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Surviving The Coming Apostasy

The Book of Jude

 

This study may be one where we ought to alter the title, because for many people, the word “Coming” no longer applies. It seems the apostasy the Scripture often refers to is already here.

“What apostasy?” you ask. Some Christians today may be unaware that the Bible foretells a time near the return of Christ when there will be a great “falling away.” They don’t know that this time—or an apostasy like it—is already upon us.

This month we’re going to look at the apostasy the Bible tells us is destined to come upon the earth and how the believer can survive, with their faith undiminished by it.

Apostasy is the renunciation of faith. Apostasy will not fall upon ALL peoples of the earth—apostasy occurs among those who claim to be believers. We’re not talking about people who have doubts. An apostate is not someone who has doubts about the Bible. Sometimes people say, can you be saved and have doubts? Yes. Doubt is to your spirit what pain is to your body. It’s better not to have it, but at least you know you’re alive.  Doubt is just faith acting up. An apostate is someone who never has been saved.

For our purposes in this study, we use the term “apostasy” to refer to that great falling away Scripture describes when even believers might be led astray.
It was the Lord Jesus Himself, speaking of the last days, who described such a time.

1. Turn in your Bible to Matthew 24:24.

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall____________ the very ____________.

Several historic, mainline denominations today have abandoned the clear teaching of Scripture. They stand as evidence of apostasy in the church in an unprecedented way.
How will you avoid falling prey?
Will you be able to recognize apostasy when you see it?

If you’re alert, you’re noticing a wholesale turning away from the true faith in Jesus Christ and the bedrock teachings of the Bible in many churches.

A CLOSER LOOK: HOME OF THE APOSTATES
 

We can see it happening in America. We are reaping the bitter fruit of liberalism and the “social gospel” in pulpit and pew. Some churches are little more than country clubs with a steeple on top, where their rolls are padded with moral worldlings who’ve never been born again. There is no repentance, no faith, no evangelism, no victory and no salvation. Churches with 100-year histories, beautiful pipe organs, and a cross on every pew have abandoned the clear teaching of Scripture.

They compromise the authority of the Word of God, which is “God-breathed,” inerrant and immutable. They take Scripture such as “Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in Heaven” (Psalm 119:89), and decide: “What verses are okay with me, I’ll go along with. The others? Well, they aren’t the word (little w) of God anyway.”

2. Turn now to 1Timothy 4:1

 In the last days men shall ____________ from the _________ giving heed to seducing ___________ and doctrines of________________.

a. What are people departing from? _______________
b. What entities are they now believing? ____________________________________

In this passage notice that Timothy doesn’t place the root of the blame upon the false teachers. He “digs deeper” to go further than that. Who, ultimately, is responsible for this apostasy? _________________________

In examining the issue of the current and coming apostasy, our focus will be the book of Jude.

A CLOSER LOOK AT JUDE

This tiny book is a letter written in approximately 67 AD, scholars tell us, and was most likely meant for the believers in Ephesus. The entire letter is only 25 verses and 461 words long.

Did you know that Jude was the half-brother of Jesus and the brother of James? Bible scholars say that both he and James did not actually come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah until after His resurrection.

By the time Jude wrote his letter to the believers, both Paul and Peter had been martyred. The early church needed encouragement. And Jude starts out his letter wanting to encourage them. But then because of the apostasy rising in their midst, he had to divert his focus to address that issue instead.

3. Turn to the book of Jude, the last book in the Bible before the book of Revelation, and read it in its entirety (25 verses). There are chapters in some books of the Bible which are double or triple that in length.

Notice how Jude refers to himself in verse 1:

Jude, the ______________ of Jesus Christ, and brother of ___________…

You may be wondering, “Why didn’t Jude say, “…and brother of Jesus Christ”? He could easily have said, “Jude, the servant and brother of the Lord Jesus Christ.” But he didn’t, and neither did James.

If I were blood-kin to the Lord Jesus Christ, I probably would have said so. But both Jude in his letter and James in his referred to themselves as the Lord’s servant, rather than His brother.

It is thought this was because neither one wanted to “pull rank” upon the believers or imply with pride that they were to be thought more highly of than others. Instead, they wanted to be seen as fellow servants of the Lord. Dr. Richard Bauckham explains,
Jewish-Christian circles in the early church used the title “brother of the Lord” not simply to identify the brothers, but as ascribing to them an authoritative status, and therefore the brothers themselves, not wishing to claim an authority based upon mere blood-relationship to Jesus, avoided the term.

They didn’t lord it over their fellow believers but ministered to them as humble servants. However, this didn’t mean they did not speak with authority. Both Jude and James certainly did.

4. After Jude’s greeting to the believers in verse 2…

Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied…

…Jude explains that his intention was to write on one topic…

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation,

…quickly had to be changed to a different one:

it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should ____________ ____________ ____ ____ _________ which was once delivered unto the saints.

What is Jude forcefully asking the believers to do?

If you read this passage in several different versions, you find that Jude is urging the believers to stoutly defend, to fight with everything they have, for the truth that God entrusted, once for all, to His people.

5. What had happened to cause Jude’s great concern? Read verse 4.

For there are certain men crept in unawares,

a. Why did Jude feel the urgency to change course in his letter?

Some people (godless teachers) had slipped in, unnoticed, among the believers, and they were distorting the message of grace.

b. There is urgency in Jude’s tone as he writes. The last half of verse 4 indicates how serious this was.

______________ men, _____________ the _________ of our God into _____________________, and ______________ the ________ Lord God, and _____ _______ _________ __________ .

He sounds an alarm and a call to action for soldiers of the cross.

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE WORD “LASCIVIOUSNESS”
 

The word used by the KJV, “lasciviousness,” tells us some very serious error was being taught.

“Lasciviousness” is a word seldom used today. Shorter, simpler words have taken its place. A lascivious person is one filled with lewd, sexual desire. Some modern synonyms are: crude, bawdy, coarse, dirty, foul, obscene, impure, indecent.

These apostates Jude has heard about were distorting the idea of the grace of God that gives us freedom in Christ. They were teaching that once you are saved, you can do as you please with no fear of God’s judgment or punishment—or, as The Message says, “replacing the sheer grace of our God with sheer license, doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.” They were teaching a “no holds barred—you can do anything you want” lifestyle for believers.

No wonder Jude is so alarmed and grieved.

Therefore, for the next eleven verses, from 5 through 16—that’s nearly half of Jude’s letter—Jude gives the believers a history lesson of how false teaching has inserted itself among God’s people from the earliest days of human history.

Since every word of the Word of God is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and inspired by the Holy Spirit, clearly this tells us God felt it was important to take these believers—and all who would follow—back in time to show them how this error has been repeated throughout the centuries. As J. B. Phillips explains it, “Past history warns us that the unfaithful have mingled with the faithful.”

Let’s look at some of them:

6. In v. 5, Jude reminds them of an entire generation of God’s people.

a. Who were these?


b. Where were they when they chose to turn from their Deliverer to unbelief?


After saving them from Egypt, ultimately, not a single one of them lived to see the Promised Land.

7. In verse 6, who else (v. 6) lost everything because of their rebellion/unbelief?

It’s almost unbelievable, isn’t it, that these could have rebelled against their Creator and the God of Heaven. These who were once pure and holy turned to sin. Now, Jude says, God has them imprisoned and in darkness, awaiting the day of judgment.

8. See verse 7. Who is next in this long list of examples?

a. The citizens of ______________ and _____________________.

b. Their sin was also that of lewd, crude sexual desire,

“giving themselves over to ___________________, and going after ____________ ___________”.

c. What was their punishment for living for decades in open rebellion against God?

suffering the vengeance of _______________ ________.

9. Jude is angered and appalled at these false teachers. We should stop and notice something in verse 8, a difficult verse to understand in the King James version. Jude says these men “speak evil of dignities.” What is that saying? It has been translated more clearly:

8 In the same way also, these people have visions which make them sin against their own bodies; they despise God's authority and insult the glorious beings above. (Good News)
8 Yet these false teachers carelessly go right on living their evil, immoral lives, degrading their bodies and laughing at those in authority over them, even scoffing at the Glorious Ones. (The Living Bible)
8 Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. (New American Standard Bible)

A CLOSER LOOK AT “ANGELIC MAJESTIES”
 

In this passage, Jude refers to angels (“glorious ones,” glorious beings above,” “angelic majesties.”) Basically Jude is saying that by the false teachers’ lewdness and immoral behavior, they are offending and insulting the angels of Heaven. Have you ever stopped to think that angels are observing human behavior?

10. Next we come to 3 verses that may be puzzling: verses 9-11. J. B. Phillips gives it this way:

9 But I would remind you that even the archangel Michael, when he was contending with the Devil in the dispute over the body of Moses, did not dare to condemn him with mockery. He simply said, the Lord rebuke you!
10-11 These fellows, however, are ready to mock at anything that is beyond their immediate knowledge, while in the things that they know by instinct like unreasoning beasts they have become utterly depraved.I say, Woe to them! For they have taken the road of Cain; for what they could get they have rushed into the same error as Balaam; they have destroyed themselves by rebelling against God as did Korah long ago.

a. Jude mentions three men who stand as examples from the Old Testament we should take a lesson from.

 11They (the apostates) have gone the way of _______.”

Apostasy has been a plague among believers almost since the creation of Adam!

b. and ran greedily after the error of ____________ for reward.”

c. and perished in the gainsaying of _______. (Korah)

In the interests of time, read on your own verses 12-16, which are further descriptive of the dark hearts and actions of those who are apostates.

The first 16 verses of this book are discouraging, aren’t they? Over and over again he has been warning about the apostasy to come, the falling away from the faith. If we just read only the first sixteen verses, we’d go around bent over and say, “Oh, my, it’s terrible. It’s horrible.”

But notice that verse 17 begins with that little conjunction, BUT. Now Jude tells us how to survive the apostasy that has always attempted to creep in among true believers, but even more so in these “last days.” Jude likes things in threes. He mentioned 3 apostates in v.11. Now he gives us three things to do to survive the apostasy.

I. AN EXHORTATION: SOMETHING TO REMEMBER

 “But, beloved, _______________ ye the __________ which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that _____ _____ _____ there should be mockers in the last times who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.”        

Now he’s talking to the saints, telling us how to survive, not just be alive but thrive in the last days. Not just to “get there,” but get there victoriously in days of apostasy.
Jude is saying, don’t get blown away by this. Don’t get depressed. It hasn’t taken God by surprise. The apostles told you it was going to happen.

11. Turn to Acts 20:29. Paul is bidding farewell to the believers in Ephesus, and he tells them:

 After my departure grievous ___________ will __________ in ___________ you, not sparing the flock.

Notice the word “among.” They weren’t on the outside looking in. They were “among you.”

12. Later on, Paul prepares Timothy. Turn to 1Timothy 4:1

Now the __________ speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall ____________ from the _________, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.

And we’ve already seen in Matthew 24:24, that Jesus warned false apostles were coming who, “If it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

Sometimes when you see apostasy, you may just want to throw up your hands and say, “Well, maybe the Bible is not the Word of God after all.” Friend, apostasy proves the Bible is the Word of God. It’s exactly, precisely as God said it would be.
God is not up in heaven wringing His hands. And you don’t need to get bent out of shape as though something has suddenly gone wrong. We need to be warned, but we don’t need to be frightened. Everything is on schedule. The Word of God stands.

         
II. AN ENEMY TO RECOGNIZE

Just in case you don’t know how to recognize apostates by this time, Jude is going to tell you one more time. He has painted their portrait. He has given us snapshots of them, descriptions over and over. But he tells us one more time what they are like

13. There are three things we need to know so we can recognize them..
19 “These be they who _______________ themselves, ____________, having not the ____________.”

Now he tells us what an apostate is like.  There are 3 key concepts here in this verse: Divisive, Depraved, Dead.

Divisive, “separate themselves”

They cause division. Jesus’ prayer for the believers to the Father was, “That they might be One” (John 17:21) One in the faith. “For there is one Lord, one faith.” We are to earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all delivered unto the saints. There can be no unity unless it is unity in the truth.

The apostate says we all ought to put our arms around everybody and say, “Well, we’re all just in one great, big, happy family.” But they cause division because those who know the truth and believe the truth cannot walk arm in arm, hand in hand, with apostasy.

When you rise up against apostasy, the apostates will call you a troublemaker. It has happened in many denominations. It’s ironic. When there is a move against that apostasy, the apostate will say, “Oh, look at these troublemakers. Look at these who are causing division.” But it is not Bible believers that cause division. It is apostates that cause division. Apostates say, “You ought not to rise up against our apostasy. You ought to be more loving.”

14. Turn to Romans 16:17. What did Paul say about this?

Now I beseech you, brethren, ______ ______ _______ _______ ____________ and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and ___________ them.

Depraved “sensual”

“Sensual” in other places is translated “natural.” That is, rather than being motivated by the Spirit of God, in tune with God, they live by their senses. They do not live by supernatural revelation. They are not in contact with God. What they do is the work of the flesh.

15. Look again at v. 10:

 “But these speak evil of those things which they _______ _____.”

Of course, how can they know them? Because they are spiritually discerned. “But what they know naturally,” and that word is the same word sensually, “as brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.”

They’re not in contact with God. They call themselves theologians. But as I told you, they don’t know the Theos, God. They don’t know the Logos, Word. So they have no right to call themselves theologians. But they are sensual, depraved, like brute beasts, an animal.

An animal lives for three things:

  • self-preservation
  • self-gratification  
  • self-propagation.

An apostate, the Bible says in v. 10, is like a brute beast. They corrupt themselves.

A CLOSER LOOK: DEPRAVITY AND IMMORALITY ACCOMPANY APOSTASY
 

We need to pull over and park here for a moment. This observation from Dr. Rogers is one you need to pay close attention to and perhaps copy and place in your Bible for future reference. He said:

“I’ve learned something from this study of apostasy in the Book of Jude. Apostasy and depravity are Siamese twins. Apostasy and immorality are linked. An apostate will get into sexual or other kind of immorality much more quickly than an average unbeliever. Your next door neighbor may be an unbeliever, but he may live outwardly a moral life. A person in a false cult may live a moral life. But a person who is an apostate has done something to his conscience. He has committed moral suicide. And because of that, he is more like a brute beast. He’s like an animal.

Let me show you what I’m talking about. For example,

  • V. 4—They turn “the grace of our God into lasciviousness.” unbridled lust. No restraint.
  • V. 7—“Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication.” He links apostasy with the horrible acts of immorality in Sodom. V. 13: “Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame.” V. 16 “These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts.”
  • V. 8—“In the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.”

Do you see it? Do you see how Jude shows how apostates turn the grace of God into immorality? Not only are they divisive, they are depraved. I can think of preacher after preacher I’ve known who has become an apostate who sooner or later falls into sexual immorality. It happens too many times to be a coincidence. You’re going to find that apostasy and immorality are inseparably linked.”

Mark it down…pay close attention…and you will find this to be true.

Dead “having not the Spirit”

16. The Spirit of God does not dwell in them. Turn to Romans 8:9

“If any man ______ _____ the Spirit of Christ, he is _______ of His.”

You’re not saved if you don’t have the Holy Spirit.
Judas comes to mind. Judas was an apostate, never saved.
How can we be certain? Jesus said in John 6:70, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” Six verses earlier, the Gospel of John says, “Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not” (John 6:64). Judas didn’t take Jesus by surprise.

Judas was also immoral. The Bible says he was a thief. Nobody else knew it. In fact, when Jesus said, “One of you is going to betray Me,” the disciples began to say, “Is it I? Is it I?” They didn’t say, “Oh, I bet it’s that rapscallion Judas.”

Outwardly Judas was fine, but inwardly Judas was rotten; he was dead. Jesus said of Judas, “It had been better for that man that he had never been born.” The wrath of God was upon him. This is what an apostate is like. They are dead in trespasses and sins, and to argue with them about spiritual things is like speaking against a hurricane.

II. AN ENVIRONMENT TO RETAIN

17. Turn to v. 20-21, as we near the close of our study.

“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost; ______ ________________ ____ _____ _______ ____ _____, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

That’s the environment you are to retain. The love of God. Not “keep loving God.” You are to do that, but that’s not what it says. It talks about God’s love for you. Keep yourself in the love of God, in God’s love for you.

It doesn’t mean you are to keep God loving you. You don’t have to keep God loving you. You can’t stop God from loving you. As a matter of fact, there is absolutely nothing you can do to make God love you any more and nothing you can do to make God love you any less. He just loves you. We are to bask in the love of God. We are not trying to keep God loving us anymore than we are to try, uh, to keep the sun shining.

“God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

 No greater love than that. What greater love could you ask while we were sinners?

When the Prodigal Son left the father’s house and went to the far country, did the father still love him? Yes. But he got out of the environment of the love of God. He did not enjoy the protection, provision and feast of the father’s house. The father was still loving him, but he did not keep himself in the love of his father.

In these last days, if you are going to survive the apostasy, the safe place is in keeping yourself in the love of God. And Jude tells us how to do it.

18. Look again in verses 20-21. Here is how we stay in the love of God: three words ending with “ing.” List them here:

__________-ing
__________-ng
__________-ing

BUILDING

That’s the way to live in the sunshine, basking in the sunlight of God’s love, “building up yourselves upon your most holy faith.” Staying in the Word of God.

Build on the Bible, the foundation of your faith. If you want to survive the apostasy, not get derailed and discouraged, you had better get in the Word of God.

R. A. Torrey said,
You may talk about power, but if you neglect the one Book God has given you as the one instrument through which He imparts and exercises His power, you will not have it. Ninety-nine Christians in every hundred are merely playing at Bible study. Therefore ninety-nine Christians in every hundred are mere weaklings when they might be giants both in their Christian life and in their service.

Friend, get in this Book! Know what it says! It will help you to stand.

PRAYING

Notice, “in the Holy Ghost.” Not just praying, but spiritual praying. The kind of prayer that gets to Heaven is spiritual prayer.

Our flesh doesn’t want to pray. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” That’s the reason Peter, James, and John were asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane.

You can diagnose when you are out of the Spirit: when you have no desire to pray. When you are walking in the spirit you have a desire to pray. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of prayer. When the Holy Spirit is in your heart, He cries, “Abba, Father.”

Prayer is work. When you get down to pray, all Hell is going to turn loose on you. The flesh is weak, but the Spirit is strong. The Spirit of God will quicken your mortal body.

There are times when we cannot express what’s on our heart beyond tears and groanings, but the dear Spirit of God expresses it for us.

The Spirit intercedes for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26

In days of apostasy, if there is not some scriptural building and some spiritual praying, you are going down. This world is closing in and you’d better learn in these last days to remember that God said it was coming, to recognize what they are, and then remain in the love of God.

LOOKING

21 “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

You’re to be looking for the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That blessed hope needs to be in you. Apostasy is one of the signs that Jesus is at the door. Apostates alert us that Jesus is coming.

So when it gets rough, when it gets tough, when it gets hard, remember: the Savior is at the door. He may come at any day, at any moment. That’s what’s to keep you: the fact that Jesus is coming and soon!

Friend, we need to put our eyes upon Jesus, the bright and morning star.

19. For our last Scripture, turn to Malachi—the last book in the Old Testament. Find chapter 4, verse 2, one of the most beautiful and encouraging verses in the Bible:

But unto _____ that ______ My name shall the Sun of righteousness _______ with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

Remember that soon He shall arise with healing in His wings. He is coming soon. We’re to be looking for that.

Build up (be in the Word)
Be praying steadfastly
Be looking up.

You will arrive alive and victorious.

 

Posted by dave hare at 12:00 AM

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