Posted in bartholomew, foxe's book of martyrs, jude, marturdom, thomas

Sunday Martyr Moment: Jude, Bartholomew, and Thomas

By Elizabeth Prata

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.
Jude

 

Apostle Jude
by Anthonis van Dyck

The brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa, an ancient city of Mesopotamia, about A.D. 72.

Bartholomew

Tradition says he preached in several countries, and then translated the Gospel of Matthew into the language of East Indian, he taught it in that country. He was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters.

Thomas

Called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Persia, Parthia and India.In Calamina, India, he was tortured by angry pagans, run through with spears, and thrown into the flames of an oven.

Posted in balaam, cain, discernment, jesus, jude, korah

Jude 1:11- The process of apostasy revealed

Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. (Jude 1:11 NASB).

In reading Jude this weekend, a new aspect of this verse jumped out at me. Notice within the verse, there is a progression. Jude found it necessary to contend for the faith and urge the saints to whom the letter is addressed to contend for the faith, and contend against “ungodly people who have crept in.”

Jude means people who are false Christians, and teachers who teach false doctrines. The ungodly always grow in satan and never grow in grace.

These ungodly people are not immediately noticeable. Why? They creep in. Creeping indicates stealth, a purposeful attempt at NOT being noticed. They do unseen damage to the faith meanwhile.

However they do not remain unnoticed forever. The ungodly are subject to a certain progression that is indicated in the Jude 1:11 verse.

First, they “go.” Going brings to mind John’s wonderful verse from 1 John 2:19.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

Here is Strong’s on the word “go” in Jude’s verse–

to go: 4198 poreúomai (from poros, “passageway”) – properly, to transport, moving something from one destination (port) to another; (figuratively) to go or depart, emphasizing the personal meaning which is attached to reaching the particular destination.

The very act of going (out from the faith into personal sin or loving the world, or both) indicates they are likely ungodly. I say likely because sometimes we have a person who wanders briefly, a prodigal. Sometimes someone persists in a sin for a short time and seems to be going, but repentance and grace brings him back. (James 5:19-20). That’s why it’s important to be patient with those who are sinning, and it’s why the Spirit-inspired the writers wrote about the actions to perform within the church to help that person. If a brother truly is a brother or a teacher truly is of God and you go through the actions that Matthew 18:15 or Luke 17:3 and other verses tell us to do, and they repent, they will grow in grace once again and will not leave the faith.

If the person refuses to listen and persists in their ungodly way it will become evident. Cain’s example is not brought up simply because he was the first human murderer. Cain’s murder of his brother occurred after an internal wandering from the truth and a probable unseen-by-Abel rebellion against God. However it was seething inside Cain. Genesis 4:3 and Genesis 4:5 shows us this. When God addressed Cain’s sin directly, and in our case today, if a brother or sister or pastor might bring it up to the person, Cain’s rebellion, anger, jealousy, and hatred of God came out and was seen in his talk and in his subsequent actions.

We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:12)

Pulpit Commentary says of the Jude verse–

As in 2 Peter 2:15, the darkest passages in the Old Testament history are again appealed to. While Peter, however, refers only to a single instance, Jude introduces three, and prefaces the whole by a Woe! such as the Gospels repeatedly attribute to Christ himself. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain; rather, they went in the way of Cain. The phrase is the familiar one for a habitual course of conduct (Psalm 1:1; Acts 9:31; Acts 14:16, etc.).  

But what is the point of the comparison? Cain is supposed to be introduced as the type of murderous envy, of the persecuting spirit, or of those who live by the impulse of nature, regardless of God or man. In 1 John 3:12 he is the type of all that is opposed to the sense of brotherhood, the murderer of the brother whose righteous works are an offence to him; but in the present passage he is introduced rather as the first and, in some respects, the most pronounced example of wickedness which the Old Testament offers – a wickedness defying God and destroying man.

Sometimes if I bring up something to a person gently and lovingly, even though I’d posed it in the best possible way and have the best possible relationship with the person, they become angry. If the person accepts what I’m sharing and after prayer and searching the bible they repent, I have won my sister. This is a great feeling because to me it is visible evidence of the grace of the Spirit working in Jesus’ Body. If the person remains angry and in fact become even more harsh or lashes out, (like Cain did) I know there is a deeper sin there. Wasps are fine unless you poke their nest. Look for the immediate and the subsequent reaction to a correction, it is the more telling part of the process.

The second part of Jude’s process of go-rush-perish is the break point. After a person goes the way of Cain, they begin to rush. Some translations say rush headlong. Here, Strong’s defines the word more clearly for us in the Greek–

to rush: pour out, gushed (1), poured (5), rushed headlong (1), shed (3), spilled (1).

The picture that comes to mind of the pouring out is of a river that once was held back, but then breaches a dam, and spills out everywhere in a tumble of a powerful rush, leaving destruction in its wake.

Pulpit Commentary continues exposition of the Jude verse, now focusing on the rush to Balaam:

And ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward. The “error” in view is a life diverted from righteousness and truth. The verb rendered “ran greedily,” or “ran riotously,” is a very strong one, meaning they “were poured out,” and expressing, therefore, the baneful absoluteness of their surrender to the error in question…

Here, Hebrews 6:4-6 helps us. For the ungodly person to have wandered from the truth and then rushed headlong into unrighteousness and darkness and finally and absolutely is revealed to have succumbed to error, evil and sin, they cannot come back.

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

We are not talking about Christians losing their faith. No one who is a true believer will ever lose their place in heaven. (2 Corinthians 1:22). We are talking about the unmasking of the ungodly. Those whom we thought for a time were truly righteously saved, who looked saved and who acted saved but who begin to wander from the truth, don’t self-correct via repentance and don’t  correct via a rebuke, and are seemingly suddenly not a believer anymore.

The final end of the people of which Jude wrote is that they perish. Here is the Strong’s definition of the word perish as it’s used in verse 1:11–

perish: 622 apóllymi (from 575 /apó, “away from,” which intensifies ollymi, “to destroy”) – properly, fully destroy, cutting off entirely (note the force of the prefix, 575 /apó).

Words like perish fully, entirely, and with force should engender a shudder from even the most mature and secure Christian. The fate of those who we decry, like Beth Moore, or Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen is a fate in which we derive no pleasure.

More to the point, for us today here are two take-away thoughts.

First as always we must check ourselves. Are we drifting from the Way?

For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I am not guilty of turning from my God. (Psalm 18:21)

When you pray, pray not only for the Lord to keep you in His statutes, but to keep you on the center line of His narrow Way!

Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. (Proverbs 4:27)

Second, after checking ourselves, check your friends and loved ones. Are they turning from the Way? Are they, as Jude warned, ‘going’? If it is a matter of a temporary swerve, snatch them back as of from the fire, as Jude said in verse 1:23.

Speak openly and honestly about sin, judgment and hell, so that sinners can flee it. ~John MacArthur

Sin is a process, sometimes it’s a process leading to a revealed apostasy. Sometimes it is a process that leads to a revealed glory of the Lord as He brings a wayward one to repentance and restoration. Read Jude and camp on it for a while. I’ll end as Jude does,

24Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Posted in contend, faith, false doctrine, jude

False teachers and contending instead of tolerating

Jesus said that one way we will be able to tell it is the end times is that false teachers will come. It has been the end time since He ascended and the latter days will end when He returns, but nonetheless, He also said that the end will come like a flood, and will be like birth pains. In other words, from the beginning of the period to the end, things will get worse and worse:

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)

Actually, when the disciples asked about the signs of the end of the age, the first sign Jesus gave was that there will be deception:

photo credit: delete08 via photopin cc

“As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” (Matthew 24:3-5).

When Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1, Paul said that ‘dangerous times will come’. That was a prophecy. John MacArthur expounds on the verses:

“The word “times” is the word “seasons” or epochs. And the picture here is the idea that during the period of the church age there will be seasons when the church is under great danger in perilous perilous condition. This is primarily due to the encroachment on the church of false teachers and false doctrine. Verse 13 says, “Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

Evil men, impostors who come into the church rising from within become a tremendous danger to the church. False teachers and their product, false doctrine, and their converts, false Christians, are inevitable in the life of the church and exceedingly dangerous. We look at the church today and we know we’re in dangerous times. The church as we speak of it in the largest sense, Christianity or Christendom, is mixed up with all kinds of things. It is literally filled with false teachers propagating false doctrine being believed by false converts or false Christians. The church is filled with men and women who deny Scripture in their theology, who deny Scripture in their living.

The church tolerates that false teaching, tolerates that ungodly living. Even in some cases justifies it quite as it did in Ephesus where Timothy was when he received this letter from Paul. Only today it’s far worse than it was then because evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse and worse as you come closer to the coming of Christ.

We are 2,000 years nearer the coming of our Lord than the church at Ephesus and we then have to suffer the accumulation of deceit and false teaching through all of those centuries that is now encroaching upon the church today.”

The word ‘accumulation’ is a great way to put it. Not only has false teaching accumulated, more is coming in every day, in greater force and in greater number.

photo credit: PhotKing ♛ via photopin cc

Therefore, we know by the word of God that we are living in dangerous times and what is causing the danger is false doctrine. It is causing persecution from without and contentions from within. We usually think of danger as things like machine guns or unbalanced madmen, but in reality false teaching is a machine gun that kills just as surely as bullets do, and it is brought by unbalanced madmen who can’t think straight (Ephesians 4:17 and Romans 1:21).

With the fact of coming flood of false doctrine established, let’s turn to Jude for a moment. Jude 1:3 says says what to do about it,

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3)

Jude wrote that though he had other plans for his letter’s content, something had arisen which changed his mind. He used very strong language to indicate that his intent had been changed and he must now address a different topic. Various translations use the word

–necessary
–compelled
–must
–needful

When Jude uses the word compelled or necessary, or must, he is using the Greek word anankēn, a root of anagke. This word means literally to “compress or to press tight. In human terms it indicates a compelling need requiring immediate action, i.e. in a pressing situation. The definition also means it calls for timely help, i.e. strong force needed to accomplish something compulsory or absolutely required.” (Strong’s)

Gills Exposition says of the verse, “by the “faith” is meant the doctrine of faith, in which sense it is used whenever faith is said to be preached, obeyed, departed, or erred from, or denied, or made shipwreck of, or when exhortations are made to stand fast, and continue in it

Jude found it necessary to warn the brethren to take action regarding the existing evils in the Church. Jude used the strongest terms possible to urge them to fight for the faith. By faith, Jude means doctrine.

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Yet we are living in strange times. Just as false doctrine is permeating everywhere, we are told to tolerate it. Just as people of the faith are littering the sea of the church in shipwrecks, we are told to step over them as they lay gasping and dying, so as not to offend them.

Jude did not say, “I planned to write to you about our common salvation but I see that false doctrine is coming in. If you think of it, would you address this? If you get a chance? Either way. But if someone makes a charge of intolerance or says that you are not loving by doing this, back off immediately and pray for forgiveness for your offense.”

Jude did not say, “There may be a false thing we need to take care of, but that’s for later. First, witness to the people by your actions, not your words, so they will see you’re not a hypocrite. Then after a few years when you’ve established a relationship based on common interests and mutual trust, mention to them delicately, without naming names! that sometimes false doctrine comes in. If you feel led. Or not.”

Brethren, it is obvious that addressing false doctrine is a must. Jude said to contend. Contending is contentious. That’s a fact. I’m not saying to BE contentious. But there is emotional and spiritual turmoil associated with combating false doctrine.

This is because people who gravitate to false doctrine are deceived, and no one likes to be told they are being deceived. There is intellectual pride there which must be dealt with by the person, and sometimes they get angry at you for exposing this to them. People who follow false teachers do so because the teacher’s teaching is comforting them in their flesh, and excising the flesh is always painful. (2 Timothy 2:17, Mark 9:47). People cling to false teaching because they like it. No one enjoys being told that something they like is bad for them. They have already invested too much, and their pride, comfort, personal reputation etc.  is now tied into it.

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What does contending look like in practical terms? If you have a conversation with someone and they mention they enjoy watching Joyce Meyer, the person should be told that Joyce Meyer is a false teacher preaching heresy. If you have all the facts at your disposal, perhaps you can tell them this immediately. But more likely it is better to draw back, pray, gather the facts of why she is false and also why it is important to tell the person she is false, and take her aside at another time. This is what Priscilla and Aquila did for Apollos. (Acts 18:24-28). He was a brother, he just had some facts wrong.

John Ed Mathison writes,

They took him aside!
“How do you deal with people when they have made a mistake and obviously you know how to help them? Knowing what to do is sometimes not as important as how we do it. In Acts 18:24 there was an interesting man by the name of Apollos who had become a convert to the Christian faith. He became a fervent disciple. He desired to teach and share his faith. His enthusiasm seemed to outrun the grounding of his intellectual understanding of God’s truth. He began to make a few errors. How do you handle somebody who is in error? It is easy to confront the person in front of a lot of people and make yourself look good by showing them their faults. Sometimes the practice is to go to somebody and tell them what someone else is doing wrong, without confronting the person who is actually making the mistake. Some people simply “pray about it.” Some people criticize the errors in an indirect manner. Priscilla and Aquila did the right thing. The Bible says “They took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately.” (Acts 18:26) They didn’t embarrass him. They didn’t pull rank on him. They took him aside in order to be helpful to him.”

Paul took another tack. When Peter was engaged in false doctrine and had done nothing to refute it, Paul opposed Peter to his face. (Galatians 2:11-14). Paul waded into the fray, willing to take the pain of conflict in contending with Peter, in order to defend the truth of the gospel. You see the emergency portion of the verse, “even Barnabas was led astray.” (Galatians 2:13). Failure to confront false doctrine means others get hurt! In the Galatians situation, Jews and Gentiles were split! Peter was passive, not leading in the authority of his office! Confusion, not unity, reined! And poor Barnabas was being led away by satan.

Roger R. Nicole said of contending for the faith in his article “How to deal with those who differ from me” (.pdf here), “We are called upon by the Lord to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3). That does not necessarily involve being contentious; but it does involve avoiding compromise, standing forth for what we believe, standing forth for the truth of God—without welching at any particular moment.”

Ultimately, it is up to you to do your part. This means:

–reading the bible so you know when false doctrine comes in the first place
–staying prayed up so your relationship with Jesus is fresh and alive
–loving others enough to risk emotional turmoil when contending for the faith
–honoring Jesus by being a good soldier and fighting the good fight

It’s up to you also to decide whether to confront privately or publicly. I’ve done both as different cases arose. The bible shows us several ways to contend and therefore all are correct, but not all are equally applicable to each situation. How you contend is between you and the Holy Spirit, but it must be done. Paul and Jude made no bones about that.

Dan Rocha photo

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further reading:

How to contend for the faith (2-min video)

The Berean Call: What does it mean to earnestly contend for the faith? 

The Christian Courier advises in their article, “Contend Earnestly for the Faith
“Contending Is Not Contentiousness. There are some who have yet to learn the difference between contending for the faith and being contentious for the faith. Contending for the faith is a balanced proclamation and defense of the fundamental elements of gospel truth, whereas contentiousness is a wrangling disposition that generates ill will over inconsequential matters.” More at the link

Posted in bartholomew, foxe's book of martyrs, jude, marturdom, thomas

Sunday Martyr Moment: Jude, Bartholomew, and Thomas

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.
Jude

Apostle Jude
by Anthonis van Dyck

The brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa, an ancient city of Mesopotamia, about A.D. 72.

Bartholomew

Tradition says he preached in several countries, and then translated the Gospel of Matthew into the language of East Indian, he taught it in that country. He was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters.

Thomas

Called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Persia, Parthia and India.In Calamina, India, he was tortured by angry pagans, run through with spears, and thrown into the flames of an oven.