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A Change of Plans [10-15-23]

Updated: Nov 5, 2023


October 15, 2023

Jude 3-4

“A Change of Plans”


Put in our modern vernacular, here is a summary of the first two verses of Jude:

Buckle up, folks, because you’re in for quite a ride.


And with that abrupt change of gears, Jude heads off in another direction.


Here are the first two verses again:

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Jude was making sure they understood their resolute and unshakeable position in Jesus Christ before he pushed back against the challenges they

were facing. God had called them into a life of devotion to Jesus Christ. From before the foundation of the world, God had prepared them for a time such as this. Jude wanted them to know that the faith God had given them was unshakeable.


I love how pastor and theologian Tim Challies captures it:

“Our trials should make us better, not worse…We may emerge from them with broken bodies and broken hearts, but should never emerge from them with broken vows, broken honor, broken character.”

That speaks to all manner of difficulties we face. And it reminds us of the deep well of courage, stamina, and fortitude God provides for us to drink from. Because you have been called by God to believe in His son, Jesus Christ, you will persevere. And if you are ever shaken - by the power of that calling - you will not be uprooted. Amen?


So, let’s now turn to verses three and four. I want you to pay attention to a specific revealed in verse three:

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about

our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to

you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.


What’s the first thing you noticed? Right…Jude changed the theme of his letter from what he originally intended. We don’t know exactly what he was going to write. All we know is what we can assume…his intention was to write about the ambitions and beliefs they shared. Clearly, as the first part of verse three indicates, he was highly motivated to focus on the uplifting aspects of their shared lives.


But what happened? “Certain people crept in unnoticed.” I love the varieties of translations of that phrase, “crept in.” One is “came in stealthily.” Another is “crept in unawares.” Then there’s “weaseled their way in.” That’s my favorite. You get the point. An assault on the truth was happening. The most important thing for Jude to write about in that moment was a warning against false teachers. He needed to nip it in the bud.


Here's something to keep in mind:

JUDE’S OBJECTIVE WAS TO WARN THE CHURCH AGAINST HERETICS WHO HAD DISTORTED THE DOCTRINE OF GRACE, TURNING IT INTO AN EXCUSE FOR MORAL LICENSE.


We know Jude had a fondness for the core folks he was addressing. We can hear it in the opening term of endearment in verse three – beloved. It was the common way a father would address his very much loved child. It’s wonderful to see how the love Christ has for us informs our love for each other. Beloved…


But he could not use that word for the false teachers. Their wickedness made sure Jude did not want anything to do with them. The only thing he had for them was a word of condemnation. If they repented, and returned to the one, true gospel, then it would be a different, and changed situation. But until then, Jude was going to box them out from influencing

the church. Because it was all wickedness.


Here’s something I recently read that speaks to today but also reaches back to Jude’s situation. This helps us understand the dangers of the weak excuses people make for compromising with the culture. I hope you’re going to like it:

“Jesus didn’t eat with sinners and tax collectors because he wanted to appear inclusive, tolerant, and accepting. He ate with them to call them to a changed and fruitful life, to die to self, and live for him. His call is transformation of life, not affirmation of identity.”

It's okay to push back assertively against false teachers. It is our love for God and the beauty of His Truth that leads us to reject wickedness. Jude is going to teach us how to do that.


Jude’s starting point is God’s great acts of deliverance, from the exodus from Egypt to it’s ultimate expression in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. I love what Paul says in Romans 13:11:

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to

wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.

God has saved us from sin and death through the cross of Christ and his resurrection. Why would anyone ever turn away from that? Why would anyone ever trade that for anything else? As Paul says in Romans 5:11:

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.


I’m going to let Mr. T have the final word on this point:

“It’s truly amazing and unbelievable that there is a God that is so full of love and mercy, that He is willing to forgive all of our sins! I mean, the courts won’t forgive, but Jesus will…I know, right, who can believe that? You have to be on drugs to believe that, right? Is it really possible, after all that I have done, all that you have done! Wow, that really would be something…It’s a Scam, a trick, A Con, Somebody’s trying to Play you, Don’t Fall for that, it’s a Trap. I mean you would have to be the biggest fool in the world to

believe that, Right?”

Seems to me Mr. T is familiar with Jude. Why would you fall for the lies of false teachers if you knew the gospel? Why would you?


Here’s something you might want to write down:

JUDE IS CALLING YOU TO CONTEND FOR THE FAITH.


Make no mistake. Every generation has to contend for the truth of the faith. It started with the first generation of Christians. That’s how intense the wickedness was. Jesus’ brother, James had already been martyred, but Jude wasn’t martyred until twenty years later, and the opposition to the One, True Gospel had already begun. People’s wickedness is unbound.


But never forget. Wickedness unbound has been around since the dawn of time. God reveals His truth, and people oppose it. Sometimes vigorously. God promised His saving truth…that Jesus would crush the serpent’s head and make the way for salvation from sin and death and hell.

God built on the promise throughout Scripture. But through it all, there has been opposition to the truth. People have abandoned the truth. They have lost heart for the truth. They have given up the fight for the truth.


But then, along came Jude. He paused what he planned to write, in order to contend for the truth. Here’s what Jude was up against:

THE DEADLIEST ASSAULTS AGAINST THE TRUTH COME FROM THE INSIDE.

Are you with me on that?


What Jude faced, in theological terms, is called apostasy. Here are the two main types of apostasy:

(1) A falling away from key and true doctrines of the Bible into heretical teachings that claim to be “the real” Christian doctrine, and (2) A complete renunciation of the Christian faith, which results in a full abandonment of Christ.

That is exactly what Jude was up against. Every sound and solid institution

is dismantled from the inside out. That was the fundamental threat

identified by Jude. There were theologically corrupt termites eating away at the foundation of the church.


We’ll end with the Carpocratians. They were emblematic of the rot, from the inside out, faced by the church. It is thought to be the mindset Jude was so desperate to reject and correct.


The Carpocratians were a Gnostic sect founded by Carpocrates of Alexandria.


Gnosticism was a heresy that developed as soon as the church began expanding outside of Jerusalem. Here’s the best synopsis of Gnosticism I could find:

Gnosticism was perhaps the most dangerous heresy that threatened the early church during the first three centuries. Influenced by such philosophers as Plato, Gnosticism is based on two false premises. First, it espouses a dualism regarding spirit and matter. Gnostics assert that matter is inherently evil and spirit is good. As a result of this presupposition, Gnostics believe anything done in the body, even the grossest sin, has no meaning because real life exists in the spirit realm only. Second, Gnostics claim to possess an elevated knowledge, a “higher truth” known only to a certain few. Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means “to know.” Gnostics claim to possess a higher knowledge, not from the Bible, but acquired on some mystical higher plane of existence. Gnostics see themselves as a privileged class elevated above everybody else by their higher, deeper knowledge of God.

And these were the people weaseling their way into the early church. As Jude dealt with them back then, so today we are battling variations of this persistent heresy.


Here are some of the highlights – or lowlights, if you prefer – of Carpocratian beliefs and practices:

  • They had power over all things and had the liberty to do whatever they desired.

  • A radical doctrine of equality, erasing the distinction between yours and mine.

  • Wives were considered common property.

  • Church community meals ended in orgies.

These aberrant and abhorrent practices were making inroads into the church. Every generation of believers, beginning with the example set by Jude, must stand firm in the truth of the Christian life, as given by Jesus Christ. Anything less is an abomination.


We’ll end here with a warning. Be cautious when anyone, speaking on how the church should respond to certain modern challenges, says, “We don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.” When that happens, you know you are heading into dangerous, gnostic territory.


Finally, a reality check:

“THE CONTEMPORARY PLAGUE OF BIBLICAL AND THEOLOGICAL ILLITERACY AND THE RESULTING DOCTRINAL IGNORANCE MAKES CHRISTIANS SUSCEPTIBLE TO WIDE SMILE AND EAR-TICKLING HALF-TRUTH.”

  • Chris Larson

That’s why it’s important to teach essential truth from Jude. Covenant Church will always hold firm to solid Biblical truth.












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