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071314 - Trustworthy
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July 16, 2014 12:09 PM PDT
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II Corinthians 1:15-22, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia ~ II Corinthians 1c ~ 071314

Last week we finished with Paul essentially saying that he and the Corinthians were spiritually linked with each other… he goes on to say…

SLIDE: (A FORTIORI) II Corinthians 1:15-22 ~ 15In this confidence I intended at first to come to you, so that you might twice receive a blessing; 16that is, to pass your way into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and by you to be helped on my journey to Judea. 17Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no at the same time? 18But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. 19For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. 20For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. 21Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

These verses constitute a rhetorical A Fortiori argument.

It is difficult to smoothly translate it into English.

The gist is that some of the Corinthians were trying to destroy Paul’s influence by impugning his character by attacking his changing travel plans.

They claimed he was a liar, or at least that he was erratic, and therefore he was untrustworthy. Other people in the church were swayed by their attack.

It happens all the time. A minister is accused of some wrong by his enemies – the wrong is distorted to look as bad as possible and then is completely blown out of proportion. What’s most grievous is other “well-intentioned” Christians jump on the bandwagon.

Paul had to defend himself – again, NOT for his sake, BUT for their sake – for the sake of their faith.

It is a short walk from “Paul is not trustworthy,” to, Paul’s message about Jesus, is not trustworthy.

The Corinthians were now saved children of God because Paul had been faithful in accurately, seriously and consistently delivering to them the Word of God.

Paul is saying, if he had been so trustworthy in that most important arena, how much more could he be trusted in trivial matters.

Paul loves the A Fortiori argument, which is an argument from the greater to the lesser. People pronounce it many different ways, but it is Latin and the Latin pronunciation is…

From one of the Pink Panther movies, “Does your dog bite?” “No.” “I thought you said your dog does not bite!” “That’s not my dog.” My dog does not bite BECAUSE I don’t have a dog.

Paul uses A Fortiori arguments about 20 times in his epistles. Such as, Romans 5:8&9, 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

Or, 1 Corinthians 6:3, “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”

Paul is following his Lord, because Jesus used the style Himself such as in Luke 12:28, “But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!”

That’s what’s going on here. Paul is saying, “You trusted me with the revelation from God that enabled your salvation, how much more should you trust me in my travel plans.”

There are a couple of details in his argument worth pointing out…

SLIDE: BIG PICTURE MAP WITH VERSES 15&16 ~

It seems like Paul is saying that his presence constitutes a blessing for the Corinthians… Like, “I intended to come to you twice, so that you would then receive twice the blessing.”

He’s really saying that he planned to be sent on his way twice – once to Macedonia and the second time to Judea…

The Corinthian double blessing was that they would help Paul go forth two separate times to engage in ministry.

That was their blessing – to be able to participate in God’s ministry by partnering with Paul twice.

The NASB doesn’t do a very good job of it here, but the NET Bible catches the nuance; it says, “I intended to come to you first so that you would get a second opportunity to see us, and through your help to go on into Macedonia and then from Macedonia to come back to you and be helped on our way into Judea by you.”

So, are you confused about what’s going on with the travel plans?

SLIDE: MAP REALITY AT THE TIME OF WRITING ~

Paul was living in Ephesus on his 3rd Missionary Journey. From there he wrote two letters…
1) The “Previous” Letter
2) I Corinthians

Then he visited (“Painful”) them, travelling directly back and forth across the Aegean.
3) “Painful” Visit

He followed that up with a third (“Severe”) letter
4) The “Severe” Letter

Then after the Demetrius Riot near death travelling through Asia to Troas and on to Macedonia.

Where he wrote this letter (II Corinthians) we are reading today.

SLIDE: MAP OF PLAN “A” ~

Paul articulated PLAN “A,” in I Corinthians 16… Ephesus to Macedonia to Corinth to Jerusalem.

SLIDE: MAP OF PLAN “B” ~

PLAN “B” from II Corinthians 1 that we just read was, Ephesus to Corinth for help to Macedonia, back to Corinth again for help to Jerusalem.

SLIDE: MAP Close of 3rd MISSIONARY JOURNEY

This is what actually happened… As we saw previously, Paul was living in Ephesus on his 3rd Missionary Journey. From there he wrote three letters (including I Corinthians) to the Corinthians and also visited (“Painful”) them.

He travelled through Asia to Macedonia where he wrote this letter (II Corinthians).

After this letter he travelled to Corinth and spent the winter with them.

He then had to go back to Macedonia and follow along the coast of Asia to Miletus just south of Ephesus where he met with the Ephesian Elders.

From there he went on to Jerusalem where he was ultimately arrested. He spent two years in prison at Caesarea followed by two more years in prison in Rome.

Because Paul made the painful visit and there was a near riot in Ephesus and a whole host of other factors, his plans did in fact change.

Paul did not deny having to change his travel plans. What he vehemently denied was changing his plans in a capricious, irrational or irresponsible way.

SLIDE: AMEN & AMEN ~ VERSE 20 ~

Paul’s argument is that just as God is faithful to fulfill His promises in Christ Jesus, so also his preaching was faithful.

The proof of Paul’s TRUSTWORTHY preaching was that it…

1) Enabled their true salvation. In essence, IF the Corinthians were saved, it was because they were saved through the Message Paul brought, proving that Paul was trustworthy.

When they praised God for His Grace “THE AMEN,” they were in part thanking God for sending them Paul.

2) Further, Paul’s message was consistent. Paul, Timothy and Silvanus (the Latin for the Greek name Silas used by Luke in the Book of Acts) preached the same Message.

In I Corinthians 15:11, Paul said that whichever Apostle preached – it was all the same Message – the same Gospel. That’s how you know – whether Timothy or Silvanus, Barnabas or Apollos, Peter or John, or Paul, they all had the same story.

No new revelation, no new creative way to understand Scripture, no new individual insight can ever change the Truth or it wasn’t Truth to start with.

Again, all of this is for the sake of the Corinthians’ continued faith in Jesus.

This is why Pastors, Elders, Deacons and really every Christian must be trustworthy.

If people cannot trust you, how can they trust your testimony about Jesus?

Think how flakey some Christians are… (Larry and Christian radio) (Our experience with subcontractors). That’s NOT the direct point Paul is making – His point is the reverse…

~

God has never failed to keep His promises… With God it is always a resounding YES!

Because God has fulfilled His greatest promise – the promise of true relationship with Him - the Corinthians shout Amen to His glory.

Their Shout of Amen, Hebrewאָמֵן
Greek ἀμήν (ä-mān) meaning “So be it,” truly or really, YES!

The Corinthians were saying YES to God.

And when they did that they were not only recognizing God’s Glory, they were simultaneously recognizing the faithful, trustworthy and steadfast teaching of Paul.

We need to be open and honest, forthright and trustworthy… because IF people cannot trust our character, they cannot trust our testimony about Jesus.

Lying and all other types of falsehood are a grievous sin for many reasons, not the least of which is trying to get something you can’t get with the truth.

But perhaps most of all because it makes your message about Jesus unreliable.

If you will lie about the trivial matters of life how could you possibly be trusted to tell the truth about eternal things?

As Jesus and James said, let your yes be yes and your no be no… Character may not matter for the President of the United States anymore, but it does matter for the Child of God.

SLIDE: VERSES 21&22 TEETER TOTER

In verses 21&22 there are four key words describing what God has done for the Believer. God did it for the original Christians – in precisely the same way He did it for Paul, likewise He did it for the Corinthian Believers and Almighty God has done it for you as well.

It has not changed – your salvation is identical to Paul’s salvation 2,000 years ago.

As a Christian…

1) God has “Established” you in Christ.

2) He has “Anointed” you.

3) God has “Sealed” you.

4) And He has in-filled you with His Breath as a “Pledge.”

1) “Establishes” is βεβαιόω (bĕ-bī-ŏ-ō). That’s a good English word for it. But there are two things beyond our initial take on it…

First, to be “Established” in this way means that you have been placed in a different category or on a different path than before.

I’m treading water in the middle of the ocean about to drown and someone plucks me out of the water and sets me on firm ground.

I’m no longer in any danger of drowning… I am in a completely different situation now.

“Establishes” is a present, active participle meaning that the past act of establishing you has present and abiding implications… It is now WHO and WHAT and, if you like, WHERE you are.

Second, we are so self-focused we almost immediately forget that it is an “Establishing together with all other Christians. God has “Established us into the one true Body of Christ.” There is absolutely no such thing as “Lone Ranger Christianity.”

2) We are “Anointed” by God. The word is χρίω (ĉȑē-ō) the verb to anoint. Χριστός (ĉȑēs-tŏs) is the one who was anointed.

It is Χριστός καὶ χρίω, He who establishes “us with you in” the Anointed One and likewise anoints us.

Where the “Establishing” sets us apart, the “Anointing” sets us apart for a purpose. We are set into our new category our new path our new situation to SERVE God.

Salvation isn’t simply to save us from something, but even more it is to save us in to something.

3) You are “Sealed.” The participle σφραγίζω (sphȑă-gēdz-ō) means to put your personal seal on something. The commander of the Guard put his seal on Jesus’ tomb. Paul put his seal on his letters by signing in his own handwriting. God put seven seals on His Book of Judgment and Redemption as seen in Revelation 5.

A seal did a few different things like ensure the contents were genuine, preserve a package’s integrity or mark the authority over a thing, but all of it boils down to one inescapable fact…

A seal is a sign of ownership.

I send you a letter and put my seal on it. I am the owner of that letter guaranteeing the contents right up until someone breaks my seal.

I put my seal on a steer in the form of a brand and I am telling the world that I own that steer.

The meaning here can carry different nuances like God is preserving us for Judgment, but the overriding primary meaning is that God has branded you and me with His seal of ownership.

If you are a Christian – you belong to Almighty God!

4) The final thing is the Holy Spirit deposit in our hearts. Every Christian who has ever existed and all who will exist in the future receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God at the moment of salvation.

Any belief that denies that is heresy.

The idea that you need to get your act together, perform to some special level conduct, be elected to some high church office or attain to some super spiritual plane in order to receive and be filled with the Holy Spirit is as wrong as thinking Barak Obama is the Messiah.

The Holy Spirit is given to completely imperfect Christians for many reasons, like enabling growth and giving comfort, but the greatest IMPLICATION of receiving the Breath of God – the Spirit of Christ – the Holy Spirit is it proves we are God’s children.

In that way it is a pledge… Pledge is ἀρραβών (äȑ-ȑä-bōn). It is a noun working together with the participle “Gave.”

I don’t like the translation “Pledge.” Not because it isn’t a good word – it just isn’t a word we understand anymore.

We used to say the “Pledge of Allegiance,” which meant that we were committing ourselves to our country. It was a patriotic promise followed up by patriotic acts like storming the beaches at Normandy.

A “Pledge” is a PROMISE. It is a deposit or collateral or earnest money, but ONLY in the older sense of those things.

In the old days a deposit, collateral or earnest money was only the material assurance of the PROMISE a person was making.

It was inconceivable that you would back out on the deal and lose your guarantee!

To do so you lose your credibility – you prove your character is deficient – you show that you are fickle and untrustworthy.

Almighty God gives Christians the Holy Spirit and it is a “Pledge” along with His PROMISE… Is there any way in heaven or on earth that God is going to back out of the deal?

It is as certain as God is God that He will fulfill His promise which is eternal life in Him.
Scott Keller

070614 - The Defense
Clean
July 15, 2014 11:17 AM PDT
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II Corinthians 1:10-14, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia ~ II Corinthians 1b ~ 070614

SLIDE: II Corinthians 1:8-11 ~ 8For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 11you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.

I re-read verses 8&9 to give us context for verses 10&11. By way of a quick review… Paul is writing what was at least his fourth letter to the Corinthians (there may have been more).

The first three we know about were written from Ephesus and this one we call II Corinthians was written from Macedonia.

On Paul’s trip between these two locations he had experienced an epiphany through intense suffering.

He had some sort of affliction that took him to the very end of his resources – to the end of himself.

He was literally at the place where his situation was humanly impossible. All he had left was to cry out to God.

That’s exactly where God wanted Paul.

It seems so strange and so sad that we humans must learn by experience, which is to say, by mistakes.

As a parent, how wonderful would it be if our kids could learn from our pain and loss instead of insisting on experiencing the same?

We humans, even amazing humans like Paul, cannot fully grasp certain concepts without the pain of experience.

Paul learned through this incredible affliction that he could control nothing, but had to instead totally rely on God.

There is no better realization than that. That is the place where the Truth takes root in your life.

Affliction here is our old friend θλῖψις (thlēps-ēs) Paul uses this word and its verb form 12 times in this letter, far more than in any other book of the Bible.

If you remember, θλῖψις means extreme pressure. It is to press, compress or squeeze. Figuratively it is the pressures of life, both external and internal – the things that press you down.

Take clay and put it in a mold and then apply θλῖψις – extreme pressure – the clay will be forced to change, conforming to the shape of the mold.

God’s Purpose for us includes our conformity to Christ Jesus, and pressure is the method, but pressure does no good if the object jumps out of the mold.

Perseverance is, ὑπομονή (hü-pŏ-mŏ-nā) meaning to remain under the extreme pressure, is always associated with a tremendous desire to escape the pressure – to jump out of the mold.

Paul wrote in Romans 5:3b–5a, 3bWe also exult in our tribulations (our θλῖψις – the extreme pressure), knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance (ὑπομονή our willingness to be conformed to the mold); 4and perseverance, proven character (that becomes the conformity to Jesus); and proven character, hope (is our assurance of eternal relationship with God); 5aand hope does not disappoint…

Most of us cannot wait for the trial to run its course. We are surprised, freak out and try everything we can think of to bring pressure to a quick end.

You do not persevere through or endure what is pleasant! An unyielding, defiant perseverance in the face of aggressive misfortune, and actually very courageous – a courageous character just like Jesus.

Do what is reasonable – God gave us a brain, but always remember that God is in control and if you are being “Pressed down,” then “Press in” to Jesus, “Trust God” and be conformed to the mold.

In addition, we see here that God will comfort us when nothing else can, but again, to experience God’s great comfort, one must 1st NEED to be comforted.

SLIDE: SENTENCE OF DEATH

Some scholars believe that the “Sentence of Death” was a death sentence from God. The matter is complicated and would require a fair amount of technical Greek grammar, jumping around through the Bible and explaining Roman law, but it is very interesting and I am persuaded it’s quite possible.

The basic idea is that previous to this affliction, Paul was fairly sure that he would be around to see Jesus return.

After his Asia epiphany it seems he no longer believes that. The theory is that when he had no human power left, he prayed and God responded that Paul would die, but not yet. The “Sentence of Death” meant that Paul would not survive until Jesus returned.

That forced Paul to put even greater trust in God because he now knew he would have to rely on God to raise him from the dead.

Paul would have to relinquish final control and trust that God would give him new life just as Jesus had to trust the Father when He gave up His life.

With such an understanding Paul now knew that he would continue to face θλῖψις, but would no longer be confident that he would survive.

It was all in God’s hands.

Of course Paul knew that before on an intellectual level, now he knew it to the core of his being.

Paul then concludes that as he makes his way ministering his day-to-day, moment-by-moment, continuation was in God’s hands and anyone who actively prayed for Paul would also actively share in rejoicing for God’s providence.

SLIDE: CONTECTED TOGETHER IN PRAYER

He said in verse 11, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.

We pray for a number of different people and situations every week and then we see God’s answer and we rejoice in the favor he bestows…

We become intertwined and interconnected in the Body through our prayer for each other.

It is the finest, truest, Holy Communion.

Binding us together in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, interceding for each other – showing God that His Love is having its intended effect on us by enabling us to love one another as Jesus commanded.

Go through the church directory and pray for each individual listed.

It is such a sin to attend church with people for months and even years and not know their name.

What kind of Holy Communion is that?

1) Pray for the people in this church and you will know your church family better.
2) Pray for one another and you will obey Jesus and please God.
3) Pray together and you will have true Holy Communion.

It is impossible to pray too much. In fact…

SLIDE 2 Corinthians 1:12 ~ 12For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.

It seems like Paul defends himself a lot. Some people really have a problem with him thumping his own drum and I would too, except for the reason he does it.

Sure, if Paul were just trying to make himself feel better, or get others to give him accolades or working to enhance and consolidate his power, then I’m not entirely sure why we would study his writings.

Paul is single-handedly responsible for half of the New Testament Bible. If he’s just a braggart why would that be so?

Every word Paul wrote that we possess as part of the Bible was inspired by the Holy Breath of Almighty God and constitutes the Word of God.

Paul’s purpose, the Holy Spirit’s purpose through Paul, was to assure those early Believers that their faith in the Gospel was well placed.

Any defense Paul makes of himself is for the sole purpose of promoting the Truth of God that sets people free from sin and death.

In defending himself, Paul is not at all interested in himself – he’s interested in them!

Paul is saying, believe me – IF you do, then you believe my message and my message is from the Lord Jesus Christ by the Will of the Father and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Live that message with full assurance and you will live.

Verse 12 is straightforward. Paul is saying that his conscience is clear. I actually like the way he said it in I Corinthians 4:4 (NIV) “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”

Paul says something similar in other places and the gist is something like this…

“I can stand before the God and creator of all things with a clear conscience… it isn’t to say I have been perfect, because I have made mistakes, but I did my best with His grace and I am ready to be judged.”

Can you confidently say that?

SLIDE 2 Corinthians 1:13 ~ 13For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end; 14just as you also partially did understand us, that we are your reason to be proud as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.

Paul has a problem with some of the Corinthians misinterpreting his letters… people have been doing that for 2,000 years!

It was just as difficult to convey important information via the written form then as it is today.

I love using email and phone texts to communicate with people; it is a big help.

Often I am not in a position to take a call or meet in person, but I can usually sent a quick text or email.

At the same time, I absolutely hate using text or email to communicate information that is complicated or emotionally charged because I am invariably misunderstood.

I find it especially difficult to discuss deep Biblical Truth through writing short messages back and forth.

Evidently Paul would agree.

He wrote in I Corinthians 5:9&10a, “9I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10aI did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world…”

It is difficult to write a letter and not open yourself to misinterpretation of your words and that is precisely what some of the Corinthians had done.

While some people might try to twist his words around to take the opposite meaning he intended… he stood by the plain meaning of those words.

The better a person knows me, the more likely it is that they will understand my meaning.

The more a person genuinely wants to understand my meaning the less likely they will distort my message.

Then as now, the Apostle’s words can be distorted, but those who knew Paul then (and who know Paul now through the Bible) will discern his true meaning. Those who truly desire to understand his meaning are far less likely to distort his message.

Some of the Corinthians got some of his message and it was a start.

Paul was saying that he only had the best interests of the Corinthians at heart – that he had a clear conscience and that he had communicated in good faith…

SLIDE: VERSE 14b PRIDE?

The end of verse 14 says, “That we are your reason to be proud as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.”

It is really good to slow down and see the nuance of Biblical Grammar. Of course the Greek grammar, but I mean the English grammar of the translator… they do a wonderful job, but you must pay close attention to catch it.

Many read this and think the Corinthians should be proud of Paul and Paul proud of them.

The application is that you all should be proud of me and me of you.

That’s basically true, but it’s only true because of other Biblical passages – NOT this one.

The third phrase modifies the other two. “The day of our Lord Jesus” is the Day of Judgment.

On the day the Corinthians stand before God – those who partially understood (meaning grasp, accept and live) Paul’s Message and kept working to understand it better until the end would be very proud of their status as accepted into God’s presence forever.

The reason for that pride would be God’s work through Paul towards them.

To the degree to which they did understand Paul and accept his message from Jesus, they would be in relationship with God now, but far more when it became fully effective on the last day.

A relationship that they could be proud of just as Paul would be proud of their acceptance by God as the one God used in the process of reaching them.

SLIDE: ONE – THREE SUMMARY ~

So what have we learned?

1) We reviewed the principle from last week that it is absolutely necessary for us to be afflicted before we can be comforted.

It is unfortunately required that we come to an end of ourselves and our resources before we fully grasp that God’s in control and place our full TRUST in Him.

Murray Harris put it this way concerning Paul, “He had learned the spiritual lesson that for the Christian self-reliance not only is inadequate to meet the demands of a life that is pleasing to the Lord (cf. 5:9; Col. 1:10) but also constitutes an affront to God on whom we are totally dependent for our physical and spiritual well-being.” Whatever your circumstance, PRAY fervently, DO your best, TRUST God with the rest.

2) The ultimate TRUST is to let go of your physical life. Dylan Thomas wrote…
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

I love the poem and I agree that life is a precious gift from God so we should PRAY and DO, but if it is our time, as Christians, we should go joyously into that “Good night,” with full TRUST in God to raise us again.

3) Pray for one another and together with each other – it is the finest Holy Communion.

4) PRAY fervently, DO your best and TRUST God with the rest…

To the point where you can stand next to the Apostle Paul and say with him, “I have a clear conscience… I have made mistakes, but I did my best with Your grace and I am ready to be judged.”

SLIDE: FOUR – SIX SUMMARY ~

5) Communication is far more difficult than we think and is actually a two-way street… You need to work diligently to understand what I mean.

Feedback is the best way to determine whether or not I have conveyed my meaning to you – that’s why I want some tiny expression or reaction…

“Say oh Cari.”

6) We learned that as much as we are able to grasp God’s Message we are in more accurate relationship with God. We will be proud of our status on the Day of Judgment. And our status is owed to God, but also to those people willingly used by God to affect our walk.

Tying all that together, we can see that the path is to be serious about gaining a better understanding of God through His Message to us and then living that message.

SLIDE: FINISH

Whatever our circumstances we PRAY fervently, we DO our best and we TRUST God with the rest.

062914 - God is Comfort
Clean
June 30, 2014 08:23 AM PDT
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II Corinthians 1:1-9, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ III John 1a ~ 062214

Apollo Temple & Acropolis

SLIDE: BEGIN II CORINTHIANS

Have a little fun today…

SLIDE: P 46 200 A.D. Start of II Corinthians
SLIDE: P 46 Blown up
SLIDE: P 46 Alphabet
SLIDE: P 46 Greek
SLIDE: P 46 LEXICON
SLIDE: P 46 English
ΠΡΟΣ ΚΟΡΙΝΘΙΟΥΣ Β´
1 Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Τ(ε)ιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφὸς τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ, 2 χάρις καὶ ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Let’s first talk briefly about the ancient city of Corinth.

SLIDE: SAT MAP of the eastern hemisphere

Greece and the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

SLIDE: SAT MAP of the Aegean Sea ~

Written to Corinth, from Macedonia (Philippi) Paul was in Ephesus for I Corinthians and moved through Asia and Troas on to Philippi.

SLIDE: SAT MAP CORINTH

The city of Corinth was founded in about 750 B.C. and while they fought with the Spartans against Athens during the Peloponnesian War they later fought against Sparta during the Corinthian War.

The wars left the city-states weak and allowed Philip of Macedon to conquer and consolidate Greece in time for his son Alexander to finally defeat the Persians with a united force in 323 B.C.

In 146 B.C. the Romans destroyed Corinth, but 100 years later in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar ordered it rebuilt in lavish style as the Capital of the Roman province of Achaea. Achaia/Achaea is [(ä-key,kay,kiy-ä) it is ä-ĉī-ä in Latin but Ἀχαΐα (ä-ĉä-ē-ä) in Greek]

Notice that because of Isthmus of Corinth which is the narrow strip of land connecting mainland Greece and the Peloponnesian Peninsula ships would travel around the peninsula adding 430 miles to their journey.

Periander, the King of Corinth about 700 years before Christ, wanted to dig a canal connecting the Ionian and Aegean seas.

Even though the distance is slightly less than 4 miles, it was too big an undertaking at the time (600 years later Julius Caesar was willing to dig, but before he could get started, he went to the Theatre of Pompey on the Ides of March. Nero actually started construction, but didn’t get very far.

Because of their strategic location on land and water trade routes Corinth became one of the richest, largest and most powerful cities in ancient history.

So the city the Apostle Paul lived in and communicated with was a vibrant, wealthy, cosmopolitan city boasting a population of approximately 250,000 people with relatively new buildings and infrastructure.

In this satellite image you can see that the canal was finally dug creating a man-made island out of the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

It was finished in the late 1800’s connecting the Ionian Sea (Gulf of Corinth) and the Aegean Sea (Saronic Gulf).

Notice the mountain outcropping where the acropolis of Corinth stood and realize that the city extended all the way to the Bay of Corinth in the Ionian Sea controlling the road and both ports on either side of the isthmus.

SLIDE: Temple of Apollo & the Acropolis

On his 2nd Missionary Journey the Apostle Paul left Athens and travelled the 48 miles to Corinth in 50 A.D. where he lived for 18 months.

SLIDE: BEMA SEAT OF GALLIO

In Acts 18 Paul is brought before Gallio the Governor of Achaea in the summer of 51 A.D. – this is the Bema Seat of Gallio complete with the ancient inscription.

At that time Gallio’s brother Seneca was the personal tutor of the soon-to-be Emperor Nero.

I Corinthians is really Paul’s 2nd letter (I Corinthians 5:9) and II Corinthians is his 4th letter to them (II Corinthians 7:8).

SLIDE: chronology

Paul’s lived in Corinth from the fall of 50 until the spring of 52 establishing the Corinthian church.

Paul wrote his first, now lost, letter from Ephesus in early 55.

Timothy reported problems after returning.

Paul wrote and sent his second letter, our Bible Book I Corinthians in the spring 55.

Paul sent Titus later in the summer of 55 and when all of that did no good Paul personally visited them in what is known as the “Painful Visit” in the fall of 55.

Once Paul returned to Ephesus he sent Titus with the third letter known as the “Severe Letter” in the spring of 56.

Paul moved through Asia departing from the port city of Troas (nearly dying) shortly after still in the spring of 56.

Paul had settled in Macedonia, probably Philippi, when Titus caught up with him in the summer of 56.

Paul then sent his fourth letter, our book II Corinthians with Titus in the fall of 56.

SLIDE: II Corinthians 1:1-3 ~ 1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia: 2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort

SLIDE: HIGHLIGHT PAUL AN APOSTLE ~

This is the standard opening for a letter of that time… From, to, greetings.

It is from Paul, “AN Apostle” as in NOT the only one, but also with a qualitative sense.

Not “An Apostle” as a title or a position, so much as an abiding reality of who Paul is whether he or anyone else wants it so.

Why? Because his role was not his idea.

Paul never sought the job, put in an application, sent a resume. No congress of Cardinals appointed him – there was no conclave of Bishops who voted him in… Paul was “An Apostle,” by God’s divine and Sovereign WILL.

“An Apostle” by God’s choice, but to what end and purpose? Solely to represent the interests of Jesus the Christ. ANY Christian minister who does not put Christ first and foremost is not serving Christ or the will of God.

SLIDE: HIGHLIGHT TIMOTHY OUR BROTHER ~

People think that Timothy is mentioned here because he either co-authored the letter or because he was Paul’s Amanuensis or scribe – the secretary taking the dictation.

Both are wrong for technical reasons I won’t bore you with. Timothy was well known to the Corinthians and Paul was saying Timothy is with me on the content of my letter to you.

SLIDE: HIGHLIGHT CORINTHIANS

The letter is “To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia.”

This may not seem like much, but it is full of subtle meaning.

Paul is saying that the church in Corinth is not only not their church it is not unique at all.

The Corinthians had a reputation for arrogance.

Paul is pointedly saying that the church in Corinth is God’s church which happens to be located in Corinth.

Secondly, he adds that the Corinthian Christians are no better than their “poor country cousins.” The Corinthian city slickers were cultured elite snobs compared to the provincial fools outside of the city.

It is like the attitude of a New Yorker when meeting someone from a Holler in West Virginia.

Paul diplomatically, but unmistakably reminds them that they are just one small part of the Christian community – not the elite of that community.

SLIDE: V 2 HIGHLIGHT BLESSING

Grace is God’s unmerited kindness to you through Jesus the Lord and the Christ and when embraced it establishes peace between you and God.

SLIDE: V 3 HIGHLIGHT DOXOLOGY

Some people call verse three a eulogy instead of a doxology – it is really both. A good word about God as well as a call to praise His name.

Verse Three is Chiastic in making an “X” structure… first the God and Father, then the Father and God.

The primary thing I would like you to see here is that Paul highlights two characteristics of God as a loving Father that he will devote a lot of this letter to exploring.

Mercy and comfort.

SLIDE: II Corinthians 1:4-7 ~ 4who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

When Paul makes a Greco-Roman Rhetorical Argument it does not translate very well into English.

It can seem like he’s just babbling… BUT, trust me, he’s not!

SLIDE: STANZAS OF THE VERSES

In each stanza he reiterates his argument and adds to it… every word serves a purpose.

Instead of taking you through it line-by-line in a technical and tedious way I’m just going to try to summarize his meaning.

He is saying that Almighty God is the source of all ultimate comfort.

That Comfort on an infinite and eternal scale is a fundamental core characteristic of WHO God is…

God is Love – God is Light – God is Truth and likewise God IS Comfort.

To better grasp what Paul is talking about we need to go on and see the specific experience he’s thinking about…

SLIDE: II Corinthians 1:8&9 ~ 8For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;

Paul had just come through a near riot in Ephesus when a pagan silversmith named Demetrius riled up the citizens against Him and his Christian friends (Acts 19).

Paul left the city and traveled north through Asia and encountered something that took all the starch out of his shirt.

There are as many ideas about Paul’s affliction as there are people who study it… we don’t have enough information to be certain.

It could have been a very serious illness or persecution following him from Ephesus or some new threat.

Whatever it was Paul finally came to the end of his rope. When a person is at the end of their rope, they are at an end of themselves.

There is nothing left to do, but cry out to God.

Paul was arguably the most self-sufficient of all the Apostles personally chosen by Jesus in accordance with God’s Will.

If anyone could make it on their own without any help from God it was Paul.

He was a Roman citizen from a well-regarded and probably wealthy family.

He grew up in Tarsus, the capital city of Cilicia and the headquarters of Marc Antony and Cleopatra. It was a free city, exempt from Imperial tax and was a city of higher learning with one of the largest libraries in the world and a school rivaling those of Athens and Alexandria.

Paul was a trained Pharisee and his mentor was none other than Gamaliel grandson of Hillel. It would be like learning physics from Stephen Hawking. Like earning a law degree from Yale.

In addition Paul had a powerful personality, an ability to roll up his sleeves and work hard, an amazing intellect, a fierce drive, great rhetorical skills and supreme confidence.

He was fluent in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and probably Latin… If anyone had reason to trust their own abilities it was Paul.

When you really study him you can see his tendency towards self-sufficiency come out. That’s why he fights against it so hard… there is something to fight.

Something happened in Asia that took him beyond anything he could affect or bear.

It was a God-given epiphany for Paul… He realized more than ever before that he was completely dependent upon God.

It is a horrible place to be and at the same time the very best thing that can happen to a person.

I would not be standing here today IF God had not likewise taken me to that place.

This is how God works because this is the only way we humans can fully grasp the reality that we are NOT in control.

Look at Abraham and Sarah… God gives them a son only after all human hope is gone.

God then says kill the son born to you.

By that time Abraham had faith that God could do anything and that God was in complete control of all things.

Abraham could not guarantee that Isaac would live long enough to have children, but God could.

A young man named Jon Meis was hailed as a hero after stopping a gunman. He said that he was faced with a life or death situation and responded as God empowered him.

That’s good, but the reason I bring it up is that he also said he now realized that for there to be a hero there must first be a tragedy.

No military guy is a hero until he is in combat – no cop is a hero until he is faced with intense violence – no firefighter is a hero until he saves a life in jeopardy of ending – no Christian can fully grasp God’s comfort until he or she is severely afflicted.

Flight training is all just theory until you strap your little pink body into the jet.

Your intense, down to the last thread of hope, affliction paves the ONLY way to experience God’s superabundant comfort.

The purpose is manifold, but here it is specifically for the purposes of… 1 really knowing Who is in control, 2 personally experiencing God’s comfort and 3 gaining the ability of comforting other Christians in their affliction.

God’s all-sufficient comfort follows affliction as surly as effect follows cause.

God will comfort you at precisely the right time and in precisely the right way.

After He does you will know Him better than you ever could have otherwise and you will be a comfort to others.

Pray that you might experience more of God and then brace yourself for the storm… it is the only way.

Will you pray that?

062214 - Participate in Ministry
Clean
June 26, 2014 11:25 AM PDT
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III John, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ III John 1a ~ 062214

SLIDE: III JOHN, APOSTLE OF LOVE & TRUTH ~

So, the third (3rd) and final letter from the Apostle John. As with II John this is a short letter and is actually the shortest book of the Bible.

As I mentioned before, by the time John wrote his Gospel, his Apocalypse and his three epistles, he was living in the city of Ephesus (straight east across the Aegean Sea on the Western coast of modern-day Turkey).

John had a kind of community, an extended church or a school where other Apostles and disciples who personally knew Jesus would visit.

There were many students learning from John and his associates to include the future Bishops Polycarp, Ignatius and Papias…

By this point he was probably in his 70’s or 80’s and was the last Apostle remaining. He truly was THE Elder as he calls himself.

Not only THE Elder of Ephesus or the Asian Province, but really of the entire Christian community at the time.

SLIDE: hierarchy PYRIMID

Even before Christianity was 100 years old there was a kind of hierarchy.

There was John followed by Bishops presiding over whole cities and then pastors presiding over individual churches within those cities and then Deacons assisting the pastors.

We can see how easy it was to add more layers of leadership… Archbishops presiding over whole provinces and Cardinals working as advisors directly to the most prominent Elder later called the Pope.

Do we have it wrong then? Are the Catholics correct?

You will find that although a hierarchy of leadership came into effect almost immediately it was never thought of at that time as levels of ever greater power and prestige, but the opposite as layers of pastoral care and concern.

None of the Apostles or their disciples ever thought themselves as better than the newest convert.

Hierarchy is important to keep good order and discipline and was very much needed in the first three centuries, but as man corrupted the church by using the system for personal power and profit it became the machine capable of introducing heresies to the widest possible audience with the greatest effectiveness.

They say, “To go against the Church is to go against God.” Billy Jack said, “When policemen break the law, there is no law; only the struggle to survive.”

When the Church goes against God then it must be corrected and if that is impossible it must be opposed.

That is precisely what happened 500 years ago.

The Protestant Reformation means exactly what its name implies.

It was a protest against the ungodly practices and doctrines of the Church and when it became obvious the Church would not change it became a re-formation of the Church.

The church from our tiny family here, to the Global church will always be susceptible to the evil inclinations of men who use it for personal power, glory, wealth and influence.

We must fight against the abuses that inevitably creep in.

There is a ditch on both sides of this road as well.

One ditch is to disassociate with other Christians who are a bit different because it leads to isolation and isolation leads to holier-than-thou cliquishness at best and destructive cults at worst.

The other ditch is to be too friendly with those who hold burgeoning heretical views because it leads to compromise.

We need to be engaged with other Christians and be an integral part of the larger Body of Christ, but we need to also be careful that we are not swept away by unbiblical beliefs.

John writes a personal communication to his friend Gaius.

SLIDE: DEAR JOHN LETTER ~

While we know that THE Elder is John, we cannot be sure who Gaius was.

Gaius was the second-most common Roman name, following Lucius. An example is Gaius Julius Caesar. Even though we rarely mention his name Gaius – it was actually his given name and is what his family and closest friends called him.

It was so common it became synonymous with “a man” in general. Like our name John, as in, a “Dear John” letter. An unidentified body as a “John Doe” or the police use for a criminal as in he’s the “John.”

While men named Gaius are mentioned in other Bible books it is doubtful that this is the same dude.

SLIDE BIG PICTURE OVERVIEW

What happened to occasion this short postcard? John and his group sent out Evangelistic teachers from Ephesus to make the circuit through the churches especially in Asia.

This served to keep the Christian community at large in touch with each other and with true doctrine.

That was precisely what Jesus ordered John to do…

In Matthew 28:19&20, Jesus specifically commanded His eleven remaining Apostles to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” John was fulfilling his mandate from Christ.

In this particular case, John had sent out evangelists armed with a letter from him for the receiving church in another city.

The letter would have also contained an introduction/recommendation for the bearers.

When the evangelists showed up a dude in the local church named Diotrephes spoke out against them and the Apostle John.

In a sense, John was exerting his apostolic authority over that local church and Diotrephes was having none of it.

Because he rejected John’s authority, his letter and his disciples he would not allow anyone in the community to lodge the evangelists.

If he wasn’t the leader before, his opposition to John cemented his personal power. In rejecting them he wrested all control in church and any who opposed him were thrown out of the church.

The majority of the congregation fell into line behind the dictatorial despot Diotrephes. Dictators cannot stand without the cooperation of the majority of the people they rule.

Gaius, however, refused to follow suit and took the men into his home.

This letter we call III John was delivered to Gaius by Demetrius in order for John to commend Gaius’ Godly behavior, reassure him Diotrephes would be dealt with and encourage him to persevere.

With that much overview, let’s travel back in time nearly 2,000 years, and read John’s letter to Gaius…

SLIDE: III JOHN 1- VERSE ~ 1The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. 2Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. 3For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. 4I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

5Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; 6and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.

8Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth. 9I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. 10For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words;

and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. 11Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God. 12Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone,

and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true. 13I had many things to write to you, but I am not willing to write them to you with pen and ink; 14but I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak face to face. 15Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

SLIDE: OUTLINE OF THE BOOK

This personal letter from John to Gaius helps us to recognize a balance and a harmony with what we studied in II John that we finished last week.

It is short and sweet – there is the 1) standard opening. The 2) main body, commending Gaius for doing it right and rebuking Diotrephes for doing it wrong. Then the 3) finish introducing Demetrius.

There seems to be very little going on here outside of having the opportunity to eavesdrop on the conversation between the aged Apostle who once rested his head against the chest of Jesus and a Godly Christian man.

That ought to be enough, but I think we can find something even better than that if we examine the short letter closely.

SLIDE: III JOHN LOVE & TRUTH HIGHLIGHT ~

In addition to the 4 times in 15 verses that John addresses Gaius as beloved, ἀγαπητός, i.e. the one he Agapês… In verse one the Apostle of Love & Truth emphatically says that he personally Agapês Gaius… “Whom I Love in Truth.” Agapê IN Alêtheia.

It is identical to verse one in II John. Again, John is NOT saying that he truly loves Gaius – which he does – John is saying that the whole reason he truly Agapês Gaius is because of the TRUTH, the Alêtheia from God that informs and motivates his being.

It is the Alêtheia Truth that John mentions 7 times in 15 verses that enables the Agapê Love that fills John’s heart for Gaius.

It is the fact that Gaius likewise walks in Alêtheia Truth that makes the heart of John soar with joy.

Nothing pleases a pastor’s heart more than seeing people live Christian Truth by extending Christian love.

That’s what Gaius had done… Gaius proved that he was “Walking in the Truth” as evidenced by his love noted specifically in verse 6.

He had extended Agapê to Christian strangers even though it cost him a lot more than some inconvenience and some groceries.

God’s Truth was manifested in Gaius by his Love.

SLIDE: III JOHN VERSE 2 HIGHLIGHT

I want to point out something worth thinking about in verse 2… Daniel Akin asked this question, “What if such a prayer was made to God for me and it was answered? What condition would I find myself in…?”

Prosper and be in good health in the same degree that your spiritual life is in order.

If your wealth was proportional to your spiritual health, would God be giving you Benjamins or would He be giving you a handful of change? Perhaps some of us would owe Him.

Would you be happy to have the exact same health physically that you are currently experiencing spiritually?

Now, that’s not John’s meaning here, but it is food for thought.

Slide: iii john verses 5-8 highlight 5Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; 6and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.

Gaius readily accepted the emissaries from John even though they were strangers to him.

John tells him that by doing that and by whatever he did to aid and assist such men he was being faithful to Christ.

Not only faithful to his Christian calling and duty, but actually becoming a partner in their ministry for Jesus.

Those ministers testified to their home church about his Agapê and so Gaius was building a Christian witness that itself would bless people far beyond those he helped directly.

Gaius is encouraged to continue such support for such ministers.

Send those who minister in the Name of the Lord “On their way in a manner worthy of God” because it is His work they do and His business to which they attend.

SLIDE: VERSE SEVEN $$$$

The Name is Jesus and none other than Jesus. It must always come back to Jesus… People can get a lot of things wrong and be okay, but Who Jesus is, what Jesus accomplished, where Jesus is and what all that means to mankind is not in that category.

The evangelists did not accept money or other recompense from non-Christians.

Here in the NASB as well as the KJV it is Gentiles. The word is actually ἐθνικός (ĕth-nē-kŏs) from which we get “ethnic.” It means pretty much just that and while translating it as “Gentiles” is very good in most contexts, it is stupid here.

Sure it is Gentiles when compared to Jews, but when compared to Christians it is non-Christians, unbelievers, heathens or pagans as in other translations.

These evangelists to the churches also served as missionaries to nonbelievers, but they would not profit from their ministry to them…

The Gospel was then and always should be… FREE to unbelievers.

It is us Christians who fund the effort. That’s what Paul is talking about in his many letters where it sometimes seems he is saying ministers should work secular jobs and other places where he indicates that ministers should be well taken care of…

He sums it up in blunt and dramatic effect in 2 Corinthians 11:8, “I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you.”

The church and fellow Christians were responsible for supporting ministers both inside and outside of the church.

This church supports me to minister to you, but also to minister to people outside of our church. This body of believers makes the Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ministry to our community possible.

As you support this ministry you are a partner in this ministry – it, in effect, becomes YOUR ministry.

That’s how God sees it.

We saw last week that to support a false teacher made you a part of the false ministry… today we see that it is also true that if you support a true teacher it makes you part of the true ministry.

When it comes to supporting the ministry of Christ… do you feel that you are doing that “In a manner worthy of God.”?

SLIDE: HIGHLIGHT ON DIOTREPHES

Diotrephes was the very antithesis of faithfulness. He was a power-hungry dictator and wanted no outside influence to take the spotlight off of him.

Pastors like Diotrephes are insecure and want to maintain their complete control over their people by isolating them from outside influences… especially religious ones.

We must stay engaged with the larger Body of Christ. Be humble, be merciful, and be careful.

SLIDE: VERSE 11 HIGHLIGHT

John closes his third letter with his introduction and seal of good standing for Demetrius who is not only well thought of by all, but who is also proven by the Truth itself.

Demetrius will preach and when he does you can rest assured he will be talking about the all sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Demetrius won’t be bring some new and strange teaching, he will be expounding the, “Once for all,” Gospel message from Almighty God.

There is a theological comment in verse 11 that I want to close with… “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.”

It is the primary command in this letter and sums up all that John really wants to drive home. It is not just a pithy religious saying or a general Theological point… It is the essence of God’s message here.

Imitate or mimic or pattern yourself after the good Godly behavior Gaius exhibited by supporting Christ’s ministry and shun, avoid, refuse to be like evil Diotrephes who refused support.

For us with such bustling communities with numerous churches and Christian people as well as our advanced technology to stay connected travelling evangelists are not really needed.

In our culture we would give them money and they would stay at the Holiday Inn… times have changed, but the ministry of Jesus continues.

A wise man said, “FIND OUT WHERE GOD IS WORKING AND JOIN HIM THERE.”

061514 - What, No Hello?
Clean
June 22, 2014 06:02 AM PDT
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II John 7-13, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ II John 1b ~ 061514

SLIDE: II JOHN, APOSTLE OF LOVE & TRUTH ~

SLIDE: REVIEW II JOHN 7 VERSE ~

From our study last week of verse seven we know that Deceivers are synonymous with the antichrist.

The antichrist is ἀντίχριστος (än-tē-ĉȑēs-tŏs) literally meaning “against Christ” with the notion of exchange… or SUBSTITUTION. The antichrist is “against Christ” in general, but specifically, wanting to usurp or replace Christ. It describes both an antichrist spirit animating the world as well as a final individual.

The way the antichrist opposes Christ by trying to replace Christ is by altering the Truth about Christ. It is to deceive oneself and/or others about the fundamental nature of Who Jesus is.

People think they are serving Christ, but because Christ has been altered, they actually serve antichrist.

As a single example… and you may think it is harsh, but I’m simply telling you the absolute Truth… The Jehovah’s Witness belief is that Christ is a lesser god known as Michael the Archangel who became a man known as Jesus. After his death, he returned to his old status as Michael the Archangel.

That doctrine is from the antichrist… When Jehovah’s Witness’ come to your door they are bringing to you antichrist.

I’m not just picking on the Jehovah’s Witness’ – there are plenty of other people and religions in that category.

Any who alter the true nature of Christ are with “The Deceiver and antichrist.” I’m also NOT saying you should attack, shun, ignore or be afraid of such people.

They are deceivers because they themselves are deceived. As we saw in Jude, have mercy, do what you can, but always be careful about CONTENDING for the True Faith in you.

What does John have to say about the subject?

SLIDE: II JOHN 8&9 VERSES ~ 8Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.

SLIDE: II JOHN 8 VERSE – WATCH YOURSELVES ~

We start with the first command in this letter… “WATCH yourselves!”

The command is NOT to WATCH others… track them down and defeat them, hate them, ridicule them, ignore them… It is, once again, guard yourself, contend for your faith, be diligent, stay focused, remain true.

It is very easy to step out-of-bounds and fail to score.

John says, be careful NOT to disqualify yourself – “That you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.”

In light of what John taught in verses 2&3 indicating a certainty about God’s salvation, what does this mean?

SLIDE: II JOHN 8&9 VERSES – HIGHLIGHT ~

I could go on and on about the technical details and the variations of translation and interpretation, but at the end of the day it all boils down to this simple reality.

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

IN THE END… Who you are NOW will be proven by what you do with your life. Your choices… the things you choose to dwell on, the things you think about, the people and places you get comfortable with, the stuff you say and ultimately the actions you take.

Over a lifetime, “Actions betray intentions.” Those acted out intentions are the true intentions of a person.

I intend to get closer to God, but I don’t. I intend to write a book, but I don’t. I intend to pray more, but I don’t. I intend to learn Spanish, but I don’t. I intend to do all manner of things, but my true intentions are proven by what I actually do.

True intentions reveal the heart… God judges the heart. Hebrews four tells us to “Be diligent to enter” into the rest that God provides because… “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him…”

We cannot fake God out in any way – He knows us far better than we know our self.

If God has saved you – He has saved you into an eternal RELATIONSHIP with Him.

That cannot be true IF there is no real relationship.

A real relationship proves the fact of real relationship.

IF real relationship required nothing from you there is absolutely no proof of a relationship – at best it would be a unilateral kidnapping of you.

IF real relationship required nothing from God there is absolutely no proof of a relationship – at best it would be a unilateral kidnapping of God.

The requirement that we Christians struggle to make our salvation certain is the way everyone knows we actually embrace the relationship God has bestowed upon us in the form of salvation through Jesus.

It is why we have the Holy Spirit deposit. It’s why we care, it’s why we want to be of service, why we want to please God, why we attempt to selflessly minister to others.

These verses have nothing to do with our human controversy about predestination… they have everything to do with understanding that relationship with God implies a RELATIONSHIP!

How do we relate correctly?

As we covered in great detail last week the love of God is unknowable without a revelation from God called Alêtheia – God’s TRUTH.

John tells them the Truth was given to you by me and others constituting the “What we have accomplished” bit.

You have the Truth – hold onto it and it alone, in order to receive a full reward.

SLIDE: VERSE 9 HIGHLIGHT

“Anyone” is really “All” and the four words, “Who goes too far” is a single present active participle of προάγω (pȑŏ-ä-gō), meaning to go on ahead. It is like forging a new path or breaking a new trail.

Jesus is leading us on a trek from Logan pass to Sperry Chalet. He stops to give us a rest in the saddle of the ridge between Hidden Lake and Floral Park.

We’ve been off-trail for some time now and have a few more miles before we pick up the trail again… We are cross-country.

While we are resting, Marilyn decides to give Jesus a break from leading the way and heads out towards the Chalet.

Marilyn ends up as Grizzly scat a week later…

The point is that anytime anyone goes beyond the teaching laid down by Jesus through His Apostles they create a false teaching.

With a false teaching, I am NOT abiding in the “Teaching of Christ.”

Therefore, I do “Not have God.”

On the other hand, IF I abide in the true teaching of Christ through His Apostles, I have “Both the Father and the Son.”

Once again, how do I know what constitutes the true teaching of Christ.

That is the crux of the issue for people who desire to follow Jesus.

What do I base my Christianity upon?

For us, it is the Bible as we presently have it. Every book of the Old Testament accepted by the Apostles and every book of the New Testament authorized by the Apostles.

Every foundational Biblical doctrine we insist upon is affirmed by the earliest Christian creeds, liturgies and instructions recorded in the first 100 years of Christianity.

For others it is the ideas of people who came centuries later. Popes, prophets, teachers, councils, synods and committees.

It is catechisms, extra-biblical books, doctrinal statements, unique translations and bizarre traditions

Each person must choose what it is that they will base their faith on.

Anyone, Everyone, All who go beyond the true teaching of Christ, do NOT abide in it and so cannot abide in God.

However, those who do abide… well, they ABIDE.

How do I watch myself in regards to deceivers and the antichrist? I carefully abide in the TRUTH.

That is why I am extremely interested in what the Bible ACTUALLY says, rather than in Christian doctrines and traditions.

How far afield must I travel before my religion is false enough to put me in the he “Does not have God” camp?

That seems like an excellent question. I have three answers.

First, we are talking about foundational Truth, not minutia.

Second, since the more accurate my understanding, the more correct my relationship… Not just knowing it, but living it. I want the Truth as perfectly as possible.

Third, it’s a dumb question because it seeks to do the minimum and it focuses on technicalities… Do your very best because you cannot do more than that, pray fervently because God is at work in you and trust God because salvation belongs to the Lord.

SLIDE: II JOHN 10&11 VERSES ~ 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

People often get this wrong…

In order to understand the principle you must understand the context.

It’s not quite the same anymore, but have you ever rolled into a small town in eastern Montana, gone into their café, and had everyone in the place eye you suspiciously?

In those days, 2,000 years ago, communities were extremely wary towards strangers. With our friendly nomadic, jet-setting culture it’s a little hard to fully grasp just how standoffish people were then.

As an unknown outsider arriving in a first century Roman city you would be unwelcome and treated with extreme caution.

They didn’t have a Holiday Inn or a Motel 6. In fact the public lodging was generally a riotous place for all manner of debauchery.

As a traveler you would carry a passport and visa in the form of a letter from someone the villagers knew well.

The Apostle Paul identifies the people he sends to deliver his letters so they will be accepted into the community.

He names his friends and writes special introductions for them in order that they would be welcomed by the recipients.

We recently finished the Book of Colossians where Paul closed with, “As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here. Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him)” (Colossians 4:7-10).

Paul wrote in I Corinthians, “Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to be afraid, for he is doing the Lord’s work, as I also am. So let no one despise him. But send him on his way in peace…” (1 Corinthians 16:10-11a).

Travelers relied on being accepted by someone in the community to give them food, lodging and protection.

In so doing the host was taking responsibility for their guest. They were certifying to their neighbors that this stranger was okay. They were validating the character of the visitor.

If such a guest was a teacher/preacher/prophet they would be validating that person’s message and activity.

In the case of an itinerant Christian minister – they were validating their ministry. They were partnering in and supporting the ministry.

It is – to a very small degree – like you giving a travelling evangelist lodging in your home.

You are materially, physically and societally supporting that person and by extension their ministry – you have now partnered with them.

That is a taste of what it meant back then.

The Bible repeatedly instructs Christians to do that very thing. To welcome and support travelling Christian ministers.

Evangelists came to a community and were to be treated with honor, cared for, given accommodation, protected and supported.

By doing so you shared in their ministry from God.

John is telling these people the same holds true in a negative sense.

If someone comes with a ministry that teaches a Jesus other than the Jesus taught by the Apostles do NOT give them standing in your community. Do NOT welcome them into your home. Do NOT comfort, protect or support them… because IF you do you share in their ungodly work.

It has nothing to do with welcoming a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon into your home for the purpose of trying to share Christ with them.

It certainly has nothing to do with being kind and merciful to deceivers – treating everyone you meet with Christian charity all with an eye to minister the true Christ.

It has to do with lending credibility to a false teacher/preacher/prophet.

In this case, it is to give extend your standing to a person spreading a false message about Jesus.

Not only does this mean individual hosting, it also covers hosting of such a person in the church meeting.

The individual people, their homes and the church were all blurred together to a degree we Americans cant really grasp.

A guy named Josh Snodgrass wants to come to our church and minister to us… IF we accepted his proposal, we are accepting him and his message… But, more than that, we become fellow-laborers in his ministry.

That’s why we must be careful about who we support.

Because Christianity is NOT legalism, we cannot really make hard and fast rules. Each situation must be considered in its context.

Can I pray with Catholics outside an abortion clinic?

Can I work with Mormons for better veteran’s benefits?

Can I invite a Jehovah’s Witness leader to the church to preach?

Some things are easier than others to discern. The question you must answer is… “Does my action lend my credibility and support to an erroneous teaching about Jesus?”

The easy legalist way would be to support no one… but in our very next letter from the Apostle John he says… “I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth” (III John 3-8).

John finishes his second letter with…

SLIDE: II JOHN 12&13 VERSES ~ 12Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full. 13The children of your chosen sister greet you.

The children of your chosen sister is, in my opinion, a metaphor for the church in Ephesus to which John belongs.

So what have we learned?

We should greet all people in a general sense yet being careful to distinguish between those you teach the true Jesus and those who teach a false Jesus.

We are to accept, love, partner and fellowship with like-minded Believers. Giving them comfort, support, protection and working together for the common good.

We must never support, lend credibility or otherwise enable those who teach a different Jesus.

Who falls into the two categories? That requires discernment born out of Agapê and Alêtheia working in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray that we would walk that narrow path between the ditch of harsh judgment and soft complacency.

060814 - Love and Truth
Clean
June 13, 2014 08:30 PM PDT
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II John 1-7, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ II John 1a ~ 060814

SLIDE: P66 ≈ 175 A.D. (85 A.D.) OPENING II JOHN ~

SLIDE: II JOHN 1-3 VERSES ~ 1The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: 3Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

Because the opening is unusual, it has resulted in some different interpretations…

First, the author simply calls himself “The Elder,” instead of by his actual name or some other moniker or as an Apostle or even AN elder… He says, “The Elder,” Ὁ πρεσβύτερος (hŏ pȑĕs-bü-tĕ-ȑŏs).

By early church tradition and internal evidence, “The Elder,” is John, son of Zebedee, an Apostle of Jesus and His Beloved Disciple. The author of the Gospel of John, these three letters and the Book of Revelation.

SLIDE: MAP OF EPHESUS & PATMOS

Rome & Jerusalem… The Black Sea, Crimea, Danube & Budapest. John wrote from his home in Ephesus, where he lived from the mid 60’s through the mid 90’s A.D. That is, except for his vacation to the Roman penal colony on the Island of Patmos.

John could have written this letter anytime in that thirty-year period.

He addressed it to “The Chosen lady and her children.” The addressee has been interpreted five (5) different ways over the centuries.

It really boils down to two options. It is either addressed to a particular woman and her actual physical children, or metaphorically, to a church and the people who make up that church.

Eighteen centuries ago, Clement of Alexandria along with Jerome two centuries after him, believed it was metaphorical for a church in the Roman Province of Asia.

Other early church writers suggested it was the church at Pergamum – one of the seven churches of Revelation.

Based on all the evidence I’m inclined to go with the old guys and see it metaphorically as a church.

I will not belabor the point and produce a ton of tedious material to prove my position here… if you want that, simply come to Sunday school and ask…

The reason I won’t spend the time here is because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter.

The principles work either way and I hope to show that as we go along.

SLIDE: HIGHLIGHT LOVE & TRUTH

John didn’t get the nickname “the Apostle of Love,” for nothing. If it hadn’t been that nickname though, it could have just as easily been “the Apostle of Truth.” I like to call him the “Apostle of Love & Truth.”

Love is ἀγάπη (ä-gä-pā). Agapê is selfless altruistic unconditional Godly love. We talk about it all the time. Truth is, I hope you know… ἀλήθεια (ä-lā-thā-ä). and even though the name of the church is Alêtheia, we don’t very often examine that word as closely.

Since we have it four times in the opening of this letter, we ought to spend a moment thinking about its meaning…

The root word of Alêtheia is λανθάνω (län-thä-nō), which means to hide, conceal, disguise or to keep something unknown, unknowable and unfamiliar.

The idea is that a true reality exists, but it is NOT noticed. The alpha at the beginning of Alêtheia makes it the exact opposite. It isn’t so much “Truth” as we normally think of it, i.e., I always tell the truth, but it is the absolute true, genuine reality of a thing.

It is to make reality known.

Plato advanced the philosophy of duality that still persists in much of Christianity today. For Plato the physical was bad, the metaphysical was good.

SLIDE: PLATO’S CAVE

More than that, whatever was perceived physically and experientially was inaccurate at best. The true essence of a thing could only be known from the metaphysical side. Plato’s shadowy cave.

True reality was unknowable unless someone from the other side made it known through revelation. Heraclitus 100 years earlier.

What makes Alêtheia known is the Logos. Logos, as we discussed last week, is to speak intelligently with definite meaning. It is a WORD that communicates meaning. It is a Message – even if it is a single word.

SLIDE: P66 ≈ X2

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος
καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος

Our author John started his Gospel with, Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, “In the beginning was the Word” – the Logos… He explains that Jesus was the Logos of God who revealed the Alêtheia of God to the physical world. “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father (that’s Jesus, the Logos), He has explained Him (that’s the Godhead)” (John 1:18).

Alêtheia in this context is the Truth from God and so is, by definition, universal and absolute

It is pure reality from reality and therefore is fully applicable to every man, woman and child in every way, in every place and at every time.

There is NO Alêtheia outside of GOD.

John’s use here creates an amazingly terse, yet deeply profound insight. John does that like no other… His Greek is terrible and yet it is amazing as in his Gospel… καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος
Five little words that change everything… come to Sunday school and we will talk… it doesn’t cost extra.

SLIDE: HIGHLIGHT LOVE & TRUTH

In a great example of terse theological statements and semantic density, John is here saying that Agapê and Alêtheia are inextricably interwoven… you cannot possess one without the other.

In verse one (1) he emphatically says that he personally Agapês them. He’s NOT saying that he truly loves them – which is he does – but that the whole reason he truly loves them is because of the TRUTH from God.

John has understood God’s Truth through His revelation in Jesus, the Logos, and has fully embraced that Truth.

That acceptance has set John free from his human self-centeredness and allowed the Alêtheia of God to enter into him as an abiding reality simultaneously allowing the Agapê of God to likewise infuse his being.

David Smith said, “The Son has interpreted the Father to man, ‘not merely in truth,’ enlightening the intellect, but ‘in love,’ engaging the heart.”

Warren Wiersbe said, “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”

It was Agapê that gave Alêtheia and it is Alêtheia that makes Agapê abide. You cannot have one without the other.

For God, it starts with His Agapê, that’s why He gave us His Alêtheia. For us, it starts with God’s Alêtheia, that’s how we experience His Agapê. That is why the church is named Alêtheia. It isn’t because we want to be the smartest Christians around… It is because only through Alêtheia, does Agapê becomes real.

John cannot Agapê them without Alêtheia… It is his being immersed in Truth that enables him to overflow with love.

John says, but not only do I Agapê you in Alêtheia… everyone who is IN THE TRUTH also Agapês you in the same way and the implication is that IF you are in the Truth you also Agapê me and the rest of the church.

In verse two (2) John makes it clear that the Alêtheia that Christians have come to know and have genuinely accepted has NOT ONLY already taken root in their essential being, but that it will continue to abide there FOREVER!

Verse three (3) is similar to the standard blessing, found in such letters, but with a decidedly “Apostle of Love & Truth” touch.

It begins with the verb “to be” in the future tense stressing the reality that Grace, Mercy and Peace are certain for people enveloped in God’s Truth and Love.

It is a part of Alêtheia; that Christians presently possess and will ultimately receive the Grace, Mercy and Peace of eternal salvation.

That certain completed salvation comes from God the Father and also Jesus Christ the one and only unique son of the Father.

This wording emphasizes the divinity and equality and individuality of Jesus and the Father in salvation. So, how do they provide salvation?

IN TRUTH AND LOVE.

Jesus is the Word of God made flesh and is therefore the very embodiment of Truth.

We can have Truth infuse our being as we seek and embrace the Truth, but unlike some gnostic religion, Truth is personified by Jesus.

For a Christian to be filled with Truth is to be filled with Jesus Himself and that is Love.

God indwells the believer in Truth and in Love.

IF God so fills us now, when we are full of fleshly concerns, distractions and shortcomings, how much more will He indwell us when we pass out of this fleshly world? (Romans 5:8&9).

The PROOF of such a position with God is Love – this Agapê from God directed back towards Him, but even better directed towards other humans.

It shows that we abide in the Truth when we Agapê those who are difficult to Agapê. Anyone can Agapê nice people, just like anyone can have faith for a little while.

SLIDE: I JOHN 3:18&19 VERSES

John said in his first letter, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him” (1 John 3:18&19).

God’s job is to save you into relationship with Him. That’s the entire point most Christians completely miss.

The whole concept of righteousness is right relationship with Him.

The whole concept of holiness is to be separated from the cares of this world in order to care about God. That’s relationship versus self-interest.

The entire reason the Bible encourages, admonishes, cajoles, and commands us is because we are saved into an active two-way relationship that by definition requires our activity.

If I am doing the things that make our relationship better it means I really want to have that relationship.

The closer I get to God’s Alêtheia the more I am filled with His Agapê.

It is His Agapê for Him, but more, His Agapê in me for others that assures me I am filled with His Truth and Love.

I am in the sphere of His influence – I am in RIGHT relationship with Him and I am SURE of His Salvation.

SLIDE: II JOHN 4-6 VERSES LOVE ONE ANOTHER ~ 4I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. 5Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

SLIDE: SOME KIDS FOOTSTEPS >>>

He starts with, “Some of your children walking in truth,” which is one of the reasons I think this letter is addressed to a church.

Either way, some of the people associated are Christians as defined by having their existence, their being, in the Truth from God.

Scholars that believe John is addressing a person say just because he says some of your children it does not SPECIFICALLY indicate or imply that some of her children are NOT, just that John only knows about some of her children.

The main point of this letter though, is a warning similar to the one in Jude that we just finished last week. There are actually only two commands in this letter.

“Watch out” and “do not greet” – both directed toward the threat, which is false Christians.

There are false Christians connected to the recipient… it makes sense that it is a church.

SLIDE: VERSES 5&6 STAIRSTEP THE VERSES

John emphatically says, I am NOT presenting you with a NEW Gospel – A NEW Revelation or a NEW Command as those who are false Christians do…

I am simply reminding you of the NEVER changing IMMUTABLE TRUTH! How can Truth from God change?

I am writing you to stand firm in the one and only Truth that you believed at first.

The Truth that is personified in Jesus. His command was recorded by John in his Gospel… “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

John defines loving one another in the second step down as WALKING, i.e. living, according to His Commandments.

That is NOT the Ten Commandments, although they are all covered in the command Jesus gave to “Love one another…” as we will see.

All of the commandments of God can be boiled down to; Agapê God and Agapê your neighbor. Just as Jesus taught in Matthew 22:37-40, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Paul then boils that down, just as Jesus did at the Last Supper and as John does here, to simply loving one another… Galatians 5:14, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

It is because you cannot have Agapê for your neighbor if you don’t first have right relationship with God.

In the third step John defines the single commandment from God as that which we have had from the beginning.

It seems obvious that the command is what I’ve been talking about. The command to Agapê one another…

It is, but with something more… This is the special “Apostle of Love & Truth” demonstrating his knack for theologically terse statements with tremendous semantic density…

The command he refers to in the third step down is actually tied to “Walking in Truth,” not love.

He is saying, walk in the Truth from God – walk in Jesus the Truth personified – live there in Right relationship with God and God’s Agapê will flow into you enabling you to Agapê Him with all your being and it will enable you to Agapê others.

The way we Agapê is by existing in the LIGHT of His Truth.

As John wrote in his first epistle, “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ (that’s Alêtheia), and love one another (that’s Agapê), just as He commanded us” (1 John 3:23).

SLIDE: II JOHN 7 VERSE 7For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.

I think the antichrist spirit of deception actually came up with this idea to distract people from the true antichrist spirit.

John doesn’t tell them to watch out for barcodes – he tells them to watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing.

People who seem to be part of the Truth, but who twist it with new teaching.

Specifically those who, “Do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.”

That’s a specific charge of the heresy of Docetism, but that is not the limit of John’s description.

By saying it the way he does, John is talking about anyone who does not hold to the Christian Gospel that the Father sent the eternal Logos to take on flesh as both fully God and fully human.

Born of a virgin, perfectly sinless, perfectly selfless in accepting the sins of the world as His own and perfectly able to pay the penalty for all who accept Him.

John says against such… in verse 8, “WATCH YOURSELVES.” The first command from God through the Apostle of Love & Truth… “Watch out” for those who have a fundamentally different Gospel.

How do we do that?

SLIDE: TOGETHER AT THE CROSS

Walk in the one and only Truth from the one and only Savior form the one and only God and you will know that you exist in His truth by your Agapê for him, but far more for your Agapê for me and for the people in this room and for the people beyond.

060114 - It's All About Relationship
Clean
June 13, 2014 01:24 PM PDT
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Jude 22-25, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Jude 1f ~ 060114

SLIDE: P72 ≈ 275 A.D. OPENING JUDE ~

SLIDE: JUDE 22&23 VERSES ~ 22And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

This is another instance where the KJV differs from, not only modern translations, but from older translations like the Latin Vulgate, as well.

The evidence before and after indicate that the KJV rendering is not original and we should understand these two verses as talking about three categories instead of the two categories in the KJV.

You might say, that’s a real problem!

The KJV reads, “[1]And of some have compassion, making a difference: [2]and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”

The net effect is the same. You will not be led astray either way, but with better understanding today, we get a little more detail.

As many of you know, I’m not a huge fan of The Message Bible, but sometimes I really appreciate Eugene Peterson’s take; here’s how he translates Jude 22&23, “[1]Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. [2]Go after those who take the wrong way. [3]Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.”

I kind of like it – sweet, simple, and to the point.

Once again, Jude has railed on and on about the ungodly among them for the majority of his letter. Yet, not once, does he say anything about ferreting them out and running them off. Instead, he says, “Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” BY “Keep[ing] yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 3&21).

Here he gives direct instruction on how we Christians are supposed to deal with such things.

SLIDE: NUMERO UNO STREET SIGN

1) First, the ungodly will confuse and to some degree deceive those with weaker faith.

HAVE MERCY on them… Mercy is ἐλεάω (ĕ-lĕ-ä-ō) as in the Latinized kyriê elêison, “Lord have mercy” and here is present active imperative. It is a command from God to be actively and continuously MERCIFUL to those who waver.

What does it mean to be merciful? How has God shown you mercy? Do that…

Be gentle.

Help such people regain their confidence in the once for all faith by demonstrating the same.

Build up and encourage, instead of judging and condemning. Be a blessing, instead of a curse. Help, instead of hinder.

Love them and bear with them with the Father’s love, mercy and patience.

Try to remember that you are not perfect and that your faith is what it is due to the encouragement of others that you have received.

My son recently earned his pilot’s license and we went flying together a couple of weeks ago.

It is very safe to say that I know a lot more about flying he does. Should I be boastful about that, arrogantly condescending and judgmental towards him because he does not understand flying as well as I do?

Where did I get my knowledge? More than a thousand different professional pilots taught me something. What I know I learned from others willing to share.

Paul said in, I Corinthians 4:7b, “What do you have that you did not receive? And [since] you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

How can I boast in that, except to boast in them, in that so many people helped me along the way and why would I keep that to myself.

Why wouldn’t I want to share with my son in a way that actually helps him become better rather than a way that just makes him resentful?

That’s what we’re talking about. Realize that you are where you are because both God and so many other people were merciful to you and helped you grow.

Do not forget, it is not a suggestion for better living… it is a command to you from Almighty God

SLIDE: NUMERO DOS FIREFIGHTER

2) Save is σῴζω (sō-dzō), and like mercy, it is a verb in the present active imperative.

Another command from God to be actively continuously SAVING those who have done worse than doubt.

What does it mean to Save? How has God Saved you? Did He pluck you out of the inevitable Lake of Fire future you actually deserved? Well, do that then…

These people are in a middle ground between the first group and the third group.

Left unsupported they will fall into the third group and then beyond. They have come to an acceptance of the false teaching and are tottering on the edge of apostasy.

Go after such people and save them by allowing God to minister Truth in Love to them.

Do not give up on them, but go into firefighter mode and rescue them… that’s what salvation means.

SLIDE: NUMERO TRES CAUTION SIGN

3) The final group discussed is those who are actually engaged in apostasy. They are actually participating in the things taught by the ungodly interlopers.

Some believe that ungodly interlopers themselves are in this category.

The point is that these people are engaged in active sin and are doing so because they are deceived.

Once again, God COMMANDS us to be actively continuously merciful towards them who are acting like heathens.

This command carries with it a serious warning… WATCH YOURSELF!

Be very careful when dealing with people rebelling against God.

This is the love the sinner, but hate the sin principle.

The Bible says that bad company corrupts or ruins good character or morals, not the other way around! (I Corinthians 15:33).

Be merciful because God is merciful towards you, but engage professionally, not personally.

Put on your “I’m working for God clothes” and be a professional. You are there to do a job even though it is a job where you care.

1) Like a nurse and her charge… compassionate professionalism. 2) An officer and his men… show them you care, but do not fraternize.
3) A psychologist and his patient… show them empathy, not apathy or sympathy. 4) A Chaplain and the macho law officers… be relevant to them, but not identical.

Therefore, regardless what another person does, we are to concentrate on keeping ourselves pure and then mercifully offering a helping hand to them.

I received an email last week asking me to make a judgment on another person’s final destination.

It is very familiar to me because I have had many people over the years ask, what about so and so, they committed this sin or sins, do you think they will go to heaven?

It is sad on many levels… sad that they want to take God’s place and judge another human being.

It is sad because the person asking is not doing so because they are concerned for the other person’s immortal soul, but because they seem to relish the idea of getting others, especially a pastor to condemn the sinner. It seems to make them feel better to tear someone else down and that of course is the sign of extremely immature insecurity.

It is sad because the person asking is not interested in learning anything from my answer except whether I meet their standard of Christian superiority over evil sinners.

It is sad because sometimes they are simply trying to ferret out any sinful behavior in me under the guise of talking about someone else.

What is sad is this is what we do to some extent or in some other way… We all turn the mercy, grace and love of God into a weapon against others to make us feel better about ourselves.

Turn the baloney detector on yourself, keep your faith as pure and as righteous as possible with God’s grace and extend HIM and HIS mercy to others and in the process some will be saved.

SLIDE: JUDE 24&25 VERSES ~ 24Now 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, 25to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

These final two (2) verses constitute a doxology and some say that it is the finest doxology in the Bible.

Frequently bible books, especially the epistles, close with a benediction, where the author prays for God to bless his readers.

A doxology on the other hand, prays blessing, glory and honor to God.

The word doxology comes from δόξα (dŏ-xsä) meaning glory and λόγος (lŏ-gŏs) meaning to speak intelligently with meaning.

To give reasoned intelligent and definite glory to God.

SLIDE: THE DOXA HIGHLIGHT

The word δόξα actually occurs twice in this passage…

Let’s look at the first part of the passage…

SLIDE: HIM ~ GOD OUR SAVIOR HIGHLIGHT

The doxology is given to HIM who has the power and ability to KEEP you from STUMBLING and MAKE you STAND BLAMELESS.

The “HIM” is GOD, the one and only SAVIOR possible. There can be no other Savior than God Himself…

Psalm 3:8a “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”
Isaiah 43:11 “I, even I, am the Lord, and there is no Savior besides Me.”
Scott, that’s the Old Testament…
Revelation 19:1b “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God” (yes δόξα again).

One of the ways we know that Biblical Christianity is the Truth from God is that any person with even the slightest intelligence can readily see that a Being who can create the universe doesn’t need us.

The One with the power, wisdom and character necessary to create space-time and the matter and energy to fill it up cannot possibly be impressed with our performance.

You think Bill Gates or Warren Buffet would be hard to shop for… what can we possibly give God?

Almost all religion, including much that calls itself Christianity, is PERFORMANCE BASED. That in and of itself proves that it is false, because it makes the Creator as weak, trifling, and petty as we humans!

We cannot prove our worth to God… He must prove His love to us. He saves us; we cannot save ourselves.

And how does the one and only Savior save?

SLIDE: JESUS HIGHLIGHT

Only through Jesus Christ our Lord… PERIOD. That is the offer God has made to us. God demonstrated His love and character by sending that portion of Himself called The Word.

God’s Logos, The Eternal Word of God took on flesh and dwelt among us as Jesus the Christ and Lord of all who embrace Him.

As Paul said in Colossians 1:13&14, “For [God] rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

God saves in accordance with His plan, which is through the atoning death and victorious resurrection of Jesus. Will you accept the salvation He offers or reject it in favor of your own plan?

Those are the only two options. God’s plan or my plan.

SLIDE: KEEP ~ MAKE ~ STAND ~ BLAMELESS

No one can keep from stumbling or stand in the presence of God’s Glory.

1) It is not possible to keep yourself from stumbling either in the sense of living without any sin or in the sense of entering heaven.

You can’t do either one. The Bible makes it clear that no human can live perfectly and therefore no human can earn entrance into Heaven.

We need a Savior to get the ball rolling and we need a Savior to get the ball through the goal. Start to finish we need the Grace of God.

2) Similarly, no human can approach God let alone stand in His presence.

Especially blameless and with great joy in specifically the presence of His Glory!

God and God alone is able – only God has the power, AUTHORITY and ability to enable you to enter into His presence.

He will KEEP you… He will MAKE you…

SLIDE: VARIOUS VERSES 1–4 FROM JUDE

Back in the opening we saw that Jude addressed this letter, “To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude 1b).

In our investigation of that passage, we discovered that to be “THE CALLED” is synonymous with being Christians.

To be “The Called” is the state of being after you have already made use of the invitation.

Jude describes “The Called” people, i.e. Christians, with two perfect participles.

1) First, as a Christian, you were, are, and always will be, “beloved IN the Father.”

The meaning is that you are IN the sphere of His EFFECTIVE Agapê love.

2) Second, as such a person you are also “Kept for Jesus Christ.”

The unmistakable meaning here is that God in total or God the Father or perhaps even God the Son… the exact nature of God described here is ambiguous… nevertheless, God in some form, has “KEPT” “The Called.”

A Christian is a person who at some past time was both efficaciously beloved by God and simultaneously kept for Jesus by God’s power.

It is God, who initiates salvation, and it is God, who completes salvation because Salvation belongs to Him.

As a Christian you are saved once and for all by God.

So now coast, take your shoes off, kick up your feet, relax and have a Cream Soda.

No, Jude keeps writing… He immediately tells them that he is begging them to fight, to be alert, to work diligently to, contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3b).

He tells them the reason for his concern is that “Certain persons have crept in unnoticed” (Jude 4a).

He goes on to describe the “Certain persons” in tremendous detail.

SLIDE: MORE JUDE VERSES

Why bother, IF they are secure? Even more puzzling is why make the primary command of the entire letter, “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21a)?

Even more perplexing… why finish by assuring them again about their absolute security in verse twenty-four (24)?

We have devout Christians who genuinely love the Lord and generally disdain each other over this very thing.

One group latches on to the Sovereignty of God and His Divine activity and the other group latches on to the free will and responsibility of the individual Believer.

We see both sides of this coin throughout the Bible…

Passage after passage proving one side or the other. We have seen it in this extremely short letter and it plays out in the closely parallel II Peter chapter one (1).

It plays out in the Gospels, in Romans and Hebrews… it is a constant tension.

Paul states it quite tersely in Philippians, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you.” (Philippians 2:12b&13a).

Paul goes on to say in the very next verse that behaving as a Christian PROVES you’re a Christian. It is not what MAKES you a Christian – it is what SHOWS you are a Christian.

SLIDE: TRINITY LIBRARY IN DUBLIN
If my salvation depends on my performance, please give me a better manual! Lay out all the dos and don’ts in clear, unmistakable and unambiguous lists and then carefully define each with a series of examples…
IF my salvation is secure after I accept, why not just give me a Chick tract and be done with it?

SLIDE: ABC’s OF SALVATION

This could be the whole Christian Bible right here!

But, the Bible goes on and on, commanding me, exhorting me, pleading with me and teaching me to actively participate.

Yet doing that in a way that is somewhat unclear… in a way that must be worked out over time through study, Godly counsel, prayer and experience.

God has done it all, but he wants me to participate.

What that means, my friends, is that I am saved INTO something rather than just FROM something.

I am saved INTO RELATIONSHIP with the Creator of the universe. A relationship is, by definition, a cooperative between at least two different parties.

It isn’t that I’m saved and so must live by a code of ethics or labor forever in the salt mines of God to somehow repay Him…

It isn’t that I’m saved so that my eternal destination is Heaven instead of the Lake of Fire…

Both of those are byproducts of the genuine personal relationship between God and me.

SALVATION is about transitioning from WRONG relationship with God into RIGHT relationship with God.

A relationship is a two-way street so we must be commanded, exhorted, encouraged and taught how to LIVE that relationship!

IF a person claims to be a Christian, but does not have a RIGHT relationship with God, there is a problem.

This is why the tension exists – this is why the Bible is the size it is and why it is clear on some things and not as clear on others…

Biblical Christianity is an active two-way RELATIONSHIP worked out over time.

I think the best way to understand the tension between God’s will and our choice is the words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 7, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…” “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me…” (Matthew 7:21–23).

There are people who play at religion… many of them play at the Christian religion… but they are NOT actually in RIGHT relationship.

They don’t get how it is all about surrendering to the love of God and actively pursuing that love forever.

They don’t get how it is all about embracing Jesus and through the Holy Spirit and study and prayer and experience coming to know Him better and desiring to be more like Him.

If you want God to get closer to you… get closer to Him and PROVE that you are His child.

SLIDE: JUDE 24&25 VERSES WORSHIP AT CROSS 24Now 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, 25to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

052514 - Grumbling is an Indictment Against God
Clean
June 13, 2014 11:32 AM PDT
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Jude 16-21, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Jude 1e ~ 052514

SLIDE: #13: P72 ≈ 275 A.D. OPENING JUDE ~

SLIDE: JUDE 12&13 ~ USS GUARDIAN 2013 PI ~ 12These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

“Hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves.”
(The Minesweeper/hunter USS Guardian, January 2013, near the Philippines, unrecovered total loss).

The NIV has “Blemishes” instead of “Hidden reefs,” which is a possible interpretation, but unlikely.

The parallel idea in II Peter has “Blemishes” and the NIV is trying to align the two accounts, but it is unnecessary. Jude and II Peter have a different nuance. The word here is σπιλάς (spē-läs) with an alpha meaning, “Sea rocks,” i.e. “Hidden Reef.” The word there is σπῖλος (spē-lŏs) with an omicron meaning, “Stain” or “Blemish.”

The love feasts refers, NOT to Holy Communion specifically, but to the whole assembly and services of the church including the Communion meal.

The outsiders have come into the church without any compunction or modesty; they are not at all shy or embarrassed about their joining in to be served.

They promise smooth sailing, but are actually rocks just under the surface to shipwreck the unwary.

They do not care about anyone else’s eternity, only their own comfort. Jude gives comparisons to drive his point about the difference in what is promised and what is actually delivered.

SLIDE: FOUR REALMS

Jude compares them to the four realms of physical reality… the land, the sea, the sky and space.

They are like rainless clouds in the desert.

Trees without fruit.

Destructive waves.

Wandering stars.

Each thing promises something, but does not deliver.

DESERT storm clouds blowing in, giving hope of beneficial rain, but none falls to the ground.

Trees in the fall, which should be full of tasty and nutritious fruit, but have none. Unproductive trees are uprooted and are then doubly dead.

Waves that should bring cleansing instead destroy ships and shoreline as well as churning up the bottom and depositing debris on the beach.

Celestial bodies, which should be constant in their movements for good navigation, instead have apparent retrograde orbits and are unreliable.

Anyone can navigate by Polaris, but not by Saturn unless you have some training, a Nautical Almanac, a sextant a calculator and a calendar.

SLIDE: JUDE 14&15 VERSES, I ENOCH 1:9 ~ 14It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Jude is quoting I Enoch 1:9. Enoch of course was the father of Methuselah and great-grandfather of Noah.

It isn’t to say that Jude thought the whole book of I Enoch was sacred or that he even believed that Enoch wrote the book.

What we do know is that Jude, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, believed the quoted material found in the book was originally from God through Enoch.

The Godly antediluvian Enoch spoke that particular verse as a prophet of God, and at some point, someone, recorded it in I Enoch.

Jude’s point is that God will judge – there will come a reckoning. All of the people throughout time who do not wish to embrace the true God as He has revealed Himself are without Him and by definition are UNGODLY.

Because they are ungodly, they do things that are ungodly and they do them in an ungodly fashion…

It means that the flow and course of their life – their whole demeanor and mode of operation is ungodly, so, naturally, what they do is ungodly…

SLIDE: SMOKEY

Smokey and the campout… If we were doing manly things in a manly fashion, Smokey’s point is that it proved we were real men.

So ungodliness in an ungodly fashion proves one is ungodly. People without God, by the entire force of their thoughts, words and deeds condemn the God.

SLIDE: JEFFERSON’S CUT & PASTE BIBLE

To “Have spoken against Him” is a way of saying that the totality of a person’s life (their thoughts, words and deeds) screams out, “I hate the true God…” They may love A god, but it is a god of their own making… as such it is themselves that they love. The true God, they hate, because they have rejected Him.

Please understand that the only way you and I have any hope of knowing the true God is through the revelation of Himself that He has given us.

It is the Bible… Some might say it is the institution as in the denomination or seminary, but have all shown themselves as fallible and ever changing as the men involved. Others might say it is Holy Spirit, to individuals but the Holy Spirit’s gift to the individual is the ILLUMINATION of God’s Word, not the inspiration of new words.

SLIDE: JUDE 16 VERSE ~ These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

Because they are “Following after their own lusts” – their own desire… they are faultfinding grumblers.

Do you remember our old friend γογγυσμός (gŏn-güs-mŏs) meaning “Grumbling”? NO GONE GOOSE MOSS!

The verb, “To Grumble,” is γογγύζω (gŏn-güdz-ō) and the noun used here is γογγυστής (gŏn-güs-tās), meaning a “GRUMBLER.”

It is an onomatopoeic word family derived from the sound made when murmuring or muttering in a low and indistinct voice with the idea of complaint.

It arises out of personal dissatisfaction.

The behind-the-scenes, under-the-breath murmuring due to things NOT going the way I think they should go – things NOT going MY way.

Biblically, it is most often used of people speaking against God in a reprehensible way – ultimately that’s always the deal.

Whenever we GONE GOOSE MOSS we are indicting God.

Endeavor NEVER to complain in this sense. That isn’t to say that constructive suggestions for improvement are wrong. What’s the difference? The HEART.

One of the primary features of γογγυσμός is a fundamental lack of gratitude… a focus on the negative, rather than a thankfulness for the positive.

I have all of this working for me, but I don’t have that.

Instead of being grateful for what I do have, I grumble about what I don’t have.

A lack of gratitude is always a sign of arrogance. There is always the assumption that I deserve what I want… It is an ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY. I believe that I am entitled to having things go my way… when they don’t, I believe I am entitled to Grumble.

Not only is it the arrogance of entitlement – it is the arrogance of judgment.

I see how it is and I judge that it is NOT right… I make the value judgment.

I make that judgment without all the facts and all the wisdom God has, I also make it without God’s patience. How can I possibly know the effect of a thing a year from now, let alone an eternity from now?

Finally, it is a DISTRUST of God.

Work, hope, pray and then trust God with thankfulness in your heart that He is working all things for the GOOD (Romans 8:28).

Scott, you don’t know my life - what do I have to be grateful for? How about Jesus for starters?

“Finding fault” is μεμψίμοιρος (mĕm-psē-mѳ-ȑŏs), meaning to find fault specifically with one’s lot in life or one’s fate.

It modifies and intensifies γογγυσμός, amplifying the idea of being an arrogant complainer rather than a humble thanker.

Of course, the reason they are faultfinding grumblers is that they follow their own appetite.

Verse 16 goes on to say, that they “Speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.”

The arrogant speech is not personal boasting in this case, but the arrogance of grumbling about what they disagree with coupled with praising and flattering people to get their way.

Again, “Hidden Reefs,” promising one thing, but delivering another. It all sounds good. This grumbling left unchallenged gets everyone headed down the road of change… Yeah, we need to fix that. Oh, I never realized… we should definitely make a change there… it only makes sense.

It all seems innocent enough if we are not those who, “Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”

Big change, especially to foundational doctrine, is rarely, overt. It is a little here and a little there, until you are accepting a form of godliness that is NOT Godly (II Timothy 3:5).

Everything, no matter how small, they do is for a purpose. It is for an evil purpose that they may not be consciously aware of, but a purpose from Hell nonetheless.

We see it in churches today. We invite people in and are so excited when they come; we overlook their completely erroneous beliefs and their desire to change the church to accommodate their erroneous beliefs.

SLIDE: Presiding Bishops

They have repeatedly corrupted the church. How in the world do you think branches of Lutheran, (ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton) Presbyterian, Methodist (UMC Rosemarie Wenner) and Anglican (Episcopal U.S. Katharine Jefferts-Schori) denominations, get to the point of abandoning the clear teaching of the Bible and embrace A DIFFERENT Gospel (Galatians 1:6&7 et al.).

Corrupt belief crept into those churches over time as ungodly people slowly gained the upper hand.

Whether they realized it or not they were doing the Devil’s work. Satan’s children do their fathers bidding.

Will we, here at Alêtheia, do our Father’s bidding by contending earnestly for the Gospel of Christ?

It is an intentional choice to fight for the TRUTH every day…

SLIDE: JUDE 17&21 VERSES ~ 17But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. 20But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

Jude is COMMANDING THEM to REMEMBER that they were warned from the beginning that evil would infiltrate the church.

If so then, how much more now? God is COMMANDING US to REMEMBER that Jesus and His Apostles repeatedly warned of this infiltration.

Verses 18&19, again describe the infiltrators…

They are people who attach themselves to churches and cause problems… problems for the pastor, problems for individual people, problems for the church family as a whole and problems for the Christian Community at large.

SLIDE: WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO?

Verses 20&21 finally pick up what we Christians, devoted to Jesus, are to do about people infiltrating and corrupting the church.

Once again, it was back in verse 3, where Jude gave the reason for the letter… “Contend earnestly for the faith…”

which was once for all handed down to the saints.

He then described the reason they needed to fight for the faith, which is the purity of the Biblical Gospel, for the majority of the letter.

Now, he brings his letter to a crescendo closing by finally giving the concrete ways they then, and we now, must contend for the once for all faith…

Verses 20&21 breakdown like this… The main verbal command of the entire letter is to “Keep yourselves in the love of God.”

How do we combat heresy in the church? We each diligently KEEP OURSELVES in the love of Almighty God.

He doesn’t say ferret out the evil doers and burn them at the stake. He doesn’t say start an Inquisition. He doesn’t say become so pompously religious no one can stand to be around you… HE DOESN’T SAY judge others…

GOD commands you and me to KEEP OURSELVES in His love – that’s how we CONTEND EARNESTLY.

God says KEEP & LOVE… it is τηρέω (tā-ȑĕ-ō) and ἀγάπη (ä-gä-pā) the exact word idea as verse one (1) tying the two ideas together.

In verse one (1), it is God who KEEPS us in His LOVE. Here we are ordered to KEEP ourselves in His Love.

I want to discuss thoroughly the Sovereignty of God and His Divine activity versus our free will and responsibilities. God willing and the creek don’t rise, we will do just that when we finish this Bible book next Sunday.

For today let’s find out how we are to obey the prime directive of this letter.

Three participles phrases surround our command phrase to amplify and quantify our efforts.

1) First, we are to build ourselves up in that pure and most holy faith that is found nowhere else than in your Bible.

People want to make it about other things because Satan has always started with attacking God’s Word. In the Garden of Eden, “Did God REALLY say…?”

We start by accepting God’s Word as His desire for the conduct of our faith and then we must set about knowing what it says.

It does no good to accept the Bible if I don’t know what it says.

The name of our church is TRUTH Christian Fellowship. Our church’s Main Value is, “Biblical Advocacy.” Our Mission Statement is, “We love you enough to tell you the Truth.” Our church Motto is, “Truth in Love.”

I have repeatedly said that we will teach and preach what the Bible actually says rather than some denominational doctrine.

I realize it is difficult to come to church every Sunday and hear a college level sermon, but that is what you need in order to build “Yourselves up on your most holy faith.”

It is the Truth that will set you free and it is the Truth that will keep you on course. When times get tough it is the foundation of Truth that will hold you in God’s Love.

2) Pray, not in repetitious, rote, babbling humanness. Pray in Spirit and in Truth.

Jude isn’t talking about praying in tongues specifically because his scope is much broader. The best sense is paralleled by Paul where he tells us to “Pray at all times in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18). And that we don’t really know what to pray so it is the Holy Spirit who “Intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).

Pray without ceasing by being connected to the Holy Spirit throughout your day and as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:14&15, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also…”

Know your Bible, Pray in Spirit and in Truth and…

3) Wait anxiously for the perfection of all things.

I Keep myself in God’s Love by looking forward to the eternity that awaits.

It is the eternal perspective… how can my faith be derailed by the things of this life If my eyes are on the prize?

Quit focusing on the obstacles and the problems in the race and instead focus on the finish line.

051814 - Who is Immoral Now?
Clean
June 13, 2014 08:53 AM PDT
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Jude 9-15, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Jude 1d ~ 051814

SLIDE: #17 P72 ≈ 275 A.D. OPENING JUDE ~

Jude…
SLIDE: JUDE 8 VERSE ~ 8Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.

I just want to remind you that Jude has compared the ungodly people, who crept into their church unnoticed, with those cursed in the past.

He already said as much in verse four (4) noting that they were those whose “Condemnation was established long beforehand.”

Jude elaborated with three (3) examples.

The other point I want to make is that these ungodly people were ungodly by way of… “DREAMING.”

They did not intentionally hate God… quite the reverse… they wanted to serve God, but they wanted to serve a God of their own choosing.

That’s the danger, because that’s the tendency. I want to do things that deep down I know are wrong, yet I also want to feel good about what I’m doing.

I alter God in order to FEEL good about my anti-God desires. I cover my evil practices with a coating of self-made, false religion.

I am a violent angry person so I spend most of my time quoting the fire and brimstone sections of the Old Testament. I am a soft loving person so I spend most of my time talking about the love of Jesus.

I love to argue so I focus on the minutia.

I love an emotional high so I attend retreats, music festivals and revivals.

I love being smarter than everyone else so I’m constantly studying, but never learning. I love accolades so I’m always volunteering.

I love Jesus, but I do not want to obey the entire Bible… I find a way to eliminate what makes me FEEL uncomfortable.

In this particular instance the people appealed to personal insight – dreams, visions, conversations with God, special revelations, prophecies, signs, feelings, spiritual intuitions, etc. as God’s desire for their belief and conduct.

They, like so many through the centuries, believed that what resonated with them trumped, superseded, and abolished what Jesus taught directly through His Apostles.

In their opinion and in the opinion of most people today… The commands of God are flexible, changeable, unnecessary or unknowable.

The true teaching, as we have already discussed at great length in the last few Sundays, is the Bible you hold in your hand.

People from day one have not liked that… I don’t like it. I’m sure there is something in the Bible that doesn’t really work for you either.

True believers accept the Bible as it is… period. They do it to honor God and demonstrate their trust in Him regardless of their personal opinions.

The Godless change the Bible to suit them better. Some do it by granting editorial privileges to a Pope or prophet whereby their new insights take precedence over the Bible.

Some do it by inaccurately retranslating the Bible as do the JWs or they write a completely new Bible to overshadow the original as do the Mormons.

Some simply ignore the bits they don’t like and others ignore the whole thing and develop their own ideas of right and wrong.

However, it is done; the bottom line is the same. A person accepts the whole, as it is, through trust in God; or they create their own religion, through trust in themselves.

It is trust in self over trust in God, because when I alter the revelation given I fashion God and my religion to suit me. I appoint myself as my own god.

In so doing I judge the God of the Bible – I say to Him, I have weighed you on my scales, I have examined You through my filter, I have tested you by my standard, and I have found you lacking.

You are NOT good – I do NOT want to serve You. Listen God, I am smarter, better, more reasonable, less prejudiced, more just and therefore more righteous than You are.

My human opinion, based on a few years of experience and the knowledge learned from other humans is more correct than God’s opinion based upon an eternity of experience and all the knowledge that exists.

Talk about arrogant… Can you see why only the humble can be saved?

Ungodly people always come up with the dumbest objections, but those objections work because we are too dumb or lazy to know better or we are actually hoping they are right so we can quit serving the God of the Bible.

I must admit that I get frustrated when I hear someone use a tired old argument against the God of the Bible based upon ignorance.

I hear people say the Bible just doesn’t make any sense, yet they are the ones who make no sense!

I can have an eighth grade class read Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity or the recent CERN papers regarding the Higgs Boson.

I’m certain they would say those papers make NO SENSE! Yet, we think anyone who knows how to read at a third-grade level can render a valid opinion on the intricacies of the Holy Bible.

Sorry – it is a thing with me because I can’t stand it when people try to justify their own fleshly desires by maligning things they know nothing about.

If you want, your own version of God at least be mature enough to admit it…

It has been the same since the Garden. The particular interlopers Jude wrote about 2,000 years ago argued that their personal revelation made the Apostles teaching obsolete, irrelevant and therefore wrong.

If wrong then evil – abandon the old apostolic way and embrace the new and correct way.

The interlopers were not the ones who were immoral in their deviant beliefs – those still adhering to the antiquated teaching of Jesus were the ones who were immoral!

We see it today. People are not, considered immoral for sexual promiscuity, same-gender marriage, aborting babies, being too lazy to work, or by getting drunk… The people who are immoral in our society today are the people who want to acknowledge God in public, who think marriage is one man united with one woman, who hold to the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles.

I am IMMORAL in our culture because I think God wants us to be more than the result of animalistic impulses… I think God wants us to be “Self-Controlled”… in fact I’m sure I read that somewhere.

Have you ever heard of, Jeremy Gallon, Trey Millard, Charles Leno Jr., Jonathan Dowling or Ahmad Dixon? They are the five NFL Draft picks AHEAD of pick #249 Michael Sam.

Michael Sam was selected just seven (7) picks from the bottom of Draft. 248 college players were selected ahead of him and yet he got more news coverage than the top seven (7) picks.

Why, because the media thought an image of Michael kissing his boyfriend in celebration couldn’t be missed.

The president of the United States personally congratulated Michael… Did he also congratulate the rest of the players picked in the final round of the Draft?

Nothing there is immoral – what is IMMORAL is my implication that homosexual activity is a sin.

Why do I hold to that? Only because that is the clear teaching “Handed down to the saints.”

Did you know that there is a particular day in your life when you are most likely to be murdered?

Did you know that by far the most probable day of your murder is your birthday. Human beings are more likely to be murdered on the day of their birth than any other time.

If it happens, guess who your murderer will be…

For humans in MORAL ENLIGHTENED 21st century America, land of the free and home of brave, more people are murdered by their own mother than by all other sources combined.

The father is almost always just as culpable as the mom along with the medical personnel, the politicians and the citizens who promote the practice and those who do nothing to help.

None of them is IMMORAL – I am IMMORAL for bringing it up in polite company.

They appealed to their dreams as the basis of their Christianity and because they did the brother of Jesus said that they were NOT Christians at all.

Deuteronomy 13:1-4, 1“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4“You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. (Jeremiah 23:25–27 Colossians 2:16–19).

Will you prove your love for God by holding fast His true teaching even though it is difficult… ~Or~ will you prove your love for yourself by making your own teaching?

SLIDE: JUDE 9-11 VERSEs ~ 9But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. 11Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

Jude has just equated the ungodly people, who crept into their church unnoticed, with the Exodus Unbelievers, the citizens of Sodom & Gomorrah and the Watchers.

Here he compares them to three more examples, but first elaborates on his previous point about “Reviling angelic majesties.”

We assume Jude used a Book called, “The Assumption of Moses,” play on words intended, to develop this point.

According to the Bible, the Lord Himself buried Moses when he died. (Deuteronomy 34:5–6).

The extra-Biblical story is that when Moses died God dispatched the Archangel Michael to bury his body. When Michael arrived, Satan was already there to take the body, saying it belonged to him because Moses was a murderer.

Moses had murdered an Egyptian who was beating a Jew, which was the reason he was on the run for 40 years before whole Burning Bush incident (Exodus 2:11–12).

The Greek is difficult in Jude 9 and so many people get the idea that Michael was afraid to stand up to Satan himself or that Michael refused to get mad or to rail against Satan.

What it means is that unlike the Watchers, Michael kept his “Domain and proper abode.” Michael is NOT afraid of Satan, what Michael refused to do was put himself in God’s place as the JUDGE of Satan.

While I’m not very hip on this translation you can see the point by the use of the phrase, “Railing judgment.”

It is basically, “Michael was NOT SO BOLD as to pronounce a defamatory or negative (blasphemous) judgment upon Satan.

He refused to impugn Satan’s character, motives, words or actions. Rather, Michael said it is God who will judge you, not me!

Michael knows Satan, he knows precisely what Satan is, and how he operates, but he does not DARE usurp God’s role as the One and Only Judge.

Conversely, those ungodly people who had crept in had no such compunction.

It reminds me of people today who rail against Satan and the rest of the fallen angels. Calling the Devil old clubfoot, commanding him and his fellows to be gone, and judging them along with condemning other human beings.

If arguably the most powerful and trusted angel leader will not say a word of condemnation against the most vile and treasonous being… why would we do that to him, his demon horde or other human beings made in God’s image? He is the judge.

Just to be straight, I can say that homosexual activity is a sin (pun partially intended).

I can say that those who reject Jesus will be eternally condemned.

What I cannot and will not say, is that an individual homosexual person is eternally condemned.

SLIDE: CAIN ~ BALAAM ~ KORAH

These are three (3) examples that are closely associated with the three (3) we looked at last week.

Cain was the very first murderer – killing his brother Able.

Cain wanted God’s blessing, but he didn’t want to do what was necessary to get God’s blessing.

Literally, billions of people want to go to heaven when they die, but have little or no time for God while they are alive.

Abel loved God and served God out of the overflow of his heart and he was blessed.

Cain loved himself and served God out of that overflow, which is to say poorly. 1) Cain was self-centered ~ not wanting to waste his resources of time, energy and money on God. 2) Cain was greedy ~ wanting his own resources, but also wanting the blessing of God. 3) Cain was envious ~ he became murderously angry when Able received from God what he did not.

Not only did Cain kill his brother, he refused to repent when confronted by God.

In fact, when God confronted him, Cain blamed God, instead of himself, thus self-righteously rejected God.

Here’s a modern example… A person goes to church once or twice a month. They spend thousands of dollars on themselves and throw a $20 in the offering basket at church. They pray whenever they are in a tough spot, but not so much when all is well for them. They love to read, but the book is rarely the Bible. They have plenty of time for gardening, camping, fishing, movies, but not for small groups, Wednesday at the Church or Sunday school.

This person cannot for the life of them understand why God is not blessing them as much as He is blessing someone else.

If that person is not careful, their self-centered, greedy and envious disposition will lead them to murderous anger and self-righteous rejection of God.

Everything can be summed up by what God told Cain before he murdered his brother, “You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master” (Genesis 4:7 NLT).

The other reason Jude uses Cain is that even though his attitudes and actions were horrific – God did not allow other humans to judge him.

Balaam was destroyed because he used his ministry to line his pockets.

It was all about deceiving God’s people in order to make a buck (Numbers 22:5-24:25, 2 Peter 2:15&16, Revelation 2:14).

You don’t need to look very far to find that kind of activity today. Woe to anyone who would lead others into error, but especially if it is for personal gain.

What the Children of God needed to do then was trust God and avoid personal sin, not simply condemn Balaam.

It is the same for us – avoid disparaging or condemning those who peddle evil – what you need to do is avoid the evil they peddle!

You can boil down, The Rebellion of Korah, to a group of people unwilling to submit to church authority.

Korah gathered a large group of leaders, their families and others to oppose Moses as their leader. Their main gripe was that they were equally God’s children and did not need a leader – each person could follow God as individuals. They didn’t like the direction Moses took and the decisions Moses made – they wanted to each lead themselves (Numbers 16:1-35).

God opened the earth and HE wiped them out.

Today it is practically impossible for a Christian leader to lead.

A successful Christian leader must become a yes-man (which only works for a time), or a motivational speaker (never saying anything controversial), or a charismatic charmer (like a duplicitous salesman) or a brush fire specialist (working overtime smoothing out everyone’s ruffled feathers) etc.

To stand each week and deliver God’s Message and to dare to lead a congregation where they may not want to go will not make one popular.

In America anytime, a person gets too irritated, they vote with their feet. They simply leave and go to another church. Some, in an effort to justify their actions then vilify the pastor they once loved… Some refuse to leave without first trying to destroy the pastor and the church through coup d’état or church split.

As far as church discipline? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it work.

The reason is we are like Korah… We believe we have God’s love, the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of Jesus every bit as much as any pastor, let alone Elder or Deacon.

And we all do… Moses never said that Korah and the other leaders were not equal in the sight of God.

Equality and God ordained role in this life are two completely different things.

God appoints a leader – will you follow that leader and back him even when you disagree? (Obviously, we are not talking about foundational salvific differences).

I say, we are going to study Jude. We are going to lock in a fixed interest rate on our building. We are going to have church services here and at camp this year. Will you support me as your leader?

Our church is unusual; as a percentage of the group, we have far more mature God-loving, God-honoring, Bible-believing Christians striving to follow Christ more closely, than any church I know.

No pastor in 21st century America could be more pleased with the congregation God has given him than me – I cannot complain… much.

What I have said here applies less to us than to most, but if you will permit me, it does still apply.

SLIDE: JUDE 12&13 VERSES ~ 12These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

“Hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves.”

The NIV has “Blemishes” instead of “Hidden reefs,” which is a possible translation of the Greek, but unlikely.

The parallel idea in II Peter has “Blemishes” and the NIV is trying to align the two accounts, but it is unnecessary. Jude and II Peter have a different nuance.

The love feasts and eating with fear refers, NOT to Holy Communion itself, but to the whole assembly and services of the church.

The outsiders have come into the church without any compunction or modesty promising smooth sailing, but actually being rocks just under the surface to shipwreck the unwary.

They do not care about anyone else’s eternity, only their own comfort.

Jude compares them to the four realms of physical reality… the land, the sea, the sky and space.

They are like rainless clouds in the desert.

Trees without fruit.

Destructive waves.

Wandering stars.

Each thing promises something, but does not deliver.

Storm clouds blowing in, but no beneficial rain.

Trees in the fall, which should be full of fruit, but have none.

Waves that should bring cleansing instead churn up the bottom and deposit debris on the beach.

Celestial bodies, which should be constant in their movements for good navigation, instead have elliptical and retrograde orbits and are unreliable.

For us, we can navigate by Polaris but not by Castor and Pollux unless you have a Nautical Almanac, sextant a calculator and a calendar.

SLIDE: JUDE 14&15 VERSES ~ 14It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Jude is quoting I Enoch 1:9. Enoch of course was the father of Methuselah and great-grandfather of Noah.

It isn’t to say that Jude thought the whole book of I Enoch was sacred or that he even believed that Enoch wrote the book.

What we do know is that Jude, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, believed the quoted material was originally from God through Enoch.

The Godly antediluvian Enoch spoke that particular verse as a prophet of God and it was recorded in I Enoch at some point.

God will judge – there will come a reckoning. All of the people throughout time who do not wish to embrace the true God as He has revealed Himself are without Him and by definition are UNGODLY.

Because they are ungodly, they do things that are ungodly in an ungodly fashion…

It means that the flow and way of their life – the whole demeanor and mode of operation is ungodly so naturally what they do is ungodly…

Smokey and the campout… If we were doing manly things in a manly fashion, we were real men.

What people without the true God do with the entire force of their thoughts, words and deeds is to condemn the true God.

To “Have spoken against Him” is a way of saying the totality of a person’s life screams out, “I hate the true God…” because the ungodly have rejected the true God.

Please understand that the only way you and I have any hope of knowing the true God is through the revelation of Himself that He has given us.

It is the Bible… Some might say it is the Holy Spirit, but in this context, the Holy Spirit’s gift is the ILLUMINATION of God’s Word.

051114 - Actions Betray Intentions
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June 13, 2014 08:13 AM PDT
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Jude 5-8, Pastor Scott Keller
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ Jude 1c ~ 051114

SLIDE #19: WELCOME FRIENDS!

MOTHER’S DAY VIDEO

SLIDE #20: EINSTEIN BABY

This is how my mom still sees me…

SLIDE #21: HOPE BABY BOTTLES Moms to Dads

SLIDE #22: YOUTH STUFF

Youth Bake Sale, May 11 –
Youth Potluck Fundraiser, June 1 –
Father’s Day & Youth Car Wash, June 15 –
Youth Silverwood Trip, June 27&28 –
Church Camp July 25-27 –
Youth Camping Trip, August 5-7 –
SLIDE #23-26 CALENDARS

Final Wednesday, May 14 final –
Work Day Saturday, May 17 –
CHURCH BUSINESS MEETING, May 18 –

SLIDE: OPEN THE LETTER OF JUDE

Jude… Mother’s Day is so great and so important we don’t want to ignore it, but coincidentally mothers actually comes up in our Jude text today so let’s remember mom as we delve into God’s Word.

SLIDE: JUDE 5a VERSE ~ 5Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all…

In verse 3, Jude gave us the entire point of the Letter – “Contend earnestly for the true Faith.”

In verse 4, Jude stated the specific reason to contend, namely that ungodly people had crept in to their church.

Now Jude is going to elaborate…

He starts verse 5 by tying it back to verse 3, saying, you know that true faith – that unadulterated Gospel… That “Faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”

You already have that – you already possess the “ONCE FOR ALL” faith that was handed down, so I’m just reminding you about what you already know, “Once for all…”

That is my primary job really.

I am a reminder to you every Sunday about what you already know. Sure, I mention things you don’t know specifically, but the big themes… (AND THAT’S WHAT JUDE IS TALKING ABOUT)… remain the same.

When I first started preaching, I thought I could thoroughly cover Christianity in about 6 months. Start the church, teach for 6 months, close the church, go fly airplanes.

We Christians need constant encouragement through constant reminders… It is job security for me.

The Apostle Paul said, “To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you” (Philippians 3:1).

The Apostle John said, “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it” (I John 2:21).

The Apostle Peter said, “I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you” (II Peter 1:12).

We stay the course by continual re-learning the foundational elements of the true Faith…

Coming to church every week is about honoring God – about demonstrating that God is important to you, about encouraging your Christian brothers and sisters, about ministering to people who are searching, but it is also about you receiving nourishment as well.

I cringe when Christians are so shallow and immature that they make church ALL about them and their needs. However, you being encouraged and fed is also vital.

Show me a Christian who only goes to church a handful of times a year and I will show you a Christian that has serious problems.

“Well, Scott I don’t know about that…” If you are not certain I’m right about this, I challenge you to the game. Get all your ducks in a row and come see me and I will prove my point.

Why am I so confident? God’s Word confirms my argument. (Acts 2:42, Hebrews 10:23-25, et al. ad infinitum). Jude says…

SLIDE: JUDE 5&6 VERSES ~ 5bThe Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day…

SLIDE: JUDE 7 VERSE ~ just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

SLIDE: THREE EXAMPLES…

He gives three examples where either people or angels have been granted access to God and were part of the “God Community,” but ended up condemned.

In each example, the characters had been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit. They had tasted the good word of God.

As a result, they had a clear choice to embrace the true faith and abide in it, or refuse to stay. In all three cases they chose to reject God and His ways.

Peter states in his Second Epistle, “For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them” (2 Peter 2:21).

In regards to the Exodus, eternally speaking, it was better to be an ignorant pagan Egyptian, than a REJECTING Jew delivered by God.

In today’s terms, it is far better to be a heathen atheist who never heard the Gospel than to be a person who has heard and participated, but then rejected Jesus.

The entire point is that 1God did not and so will not spare people just because they know better… 2in fact it is worse for such people. The implication is that 3IF you are NOT careful it could happen to you.

Now, we could move on to the next verses or I can explain the background and some of the particulars of these three examples.

I have wrestled with that decision for a couple of weeks.

Only because… 1) I know some of you are not that familiar with the Old Testament… 2) Some of you who are familiar, still like to delve into it… 3) and finally because of the recent NOAH movie… I’m going to hit the highlights.

If you don’t like background; you have the main point, IF, (meaning SINCE) God didn’t spare them, He will not spare you either… So be sober-minded. You can relax and cogitate on that for the next 10 minutes. Join us on the other side of the amplification.

If you want to go into more detail, see the connections to the movie, and the current secular ideas; come to Sunday school at 9 am next week.

By the end of Genesis, the Children of Israel go to Egypt and settle there.

The rest of the Torah/Pentateuch (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) is about God taking the Jewish people – the descendants of Israel – out of Egypt and readying them to found a nation in the Promised Land.

In getting Pharaoh to release, the Jewish slaves God cursed them with 10 ever-worsening plagues culminating with the death of the firstborn.

Everyone who painted lambs blood on the doorposts and lintels of their home was spared… The Angel of Death “PASSED OVER” those people.

This is what the Jewish Passover is all about; Jesus came as the once and for all, final and perfect, “Passover Lamb.”

Today, the Angel of Death will “PASS OVER” anyone who paints the doorposts and lintels of their heart with His blood.

After all these miracles, the Jews set out on their journey and God repeatedly provided for them.

God provided a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night to guide them on their way.

He parted the Red Sea, He gave them water in the desert, He gave them Manna from Heaven to eat and when they complained He gave them meat.

We are talking about people who God delivered from slavery and who God preserved on the trail through divine supernatural intervention…

And many of them rejected God… and God destroyed them.

1) God did not spare them because they were part of the “GOOD GUYS GROUP.”

2) Their fate was worse than if they had never participated in God’s blessing at all…

3) The warning is that it can happen to you IF you are not DILIGENT… IF you do not CONTEND EARNESTLY for the faith.

You can now see why I say that contending is more about you fighting for purity in your own life as opposed to fighting other people over doctrine.

FIGHT for the TRUTH in your life!

You can also now see why people don’t like Jude.

We must accept, appreciate and implement this every bit as much as, “For God so loved the world…”

I mentioned to another Pastor that we were going through Jude and his immediate response was “Jude probably shouldn’t even be in the Bible.”

I said, “But it is, and since it is, it carries the exact same weight as any other portion of Holy Scripture.”

The Book of Hebrews talks about this same concept using those same people, Hebrews 4:2 “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; [the Jews God delivered from Egyptian slavery] but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”

Hebrews goes on to say, “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).

The point there is to pursue diligently the deeper things of God… Instead of being lazy and resting in repeated “feel good” sermons that are comfortable, easy to understand, digest and.

Dig deep, get to the heart of the matter, work, eat meat, be convicted and CHANGE.

“Be transformed by the RENEWING of your mind,” into the image of Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 12:2).

Jude’s second example is about the, “Angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode. God has kept them in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day…”

Again, the Book of Genesis says, 1“Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose…” 4“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown” (Genesis 6:1, 2&4).

Paul in talking to the Corinthians about head coverings says in, I Corinthians 11:10, “Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.”

II Peter parallels Jude, and there are some other brief references, but the Biblical picture is just vague enough for there to be different opinions on what it all means.

Most Contemporary Scholars completely dismiss the idea of angels marrying humans. It is because they also dismiss everything they find weird.

Whatever a person believes about the “Sons of God,” marrying the “Daughters of men,” the Jews back then believed it was angels mixing with humans.

The Jews wrote many books in the centuries leading up to the time of Jesus and Jude. From those Books, we get a much fuller picture of what Jews of the first century believed.

They are not on the level of Inspired Scripture, but they were often seen as one small step below the Bible and were often read in Synagogues and early Christian churches.

Some Christian Denominations accept some of these books as Biblical. The Catholics accept the Maccabees and Sirach as an example.

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, especially, Naphtali năf-tä-lē and Rueben, along with books like Ecclesiasticus or Sirach, the Book of Jubilees, I Enoch, the Maccabees, II Baruch, even the Jewish Mishnah as well as a whole host of others tell of the Watchers and the Giants and the Flood.

As I say, these books were very popular in the hundred years leading up to Jesus’ time. So much so, that much of their content was part of the Jewish culture of His day.

According to those sources, Lucifer was furious with God over the attention He was paying to mankind.

He was especially angry about the authority God had given us and the idea that we, as far weaker and far less noble creatures would one day judge him and the other angels (I Corinthians 6:3).

Lucifer rebelled and a third of the angels followed suit. God cast them out and they became Satan and the demons.

In his fury, Satan attacked man in the Garden of Eden by convincing Eve to disobey God.

He appeared to her as a good, noble and beautiful creature. He moved her to rebellion against God over time through subtle good sounding arguments.

When God cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden He sent good angels to protect them… essentially Guardian Angels called the WATCHERS.

I Enoch 6:1&2 says, “When the children of men had multiplied there were born to them beautiful and pleasing daughters. The angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and have our own children’”

In The Testament of Rueben it says, “Command your wives and your daughters, that they adorn not their heads and faces to deceive the mind… For thus they allured the Watchers who were before the flood; for as these continually beheld them, they lusted after them, and they conceived the act in their mind; for they changed themselves into the shape of men… And the women lusting in their minds after their forms, gave birth to giants, for the Watchers appeared to them as reaching even unto heaven.”

According to the stories, God sent the Archangel Uriel to tell Moses to build the Ark and the Archangel Raphael to bind Azazel, the Warrior Watcher. God sent the Archangel Gabriel to kill all the Giants and the Archangel Michael to lock the rest of the Watchers in the Abyss spoken about in the Book of Revelation.

Take from all that what you like, the point the Bible is making is that we must all be diligent about the TRUE FAITH…

There is only one unforgivable sin and that is the sin of refusing to hold fast to the true faith refusal to contend earnestly.

1) God did not spare them because they were His Holy Angles sent to “WATCH OVER mankind.”

2) Their fate was worse than if they had never participated in God’s blessing at all…

3) The warning is that it can happen to you IF you are not DILIGENT… IF you do not CONTEND EARNESTLY for the faith.

The final example is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah – once again found in the Book of Genesis.

Jesus and two angels came down and had a picnic BBQ with Father Abraham.

God revealed to Abraham His plan to destroy the cities of the valley in particular the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Abraham pleaded with God to spare the cities and even thought the story is a bit strange and difficult to follow in the Old Testament, the point is made clear in the New Testament.

II Peter 2:7&8 says, “He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds.”

Through divine providence Lot, the nephew of Abraham, was living among the people of the cities.

Lot was a righteous man and carried with him the TRUTH of God… the people had full access to Lot and his teaching.

He was a leader in their community and no doubt repeatedly told them about the goodness of God, the punishment for sin and the right thing to do.

They had full opportunity to be people of God, but instead rejected Lot, the angels sent to the city and God. The people chose depravity and being their own god instead.

They along with Lot’s wife were destroyed. Trust me when I say, the judgment against the average American will be far worse than the judgment against the average Chinese person because of this concept.

1) God did not spare them because they were neighbors of “RIGHTEOUS LOT.”

2) Their fate was worse than if they had never heard about God’s blessing at all…

3) The warning is that it can happen to you IF you are not DILIGENT… IF you do not CONTEND EARNESTLY for the faith.

SLIDE: JUDE 8 VERSE ~ Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.

There are evil people in this world – they are the children of Satan. Like their father, many of them masquerade as light…

It is a lie, and it is a lie with a purpose.

It is a lie to corrupt your belief and trust in God.

They appear as a good, noble and beautiful people. They move others to rebellion against God over time through subtle good sounding arguments.

Subtly, little-by-little, through questioning God’s Word, His Motives and His Character, dragging you away from the TRUTH.

I am sounding the warning call to battle, but You MUST fight.

You MUST contend earnestly for your faith or you will prove that you were “Never part of us.” and you will go the way of Sodom & Gomorrah, the Exodus Unbelievers and the Watchers.

That’s the message and that’s the point… Guard yourself against being deceived. Be diligent in staying the course and working out your salvation… making your salvation certain (I John 3:7, Acts 20:24, II Timothy 4:7, Philippians 2:12, II Peter 1:10).

As Jesus so eloquently and tersely said in Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

Despite what some think this is NOT about eternal security OR losing one’s salvation.

The Bible is very clear… People are, saved by Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, accepted by the Father, Christian children of God. People are unsaved, unfilled, condemned, children of the devil.

Who you are NOW will be proven by what you do IN THE END…

Jesus said in Luke 7:35, “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

“Stupid is as stupid does.” Forrest Gump character.

I simply say, “Actions betray intentions.”

If you fight the good fight and finish the course God sets out before you – you will prove that you were a Christian.

If you do not contend earnestly for the faith and do not make knowing God more and more a reality in your life you will fall away and thus prove you were never a Christian at all.

You are here today because of a woman and I’ll wager that woman is a mother… I will go so far as to say that almost every person attending a Christian Service today is doing so because of a mom.

That mom might be your mother or grandmother, she might be your wife or your daughter, she might actually be you.

God bless the moms… God we thank you for the moms.

I assure you there would be no one contending earnestly if not for the millions of mother’s who raised their children in the admonition of the Lord, who prayed for their children ceaselessly, who demonstrated the faith by living it.

Honor the mother’s by fighting for the True Faith in your life.

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