REMEMBER WHAT THE APOSTLES SAID

One of the amazing things in studying the Book of Jude is his use of the words, “These” or “These men” about the false teachers who had entered the church during his day.  But when he spoke to those who were faithful to the Lord and His teaching he spoke of “But you, beloved.”  He made a clear distinction between those who were hurting the cause of Christ and teaching wrong things and those who were devoted to Christ and the teachings He had given them.  Earlier Jude spoke of the church as those who were “Beloved in God the Father.”  This time when Jude refers to the people as “Beloved” it doesn’t seem to be the Father’s love that he has in mind but his own love and devotion to the people in the church.  Jesus had said to the disciples soon before His crucifixion that He had a new commandment for them that they love one another as He had loved them.  He even said that the way the world would know if they were real in their discipleship was by seeing the love they had for each other.

Here it wasn’t a formal way of greeting the church but an expression of his devotion and love for them as God’s children.  It is this spirit that is needed inside the body of Christ all the time.

His challenge to them was that they should “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.”  This isn’t a specific reference to anything that we have recorded from any of the apostles.  It seems instead to be the tenor of things the apostles had said.  The earliest record we have of an apostle talking about a departure from the faith was from the Apostle Paul in Acts 20 when he met with the elders of the church in Ephesus.  He challenged them to give attention to shepherding one another realizing they were chosen by the Holy Spirit.  He warned that from among them men would arise teaching perverse things that would draw away disciples after them.  He commended them to God and the word of His grace to stay true to the Lord.

In one of the earliest books Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica and warned of a falling away and the revealing of the man of sin.  People would depart from the faith because they didn’t have the love of the truth so that they would be saved but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).  Later he would speak with even greater clarity on the subject when he wrote Timothy in I Timothy 4:1-5.  The idea of false teachers coming wasn’t a new thing at all.  Both Peter and John would give the same warnings in the books that they wrote.

Jude said that the apostles warned “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.  Theses are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.”  Jude is using the phrase “The last times” in the way Peter had used the same phrase in Acts 2 when he said, “This is that spoken by the prophet Joel that in the last days God would pour out of His Spirit on all flesh.”  In the same way the writer of Hebrews said, “God who spoke at various times and in different ways to the fathers by the prophets has IN THESE LAST DAYS spoken to us by His son.” (Hebrews 1:1)  Instead of referring to the end times when the Lord comes again soon it refers to the last age or period of God’s dealing with mankind on this earth.  The launch of the church with the coming of the Holy Spirit of God and Christ sitting on the throne of David at God’s right hand was the beginning of the last days or age on this earth.  Every other period of time has existed in anticipation of this time when the Messiah has come and now reigns as king over His kingdom.  When this age comes to an end it will be the end of time itself and this world will be destroyed.

During these last days mockers will come following their own ungodly lusts.  Instead of submitting to the rule of Jesus and following His teachings about life these false teachers mock the very teachings which set Jesus apart from all others.  They mock at His exclusive place as king of kings and Lord of Lords.  They mock at His being the one way to come to the Father, to heaven.  Instead of following His clear teachings they follow their own passions and desires which lead them further from God and His will than closer to Him.  Today while more and more people want to set up their own way with their own kind of church that is built around what the people want rather than what God wants, the words of Jude are fulfilled over and over again.  Churches have been launched all over the world by asking the people in the area what kind of church they want or would attend and then setting out to build that kind of church.  Such a plan leads to rejection of the very gospel message that is intended to save our soul (Galatians 1:8-9; Romans 1:16-17).

Such teachers are ones who cause divisions and are worldly minded.  God’s plea for us is that we would have the mind of Christ by emptying ourselves and submitting to God in everything (Philippians 2:5-9).  To be worldly minded is to follow the world’s standards rather than trying to get the world to follow Christ’s teachings.  John said for us not to love the world or the things of the world “For all that is in the world is the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye and the pride of life, which are not of the Father but of the world and the world is passing away with the lusts of it.” (I John 2:15-17)

When teachers are worldly minded it results in divisions among those who would be followers of Christ.  Unity is something God’s people should always be seeking for.  Paul said we should extend ourselves in every way to have the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3-4).  Notice that unity is tied to the Spirit of God and division is tied to ones being devoid of the Spirit.  When it is pleasing the people that is our main thing it leads to a divided body.  When we set Jesus up as the standard to follow in everything it draws us closer to each other, to unity in the body.

Our challenge is to be among the beloved who remember the words of the apostles and follow their guide and avoid the ways of the world and its teachers.

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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