Sunday – February 15, 2015 Jude verse 3

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

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Jude 3-4
“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

C.S. Lewis, more than anyone else in the 20th century, lived out the admonition of our passage today. Never before in my lifetime has this verse been more important for Christians to hear, consider, and heed. Note three elements in this verse that are essential to Jude’s entreaty. First, Jude makes reference to a specific message with specific content, the “faith once and for all delivered”—the foundation of “our common salvation.” Second is the admonition to “contend earnestly” for that faith—to proclaim it, guard it, and defend it. Finally, Jude reminds us that it had been “delivered” to the saints—passed on from the disciples to the next generation in the church.

Currently, the Christian worldview is facing assault on multiple fronts. In the midst of this academic attack, there is an increasingly pervasive godlessness and a militant relativism in the culture. The 21st century began as an era of radical skepticism, especially in the area of morality and religion. As a result, the moral rulebook is being rewritten. Right has become wrong and wrong right.

In addition, there is an increasing hostility towards those who take Jesus seriously regarding the Great Commission. Jesus said he came, “To seek to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and “to call sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). That was the way He described His own mission. Yet when we proclaim this message—Jesus’ central message—we court conflict. Indeed, to be faithful to Jesus’ claim that He is the only Savior is increasingly considered an example of “spreading hate.”

The key to contending for the faith—to surviving the spiritual onslaught of the 21st century—is to guard the Gospel. The key to that is found in two simple phrases. One, contend earnestly for that faith. That means we need to go back to the basics. Back to the Word as it has been entrusted to us; back to the faith once delivered by the Apostles. And two, entrust it to faithful disciples who will be able to teach others also. Guard the Gospel by continuing in the truth already revealed, then pass the baton. Proclaim the truth faithfully, guard it diligently, and pass it on carefully. That is how we contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

Sunday – January 4, 2015 1st John 5 verses 18 to 21

Sunday – January 4, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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 1 John 5:21
“Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

John throws a final fastball right by us in 1 John 5:21. You stand there flat-footed, thinking, “Where did that come from?” He hasn’t been saying anything about idolatry. He hasn’t mentioned it in the entire book. So, at first glance, it seems out of context. But as you think about it, it sums up his entire message. Idolatry is making up your own god as a substitute for the one true God, who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. The false teachers were doing just that. They were offering a false god of speculation, not the one true God of revelation. So John’s final words are a warning against adopting the errors of man-made religion.

We may think that this warning had a special application in Ephesus, where John sent this letter. The Temple of Diana (or Artemis) was there and the silversmiths made a good living making statues of this pagan goddess (Acts 19:23-41). If you travel today in the Far East or in primitive tribal areas, you see many shrines to idols. But Americans, we say to ourselves, do not have a problem with bowing down before statues of imagined gods. But that is not the case. Our idols may not be of stone, gold or precious stones, but we Americans still bow down to them.

In the most basic sense, an idol is anything that takes the rightful place of God in your life. Paul equated covetousness or greed with idolatry (Eph. 5:5). Your career, your pursuit of money, your possessions, excessive devotion to leisure and recreation, or even putting a human relationship ahead of your relationship with God, may all become idols. Putting your intellect above God’s revelation, just as Nicodemus did in John 3, is idolatry. Watching hours of inane or immoral TV shows each week or spending hours playing computer games, while not having time to spend with God or serve Him, is idolatry.

John tells us to “guard” ourselves from idols, which implies that we have something valuable that the enemy is trying to steal. Charles Spurgeon, a 19th century British preacher, points out that if a man has a box and he’s not sure what’s in it, he won’t be very careful about guarding it. But if he knows that it contains a rare and valuable treasure, he will be diligent to guard it carefully. John is saying that if you know the true God and His Son Jesus Christ, you have a treasure. Guard it so that you don’t drift into one of the many forms of idolatry.