Wednesday, November 11, 2020

False Teachers and Apostates

"For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord" (Jude 4)

The short epistle of Jude is quite similar to the second chapter of 2 Peter, and today we shall consider them together. Jude identifies himself as the “brother of James” (Jude 1). He could be the apostle Jude, brother of James “the lesser,” whom Herod executed (Acts 12). More likely he was brother of James, the brother of Jesus Christ, who presided over the Jerusalem Church and who wrote the epistle of James.

2 Peter 2 warns that false teachers will arise in the church; Jude says they have arrived. Thus, it seems that Jude was written after 2 Peter, though some have argued the other way. Both writers use the same imagery to describe these heretics.

It seems that there was an apostasy within the first generation of the church. We see it referred to in Paul’s letters as well. This apostasy was led by false teachers (usually Judaizers, but others also), who were rebellious against the leaders in the church. In every generation we find men who want to be leaders and teachers, and who refuse to remain under the authority of those older and wiser than they. They begin to speak against the “glories,” probably a reference to the pastors and elders in the church (2 Peter 2:10 and Jude 8). They draw new converts and unstable people around themselves and start a new church, which rapidly becomes a sect or a cult. This has happened over and over again through church history, and it is happening today.

Although they have a show of spirituality, in their hearts they are no better than the wicked before the Flood and the men of Sodom (2 Peter 2:4–10; Jude 6–7). They want power, like Korah who rebelled against Moses; and usually they want wealth as well, like Balaam who cursed the ancient church; and they are willing like Cain to murder souls in order to get what they want (Jude 11; 2 Peter 2:15).

They are blemishes on the robe of Christ’s bride, and they defile the worship and festivities of the church with their continual grumbling and faultfinding (2 Peter 2:13; Jude 12, 16). They accuse the leaders of the church of being “tyrants,” and offer freedom. In the end, however, they only deliver people back into bondage to sin and Satan (2 Peter 2:18–22).

Probably the strongest language in the New Testament is found in 2 Peter 2 and Jude. Read these two chapters and allow yourself to feel the force of the language. This is a revelation of how God views those who lead rebellions in His church. If you’ve been a grumbler, take time to turn your grumbling into prayer and thanksgiving.