Saturday, February 4, 2017

Jude 1-19

From Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James (the leader of the Jerusalem church -- and I won’t even mention how that makes me a brother of Jesus himself).

I am writing to all who have embraced the call of God the Father -- to those who are baby-wrapped in his love -- to those who are under the protective care of Jesus Christ.

2 I pray that he would continue to pile his mercy, peace, and love on you -- pile it so high that you would be overwhelmed by his generosity.

3 Dearest friends, when I first started drafting this letter my intention was to expound on our common salvation. But I’ve had to shift my focus a bit so that I can urge you to put up a good fight for the faith. The doctrinal content of this faith has already been delivered to us, the people with a commission to exclusively serve God. Don’t accept any add-ons or adjustments. 4 Godless people have infiltrated your ranks and they’re messing with the church’s understanding of grace. For them grace means that you can live anyway and do anything you want because any infraction is already forgiven. This unbridled approach to morality is a de facto denial of Jesus Christ, who is our only master and Lord. Their names were written long-ago into the logbook of the condemned.

5 Remember what happened to the Hebrews whom the Lord rescued from captivity in Egypt. You know this story well. The Lord ended up destroying many of the very people he saved from that slavery because they became faithless. In spite of all the Lord did for them they turned their backs on him and ended up paying the price for that.

6 Remember as well that incident in the apocryphal story of 1st Enoch, where angels abandoned their posts and became traitors. They ended up under eternal arrest -- in underworld chains until the great day of judgment.

7 Likewise, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah started mimicking the reprobates in their neighboring towns. They were into loose living and all things kinky -- even the extreme stuff. Their fiery demise still warns of the punishing eternal fire that awaits modern degenerates.

8 So, how is it that the infiltrators in your midst, living in a fantasy world of their own making, act out in the same way with twisted sexual practices, rejection of authority, and slander of even the glorious angels? Preposterous!

9 Even Michael, with all the authority of the chief angel, essentially told the devil that he wasn’t going to get sucked into a pointless argument with him. Instead Michael said to him, “I’ll let the Lord rebuke you!” This happened in the Assumption of Moses, one of those apocryphal books, when the devil was with slanderous arguments trying to claim possession of Moses’ body. 10 Likewise with these infiltrators and all their assertions about how irrelevant the physical body is to spiritual matters. They don’t know what they’re talking about. Yet that doesn’t stop them from spewing slander. Their crass irrational animal behavior is contrary to what is instinctively known. They’re like lemmings running head first off the cliff! Dumber than dumb! Stupider than stupid!

11 As these guys follow in the disastrous footsteps of Cain, Balaam, and Korah they damn themselves. In Genesis 4 Cain became the father of all family conflict and in jealousy murdered his brother Abel. In Numbers 22 the greedy prophet Balaam made some bad choices and ended up blind to the Lord’s presence. And in Numbers 16 Korah rebelled against Moses and the Lord. A giant sinkhole swallowed him and his family. Then his followers were consumed with fire sent by the Lord.

12 The infiltrators are like jagged rocks just below the surface of the water waiting to rip the solid hull of your boat a part. They want to join your celebrations of the Lord’s Supper -- the love feasts. But when they get there, they disrespectfully jump to the front of the line and pile up the chow on their plates. They’re only thinking of themselves. In that sense they are like waterless clouds blown in by the wind. Or think of them as fruit trees that you’ve watered and cared for, but when harvest time comes, they have absolutely no fruit to offer. Then, if you dig the trees up to transplant them, you discover that they don’t even have roots -- dead on the top and dead on the bottom. 13 Their shame is as thick as the foam on wild waves in the ocean. They are like stars in the sky without a fixed position. As they fall from orbit they end up fulfilling their eternal destiny in utter blackness.

14 In the Book of Enoch, Enoch, just seven generations down from Adam, spoke prophetically about these posers when he said, “Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his dedicated troopers. And 15 they are going to execute judgment on all. Every ungodly deed -- every harsh word spoken against God and what he is doing -- it will all stand as evidence to convict people and showcase the shame of their ungodliness.”

16 These infiltrators are negative people constantly looking for something they can grumble about. Meanwhile, they let their personal desires define how they live. They’re braggarts and manipulative kiss-ups saying whatever it takes to get their way.

17 But remember, dear friends, what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ have said. 18 They said to you in 2nd Peter 3:3, “In these last days there will be no shortage of mockers -- full blown godless hedonists.” 19 These divisive partisans are operating apart from the Holy Spirit -- which means that they are operating according to the world system.