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THE ANTI-MILLENIAL BUG
Events in the Presbyterian Church of
Taking Liberties, reducing power, leads to loss of
there is need for many churches to scrub up to hygiene specifications
if they are to walk closely with that God without whom they limp in disarray, and invite rampant plague.
(See also The Kingdom of Heaven 9, pp. 175ff, and Repent or Perish, Ch.8.)
The Love of God,
the Love of
and the Love of Truth
The Australian Presbyterian, November 1998, p.
ELDERS AND THE ANCIENT OF DAYS
We read this summary of the meeting of the 1998 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, when it addressed the elder topic:
· "After many years' discussion, the assembly finally resolved to declare that, based on what is taught in Scripture, only men are to be ordained into the office of elder. Although there is still some unease within the church over the "counter-cultural" position on pastoral leadership, our church has made its decision on the matter, with the final vote recorded as 81:62.
· "A pastoral statement was issued in regard to the effect that the change of rule (ie. male-only eldership) might have on our congregations and on individuals. The points are that the church, first, recognise the pain and upset which this debate has brought to many on both sides; second, ask those who may fell grieved to understand that this decision has not been arrived at hastily or without awareness of the opinions and concerns of the wider church, but represents our understanding of the Scriptures, and does not reflect on the past or present services of godly women who have served or continue to serve our church as elders..."
There are however no adjustments to the word of God. It is not merely to be declared, but done. So Ezekiel showed the abomination which the Lord has of lip service, drawing near with the lips, in that his words were as a lovely song, played skilfully: they hear, but they do not DO! (Ezekiel 33:30-33). The importance is underlined by Christ as shown in Matthew 7:24-27 - HEARS AND DOES ... as in John 12:48-50, where it is His words which will JUDGE; as moreover in Matthew 5:17-20, where teaching and DOING is the expression of greatness for the least of people, so great is the word of God, so transforming its power, so wonderfully apt is obedience to its wonder.
Adjustments ? Hudson Taylor was remarkably discriminating in many things, but once changed his mind - an adjustment of his approach - which became a highly Christian one - on the questions of CIM reparations, after the hideous murders, worse than barbaric woes and inhuman destructions of people and children in the Boxer Rebellion. The devil was alive and active, and how would the matter be met, now that that evil being was boxed in again at the political level, temporarily restrained from such atrocities ?
Hudson Taylor normally worked missions matters through with considerable vigilance; but an aspect here of his former (stated) thought, this time he needed to adjust.
God does not have this liability. HIS word, true from the first, is very wonderful and established for ever in heaven (Psalm 119:160,144,152,129,96,142,89; Isaiah 45:24,19, 44:7-8,26, 41:22,26, 46:9-10). It is however, to be DONE! Like an electrician's work, it is not pure theory; it must be executed as well. Not only is it a repugnant and abominable thing to Him, as we have seen, to fail in this, but as John 14:21-23 shows, it is a direct analysis of the love of the heart not to keep these things. It is one thing to fail in temptation; quite another to WALK waywardly! John puts it again.
HAPPY is the one who DOES what is commanded. These commands are not some tyrannical intrusion into the subtle beauties of human freedom; they are CONDITIONS and AVENUES for that freedom, like so much else in life. Eternal vigilance is politically and militarily important in freedom; how much more when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is involved. Thus I John 5 tells us that this is HOW we KNOW we LOVE the BRETHREN, when we love God and KEEP (not speak merely) His orders.
Hence while the PCV approach to scripturally forbidden female eldership is welcome (though several other State churches within the PCA still do not acknowledge even this underlying doctrinal principle), its approach to the PHENOMENON as distinct from the PRINCIPLE, to the DOING as distinct from the DOCTRINE, is unscriptural.
What is a Captain identified the CO's word, order, command, saying -
"Yes, this it is all right; it mightn't seem the best, but there it is! Now men, I appreciate the work of those of you who have been breaking his orders, and do right now continue to serve by breaking them; but this, really, is what he said."
Such a speech, if possible, would appear the greater rebellion, because more explicit and conscious than mere failure to act.
See for an understanding of Biblical eldership, A
Spiritual Potpourri Chs.10-11....
DELIBERATE ERRATA !
It is interesting and edifying to consider how such a state of affairs could possibly arise in a church. We consider two aspects.
1) It is often the case that some liberalism arises which shrouded in unbelief, does not VALUE the word of God and supplants it with the superficial lapses in understanding which constitute the work of great 'theologians' who depart from the word of God (cf. Isaiah 8:20) . In time the bogus intrusion which this constitutes may be realised, and it may be removed. Its presence, like that of some debilitating virus, however, may yet leave a relic when it departs. This may be like a mental fossil in people's hearts, even when ostensibly the church is purged of that folly, that Sadducaic slither which in fact held this Victorian church in particular, in such contracting Boa Constrictor coil for some 40 years, that one of its leaders admitted this long failure in print, after the separation of 1974.
Hence merely mouthing of doctrine, of principles, may come to seem a monumental achievement; and doing it ? why, this may seem ... something to be considered in place and time. Some time...
It is as if some bank robbers were advised of their crime, and it was said to them:
The law of men might with some incredibly disregard be so treated; but the law of God if so treated is given a measure of reverence suitable more to a child than a man, to an idol than to the Mighty God!
2) There is another way in which failure to DO what God says may become permissible, acceptable, almost traditional, even in a church called conservative ...
Thus there is also a trend at times, in some bodies, to inherit ism-itis (see Repent or Perish 1, and esp.*1, The Biblical Workman 8 and esp. 2, The Kingdom of Heaven 9, section 12, pp. 174ff. and Biblical Blessings 11, End-note 1). In this case, the tendency to apotheose some theologian, to use him as a mascot if you like, to make IN PRACTICE his reasonings, words, works, doctrines, to be a standard, to act as a criterion, as in the case of Calvinism, or Augustinianism or Arminianism, or Barthianism. Whether the theologian be grand (as some of the above), or the author of a word-of-man folly confronting God with the misuse of His name, a piece of chicanery worthy of the Sadducees (as with others of the above): yet the fault is just as real. It begins before the theologian is named; it is endemic to mascots that master the mind and determine the "position".
Even a good theologian's weaknesses can be aped, his strengths limited to what he saw in his own contribution, so that thankfulness to God becomes entangled with dewy-eyed approximations to idolatry; or at the very least, to a diminution through the hands of man, of the word of God which can suffer no addition. In I Cor. 3 as explained in the references just given above, you see the thing spelt out in incisive prohibition. IF you do this, then IN SO DOING, before you do anything else, you have gate-crashed into the word of God with the speed of your theological vehicle; and God, HE is not mocked...
Because of such an erroneous soaring of respect, or foolish cohesion with direct error, whichever it may be, the word of God is broken, narrowness or latitude as the case may be, becomes endemic and the magnification of the weaknesses of man becomes an intrusion into the word of God. It is FORBIDDEN.
In such a case, the 5 points of Calvinism, however good in their scriptural setting, may seem to be the REAL, SUFFICIENT and PRACTICAL ground of fellowship, an ample criterion of soundness, so that the MERE departure from a divine ORDER found in some other part of the Bible on the part of one's church or some other church, why, it may come to be indulged as if the prattle of a foolish child, or sadly inept but almost likeable Frank, in Dad's Army. He is a LOYAL solider and hence is to be tolerated with the sad smile of acceptance.
That is another reason why sometimes churches which regard themselves as sound simply do not proceed to IMPLEMENT, let us be simpler, DO what is ordered by GOD, and may proceed NOT TO DO it for decades, and to limit God's sublime blessings as if He could be put on hold!
Fundamental is the failure in understanding in such a case, as well as the rebellion against the explicit prohibition just noted. God's word is sublime, it comes from His mouth, it is a place of His power, of His working; it is not negotiable as if He were some human business with whom one negotiates. Rather it is an avenue to the holy blessedness of the One who will dwell in you in such a manner that He manifests Himself (John -23); and the Holy Spirit (Acts ) is given to those who obey the Lord. In other words, though all Christians have the Spirit of God, there is a specified help in obedience, an assured potency. If not, and one grieves the Lord, then there may indeed be KEEPING but there may also be another tryst, the sad caning of casuistry, the punishment of folly, the refinement of presumption, and hence loss of blessing, as if the radiator had not been filled, or oil put in! It can be costly indeed, and worse, what of this ?
IF one does not WANT to do what God COMMANDS, how can one well expect to FIND what HE WANTS of one in particular ? Does a naughty child, directly disobedient for the umpteenth time, and knowing it, and even negotiating in heart with the parent, looking for some yielding on "both sides", gain the sublimity of the heart of the parent ? Or does training enter in, until the child is ready for the deeper things, the worth while things, the advances and progressions ? So is disobedience reckless, so the more is settled and planned disobedience - as 'obeying in due course' - a blight to the soul. It is a grief substituted for that so longed for deep and refreshing blessing of the Lord. Not wise are they who so play with the fire. It is not wise to be there, accepting that state, or to have fellowship with it, in implied toleration, finding tolerable what does not tolerate the Lord's commands.
the end, the commanding constraint is NOT the synthesis of theologians OR the
flash of the existentialist, but the word of God written. THAT is where the
action lay when the devil tempted Christ. To vary implicitly or explicitly from
this criterion in doctrine, in action concordant with it, it is to join the
chorus of the traditionalists, experientialists, replacing the word of God with
generalisations, presumption or convenience (cf.
Jeremiah 23:17-20, 22, 25, 29-32, Isaiah 8:20, 34:16-17, Revelation 22:18-20,
John 12:48-50, Proverbs 30:6, Mark 7:7). The lively fellowship with the Lord is
blessed in the broad confines enacted by the abiding word (John 15:4,7). The word of God is above the word of man as the heavens
above the earth (Isaiah 55:8-11). Nothing written by man is substitute for it.
Nothing drafted or proposed by man is replacement for it. Nothing convenient to
man is authorised as substitute for it.
THE SPIRIT OF REBELLION
AND THE TURN-PIKE TO THE FAST LANE
OF THIS HIGHWAY
Let us however consider where it all ends, this slackness. It is, let us be clear, an assault on the faith, to declare to be true, what one fails to do, even in intention, until it should prove convenient for oneself or for the brethren, or for whomever. Such a SPIRIT of laxity and lassitude, whatever may be the motive, relative to the performance, is out of harmony with the direct assurance of God as to what is in fact GOOD for the brethren, loving and kind (I John 5).
It is then a movement in a line of retreat from the word of God. This retreat carries many refugees from the front-line of active faith, and there is a movement in its masses which can readily bring, as indeed it did bring the PCV in the decades preceding 1974, and that by direct admission in print of one of its leaders at the time, into a "wilderness" of false doctrine and foolish wandering. For the extent of it, you may wish to consult Biblical Blessings, Ch.11. There you will see what in fact such remissness led to earlier.
In the case of the NZ
Presbyterian Church, where and when the writer was an ordained Minister in it,
fighting in congregation, in session, presbytery, press and assembly for the
bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, for the faith once for all delivered to
the saints, a singular evil was done. In its 1966 Assembly in
Dismissing the divine declaration with as scant regard for reason, as for revelation, it decreed that the bodily resurrection was made optional. This it did though this very fact from which it distanced itself, is part of the Gospel (I Cor. 15:1-3, Romans 10:9, Luke 24), the "thing" buried being the "thing" raised, as J. Gresham Machen rightly pointed out; and the One raised, being physically transformed, still could and did say of His body, that "a Spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see Me to have!", inviting them - "Handle Me and see!"
In so acting, this church body ceased to be one, changing the Gospel and the required criteria of Christ (cf. Acts 2:24-28, scriptures the author used to challenge that Assembly): for what preaches another Jesus and another Gospel is not so regarded by Paul in II Cor. 11. Indeed, his characterisation of such a position is far removed from anything to do with the church!
For a Church, the faith denied is the post declined. Faith does not have opinions, far less wonder which might be better, what faith has or what it has not. Faith is the conviction ... (Hebrews 1:1-3). While my own rejection of their folly was put on record (dissent recorded) at that public meeting, and denounced roundly as a denial of the faith in writing submitted in terms of the dissent, the Assembly nevertheless for its part, so scarified the resurrection of Jesus Christ that in all simplicity, its action represents a major core of 20th century apostasy.
We have considered an illustration of subversion where laxity served as introduction. That is where lassitude ends. The principle however is the same. It appears to read like this:
"God has said ? Let Him. We shall attend to this in our own way."
The principle of having God
wait for one's pleasure and convenience is far removed from that clean fear of
God enjoined on us (Psalm 19), valuable, beautiful and blessed. The road of
laxity leads surely from one step to the other, and even when returning from
such spiritual vacation, if God in His mercy permits such a thing, a church has
to realise that the way back is total or not at all:
you cannot be a disciple of Christ unless willing to forsake ALL that you have;
and that, as Christ stated, involves HATING your own life also, for with God,
there is no patch-work quilt of pieces of each. HE is God; we are sinners. HE
KNOWS, and that said, when once we follow (Luke 14:27ff.), then we find our lives
in the One who knows all about them, and the liberty is amazing!
The dangers of procrastination and the principles of spiritual inertia are amazing. The Christian is safe in the Lord; but then the Christian is likewise chastened and refined. Many who are not Christians will moreover crowd in where such laxity endears to them, some church in decline. However, on the contrary, LOVE loves to keep His word (John 14:21-23, cf. I Cor. 16:22) and does not have rebellious words with the Lord, unless like David, in affairs to be repented. As to David, how soon repentance set in like the turning of the tide, for this great child of God, when he did stray! How systematic was the divine purgation (cf. Psalm 51, II Samuel 12:1-7, ), and how he arose with strength to follow the Lord, resume the life of victory and defeat the assailants!
In just such a way, redolent with examples and replete with history, faith and its works from of old, JUDE tells us to fight for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Instances of rebelliousness are multiplied in what follows in his epistle, but the spirit of it is the same. Indeed, Jude instructs, commands us to FIGHT EARNESTLY FOR THE FAITH ONCE FOR ALL DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS! Nothing less is required.
"WHILE … very diligent to write to you on the common salvation," Jude declares that he found it "necessary" to issue this command, to superadd - go beyond this in a new dimension - to provide another word. This word, as one duly sees on reading it, is not at all to declare the common salvation on which he had spoken. It is something else, that appears necessary. And that ? FIGHT EARNESTLY ...
While I was speaking to you on this, I found it necessary to talk to you on that! That is the sense. Jude did not write to confuse or amuse. His epistle has one unitary theme. Not the nature of salvation, its gospel, criteria, acquisition, proclamation, its facets and features. No! no department of the "common salvation" is now in view. It is rather something to which that topic has led. Pollution, intrusion, false apostles, spurious 'saints'. How then does one deal with this? This is the question which he poses and answers.
This epistle of Jude,
therefore, is no talk on, limited to the common salvation (great as that is),
nor is it dimensionally, a gospel tract: for it is an item in addition. The
first topic has led to the second; salvation has been reviewed, and now this
new module, this need arising is bared. What is that need ?
It is this: What to do with the enemy when he enters the tent! and uses the name of Christian! The common salvation was the
take-off point. THIS goes beyond that in category. What it IS, WAS his subject.
What it NEEDS in the context he now unfolds, this is the new topic.
He gives illustrations dire in kind, rapid in resolution, as by a rapid deployment force, of former assaults on the faith in the Old Testament times. In good Greek idiom (as noted by Thayer in his classic Greek dictionary), he tells us to do as his topic shows and illustrations attest: FIGHT EARNESTLY for the faith! None of the 26 translations paralleled in the The New Testament from 26 Translations has it otherwise, while Greek dictionary of Arndt and Gingrich states: there is no other translation possible in the context. Nor do Liddell and Scott note any.
There is to be no laxity, no lounging, no public service image controlled bureaucratic taking one's time to get it done. Not at all! There is no proclamation of the common salvation, for that intention has been REPLACED BY THIS ONE, as Jude states (Jude 3). The ship is on fire: action stations against the flames! is the call.
Indeed, and further, the "FAITH ONCE FOR ALL DELIVERED" is objective, a datum, immovable. Once for all delivered, it is not mobile, not susceptible to massage, attenuation, addition, attrition. Fight for it then! Hard! This is what it was, he shows; and that's the way it is going to be. This in turn is the way it is necessary to act, just as he goes on to expound with loathing of the lacerating forces, and indications of condign, and divine judgment to stir his hearers, and stimulate from any repose! Language could not well be more severe, warning more strenuous, action more dictated, necessity more obvious concerning these creepers, these crawlers, these sinuous pests, these polluting proliferators whose work is both damned and damaging, from which the people of God must be separated with loathing, though seeking if by any means any may nevertheless be snatched from the furious inferno of falsetto faith, infectious, performing fleas pretending to be the workmen of God.
Thus, in addition to the area of the GOSPEL itself, there is another in view, one dealing with the invasive rogues. As to this ? Fight for it! None of these so clever upstarts has really a single thing to contribute. The faith itself has been once for all delivered, free from the foxy connivings of the confused and the abusive. So fight for it earnestly, diligently, direly as the examples show. Those with whom you contend, they are rebels, not ignoramuses: that is the message of Jude. This is an area of spiritual pathology, not anatomy. THAT was the former topic; THIS is the present one. That was learning; this is doing and doing it by contending with vigour, with rigour.
Let us review some of the detail, then, and grasp the fact that cost and Christ are not separable. Even rescue of frauds is high-risk, and must often be done with tongs (Jude 23).
It is, after all, just after saying to the persecuting frauds, the rogue priests, "We ought to obey God rather than men!" that the apostles state, "God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him!" (Acts ). In their case, even tongs were not enough (cf. Jude 23). Power was available for service and service involved in this very context of the utterance of that fact, confrontation, exposure, clarification, affirmation and pointed contrast. Thus were the apostles contending in the falsified religious base, commencing such operations when disbelief sought to invade and acted to distort. Not mere repetitious gabble, but solid refutation, fearless contradiction and rebuke appeared, in express and explicit terms of the very power of God.
Similarly, Christ's own confrontation with the detractors, the religiously knowledgeable, the adjusters and adjudicators of His doctrine who delighted to force themselves to the fore, noted in John 8:37ff. and Matthew 22:15-33, show exposure, discrediting and characterisation of the source of the obstruction to faith, the devious and torturous twistings of the opponents, who, we recall, we most religious and claiming orthodoxy in the SAME RELIGION, that of the God of the Old Testament! In Matthew 23 the denunciation reaches its crescendo. "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell ?" was the distinguishing epithet, and disquieting destiny proffered by the Master to these who (Luke ) neither went in themselves nor failed to HINDER those who WOULD go in!
Having looked more widely, let us now consider the examples and their force in Jude, for a little. These illustrations exemplify the command - Michael rebuked the devil, distinguishing that evil being from blessedness, itemising his person, presence and power, acknowledging his contrariety and asking the Lord to rebuke him (Jude 9ff.). Of fellowship here, the provision is for what ? for an infinity of negativity! NONE!
It is true this passage is used to show the restraint of Michael relative to the unbridled and unchecked cheek of the evil characters whom Jude castigated in his letter (Jude vv. 4,8), who infest the church. It is no less true that the theme of goodness and intrusion of seductive evil into it is here in practical operation. With what result ? The identification of the actions of the devil and their rebuke.
Balaam is here mentioned also (Jude 11): and what is the illustrative force of this example ? An ASS rebuked him! None other present, God miraculously opened its mouth with divine wisdom. The job had to be done. What was the procedure ? Was it to tell Balaam again of the truth of God ? or was it to allow his misguided double-mindedness to receive a rebuke so stunning that it goes down for all time as an irony and a display unit, in the pathology of distortion, the rebuke to the disturbers, even adding the PAYMENT MADE for giving any heed at all, allowing any access at all to such a folly as Balaam represented (cf. II Peter 2:15-16). They have "perished". If necessary even as ASS, literally, had to be used to REBUKE Balaam, while others were too ready to be infected and Israel suffered emphatically for its laxity (Revelation 2:14).
Indeed, is not the entire character of the examples adduced, the whole catalogue, one of invasion AND its exposure, attack AND its destruction, condemnation and that early devastating response, either to and against the evil, for the people, or THROUGH it against them! It is BE CLEAN or BE POLLUTED, and if polluted, then there is the judgment of God Himself on THIS!
Is not Jude himself moreover SHOWING as a PERSONAL EXAMPLE himself the most vigorous conceivable denunciation and exposure of the assailants, and in this very epistle himself remorselessly analysing, comparing, categorising and rejecting with explicit and intense loathing indeed, the actions highly specifically, of many in the category to be confronted. They almost vaporize in the treatment.
His examples reveal judgment, severe, speedy and categorical; not merely separation, but devastation of those concerned! Is it not so with Sodom*1, with Israel caught in Balaam's sin (Revelation 2:14), the DEVIL as the one addressed by Michael, CAIN, as sent off wandering with punishment he felt he could not even bear. Could it be more forceful than this: that judgment is coming on such who are "ungodly", with "ungodly deeds" worked in "an ungodly way", speaking "harsh things" against the Lord, as "ungodly sinners". The category of work, of words, of soul, of life, of judgment, of manner: it is the same, it is one, and it is the wrong one. Revolting from the Lord with cunning sophistication and corrupting phrases, they are a source of revulsion unspeakable, judgment interminable and fevers deplorable. There KIND is excluded, judged and corrosive. This is the realm of the examples, of the phrases and of the judgments from Jude.
Does Jude violate then his own advice ? Is he no example of that to which he exhorts, or is he himself disobedient and blind to his own command! Scarcely, for indeed "contending earnestly for the faith" is almost a minimal characterisation of his own treatment; and it certainly fulfils these specifications! He contends FOR it and elsewhere having (explicitly) dealt with the gospel itself, in this epistle deals with its maintenance in the face of the destructive attacks of volatile wolves, darting this way and that, their teeth on it and on the lambs!
Called and classified as "like brute beasts", these faith-assailants are seen as already "perished" with the rebellion of Korah, as to type (vv.10-11), recipients of woe (Numbers 16:23-24 expresses the illustration Jude gives), to be removed as a pestilence lest many are scourged. Rebuke to the point is the order of this day, exposure of deviousness wrought guiltily against the gospel, wilfully against the truth, the word of God: the war does not commune with, but expels wolves, inflamed with desire, whether they act in misled instinct or gloat with voracity. While spiritual principalities and powers are doubtless involved (Ephesians 6), their handling mechanisms have here become men!
Whether the 'adultery' be spiritual as in Ezekiel 16, Hosea - physical cases merely amplifying and applying the spiritual realities, which are intolerable - or physical: the class includes the whole scope of rebellion as in the case of Korah, an authority matter, and comes with all the pestiferous means and methods at which so very many are so skilled in subversion, be it purposive or merely by pathological infliction. When one remembers that Korah's challenge that Moses acted like a prince (Numbers ), was in fact to the Lord who so appointed Moses as giver of the law, it is clear that the essence is rebellion against the Lord, His word and His ways. "They have not rejected you," as the Lord said to Samuel, "but they have rejected ME!" (I Samuel 8:7), when the people would not follow the word of the Lord.
Further, the snatching of the soul burning with inflammable follies from the fire (Jude v.23): Is this an act of categorisation, to know, recognise and act on the condition, or just a generic proclamation of the gospel! Jude WAS going to speak on the common salvation, the gospel, but NOW he realised the necessity to be more specialised, and this is IT! Indeed, the very 'detesting the garment defiled by the flesh' (Jude 23), while selectively snatching some free with fear, to use Jude's words, is far removed from the simple proclamation of the gospel, and even more so, if possible, when one realises these are being snatched from the destiny of being 'twice dead' with 'the blackness of darkness forever' is about to be reserved for their doubly delinquent souls.
This is a selective and urgent rescue from activities polluting the gospel, from a pathology of the remedy, a corruption of the 'wonder drug' which needs therefore purgative action of a highly specific type, removal of artful accretions. It is like infection rampant in a hospital, or worse latent in an antibiotic! Patients need rescue after identification and removal of the evil, while the mockery itself is extinguished.
Scouring of the institution
is therefore necessary (cf. I Peter 4:17ff., II Peter), and these are
indications not of how to use antiseptic on wounds, but how to remove viruses
from wards, personal viruses with arms and legs, and especially, with mouths
and pens. These spiritual assailants and assassins (Luke 11:53) are
TRANSFORMING THE FAITH, DEFILING THE GOSPEL into something else, so that the
need is not the gospel, so that they might work more transformation, but the
DEFENCE of the faith, so that it may be clear and contradistinct,
not polluted by those presuming, but "not having the Spirit" (Jude 19), not fodder for their
garbage trucks to crush and mash, but decisive and invulnerable, composed
aright and defended from devilry (cf. Romans 1:5, Philippians 1:7,17). Paul for
his own part is set for "the defence and proclamation of
the gospel" and "appointed for
the defence of the gospel", while having apostleship for "obedience to the
faith among all nations for His name".
It is for all of this essential to recognise the nature of the invasive pathology, to label and assail it, contending earnestly against the categorised foe which threatens the sick undergoing treatment with iatrogenic diseases, with hospital-based infection spread through 'doctors'. In this, Jude cites the famous Korah rebellion (Numbers 16), so quickly identified, classified, contained, confronted and extinguished (cf. Titus ).
Like aphids on roses, so these who disturb and distort the Gospel of the common salvation, concerning which Jude wrote, and in addition to which he is now writing to exhort: these abominably infected parties are to be removed from their misguided feasting, their parasitic pollutions on the body of Christ. Jude 12,15-16 involve a characterisation of the evils of those whose assault by devious means, on the faith is in view, and it is one which it would be rather difficult to surpass in intensity! It is like telling children why redback spiders may be pretty on the outside, especially when the spot is bright; but that they are not really, for the reasons given, suitable as bed-companions, for fellowship.
On some, he says, have compassion, making a difference. But the Gospel makes no such divisions. All have sinned, and there is, as Jude says, a common salvation. The compassion is indeed a 'difference' , but one in the pathological domain, and this clearly because there are those to whom it CANNOT be shown. What ? preach the gospel, THIS cannot be done! No it is another operation which Jude has in mind, showering us with penetrating examples.
It is the case, rather, that some are excluded from the communion in Christ, being judged already, 'spots on your love feasts' (Jude 13). 'Wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, to whom the gloom of darkness is reserved for ever' chimes Peter (II Peter 2:1, 17), like Big Ben, emphasising the depth of the affair in "the last days" (II Peter 3:3-6), with a solemnity far from fellowship. These the closely related twofold condemnations acridly stress the pivotal character of the challenge! Indeed, one recalls the speed of Peter's action (Acts -22) in exact conformity with the text. What was his method ? Not repetitious lulling, but decisive detection of the evil, rejection of its source and urgency of the need to repent, before the category clutches the soul of the wayward. Be ye clean, says the scripture (Isaiah 52:11, just before its articulation of the atonement, cf. I Peter John 15:3, I Peter 1:2, 2:8, 3:14). It means it. It is love to do it (I John 5:1-5).
Wolves are not simply preached to, while they feed on lambs, as has been the case in some churches calamitously, in days of folly past. They are resisted - the Lord rebuke you; and the counterpart of the examples quoted by Jude is the action required. Swift, sure, certain judgment. The examples are not anti-examples, but modes to which and in terms of which Jude gives exhortation.
As there, so here must the case be, with some exceptions for individual deliverance by specialised means, but with no permission to continue with corrupting, with corrosive pollutions. What is most corrosive is simply this: it is contrary to what God wants.
There is no such doctrine
in the Bible as this: "Do what God says when you feel ready for it!"
There IS the exact opposite - Luke 14:27,33, Jeremiah
48:10, Matthew 5:17-19, I Samuel 15:22-23. This is doctrine contrary to that of
the apostles (Romans ), just as is false teaching itself
- whether on or by elders! The word of the Lord must not only be taken
it must actually be done. Planned programmed departure as in the (spiritually psychedelic) Symphony of Saul (see Samuel reference above) is adequately dismissed, dispelled and despised as we see there!
What God wants has its own beauty, like some marvellous classical painting into which one peers, meditating and understanding (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri, Chs.10-11); but one's aesthetic power though highly relevant, is not determinative, merely activated when one takes Him seriously, so seriously that one actually does what He declares. Then moreover, as seen in Christ's treatment of the house built on the rock of WHAT HE STATES, Himself the foundation (Matthew 7 cf. I Cor. 3:10-11), there is just liability for sudden, destructive deluge, which in church affairs as in meteorological developments can be both severe and unexpected.
Let us now be express: if any church body declines to do as commanded, as plan and program, or simply as a considered refusal, call it procrastination or what you will, and the word of God is express: then results follow.
What then ? To say that fellowship is limited in such a case, even this is a vast understatement, when the sinning soul has to be - in cases allowing even this, lifted with discernment and loathing of the mess from which the forcible extraction is to be made (Jude 23, cf. I John 5:16)! The "dominion" of the Lord over the soul is not to be "despised" in anything (cf. James , Jude 8).
Duty is 'despised' when its requirements are released, dismissed, relegated, delegated or in some way, direct or devious, knowingly and gravely not done! The Lord of the word must then be followed, and the church left. Do your duty or despise dominion, then, which ? The epistle puts that issue as squarely as firmly. Whether we are dealing with 'progressive theology', the direction of the 'progress' being unnamed, or simple and conscious rebellion, the result in this is constant: the word of the Lord is by PLAN, breached! Earnest and decisive action, contending is then the order of the day.
Thus, in just such force and strength, does Paul speak precisely in II Corinthians 10:5, so does he instruct Titus in 3:10, so is seen the charge to pastors in Titus 1:9, so is Proverbs 28:23, 24:8-11, 22:10, 21:11, 19:9, 19:25, 14:1;7, 13:13 with 12:26, Isaiah 8:19-20, Proverbs 28:4, Matthew 3:7, 14:4, I Kings 18:18, Ephesians 5:11, Romans 16:17..
Separation (The Kingdom of Heaven... Ch.7) is the option when the fellowship will not move to conformity with the word of God, as likewise for other churches when they insist on fellowship, collusion with such a church, with a body in such a state, as if hypnotised, wheeling their own patients down the infected corridors (Romans 16:17), thereby implicating and involving themselves in what is forbidden to them no less. If you were to ask Ezra and Nehemiah... or consult the word of God there written with a crescendo of examples most eloquently fitting to the state of churches in this our 20th century, you would see the very different picture which in its urgency, it is necessary to behold! If seeing were doing, THERE would be blessing.
The anti-millenial bug, the infectious virus that blurs commandments, blights blessedness, accommodates 'staff' comfort, would have one deny one's life only so far for Christ, vitiates virtue, threatens spiritual health, is already here. Diminishing spiritual vitality, it distances from the Lord and demands earnest action. It must be faced.
Taking spiritual health measures is not a mere option where there is zeal; and where there is lukewarmness, even an uncertain future is specified for those churches which so indulge (cf. Revelation 3:16). It is of great interest that this last book of the Bible, like John, has its . One - the latter - invites; the other, the former, incites ... to good works, to that grand abiding in Christ which provides power (Acts ), grace, vigour, virtue. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent" - Revelation 3:19.
Cleansing the follies of
the hour is no idle step towards removing spiritual plagues which have spoiled
and retarded, often slaying outright many brave ecclesiastical bodies. These
linger, now dead testimonies like the tombs of
"In Thy light, we shall see light" (Psalm 36:9) - we cannot afford to shut the eyes, or merely admire the spectacle!
It is of interest and profit to realise that the reference to
It is ONE case, and it is true, of course, that it can lead to veritable prodigies and prodigalities of expression in that arena (as itemised in Romans 1:22-32 in a CAUSATIVE fashion, with spiritual declension the abiding cause of the physical errors), as is the case now. For in the contemporary situation, not only is it often not enough governmentally to ensure that highly perilous disease is not made a case for due precaution, PROVIDED it be in the form of AIDS; and that people MUST be ready to employ those of utterly diverse moral convictions, even if it is relevant to the integrity of the firm. The dissolution of wisdom goes yet further.
Some would even have it
made compulsory for Christian bodies to employ without hope of human relief,
those who are subtly contrary to what they hold, as if it were morally
necessary to bring into proximity, even to the young in schools, those who
either hypocritically affect Christianity, or those who make no pretence, but
actively seek to corrupt what the school is present to protect. It is doubtful if
Nevertheless, in Jude this
physical domain is only one case. Jude’s concern is
not limited to it, as we see. The reference in Jude 4 is one passing case in
the midst of an almost encyclopedic array of rebellious modes stretching to the
horizon. Moreover, the use of the term ‘lewd’ in verse 4, in full context of
the word of God, is found not merely as a possible, but even a prominent
vehicle for allegory. This sort of treatment is highlighted at great length in
Ezekiel 23, while the same sort of intimations making the substance of the
whole book of Hosea: where the real teaching point is INFIDELITY TO GOD. In the
figure of a bride, the Christian Church is depicted in Ephesians 5 and
Revelation 19; while in the form of a harlot,
At times the term for
expression of dishonour is ‘Father’ as in Malachi,
where it is shown as a failure to recognise the Lord’s provisions and indeed creation; but often the rebuke
is exhibited in the symbolic form of promiscuity. True, again, the literal and
physical sexual sin was often was part of the idolatrous worship, as archeology
Thus we read (Ezekiel 23, taken episodically from verses 3 to 35):
They committed harlotry in their youth:
Their breasts were there emrbaced,
Their virgin bosom was there pressed.
Their names: Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister:
They were Mine,
And they bore sons and daughters.
As for their names,
Oholah played the barlot even though she was Mine;
And she lusted for her lovers, the neighbouring Assyrians,
Who were clothed in purple,
Captains and rulers,
All of them desirable young men,
Horesmen riding on horses.
she committed her harlotry with them…
Therefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers,
Into the hand of the Assryians.
They uncovered her nakedness,
Took away her sons and daughers,
And slew her with the sword.
She became a byword among women,
For they had executed judgment on her…
do these things to you because you have gone as a harlot after the Gentiles,
because you have become defiled by their idols…
Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back,
Therefore you shall bear the penalty
Of your lewdnes and your harlotry."
This rather elaborate allegory is a parallel to the most elaborate and intricate defilements of truth and honour, faithfulness and purity of heart, treating God like a vagrant wife her disregarded and contemptuously despised husband; and this figure is itself the basis for the amazing, practical and performed allegory in Hosea!
Many have suffered in love many things to bring home the foul pollution of acting lightly with the Lord, and disregarding faithfulness to Him and care with His words BECAUSE THEY ARE HIS! Hosea was not least in this suffering, but the message would not fail to bring home to the erring conscience the sheer grossness of playing about with the word of God like vagrant youths in lust, but here, the lust is spiritual, whatever its form, and the children of the ‘wedlock’ of spiritual pollution with idols and lustful preferences of mind or spirit, can be the loss of the … children, that is, the entire dissipation of life, which being for ever, is a large price to pay for the affairs of heart, the spiritual lodestars of magnetic desire which so often tempt many of the people who inhabit churches, only to bring them to ruin (as in Revelation 2:14, 22-24) by their false doctrine and perfidious ways.
figure may be applied. The literal children of the congregation suffer whilst
these affairs of theological perversion, inversion, reversion make for them an ‘upbringing’ better termed a downfall. If Israel despised
the lives she ruined in her reckless turning to false prophets (Jeremiah 23),
so often exposed, and brought physical death to much of a whole generation (as
shown in Lamentations), is she not a prototype for erring churches, too wise to
be holy, too free to be honourable, to lauded to own
the Lord, whose word is a mere bauble in the light of their infamy. (See Separation,