. If I’ve got my focus there, and my focus is on Jesus, I'm going to grow into the person that He wants me to grow into, the Church is going to grow into the people that God needs us to be, and we will be not only happier as people, but we will be a better witness to the world out there.”
Third: Not realizing how easy it is for us to sidestep obedience, even as believers. If you've never had a Bible passage that you've read where you’re like, “I don't really like that,” then you've really not spent much time in the Bible. I’m just being honest. Jesus has got a little sandpaper. It just sort of rubs sometimes. You know? And we don't understand how easy it is for us to just go, “Oh, that's the way we do whatever.”
So, let's talk about this. In our generation, we're either going to change the Word of God to fit our immoral desires or we're going to bring our immoral desires to God in repentance. This is the generational issue that we're struggling with, right now, because the Bible's getting chucked.
“That’s not what it means. That’s not what it says. Don't worry about it. It's all good. I had a dream. I read a book.”
No, no, no. Jude's like, “No, no, no. The Scriptures are authoritative. I'm not saying I'm JC’s brother, I'm just telling you what the Scripture says because we've got what we've needed once for all delivered to the saints.”
When our feelings, emotions, and/or desires conflict with Scripture, it's then that you’ve got to contend for the faith. You’ve got to say, “Well, what does God say? Because I'm not going to pervert God's grace, and I'm not going to deny that He’s the master.”
When being obedient would require a complete reorientation of the way that we want to go, what are we going to do? What’s happened is, because we've been so distracted, there's a voice that's crept into the Church. When these questions get asked, they go, “No, no, no. It’s all good. Don't worry about it. You just do what you want to do and be what you want to be.”
It's turning grace into a license and denying our master. Just so that you know, so you can put your antenna up, if you want to hear what that sounds like, it sounds like this: “Well, God wants me to be happy.”
Hold on, now. I'm not saying God doesn't want you to have happiness and blessing, but can I tell you something? God's far more concerned with you and me being conformed to the image of His Son than He is our happiness. Let tell you something: Being conformed to the image of Jesus is not always a happy thing. Sometimes you have to agonize over it. Sometimes you have to get down on your knees and say, “God, I'm just not being the person I should be. I'm not being the dad I should be. I'm not being the husband that I should be. I'm talking too much about — God, I need some work.”
But that voice: “No. don't worry about it, man. Don't worry about it. We know more now than when Scripture was written. We know more.”
We do. We know a lot about our universe and our bodies. We know a lot more, but we don't know anything more about the way God created the world and what He says is right and wrong. If the omnipotent, all-knowing God says this is right and this is wrong, I'm telling you, right now, that's right and that's wrong, and we aren’t learning something new that teaches something different.
“Well, that’s just who I am.”
The rich, young ruler pulled that deal with Jesus, didn't he?
“That’s just who I am.”
Jesus is like, “Well, yeah. I know, but if you really want to follow me, this is what you need to do.”
“Yeah, I'm not going to do that.”
And Jesus didn't go chase him down, like, “Come back. We love you so much.”
No. He said, “I'm the master.”
Well, that's tough sometimes. Of course it is. It’s complicated, it's gray, and it's all of these things. It’s a struggle, but this is what we're called to do, to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered.
Or, “God accepts me and gets me.”
Well, yeah. That’s somewhat true, but grace doesn't meet us where we are and then leave us where we are. Grace meets us where we are and then changes us and transforms us into something that looks more like God’s Son. This is why Charles Spurgeon said this: “Avowed atheists are not one-tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith.”
It's crept in. The blind spot, too, is allowing ourselves to be centered on anything other than the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus died on a cross for our sins and rose again on the third day. That's the focus. It reminds us of who we are. It reminds us that we were separated, alienated, and that we don’t have it all together. It stamps down judgment. It doesn't allow you to look at other people, like, “You are so wrong,” and everything else. It doesn't do that. Focusing on the Gospel allows us to be where we need to be. It reminds us that we're called, we're beloved, and we're kept. Because of that, we want to keep ourselves in the love of God. We want to contend for the faith.
So, Jude is like a clarion call to all of us. It speaks because, so often, we just think that we're supposed to go out, fight, and that we're supposed to be all the things going on when, in reality, we're supposed to be in the ring, building our faith with one another in the Lord, and paying attention to what's going on in our midst. I just challenge you to allow that to speak. I know that you can say, “Oh, man, that's sort of a challenging place to be.”
It is. Christianity's always going to have that part of it that's like, “Man, I’ve got to work at this.”
I’m going to tell you, right now, that nobody here is going to get it perfectly all the time. All of us are going to have problems and stuff, but that doesn't mean that because we struggle with an area we get to go, “I'm going to keep doing it because God knows.”
No. God wants to move us. He wants to change us. God wants to transform our lives, and He wants to get us to the place where we're willing to do whatever He wants us to do, in whatever way He calls us to do it. I'm telling you, when we do that, you and I live the most blessed life that we could live in this world, and then we have the assurance of the world to come where every tear, every fear, every sickness, and every disease will be gone in Jesus' name. That should excite us, and we should be in the ring contending for the faith.