Sunday – March 15, 2015 Jude verses 13 to 15

Sunday – March 15, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Jude 14-16
“It 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, to 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.”

The Apostle Paul wrote, regarding the Old Testament, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11). The use of the Old Testament Scriptures by the church of Christ has been the subject of some debate from the early church fathers up to the present day. The debate is primarily concerned with the question of what writings are truly in the canon of the Old Testament Scriptures. The word “canon” is from a Greek word that means a “rule” or “standard”.

So what makes the cut in terms of Old Testament Scripture? Should it encompass all the books read in the church for edification, which would include the Apocrypha and sometimes the Pseudipigrapha (anonymous apocalyptic writings). Or should it be the Jewish Bible, representing also the Protestant Bibles of today. It was not until the age of the Reformation that the debate began to rage. In 1546 when the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent made a formal statement accepting selected Apocryphal writings, the Protestants retorted with an equally resolute voice: So should we include books like Enoch because Jude 14 quotes it?

The inter-testament saints held there was a known Scripture. In their writings they would often refer to it with the authoritative phrase, “as it is written,” or “according to Scripture,” or “it is written.” In fact, references to almost all of the books of the Old Testament are considered to be Scripture by the writers of the New Testament period. Jesus Himself, the most authoritative witness for the Christian, states in Luke 24:44 the three sections of the Old Testament as “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and Psalms.” “Psalms” undoubtedly means the whole Hagiographa, for Christ often referred to Daniel, which was a part of that third section, as well as the book of Psalms itself, after which the section was named. Even non-biblical writers such as Philo and the tenth century Arabian writer al-Masudi both refer to the Hagiographa as the “Psalms.”

The quote in Jude 14 of 1 Enoch 1:9 does not require that 1 Enoch be included in Scripture. To quote what is true in Scripture is different than saying that what is quoted is Scripture. Even Paul quoted a pagan poet in Acts 17:28, yet he certainly did not regard it as Scripture but as simply true. The Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes also all recognized a closed canon and generally saw that prophecy had ceased before the Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha were even written. None of the Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha were in the canon of the Jews and it was to this canon that Jesus Himself and the Apostles appealed.

Sunday – March 8, 2015 Jude verses 11 to 13

Sunday – March 8, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Jude 11
“Woe 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.”

I’m quite sure I know the reason why the Book of Numbers is so often ignored. People think it is boring. Let’s face it; there are some portions of the Old Testament that appear to be irrelevant, and that are commonly considered boring. Having admitted to this, I now wish to point out that one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible is found in the Book of Numbers. I am speaking of the story of Balaam, the “diviner,” who was hired to curse Israel.

Balaam was merely a well-known “diviner,” with a reputation for effectively cursing nations. I do not mean to say that he was a complete fraud, and that his “curses” had no effect on others. His reputation seems to indicate otherwise. I believe that his powers did not come “from above,” but “from below,” that he was “connected,” but not to the God of Israel.  It wasn’t that Balaam did not know the will of God; it was that he did not want to do it. When Balaam asks the men to spend the night so that he can inquire further of the Lord, it is clear that Balaam does not want to do what God has commanded. The money and fame which Balak offered Balaam was too much for Balaam to turn down. He was intent upon getting around God’s will.

Let there be no doubt that God is not pleased when men do the evil that He permits. God sometimes allows men to sin, even though He has condemned and forbidden it. This is a good example of what we might call “God’s permissive will.” God forbade Balaam to go with the delegation that had come, and also He forbade Balaam from cursing Israel, the people God had blessed. When He permitted Balaam to accompany these men to meet with Balak, it was His permissive will. God allows men to do those things which He has forbidden. Woe to those who persist in their path of sin, for it is surely the road to destruction. Just because God allows men to sin does not mean that He approves of sin.

It is fairly easy to see the folly of Balaam’s ways, and yet many Christians seek to use God, rather than to serve Him. We try to convince God that our happiness is more important than our holiness, that our pleasures are more important than pleasing Him. How often we know that what we are pursuing is in violation of His Word, and yet we persist at seeking to change His mind, or at least in seeking to convince ourselves that what we want is not really that bad. The pagan gods were not real, but the product of man’s fallen imaginations – “god” the way we would like him to be. We serve the God who made man, and who will not be manipulated. It is our duty and privilege to conform to Him, rather than for us to seek to conform Him to our wants and wishes.

Sunday – March 1, 2015 Jude verses 8 to 10

Sunday – Sunday – March 1, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Jude 8-9
Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. But 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!”

The study of angels or the doctrine of angelology is one of the ten major categories of theology developed in many systematic theological works. The tendency, however, has been to neglect it. Though the doctrine of angels holds an important place in the Word of God, it is often viewed as a difficult subject because, while there is abundant mention of angels in the Bible, the nature of this revelation is without the same kind of explicit description we often find with other subjects developed in the Bible.

Our culture takes angels seriously, but not accurately. Modern society, so seemingly secular and hopelessly materialistic, desperately searches for some spiritual and supernatural meaning. If angels can provide it, then angels it will be. Bookstores abound with books about angels or encounters with angels, not to mention television series and major motion pictures. They can be very entertaining, but it does illustrate our fascination and our very poor grasp of what the Bible really teaches about angels and about God.

While all the angels were originally created holy and without sin, there was a rebellion by Satan, who, being lifted up by his own beauty, rebelled and sought to exalt himself above God. In his rebellion, he took with him one-third of the angels (Rev. 12:4). This rebellion and fall is probably described for us in Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:15 embodied in the kings of Babylon and Tyre. The angels which sinned did so in full knowledge of all the issues involved. They chose self-corruption, knowing exactly what they were doing. They sinned without remedy, and there is no atonement for them (II Peter 2:4; Jude 6).

A study of the angels, both good and bad, furnishes us with a number of lessons as to how we should and should not live both negatively and positively. A consciousness of the reality of the vast hosts of angelic being – the benefit derived from the good, and the opposition of the bad – can be gained only through meditation upon the Scriptures that record these truths, and through prayer.

Sunday – February 22, 2015 Jude Verses 5 to 7

February 22, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Jude 5-7
Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And 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, 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.”

Apostasy (or falling away) always begins in the mind. These spirits are “deceitful” and they teach doctrines that sound biblical but are just slightly off. They are out to fool you in your thinking. But God’s people believe and know the truth. We need to be careful here. On one extreme, there is a wide movement in the American church that minimizes truth. This side says, “They will know we are Christians by our love,” and so they adopt a “peace at any cost” position that dilutes and ultimately destroys essential Christian truth. They emphasize tolerance and doctrinal diversity. If you speak out against error, this side accuses you of being unloving and divisive. But if you go down that road, you end up with the unbiblical view that truth doesn’t matter and that there is no such thing as sound doctrine.

On the other extreme, we can be so zealous for the truth that we shred relationships and end up falling into spiritual pride because we hold to “The Truth.” I get a newsletter from a man who attacks and separates himself from many well-known evangelicals because he finds errors in statements they have made in print or in taped messages. If you go far enough down that road, you end up in a church of one member, because you’ll never find another person who agrees with you on every minor point of doctrine. So you have to determine how serious a matter is and what the consequences will be if people follow this teaching.

You must be especially careful to guard yourself from wrong thinking when you’re going through a difficult trial. Satan comes along and sows doubts about God’s goodness: “If He were really good, He wouldn’t let this happen to you. It’s okay to be angry at God; He wasn’t faithful to you by letting this happen.” It’s in the context of trials that Peter tells us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand and then says, “Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Pet. 5:8-9). So, Satan is out to influence your thinking. Spiritual warfare involves the mind. But it never stops there.

To avoid falling away, we must persevere in God’s truth with thankful hearts. It’s not always easy, but even in times of trial, we need to affirm God’s goodness and thank Him for His many blessings.