This morning during our family devotional time we read the book of Jude from the New Testament. Through much of this short book, just 25 verses long, Jude speaks about the danger of false teachers. He tells his reader/s:
…defend the faith with God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives…these people–who claim authority from their dreams–live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings…When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are like shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up by the roots. They are like wild waves of the sea, churning up the foam of their shameful deeds. They are like wandering stars, doomed forever to blackest darkness…These people are gumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want.
I looked at it again when I got to the office in my new Jesus-Centered Bible. One of my favorite features is the inclusion of Rick Lawrence’s Jesus-Centered Questions– a nifty little resource that I won at a Group student ministry event many years ago. Here’s the question for this text–
- He predicted them- the faithful will be expelled from synagogues, even hunted down and murdered (see Saul/Paul). He did this so that the faithful would not be surprised (John 16:1-4).
- He told the truth about them- these “scoffers” act like unbelievers because they are unbelievers (John 8:47; John 10:26). To be direct- false teachers are NOT Christians.
- He prayed for them- when He said, from the cross, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34) he was living out his command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mark 5:44).
Jude, in his letter, gives this instruction to those who are dealing with false teachers:
But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s live. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.
Expect scoffers. Be truthful about who they are. Pray for them. Take your responsibility seriously as a true believer- building up others, praying in the power of the Holy Spirit (not just self), wait for God’s mercy, show it by rescuing people from the judgment sure to come.
This is the way of Jesus.