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Jesus Christ, Defaced, Unfazed: Barrister of Bliss
A MATTER OF RISE AND FALL, AND THAT'S NOT ALL!
Isaiah 66:1-2, Reflections and Applications
News 384, Adelaide Advertiser, October 27, 2006
Charles, Coronations and the Tempests of Change
I THE MIGHTY GOD, HE NEEDS NO HOUSE
Isaiah 66 is a pearl among a necklace. It is set off by the other 65, and shines into the New Testament reflections. At the outset, God reminds each reader that heaven is His throne, the earth His footstool. All the creation is under His hand, and heaven itself is the site of His splendour. It was from here that Christ came (Philippians 2), to this footstool, where such inane dreams possess so many, as history increasingly becomes site for a horror camp and folly, a favourite to a generation almost certainly the last before Christ's return (see Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
One of the signals is accurately supplied by Prince Charles, if the news be true. According to report presented for example in The Advertiser, October 27, 2006, this Prince is making clear his intended apostasy from the role of Defender of the Faith.
This is defined in the historic Coronation ceremony as the faith to be upheld by the Sovereign, one both Protestant and Reformed, with the Gospel itself. The innovation is reported to be one involving the simple matter of additions. Defender of Faiths is the new look. You add an 's', very simple! You can take out the definite article too, very definitely...
It is like someone saying that not only will the father of the house keep an eye on the occupants in their beds at night, but equally superintend every scamp and tramp who enters. CHRIST makes this point in John 10, concerning robbers and thieves, at the spiritual level, emphasising that the ONLY One not so at this level, is Himself (John 14:6). FALSE christs and prophets were to come (Matthew 24), but He ONLY was to be followed without surrogate, substitute or alternative option, He as attested from the first and to the last in the Word of God (Matthew 5:17ff., John 5:39-40, Ephesians 1:10, Revelation 5).
God is ONE, the ONLY Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11) and this Saviour is Christ, the necessary one (Acts 4:11-12): HE is the One through whom the Father is made manifest definitively (Hebrews 1). We are to await His return and avoid those who speak of Him as in this room or that (Matthew 24:26,Hebrews 9:28) for His coming is glorious and manifest, though many be troubled, moan or mourn when it comes (Revelation 1:7, Matthew 24:38 - 25:1-30, Mark 14:62).
It is this same Christ, true God and true man (Hebrews 1-2) who did not commit suicide at the Last Supper, as if bread were His actual body (asseverated in John 6:62-63). Instead, He categorically declared that it was to be in remembrance of Him: the One who was received up into heaven until He comes at the regeneration of all things (Acts 3:19-21, Luke 22:19). It is He who is the One who will always have this role of embracing all believers in Himself as Lord (Ephesians 1:10, Revelation 5). This projected and reported plan then, for England, becomes a double marriage, in which one party is found with two ceremonies! The sacred bonds of singularity however are not merely on such a proposal, breached by spiritual adultery, but the marriage would be re-performed as well as if to enhance the perfidy. Such might not be so much the death of a nation, as its interment!
That singularity, without any doubt or argument, is precisely the position IN TERMS of the CURRENT Coronation REQUIREMENT of the sovereign, voiced AT coronation, and it is that of the 39 Articles as for over four centuries adopted in the Church of England. That is its comparison with this new plan of mutilating multiplicity. Indeed, when you look at that suggested new formulation, in essence at least, it is true also that it is a categorical departure from the Bible (Mark 7:7ff.,cf. SMR pp. 932ff., Ch. 9). Adding to this is the work of lawlessness from first to last (Deuteronomy 4, 12, Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18ff.).
What for nearly half a millenium has been in place for England, in one form or another, for its Church, would now be discarded; and on the outlined plan, it is done as if it were an addition. That is the tenor of the report: Charles does not want to be crowned, it indicates, as Defender of the Faith, but of Faiths. The Jewish rejection of Christ as Lord and Saviour and Son of God, and the Moslem version of these very things (they are the same in this regard!), these are to be new additives to the ground of coronation, the requirements of the King, to be joined with Romanism. Indeed, more 'faiths' are mentioned for the throng, even than these! It is a spiritual promiscuity that is in view, on the grand order.
This Defender of Faiths concept is not for the first time reported of Charles, and although there is no confirmation of this latest report from the princely quarters, this silence would appear unthinkable if it were a gross defilement of faith even to suggest such a thing. Who married to one wife, would not protest if someone publicly made clear as news, that his intention was to marry two others as WELL! Whatever the basis, if the broadcast is inconceivably horrible, the refutation of the principle at least could be clear, and should be categorical, with the honour of the Lord starkly established. Indeed, who in that case would not have disowned the first report of such multiplicity ideas as Defender of Faiths, some time ago! The case is far otherwise.
Perhaps then a new result of this new treble or multiple marriage could be found, in some new child of the projected union. What could it be ? Perhaps in the next Dunkirk or Armada, the next take-over bid for England, there will appear a new result! Perhaps they could call on composite gods this time, as ancient Israel so vainly sought to do! “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens!” declared Jeremiah (10:11). As your cities, so are your gods! Derisively declaims Jeremiah 2:28.
A take-over ? if the report be true, is this itself not precisely such an event!
If it be said that it is in form only, a projected Coronation ceremony approach, yet are there not results ? Is not national power to be then placed, to work for its performance! and is this not an invasion from within, a fifth column to delete history and displace centuries of prosperity, deliverance and amazing power in the British Empire of yore, a grandeur which for decades has been declining, as has the attachment of the Church of England to the Bible! (cf. A Question of Gifts).
New ideas for altering the biblical depiction of God, and its ‘translation’, in fact alteration, are now rife and backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury (cf. Christ Incomparable, Lord Indomitable Ch. 9), just as a desire for the Pope as Chairman of Churches has been officially voiced over a decade ago!
Why is such a concept, coronation or not, of Defender of Faiths, even considered ? According to the Report, it is claimed that it is to reflect England as it now is. That is rather like saying that your wife of half a century is now, through a new ceremony, to be become one of several. Charles reportedly would like two ceremonies, one for the 'Christian' department as before perhaps, and another for the rest! This in itself is rather like spiritual bigamy, if the report be correct.
The substantial deliverance from the oppression of spirit and finance formerly found in Romanism’s rule in England, a liberation which Elizabeth I brought on*1 after Henry, leading to a time of almost intoxicating delight in adventure, discovery, literature, art and music, through love of the truth and commitment to the God of the Bible without addition or compromise: this is to be followed, if this comes to pass, by what ? It is, as presented, to have as sequel a certain rescinding, a decree nisi toward the living God, the God of the Bible, on the part of the nation in its church and coronation commitment. Rome is to be defended on English soil, not as a way of freedom for the individual, as now, but as a way for the nation in its characterisable conduct. Judaism, it is reported, has the same treatment. So are other 'faiths'.
A nation of faith, in name at least, is to become a nation of statistical spiritual character, moving with the arithmetical eddies.
This would mean a precipitous move from the day of Elizabeth I, when Shakespeare dwelt (his life and her reign had some 45 years in common in the 15th and 16th centuries), that day when Spain's Armada intended forcibly to instal Romanism's ways, but failed, when Drake and Frobisher were active in discovery, the former being the first known to have sailed around the world. This is the reported nature of the spiritual sequel in view, after the reign of Elizabeth II.
There would even be something almost humorous in contrast. Thus Elizabeth I was a forerunner to England's greatness as the Bible was more and more made the model; and Elizabeth II, if this plan is to be, would be the forerunner of spiritual divorce on the part of her son, of religious ruin, renegacy and rebellion. How it would parallel ancient Israel as outlined in such Psalms as 78 (cf. 78:56), and 106 (cf. 106:39), with option for the parallel sort of result, which afflicted Israel! (Lamentations). To be sure, it was not a good idea to make the Church a portion of the nation, in the first place, since it is to be ruled by Christ only through HIS people (Ephesians 2:19-22, Romans 16:17), in faith; but this in no way mitigates the direction of change or the religious nature of the new situation projected for the nation, but rather aggravates it.
Nor is such a type of synthesis of religions to be found in movements in England alone, by any means; for the riot is increasingly international, a terminal efflorescence of evil, foretold in the Bible (cf. I Peter 2, Revelation 13, 16), rife in the domain of spiritual pathology, a pandemonium, a pandemic with the heavens under review by the footstool.
II GOD LOOKS
to the one who is POOR in Spirit and Trembles at His Word
Isaiah, then, made it clear that the majesty of GOD was vast and immutable, illimitable and unparalleled, and who are earthly sovereigns if they gainsay it! It is not sound for the footstool to voice its desires for new gods, aloft in its thought, as if it sent up rockets and hoped for them to stay in the heavens, and to be the Rock for the nation.
To whom then does the Lord look ? Isaiah 66:2 tells us.
It is to this sort of person: one who "is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word."
What sort of trembling supersedes the centre of the revelation of God, Jesus Christ who ALONE can lead to the Father! (John 14:6)! There is no option: it is defilement, disjunction or repentance. This news item is merely one of many which happens to be new, but is one of a fold of hundreds of items throughout the world, in the same direction; and such is found in the UNITED RELIGIONS movement, which has been spearheaded by Bishop William Swing (Episcopalian). What then was the purpose of that organisation ? It was as reported in the Ecumenical News International (June 22, 1999), "to unite the world's religions for the global good by using peaceful dialogue and conflict resolution."
Is this to tremble at the word of God!
On the contrary, it has but one value in biblical terms: it is this, that it fulfils to the uttermost the PREDICTED rule of false religion (Revelation 13), to come before the Lord's return (as in Revelation 19), with the false prophet (Revelation 16,19) and the forcible 'beast' alike, moving men to servitude such as the Reformation once helped to overcome. This dominion however, it is not just from a city or its religion: it is to a spiritual evil so vast, that the whole world is to be its retinue (except of course for the believers in Jesus Christ, who overcome "by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony" - Revelation 12:11).
Yet it is not only in things political and financial, national and international that the evils come rushing like so many mad bulls. They are also to be found in what has been a challenge from the first, and will be to the last.
It is not only trembling at the word of the Lord which is a feature of what the Lord looks at, a characteristic of the one to whom HE LOOKS (that is, with whom He covenantally concerns Himself at the acutely personal level - cf. Psalm 1). It is to the one who is POOR and of a CONTRITE SPIRIT.
While this is part of the trembling (as in Psalm 2 - indeed, as in Psalm 19, a holy and clean fear that is not craven but awesome): it has its own features. What then is such a spirit ?
It involves both our words to and thoughts about each other. Is the one who is 'poor' - that is, poor in spirit as in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), to tear and bite his or her neighbour with cutting and personal words, or to be rather an ointment of peace ? Reproof may be needed, but the object should be love, as we seek to save some with fear (Jude 23). Wolves must be exposed and resisted (Acts 20:28-31, II Timothy 4:2). Yet it is enough that one must fight for the faith (as in Jude*2 and II Cor. 10:5): for the man and woman of God has an underlying peace and in personal matters knows well to turn the other cheek, being forbearing with the law of kindness in the mouth.
We do not use physical weapons, but spiritual (Ephesians 6), and of these there are such features as grace, longsuffering, kindness and grace.
Do not bite and tear each other lest you destroy each other, says Paul (Galatians 5:13-16). Let us hear his inspired word.
"For, brethren, you have been called to liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed by one another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfil the lust of the flesh."
Poverty of spirit is the opposite of the macho, the scarring by tearing teeth in speech, by self-seeking striving in spirit. It honours God and loves the brethren, protects the lambs and seeks in love for the lost.
So then, as we watch the unfolding of evil on the international stage, and see the near return of Christ as this amalgamation process of religions continues as the antichrist approaches, let us continue in well-doing, in love and poverty of spirit. Let us be strong in faith and bold and clear in testimony, but activated by love and concern, tender-hearted personally towards one another.
England has never been in any danger of perfection. Thus even under Elizabeth, in the passion for liberty internationally and ecclesiastically for the nation, there were constraints against independence, and with Charles I, through the politico-Anglican presumption under that relentless formalist, Archbishop Laud, special foe of Puritanism, persecution of Puritans was rigorously forwarded.
Though nothing to equal the former asininities of Rome in its burnings was to come (cf. Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 14), the failure was considerable, preceding the Civil War in which Charles in more senses than one, lost his head.
The improved direction nevertheless was set, and liberty increased, though not consistently: as the example of Bunyan in his 12 years of imprisonment, on the one side, and that of Scottish Covenanters, especially 1600-1685, stirred by further politico-Anglican presumption indicated. Overall, however, the figure of liberty proceeded to appear more and more clearly, while in particular there were shown the strains of advance and the trend to retrench.
It was however with James II and the resumption of Romanism for a brief period, that the vast sufferings rose to a climax, a heartless trend to national vagabondage against the Scottish Covenanters not least, to end in the "Glorious Revolution" with markedly increased liberty with William and Mary.
Long was the way to this day, but it was overall, if somewhat spiralling, uni-directional towards liberty. Unfortunately, this vast access to liberty and thought, to self-criticism and freedom to refine, towards justice and mercy, for which England became increasingly famous, was to become occluded with time, and this notoriously in the 20th century. This decline of godliness, under the duress of repeated wars and the lust to 'survive', tended to lead to some rather peremptory and wrong decisions which would mar the nation, despite some of the fine features shown in the conflicts, especially against Nazi tyranny.
That even so great a statesman and courageous a figure as Sir Winston Churchill could declare his one aim was to defeat Hitler, and that this made things far simpler, showed the danger. In fact, vision must always be total, never pre-occupied, however pressing the peril, with survival or one aspect; for without it, people perish. In The Wit and Wisdom of the Word of God ... Ch. 6, indeed, there is record of one of Churchill's amazing utterances in this field!
As to the unhappy national decisions, two may be noted. These were to remove most of the Palestine pledged to the Jews in the British Balfour Declaration of 1917 (Divine Agenda Ch. 8), an action ratified by the League of Nations, away from them in the 1920s. Instead, much of it was given to Jordan, and indeed most of it; and then again, in the day of British Foreign Secretary Bevin after World War II, there was explicit move to favour Arabs not least because of the 'need' for oil, and this led to further displacement of justice, mercy and compassion, as well as faithfulness to earlier commitment. Indeed, in 1948, elements of the British Navy were repelling old boats in which Jews at last freed from extermination procedures, sought to return to the now doubly 'promised' land.
When you fight against justice, indeed in this case, against the word of God (cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4, SMR Ch. 9, It Bubbles ... Chs. 10, 11, Red Alert Ch. 10), you will assuredly suffer.
Now at last we are seeing the axe for the tree of liberty with Biblical principles as the base, ground and recourse.
Indeed, over long centuries the movement to liberty based on the Bible, and its forbearance and grace, insistence on righteousness and truth, lapsed often enough with snuffling snorts at that same Bible on the part of many in the Anglican establishment, not helped by the fundamental error of having made a State Church, instead of a foundational apparatus on Christian lines, but one not RUN by the nation (cf. Journey to God or Fantasy's Flight to the Infernal, Ch. 7). In Christianity, the concept of the use of force in the arena of faith is repugnant, ludicrous and outré (John 18:36, Matthew 26:52-56); and thus such a situation is always open, liberty for the individual and for his non-violent worship, with the principles based on the Bible.
However, for any nation it is to be or not to be (cf. Acts 17:26-27); and now it recedes more and more obviously for the nation.
After all, if you are based on a variable base, the certainty of your way is compromised, and it can be severely so. It has become so.
The nation as a whole at any time could vary from mild to considerable proportions of Christians, with liberty for personal practice and preference for all. This variation is now most negative in this regard.
The combined impact of survival in two World Wars, and participation in the 3rd Cold War, and spiritual senescence increasingly picking and choosing as if the Bible were a smorgasbord, together with the spice of formalism and the earlier use of the established Church by many for mere career (for which Trollope in his novels gives the birch), with the pride in grandeur which may have been part of the ground for World War I: all this has led to results that could crush the land. One is the eventual decrease in attendance at Anglican Churches in England, of their significance, until with Charles the enormity of forsaking the very foundational religious basis in a free nation, and even pushing Islam with the President of the US, has grievously arrived.
On this action of Charles towards the US President, see Bon Voyage Ch. 2, *11; and on the background issues, *10A and 11A in the same Chapter.
Such things, when all is formalised, and if this direction is not aborted, could bring the apex of new Tower of National Babel to rule as if the English Statue of Liberty, which alas as in the US, is in vast danger of becoming one of libertinism (cf. Wake Up World! ... Ch. 3)! Righteousness will always exalt a nation, and has done so in these two nations differentially, despite their faults. As they move from the Bible, whether formally or informally, in the degree of emphasis and penetration in the people, so the ground of power is moving away, like a face in the mist, a face defaced.
This need to be active, rejecting the follies of false synthesis and recasting of the Gospel is strongly presented by Jude. It is worth examining this epistle in the light of the current movement in England.
The epistle of Jude, at the outset, tells us that he was going to write about the common faith, but was moved, constrained to urge us, instead, to contend for the faith; and he stresses that it now in this vein, instead of the other, that he writes.
We then do not expect to find advice concerning the usual, normal, one might perhaps even say relatively routine presentation, as to its focus, but to see a specialised presentation in line with the new purpose, which he now addresses.
In what follows, he is moved to indicate that surging rebels have often been incorrigible, exposed as defilers of truth, the faith or of Israel, were condemned, met calamity, were actively resisted point to point and face to face, were blots on love feasts (that is, were WITHIN the church): they were alien and specious intruders with factitious faith, often with meretricious mouthings, associated with ruin from their active, notorious and woeful perversion of truth.
Few such may be saved, and great care must be exercised if any may be snatched, contrary to type, from the fire; though some who occasion contention may be seen differently, perhaps merely confused (22-23). Christians are exhorted to keep themselves in the love of God, and to be built up in the holy faith, meanwhile, like athletes ready for any needful action (21-23), praying in the Holy Spirit.
It is rather like the Battle for Britain and Churchill, except that the help here is from God only. Contention is certain, danger is ready, strength is imperative, realisation of the nature of the war is essential and operation not in one's own power, but in the strength of the Lord is the feature.
Meanwhile, Jude further characterises the cause of contention, for these are they who, in their essential basis and common denominator, have certain features. Thus they are doubly dead, resistant to the truth and acting if possible, to infect those who love it. They must be routed before they can exploit weaknesses or snatch lambs. They await destruction (13). They are mockers, causing divisions, quislings with endless effrontery (18-19). Their domain is division and derision, spouting insults, detractors, self-deceivers, activated by profit lust, false teachers.
Against these, says Jude, CONTEND, for the faith (2:3). They use it to defile it - if any may be snatched contrary to type, so be it - but watch closely as you work, their devious duplicities.
Never let their words, ways, witness or works alone, as if to fester; for like weeds they prosper and engulf. Their ways must be cut out from the body of Christ, for their type is what what, in Israel's history, has been summarily destroyed from among the people - indeed, evil angels share their lot (5-6,7-8, 13, 15).
There is thus no possible exegetical question: Jude is not asking us to contend with the faith, but as Thayer in his Greek dictionary points out, FOR the faith. The congregation here is not restless or sleepy, but composed of spiritual terrorists, categorisable with the intemperate festerings of past diseases which have afflicted the nations. That is, the project involves people of this type, and what has to be done about them: and it is not to present what they pervert (except in some cases), but to deliver the people from the doctrinal perversions which they produce like geysers, despatch like missiles, impel like panzer divisions and explode like atomic bombs. This is war, this is judgment's scene, and this is how to fight the fearful and those deluded, devious and chronic in their invasive fervour. They are a type of spiritual al Qaeda, desolatory, destructive, dispossessed of truth and fighting in its face (cf. More Marvels ...Ch. 4, Lord of Life Ch. 8).
Further on this point of Jude's exhortation is found in News 43, from which that below is excerpted (considerably extended for our current need).
JUDE AND THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD
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, 18:33), 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, or limited to the common salvation (great as that is), nor is it dimensionally, a gospel tract: for it is an item in addition, an alternative, another option dictated by urgent need.
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. THE EPISTLE
however goes beyond that in category. What it IS, WAS to be his subject. What it
NEEDS to be, in the context he now unfolds, and 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 renderings 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. Nor does Thayer. Assuredly, the faith is the objective here of the fighting, for it is certainly not the opponent (this construction can indicate the enemy or objective alike), and it is this which is under duress and threat. It is the faith which needs, as did ancient Israel whose examples are cited, to be defended with vigour and address from the unruly raids of the evil one and his many allies.
Such is the deposition of Jude, the context, such are the examples and such is the force of every example given. Indeed, immediately after exhorting us to contend for the faith, Jude gives the reason: it is not that some need the Gospel (though of course all do always) which occupies him here, for he states the ground at once. It is rather than some who are CONDEMNED have entered into the fray, people LONG AGO "marked out for condemnation.". The cases in view are determinate, not indeterminate in this initial ground for the epistle, and the determination is such that they need to be resisted.
Indeed Jude proceeds in a resume of rebellion (not ignorance), and the judgments served in other like cases in Israel's history.
There is to be no laxity, no lounging, no public service image of the controlled bureaucratic taking of 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 care for them and loathing for their betrayers or tormentors. While this is done, there is the possibility that some in dire necessity, may perhaps despite the general tenor of things, evertheless be snatched from the furious inferno of falsetto faith, infectious, performing fleas, sucking lice or preying buzzards, 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 5:32). 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 11:53) neither went in themselves nor failed to HINDER those who WOULD go in! At the door of salvation, they acted as obstructions, and never once entered themselves!
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 sharply from the domain of blessedness, negatively 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! To say that there is NONE would be almost a classic understatement, like asking if you would like to warm your toes at the furnace that killed seven strong men just because they came near enough to throw Daniel into it!
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! It is undoubtedly the latter, II Peter 2:15-16 speaking of Balaam as exemplar of those who loved the wages of unrighteousness and received an ass's rebuke for his folly. What was his pathology ? It was this: "the madness of the prophet".
People such as this, says Peter, have a reservation made for them: "the blackness of darkness forever." What then, 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), for Balaam is cited as putting a stumbling block into the savaged path of errant Israel, seduced by his folly. This is the nature of the reference consistently, to Balaam, one made in Jude.
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, through NOT contending and allowing such follies as those noted in the arena of judgment, then there is the judgment of God Himself on THIS! Such is the consistent substance and heart of the message, as announced immediately after the exhortation to CONTEND FOR THE FAITH.
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, citing theactions highly specifically, of many in the category to be confronted.
They almost vaporize in the treatment. What he does, we are to do. He states his reasons, the differentiation from writing of the Gospel and the examples in one vast bloc of belligerence against evil, like a doctor on crusade against lung cancer. No more than the medic, is he asking for fellowship or mingling with the diseases! They are to be removed categorically, fought against with judgment itself the impending result if the exhortation if not heeded. Such is what happened in Israel, and such is not to happen here, so that to fight is the only option, to preserve the truth as always, in the face of the execrable energies of the evil one and his ambassadors, in whatever dress (cf. I Peter 5:8-9).
Indeed, 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), with the DEVIL as the one addressed by Michael, CAIN (11), 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" (15). The category of work, of words, of soul, of life, of judgment, of manner: it is the same, it is one, it is intensive, unrelieved; 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 being "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). They are 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 to Moses was this, that he acted like a prince (Numbers 16:13), and recalls that this was in fact rebellion against the Lord who so appointed Moses as giver of the law, the essence is provocatively clear.
The topic is in essence, simply specialised, inveterate, consummate, godless but captious 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 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! These cases call for careful differentiation and preparation. Indeed, there should be an attitude of 'detesting the garment defiled by the flesh' (Jude 23), while selectively snatching some free with fear. This 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 categorical for their group: that of being 'twice dead' with 'the blackness of darkness forever' is about to be reserved for their doubly delinquent souls. If anyone can be isolated out of this pile of the smitten, as if herded in and still reachable, this is the exception.
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. The product must be banned, the error corrected, their lives fought for and the erratic drug purged as soon as possible.
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. Instead, free from such horrid declivities and festerings, it must be decisive and invulnerable, composed aright and defended from devilry (cf. Romans 1:5, Philippians 1:7,17).
Paul for his own part is
"the defence and proclamation of the gospel"
"appointed for the defence of the gospel",
while having apostleship for
to the faith among all nations for His name".
the fighting, or contending for the faith as here exhorted by Jude,
as if it were merely the presentation of the Gospel is thus
contrary to scripture,
an harassment of the context beyond normal usage,
a transgression against the CHANGE of topic noted by Jude in verse 3,
in violation of all the examples,
corruption of the categorisation and destinies
of those named,
violates the contextual categorisation and condemnation, and
the feature that it is the gospel itself which is under attack,
It is, for all of these reasons from Jude's direct statement of intention in contrast to writing of the common salvation, to his stated grounds for this, to his examples, to the spirit and the example of it he himself shows, to the very nature of the case: essential to recognise what he is about. It concerns the nature of the invasive pathology, the necessity with vigour and vim 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 quack 'doctors' who misuse the equipment, the patients and the antibiotic, here the Gospel.
In this, Jude cites the famous Korah rebellion (Numbers 16), enabling quick identifcation, something categorically classified, contained, confronted and extinguished (cf. Titus 3:10).
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 on the faith, by devious means, 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 and need instant removal.
On some, he says, have compassion, making a difference. But the Gospel itself per se makes no such divisions. All have sinned, and there is, as Jude says, a common salvation. The compassion is indeed one with a 'difference' because of insidious corruption OF the Gospel, by informed and disparate rebels; for these are in a specialised pathological domain. Why then make a difference for them ? It is clearly because there are those to whom such a compassion CANNOT be shown: incendiary bombs, as in the whole gamut of Jude's coverage, they burn themselves out, out of control, already condemned, waiting to lure whom they may and to destroy what they may as they burn.
What ? preach the gospel to its destroyers and polluters ? THIS cannot be done for they burn as they turn, creating evil as they speak, the blackness forever their lair! No it is another operation which Jude has in mind, showering us with penetrating examples. If there be any exception, it is remote, and marvellous, but atypical to the fullest possible extent. By all means seek for any merely engulfed in this irremediable "fearful expectation" (Hebrews 10:27) of wrath, swept by the waves, and perhaps detachable; but this is a "difference" and to rescue is a dangerous operation, so horrendous that one must despise the very clothing of the odd one who could be rescued, if you will, from the wreck, itself the major topic throughout.
It is the case here, rather than a labouring with the Gospel in the norm, 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 as far from fellowship as Auschwitz from recognition amongst the living.
These the closely related elements of the concerto of condemnations acridly stress the pivotal character of the challenge! Indeed, one recalls the speed of Peter's action (Acts 8:19-22) 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. "You thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money," cries Peter in this case. "You have neither part nor portion in this matter, because your heart is not right in the sight of God. The apostle went on to conclude: " I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."
"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. His own example is not spurious, but furious with a divine fury at the spoliation of folly, which must not be allowed to be fostered on its specialised way to its special depth of darkness for ever.
Battle is joined with
adversary in each case, the thrust is immediate, the result purgation by divine
intervention and power - and as the apostles said while battling in such a case,
gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him" (Acts 5:28-32).
Obedience is here as in all these examples according to the case, and it
involves contending for the faith earnestly, not diffidently, dissolutely or
with convivial mien or irresolute heart.
AVOID THEM, is the simple word of Paul in Romans (16:17) about the dabblers in new doctrines, contrary to the apostolic teaching. You do not avoid by participating in a joint 'wedding' service, or combining 'faiths' with one another. Christians must abhor and to the extent any church is involved, vigorously contend against any such violation of the purity of truth, the commands of the scripture and the directions of the Lord. Where such things rule, those whom the Lord rules must be absent.
See also Separation 1997.