"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11
| God's Provision for God's Purposes by Robert Wurtz II|
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)
The author in our passage is likely dealing with Gnostic influences that were attempting to corrupt the churches towards the latter part of the first century onwards. These men were essentially false prophets or teachers that were allowed of God to test the churches. In Deuteronomy 13:3ff God told Israel; for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Even at that time there were men ordained to the condemnation of telling lies in Israel, but again God told them; Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. Notice how this commandment counteracts the influence of the false teacher.
* walk after the LORD your God
* fear Him
* keep His commandments
* obey His voice
* serve Him
* cleave unto Him
Notice the subject is reiterated over and over; God, Him, and His. Not their own desires. Not the enticements of the false prophet or teacher. The allegiance must be to God alone. The false teacher, whether in Old Testament or New Testament is ordained to this role of 'testing' that allegiance.
Notice again our passage; there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness. How could they do this? There is only one way. They have to subvert or undermine the former teachers and their doctrine. Paul writes to Timothy:
Of these things put [them] in remembrance, charging [them] before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, [but] to the subverting of the hearers.(2 Timothy 2:14)
The Greek word for subvert here is katastrophe. Looks familiar, yes? Consecration to Christ is destroyed by false teachers looking to prove some perverse thing by asserting some attained advantage. The Gnostics of the late first century and after did this by suggesting they possessed hidden knowledge (gnosis) or oral traditions that were 'supposed' to have been said by the apostles. The Rabbi's did the same thing, essentially, by claiming an oral law that interpreted the written law. In every case the pupil is made to somehow feel like the teacher is somehow authoritative because of their learning or knowledge. The Pharisaical, non-Hellenistic Jews claimed their knowledge of ancient Hebrew to advantage themselves over those that were familiar with the Septuagint (LXX). There is no new thing under the sun. Paul said, "I will not know the speech of them that are puffed up, but the power (dunamis)."
Crept in Unawares?
Notice our passage calls the men 'ungodly'. The passage reads literally; παρεισέδυσαν γάρ τινες ἄνθρωποι οἱ πάλαι προγεγραμμένοι εἰς τοῦτο τὸ κρῖμα, ἀσεβεῖς; and the word ἀσεβεῖς (asebes) means destitute of reverential awe towards God. There is no fear of the Lord before their eyes. No teacher is qualified in the churches of God, that does not fear God, no matter how popular they are, how many television stations they are on, how many books they have written, how large their church is, how many secular or theological degrees they have, what schools they attended, or what ordinations they possess. Our passage is as plain as anything. The false teacher lacks the fundamental thing; the FEAR OF THE LORD. It is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. Without it, what more need we ask? Yet our passage tells us they crept in unawares. Amazing! If it can happen to them- it can happen to us. We must be sober and vigilant.
It is not likely that these men came straight out and denied Christ or they had not crept in unawares. Sinners and atheists could see that falsehood. More likely is that their teachings and attitude denied God and Christ by destroying the consecration to Christ that they and the hearers of their falsehood once enjoyed. They believed 'another Gospel.' This is the opposite error as to what Paul dealt with in the letter to the Galatians. These two errors are law and license. The one denied the grace of God by suggesting that the basis upon which we are edified unto perfection in Christ is to keep the law; the other turns the grace of God into licentiousness trodding under foot the true grace of God provided for our edification and perfection. Both are equally damnable errors. Both deserve the anathema of Galatians 1:5ff because they both subvert God's purposes.
God's Provision for God's Purposes
Grace is God's provision for God's purposes. This is a simple definition that encapsulates the subject, from Noah that found grace in God's eyes, to Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Let's now look at how men subvert grace:
* Man's provision for God's purposes
* God's provision for man's purposes
First, man cannot in his/her own finite ability accomplish the purposes of God. Second, God has not provided His grace for the building of men's purposes. It must be God's provision for God's purpose. God's grace is not a mean's of having some divine favor that places expensive possessions in the hands of certain Christians. A common saying, 'favor is not fair' is not helpful towards achieving God's will, but rather sets so-called believers in a mindset that God's grace (favor) is to build their material wealth or exalt them in some way. This is not to say that God does not bless His people, it is the misuse and improper emphasis on the purpose of grace that is the error. Likewise, God's grace is not enablement for living haphazard, slapdash, and sinful lives. This is what the false teachers in Jude were teaching. It dismisses man's God ordained responsibility to walk upright before Him.
In the late first century and after, dualistic, non-ascetic- Gnostics taught that the body was evil because it was created by a Demiurge; so what we do in the body don't matter. This was a damnable lie that subverted some of the hearers. That was their means of turning grace into lasciviousness, what is used today?
Lets take a final look at our passage. Jude writes, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation. This is a terrible passage. It ought to strike fear in all that would subvert the Gospel. As Pharaoh in Egypt was ordained to condemnation, so also are these men. God raises men up for His purposes. Imagine such a thing. God in His sovereignty chose to use such a person on the basis that He knew what they would do and they would be useful to His broader purposes. When time is short the short timers true colors come out. The more time ran out for Pharaoh the more brazen he became. It ultimately destroyed him. He was ordained to condemnation. The sad thing is that these men are deceiving and being deceived themselves.
Yet, they are in such a place that pride has blinded their eyes. The men that Jude wrote about have their eyes open now. They are in eternity. Pharaoh's eyes came open at some point as well. The common thing is that these men practiced their craft of deception on themselves. Once they became proficient and deceiving their own conscience, they took to deceiving others. This is why deception often evolves in stages. The individual has a goal in mind and they cleverly deceive themselves until their minds are fixed on the lie. These practitioners of evil then took to applying what they achieved on themselves on to others. Answering all their own personal objections made them apologists for wickedness.
From Unteachable to Unreachable
Knowledge puffs up- but charity builds up. Wealth puffs up- but charity builds up. Popularity puffs up- but charity builds up. Power puffs up- but charity builds up. Do you see the pattern? Pick your poison. What does the devil find useful in puffing you or I up? He will use it. He will use whatever he can to bolster a person's view of their own opinions until the falsehood and self-deception is complete. The more he can give a person of their vanity the less teachable they are. Soon they are unreachable. Not far are the dreadful words of Babylon, this world, ringing in the heart; I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. That is the prelude to the finality of self-deception.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
| 2011/2/26 13:06||Profile|
| Re: God's Provision for God's Purposes by Robert Wurtz II|
Much appreciated this article. Thank you.
Was just reading blurbs from J.C. Ryle -
Is Jesus Divisive?
In the first place, Jesus tells us to remember that His gospel will not cause peace and agreement wherever it comes. "I didn't come to send peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). The object of His first coming on earth was not to set up a millennial kingdom in which all would be of one mind, but to bring in the gospel, which would lead to strife and divisions. We have no right to be surprised, if we see this continually fulfilled. We are not to think it strange if the gospel divides families and causes estrangement between the nearest relations. It is sure to do so in many cases because of the deep corruption of the heart.
There is a deep truth in all this, which is constantly forgotten and overlooked. Many talk vaguely about unity, harmony, and peace in the Church, as if they were things that we ought always to expect, and for the sake of which everything ought to be sacrificed. Such people would do well to remember the words of our Lord. No doubt unity and peace are mighty blessings. We ought to seek them, pray for them, and give up everything in order to obtain them, excepting truth and a good conscience. But it is an idle dream to suppose that the churches of Christ will enjoy much of unity and peace before the millennium comes.
In the second place, our Lord tells us that true Christians must expect trouble in this world. Whether we are ministers or hearers, whether we teach or are taught, it makes little difference. We must carry "a cross." We must be content to lose even life itself for Christ's sake. We must submit to the loss of man's favor, we must endure hardships, we must deny ourselves in many things, or we shall never reach heaven at last. So long as the world, the devil, and our own hearts, are what they are, these things must be so.
We shall find it most useful to remember this lesson ourselves, and to impress it upon others. Few things do so much harm in religion as exaggerated expectations. People look for a degree of worldly comfort in Christ's service which they have no right to expect and, not finding what they look for, are tempted to give up religion in disgust. Happy is he who thoroughly understands, that though Christianity holds out a crown in the end, it brings also a cross in the way.
Adapted from The Gospel of Matthew by J.C. Ryle (Chapter 10).
Never be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of peace. ~ J. C. Ryle
Quote from Robert's paper:
"Crept in Unawares?"
"Notice our passage calls the men 'ungodly'. The passage reads literally; παρεισέδυσαν γάρ τινες ἄνθρωποι οἱ πάλαι προγεγραμμένοι εἰς τοῦτο τὸ κρῖμα, ἀσεβεῖς; and the word ἀσεβεῖς (asebes) means destitute of reverential awe towards God. There is no fear of the Lord before their eyes. No teacher is qualified in the churches of God, that does not fear God, no matter how popular they are, how many television stations they are on, how many books they have written, how large their church is, how many secular or theological degrees they have, what schools they attended, or what ordinations they possess. Our passage is as plain as anything. The false teacher lacks the fundamental thing; the FEAR OF THE LORD. It is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge."
Thank you for sharing this.
| 2011/2/26 14:40|