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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:God's Warnings From History
Text:Jude 3-7 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Living in a sinful world
 
Preached:07/10/2016
Added:2016-08-11
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


 

 

Pastor Ted Gray
07/10/2016 – a.m.
“God’s Warnings From History”
Jude: 3-7
 
Last week, when we looked at the opening verse of Jude’s short letter we saw how he referred to himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. Jude had the same mother as Jesus; he was the son of Mary and Joseph, but rather than stressing that relationship to gain honor for himself, he preferred to be known as a servant of Jesus Christ.
 
And we see an example of that servanthood here in verse 3. Jude describes how he was very eager to write about the salvation we share. He wanted to write a letter describing the greatness of our salvation. Perhaps he wanted to expand on the truths mentioned in verse 1, that we are called by the internal call of the Holy Spirit, loved in God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ. Perhaps he wanted to write a letter extolling the blessings that flow from our relationship to our triune God, the blessings of mercy, peace and love multiplied to us as described in verse 2.
 
But instead he goes on in verse 3 to write, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. By that expression he is referring to the revealed will of God. The faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints refers to the teaching that God has given to us describing how we are to live by faith in his Son, Jesus Christ.
 
Unfortunately, as verse 4 points out, false teachers had subtly slipped in among the believers to whom Jude was writing. He points out in the last part of verse 4 that rather than adhering to the revealed will of God in Scripture, those false teachers pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only sovereign and Lord.
 
The largest portion of Jude’s letter deals with the importance of contending for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints, that is, those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. As such, this letter has a powerful contemporary application because there is so much false teaching in the visible church today.
 
As we continue to study Jude's letter we will see how we can recognize false teachers. We will read of the certainty of their judgment, and will be reminded of our need to stay true to the Scriptures as we continually contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
 
But this morning, we see in our text from verse 5 to 7, that Jude looks back into history to give three examples of God’s judgment. The examples will be applied to false teachers specifically, but they are examples that apply to all humanity as well. In two weeks we will look at how these examples apply specifically to false teachers, but this morning we see their application to all humanity.
 
Unbelieving Israel
 
The first example is unbelieving Israel. In verse 5 he writes, Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.
 
We are all well aware of God’s power at display in delivering his people out of Egypt so long ago. But we probably don't think as often about his power in destroying those who did not believe in him.
           
The people had seen the Lord's power to bring plagues upon Pharaoh. They had witnessed his power to part the Red Sea so that they could cross through unharmed as all the forces of Egypt were drowned behind them; they experienced the power of God to provide food and water in the desert, yet they failed to believe in him as their Redeemer and Lord.
 
Because of their unbelief God destroyed all those over 20 years of age who had hardened their hearts against him in the desert. Because of their unbelief the Lord brought judgment upon the Israelites who refused to trust him, even though he had brought them out of their bondage in Egypt and provided for them in the desert.
 
But Jude is not just reviewing history for us. Those who do not believe in the Lord today say basically the same thing about the Lord as the unbelieving Israelites of old, even though they have heard about him. Even though people today are without excuse, because the world which God has made clearly reveals his divine power and attributes, they still say basically the same thing about the Lord as the unbelieving Israelites of old.
 
Many today respond to the gospel by saying, “The promised land of heaven or the make-believe place of hell, are not eternal places for anyone because you make your own heaven and your own hell right here on earth.” Or, “The Lord isn’t able to bring me to the promised land of heaven. If you knew what a sinner I was you would know the Lord would have nothing at all to do with me.” Or, more frequently there is apathy concerning the heavenly Canaan and the reality of hell, and outright hostility that God Almighty would judge people for not believing in his Son, Jesus Christ.
 
Those who refuse to believe in the Lord, whether Israelites in the desert in Old Testament times, or people today in their apathy and hostility against the Lord, will face judgment. It is appointed unto man, declares Hebrews 927, to die once and then to face the judgment.
 
Jude was very eager to write to us about the salvation that we share. He was eager to write about those wonderful truths mentioned in verse 1 about how we are called by the effectual call of the Holy Spirit, loved in the Father, and kept – preserved – in Christ. He was eager to write about the salvation that leads to the multiplication of God’s blessings in our lives, the multiplication of mercy, peace and love (verse 2).
 
But although he wanted to write about those great blessings of salvation, he was convicted by the Holy Spirit to give the warning instead. His warning was not just intended for his first century readers. It is certainly needed for each one of us today, for our families, our communities, our nation and the nations of the world.
 
Fallen Angels
 
A second example is given in verse 6 where he writes, And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home – these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great day.
 
The angels were created by God and lived in glory with him, yet the fallen angels are those who like their leader, Satan, did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home.
 
Ezekiel, in the 28th chapter, describes the King of Tyre and gives an analogy, many believe, to Satan and how he fell. Ezekiel 28:12-17: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering… You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you.”
 
Isaiah 14:12-15 describes the king of Babylon with what many believe is also an analogy to Satan and his fall: How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.
 
When Satan fell from glory and sinned against God, many angels fell with him. Revelation 12:9 says: And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
 
Satan and his hosts will be judged on the day of judgment along with all humanity. Often when we think of Judgment Day, we only think of the judgment of people. But angels will be judged as well. In fact, Paul told the Corinthians to settle their disputes and adds this question in 1 Corinthians 6:3, Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
 
None of us know how all that will work out, but we do know that it is another striking example from history giving us this warning: Since the fallen angels cannot escape judgment, how will the unbeliever? How will the apathetic? How will those who have been hostile against God and his people escape judgment if even angels cannot escape? And in the greater context of this short letter, how will false teachers escape judgment, if even fallen angels are “kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.”?
 
Sodom and Gomorrah
 
A third example – a third warning – is there in verse 7: In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
 
Sodom and Gomorrah stand as a remarkable example of God’s judgment. In the account in Genesis 19 we read of how the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven (v. 24). Clearly the judgment on those cities and the area around them was from the Lord. The judgment of sulfur and fire rained down upon them from heaven.
 
But the fire did not die down. The fire burned a long, long time. Those of you who use the ESV Study Bible probably noticed the comment on verse 7 which says, “Smoke was still rising from the site of Sodom and Gomorrah in the first century AD.”  Philo, as well is some other reliable writers of their era, describe how that fire continued to burn for centuries. We know that it was an area filled with pitch and tar, for Genesis 14:10 describes how the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled into the hills, describing the battle that ensued when Lot was kidnapped and Abram rescued him.
 
Over the centuries, from those tar pits and from the supernatural work of God, smoke rose from Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding area as a reminder of God’s judgment on those who reject him and reject his instruction on how to live a godly life.
 
Why does the Scripture tell us it is important to remember these great tragedies? Millions of people dying on the desert. Fallen angels kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great day. Sodom and Gomorrah and their total destruction which burned as a testimony to the judgment of God for centuries. Since Jude wanted to write a letter about the blessings of salvation, why are these tragic warnings put before us?
 
The Purpose and Motives of Warnings
 
First, these warnings are given to keep us falling away. The Bible is a book of many warnings. It has wonderful pieces of poetry. It is known for its beautiful descriptions of the good Shepherd and sheep, of Christ and his love for those whom he redeems out of the world. But the Bible is also known for its many warnings. And no one gave more warnings about judgment and hell than Jesus.
 
In the words of 1 Corinthians 10, which describes Israel’s unbelief, we read in verse 6, Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. And verse 11, These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
 
Warnings are given in love. In the secular climate of our culture we are told that anyone who does not agree with the lifestyle of Sodom and Gomorrah is a “hater.” It is clearly taught that everyone needs to not only accept that lifestyle, but also promote it as an excellent way to live. And if you don’t, then it is proof that you are a “hater.”
 
Nothing could be further from the truth. Warnings are given in love. The parent who sees their young child close to the hot stove immediately warns them. The parent may physically grab the child and yank them away and admonish them, explaining the danger that they are in.
 
The warnings of Scripture are the same way. They are given for our good and they are motivated by love. Jesus, who personifies the love of the Father, warned repeatedly about hell, not because he is a hater, but because he knows the reality of eternal judgment in the fire of hell for those who do not repent of their sin and believe in him.
 
Secondly, these examples are given to us so that we examine ourselves to make sure that our faith is focused on Jesus alone. When verse 3 speaks about the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints, it speaks of the entire content of God’s word, which we are to have faith in. But specifically the word of God calls us over and over to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for our salvation.
 
The reason we need to examine ourselves is so that we see that by God’s grace our knowledge of him is not just in our head but in our heart. It is possible to know all about the Lord and yet not believe in him with a saving faith.  Remember what we read in 1 Corinthians 10:4? The last part of the verse states, …They drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
 
They knew the power of God. They saw it demonstrated ten times over with Pharaoh and the ten plagues that God brought upon Egypt. They saw the power of Almighty God firsthand at the Red Sea as the Lord parted the waters for them. They experienced the power of God to provide for them with manna and quail in the desert.
 
If a Gallup poll been taken back in the day, how many of them would say, “I believe in God.”?   In a general sense they certainly knew that God existed, but they did not trust him with a saving faith. The vast majority did not look in saving faith to the promised seed of the woman, the eternal Christ who would crush the serpent, Satan. They did not look in saving faith to Christ who grants salvation to all who believe in Him, whether in the Old Testament era or in these New Testament times.
 
And the same tragedy continues today. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Who God is is evident from what he has made, leaving all humanity without excuse. The Bible is available in many translations here in our own country, and around the globe the Bible is proclaimed and being translated into more and more dialects and languages with each passing day. But how many take the word of God to heart and truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? These warnings are given to us so that we examine ourselves.
 
As 2 Corinthians 13:5 says: Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test your-selves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
 
And after telling us in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that these things happened to Israel as examples and were written down as warnings for us on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come, the apostle goes on to warn us in 1 Corinthians 10:12, So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
 
But as you look at your life, and as I look at my life in the light of God’s word, you and I, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, can have great confidence. Our confidence is not in ourselves, but our confidence is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
We see that in a passage such as 2 Peter 2:4-9. In that passage Peter uses some of the same examples as Jude, but he uses them to show the power of God to save His people out of even the most sinful, godless environments imaginable. Peter writes:
 
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked... then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment…
 
You and I may look at ourselves in the light of God’s word, see the enormity of our sin, and be tempted to believe the devil’s lie that God would want no part of us. But God’s word, whether in 2 Peter 2, or any of the many other passages describing his grace, teaches us over and over again, that all who come to him, no matter how sinful the environment they come from, no matter what baggage is in their life, can come knowing these words of Jesus found in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out...” And John 6:40, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
 
By God’s grace may the Holy Spirit drive these lessons from history home to your heart and mine, as we flee from sin and turn in ever increasing faith to our only Sovereign and Lord, our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.
 
 
 - bulletin outline -
 
 
In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal hell. – Jude: 7
 
God’s Warnings from History”
 Jude: 3-7
 
I. Jude lists examples from history which serve to warn us of the importance of contending for the faith and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. His examples include:
     1) Unbelieving Israel (5; 1 Corinthians 10: 1-13; Hebrews 3:7-4:2)
 
 
 
 
     2) Fallen angels (6; Revelation 12:9; see also Isaiah 14:13-15; Ezekiel 28:11-19)
 
 
 
 
     3) Sodom and Gomorrah (7; Genesis 19:1-29)
 
 
 
 
II. Applications:
     1) The temporal judgments of God (5-7) are given as a warning for us (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11)
 
 
 
 
     2) We are to make sure that our faith is rooted in Jesus alone (3; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Acts 4:12, 16:31)
 
 
 
 
     3) As we look at our lives in the light of God’s Word, we can have great confidence in the Lord’s ability to save His people out of even the most sinful
         environments imaginable (2 Peter 2:4-9)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 07/1, Rev. Ted Gray

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