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CLOUDS WITHOUT RAIN
Jude is not alone. Peter (II Peer 2) gives a massive exposition of the vast phenomenon-to-come before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ as King of this earth which so manifestly can find nothing really reliable to do the job, far less meet the spiritual needs of man. II Peer 2:1 speaks of those apostates who having touched the fires of heaven, are burned for their presumption, having not the asbestos of faith which receives the place for regard, and the safe niche for shelter. They despise authority, says the apostle Peter, just as I found in my early youth when at a church school, feeling something like horror, though ujnconverted, at th easy self-asssurance of a chplain who did not seem to know authoirty when he saw it, and messd with the world in his misunderstandings of the waht the Lord wants.
They bring in damnable hersies, and purchase swift destruction. They entice unstable souls, they are "well without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is resrved the balckness of darjess forever." It is like corrupt police, poisoning chemists, doctors who bring death and not life, by design for their own advancement. Jude however has something extra.
They are CLOUDS WITHOUT WATER. Late Autumn trees without fruit. They are "twice dad, pulled up by the roots". They died once in ordinary sin, and again in extraordinary sin, sinning against grace, and finding no place, but using what is given in their own hearts and minds, mere scudding clouds, but those for whom the tempest is surely coming.
CLOUDS WITHOUT WATER...
1. You may object that some good clouds lack water. They give shade and roll if indeed, they do not rollick along on fine sunny days. But this is not their office at this point, to disgorge their watery contents. Again, do they not contain their modicum of water, even if for the time they have no design to release it.
THESE however are WITHOUT WATER. It is not RAIN they are said to lack; it is water. They are dumb dogs, pretentious gods, spiritual flotsam and jetsam which act in leadership posts! They are pretenders, if not pretentious (and thos eof Peer are worse than that); indeed "they speak evil of whateer they do not know" - Jude 10.
2. If NEVER do you get the water, then you get the drought. Thus parched pastures and bleating sheep, some of whom doubtless will become Communists, atheists, agnostics and other spiritually pathological distancers from God: these arise, or more aptly, fall ... Joseph Stalin himself was preparing in training to be a priest; and Hitler was most impressed with the Jesuits.
3. When a church has such leadership, or even uncorrected teachers in its midst, then it is invested, if not infested with disease. Disease uncorrected can beget plague and plague is the reaper of death; and in this case, it is often the second death which is in view, when the spiritual conscience being seared as with a hot iron, as Paul tells Timothy ( II Timothy 4:2), there is to be a phase in the Age which is horribly unholy.
Of such Paul is saying this: they are "speaking lies in hypocrisy". Hypocritical clouds, boasting water and giving aridity, they are unlovely in the land. Is it possible to be a Biblically defined 'hypocrite' like this, without knowing it? Assuredly, for did not the Pharisees of whom Jesus the Christ said just this, in some of the most utterly demolishing words of all time, go about to establish their own righteousness (cf. Romans 10:1-3). The fury of the High Priest at 'blasphemy' when Christ freely acknowledged His Messiahship, and coming power to Judge, was not pretended. Full of unholiness (Matthew 23:13,25ff.) though they were, they appeared to lack all vision for this earth of anything better, and so paraded and masqueraded and did their turns. They, however, neither entered into the kingdom of heaven nor allowed those who would to do so. THERE is a great verse to warn against excessive reliance on pastors.
Respect ? Yes. Heed in sensitivity, no doubt. But reliance as if from them came the word of God which however they should faithfully present, no! Thus I John gives fair warning.
It is then not merely drought, but fire which is in view, even that consuming fire (Hebrews -29), from which the Everlasting Gospel provides so lovely an instrument of escape, being pregnant with beauty as well as apt to save. (See Item 17 above.)
4. Gain therefore that spiritual water which comes from CHRIST ALONE, and is the Spirit of God (John , ,37-39). Look indeed at Ezekiel 47 and see how first the feet, the ankles, the knees, the thighs and at last the whole being is inundated with that beneficial flood (cf. Ephesians 3:15-21, 1:17-19, Colossians 1:9-10). It comes when you become a believer by faith in the Lord, resting on Him as the object of faith, and receiving His works, finished, as the instrument of salvation, and Him as the resting place of your soul, now and hereafter (Romans 8:7-11, John 6:51-54). Christ is then IN YOU, and this is the hope of glory (Colossians ). You need no more foundation when you are Christ and Him crucified (I Corinthians -11), yes, rather bodily resurrected (cf. Romans 10:9). You then GROW in grace and knowledge ( II Peter ).
5. Therefore separate (The Kingdom of Heaven... Ch.7) from such as do not present this Biblical Christ, and do not trust in your wits while disobeying the clearest statements of your duty (Romans and Ch.7 as above).
FIGHT FOR THE FAITH
1. Indeed, now is the time not to recline in the armchairs of disbelief, in a cosy suburban or city corner, and relish the potpourri of artificial stimulants being presented instead of the EVERLASTING GOSPEL. Since it is SPECIFICALLY PREDICTED that in the last times these doctrines of devils will flourish (as may have been noted in your perusal of I Timothy 4 in our reference there above), and that a FORM OF GODLINESS will be a sort of woody substitute for the fruitful kingdom realities ( II Timothy 3); and since THESE ARE THE LAST DAYS IN THEIR MATURE PHASE (as seen in SMR Chs.8-9), then NOW is the time to be particular, and follow anew what the Christian forefathers followed in the days of the Roman Empire, the 'Holy' Roman Empire of such fatal persecution and in the Reformation. It did not come easily then, nor does it now.
Salvation is a gift; however pilgrimage is a work, not to save your soul, but IN that salvation, for you have a testimony to give, a life against the current to follow in its sheer superabundance of reality and joy, and faith to exercise. The world is lost and will be lost in substance as well as quality in its time. It is NOW time to proclaim Christ, from whom the waters of life come, not to foster CLOUDS WITHOUT WATER as if all depended on their fickle ways and verbal plays. Now is the time to PREACH THE WORD faithfully and to take whatever privations this may imply. What does it all matter ? If GOD be for you, who can be against you! FAITH knows no other way (Hebrews 11), and falsity can never find the way.
As Isaiah puts it in his magnificently apt play on words, "If you do not believe, surely you will not be established" (Isaiah 7:9). Now that is a remarkable play, to prevent the works of darkness. First, as we saw in Item 22 above, the concept of faith is here rooted in FIRMNESS, STABILITY. To "believe" in Hebrew implies a BEING CAUSED TO BE FIRM. It is based on firmness, soundness, reliability. Thus
IF YOU ARE NOT MADE FIRM, YOU WILL NOT BE FIRM; AND AS TO THAT, IT IS SURE!
This IS THE SENSE OF THE PASSAGE FROM THE LIPS OF ISAIAH.
2. Jude instructs us to fight for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3-4).
The terms used in "fight for" are idiomatic and normal. There is no need to depart from this translation. Indeed, it is not merely an unnecessary oddity, but an impermissible option, bordering on folly.
Since the blot-upright sounding sally and challenge of Jude, right in this passage, is that there is an enemy in the house RIGHT NOW, people who use double-talk and subvert the gospel with a hideous and forlorn substitute indulging the flesh, this action is "NECESSARY" . It is not a trend or manner that is needed. The extravagance and the extremity of the matter is such that the issues and actions are decisive, drastic and terminal. There is no room for manoeuvre. Manoeuvre here is murder.
3. Now when savage wolves are in the kindergarten, what do you do ? Is it a case of telling them the rules, or providing them with a copy of your ideals and purposes, or teaching them how to bind up wounds even, or telling them how good dogs can come into being in the proper hands, if only they will listen.
I do not think so. You kill them, or drive them away, and you shepherd your flock fastidiously far from their teeth, by making sure that at once YOU and YOUR WORKS as FAR from their teeth. Indeed, in Acts Paul is in process of telling them of the same savage wolves to come FROM THEIR OWN MIDST.
These are not ignorant, but double-minded double-talkers, such as perished in the "gainsaying of Korah" (rebellion), people who rejected the due authority and authorisation of God in the presentation of His word and will to Moses. This example is actually cited by Jude (11) and the "perishing" is the term used to describe that situation.
Now it is true that Jude asks that on SOME one would make a DIFFERENCE. Very well, this means that the treatment appropriate for the former group is NOT the treatment about to be prescribed. And what is this treatment with a "difference" ? It is this: "On some have compassion, making a distinction: but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" - vv.22-23. In other words, the place of pity when teeth are active is somewhat distanced for the moment, though by all means one may act with sanitary care in seeking to deliver the spiritual aids victims from their double folly, if occasion arises.
In other words, where wolves howl where sheep should bleat (Matthew ), you need action against the wolves, not therapy for their oddities, far less accommodation for their "preferences".
4. Jude also stresses the once
and for all character of the faith as delivered from the presence of God,
adverting to Moses in the Korah case, when these people asserted that Moses was
taking altogether too much on himself, and that they too had a significant place
in things. Since the word of God was comign through Moses, this is precisely
parallel to people now saying that the Bible is being given too much place, and
should only be a subsidiary or component in the spiritual dogmas and directions
to be followed. This is merely the scribal equivalent of having idols, other
gods, with other mouths and no muscle. Thus, "teaching for doctrine the
commandments of men" (Mark 7:7), such people "neither enter
themselves nor suffer" others to do so. Hence they are not good nursemaids,
nor suitable for the midwifery department of the
Hence you do NOT lean back and assume all will be for the best, any more than a good matron would assume this when guerillas came in with fixed bayonets. You fight for the correct administration in the proper rules, and take issue with every onslaught, not regarding, through some grammatical freak, the term 'onslaught' to be confused with 'insight'.
5. Thus Titus is given instruction about the nature of supervisors in churches: they must be such that they are "holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convict those who contradict."
6. If this is ineffectual to their lavish lusts for novelty without God, to be performed nevertheless in the name of God, then "a man of contrary opinion on the second admonition, reject" - 3:10. If THAT had been followed, history would have been dramatically different. However, such is the abuse of the gospel as well of other good things, that even this is made the butt of madness, and forbearance is misapplied, as if wolves' teeth were fit for helping the weaning of babes.
7. Isaiah sums it decisively: "TO THE LAW AND THE TESTIMONY. IF
THEY DO NOT SPEAK ACCORDING TO THIS WORD, IT IS BECAUSE THERE IS NO LIGHT IN
THEM." Immediately before,
he describes himself and those with him as "for signs and for wonders in
It is easier to dismiss the devil in words than in fact. His presence is like mould in ill-kept food, and spreads like a punishment, with intricate skill, the filaments of mould moving like some army. It is easy to dismiss the devil when God is with you and you with God, for the devil is wholly corrupt, and God Almighty. It is not wise however to fight for the faith once for all delivered to the saints by "preaching the gospel" only, as if the knowledge of salvation is the antidote for the incisions of, and infections from of wolves' teeth. Heed what Paul said to Titus therefore, and the need of the flock.
8. In a
large establishment, there is a place for offence, defence, hygiene and truth,
mercy and grace, all in the
GRACE THORUGH FAITH WITHOUT WORKS, but your salvation has a fear of God within it, such that you do not rest in filth and walk with "filthy dreamers" as if the straight and narrow way were expressly provided for such discourse. Be careful, says Titus, having stressed these very realities of grace for foundation and salvation, to maintain good works; and not the least is this intelligent care, wise concern and practical efficiency in caring for the flock (Titus 3:5-7, and 3:8 in sequence).
The saliva of the wolves is about as near as clouds without water will get, as they loom over the carnage below.
invigorates, refreshes, both to fight faithfully the battles of the Lord, and
to become healthy, not parched and dry, as dry-as-dust substitutes are sent
like Hussein's alleged biological spores, to inundate the land. The Gospel for
grace, the waterfalls of the word for truth, amid the teaching of warm skies,
the peace for His presence, the sun of His righteousness and the Spring-like
care for His people: this is the climate and the sky for the