Sunday, January 31, 2010
Grumblers in the Camp
In apologetics ministry, we often use Jude 3, the passage about "contending earnestly" for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. Contending for the faith when it is under attack is every bit as much of a command as proclaiming the Gospel.
But there is more to Jude than just the third verse. Examine verses 16-25 . . .
These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
In the immediate context, Jude is primarily addressing false teachers who were peddling a forerunner of the Gnosticism that would become more fully orbed in the second century. However, the warning given by Jude can be applicable to any false teachers that surface within a congregation.
"Within a congregation," you say? Yes. Remember the warning of the Apostle Peter, who said, But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves (2 Peter 2:1).
That is what makes false teaching so insidious. Most Christians who consider themselves aware and discerning expect challenges and false teaching to come from the cults or other groups opposed to the Gospel. We expect it from unbelievers. But when it arises from within our midst at a Sunday school or from the pulpit, it really does take a lot of us by surprise or unawares. Sometimes it can be in your face and easily, shockingly obvious. Most often, it is very subtle and low-key, and eats its way into a congregation gradually. Think of the frog in a hot kettle.
Dr. Al Mohler last week decried the "lost art of discernment" in American evangelicalism. He was spot on correct. Evangelicals largely have become what the writer of Hebrews cited . . . For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. The Apostle Paul was also frustrated with the church at Corinth . . . I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able . . . (1 Corinthians 3:2).
You can't stand against false teachers if you don't know or understand even the core biblical doctrines of the faith.
We had best get back into the Bible and become reacquainted with the foundational principles of the faith again. We had best relearn what the non-negotiables are and stand like a rock on them. We had best realize all over again that it is perfectly right, good and acceptable to confront false teaching like good Bereans.
The consequences of not doing so are enormous.