By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
Those of us who are avid Bible-readers know that it is a very interesting Book for a number of reasons, the most significant of which is the fact that the Bible is unlike any other book in the world because it is the infallible Word of God. That is why I refer to the Bible as an interesting Book, not an interesting book, using the capital “B” to highlight its uniqueness among books.
Some parts of the Bible are more important than other parts, though the whole Book is the Word of God. The fact that some parts of the Bible are more important than others parts is revealed by the fact that, if we want to help others become believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we would tell them to read the New Testament’s Gospel of John before reading, for example, the Old Testament’s book of Nehemiah. And the fact that some parts of the Bible are more important than other parts is also proved by the fact that well-taught Christians know they should become more familiar with the New Testament than with the Old Testament, though both Testaments need to be read and re-read.
One of the reasons to know the New Testament better than the Old Testament is that its prophecies of things to come relate more to the here-and-now than do the Old Testament’s prophecies. The New Testament’s prophecies concerning the here-and-now and the more-distant future are scattered throughout its pages. They are in the Gospels, the Book Of Acts, the letters (also known as the epistles, which is an old word for letters), and the Book Of Revelation, which is the last book of the New Testament.
One of those letters comes right before the Book of Revelation. It is called the letter of Jude, which is only 25 verses long. Even though it is short, it is definitely one of the most relevant parts of the New Testament because of how its contents relates to the daily lives of Christians. Jude’s letter is one of encouragement, teaching, challenge, and prophetic warnings concerning the here-and-now and the future. When we read his letter, we come to the conclusion that some of the Bible’s prophecies are being fulfilled now!
We see this in the fulfillment of Jude’s prophecies concerning the great departure from the Christian faith that is so common in our day. This departure, also known as apostasy from Biblical teaching, is running wild among many denominations that once adhered to Biblical teaching but have forsaken it, and among newer denominations that claim to be Christian, but whose beliefs prove their claim to be an empty one. To be considered Christian, an individual must accept the Bible’s doctrines and morality. And so must a denomination that claims to be Christian.
There are many good studies of the letter of Jude. My favorite is by theologically conservative S. Maxwell Coder. His book is called, “JUDE: The Acts Of The Apostates.” Coder’s book is relatively short, but it examines each verse in Jude’s letter, and is very helpful. One of its strengths is that it shows in no uncertain terms that the apostasy predicted by Jude is now upon us. What follows is a quote of most of the first chapter in Coder’s book. The last two paragraphs, though interesting, are not included simply because they have to do primarily with the structure of the letter. The quote is taken from my copy of the book, which is copyrighted 1958, and which might, therefore, be in the public domain. It is hoped that this quote of most of the first chapter will lead many readers to buy Coder’s book and be blessed by reading it.
The letter of Jude will be found at the end of Coder’s article, and is from the King James Version. it is taken from this website: http://www.biblegateway.com.
Strange And Terrible Words
By S. Maxwell Coder
The beginning of the age of the Church is described in the Acts of the Apostles. The end of the church age is set forth in the Epistle of Jude, which might well be called the Acts of the Apostates. The first book which can properly be said to contain church history describes the deeds and teachings of men of God through whom Christ began to build His church. The last epistle of the New Testament relates the deeds and teaching of evil men who will be living upon the earth as the history of the professing church comes to an end.
Jude is the only book in all God’s Word entirely devoted to the great apostasy which is to come upon Christendom before the Lord Jesus Christ returns. This brief message of twenty-five verses is the vestibule to the Revelation, introducing the Bible student to the apocalyptic judgments unfolded therein.
Without Jude, the prophetic picture which begins with the teachings of Christ in the Gospels and develops throughout the epistles would be incomplete. Our Lord raised the question: “When the Son of man cometh, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:18) Paul supplied us with the terminology commonly used by Bible students concerning a falling away from the faith of our fathers in the last days. He called it “the apostasy” (II Thess. 2:3, marg.). He described it as a departure from the faith (I Tim. 4:1), an unwillingness to endure sound doctrine (II Tim. 4:3). Through the apostle Peter, the Holy Spirit revealed that false teachers would some day appear and bring in “damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them” (II Peter 2:1; 3:3).
Jude brings the teaching of the entire Bible about apostasy to a tremendous climax. He takes us back to the very dawn of human history. We are reminded of apostasy at the gate of Eden and within God’s ancient people Israel. Our thoughts are turned to princes and prophets, to saints and sinners, to eternal fire and everlasting darkness, to the sea and to the stars, to past judgments and future glory. We are taken into the unseen world for a strange and terrible story of the sin of fallen angels, and another of a dispute between Michael the archangel and Satan, whose antagonists who are set over against each other once more in mortal combat in Revelation 12.
It is a remarkable fact that the epistle of Jude has suffered neglect by Bible students and preachers in spite of its wealth of revelation and the tremendous sweep of its subject matter. The great expositor Alexander Maclaren, whose works have been published in seventeen volumes, has given us only three sermons on it. The twenty-five volumes of Biblical studies by Joseph Parker, known as The People’s Bible, contains but a single message on Jude. Only five pages in six thick books are devoted to this epistle in the beloved Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Critical and Experimental Commentary. Of 844 pages in the great Bible Commentary dealing with Hebrews through Revelation a mere fourteen were set aside for this final epistle of the New Testament. There are twenty-three pages on Jude in the monumental Lange’s Commentary of twenty-five large volumes.
Why should such a rich storehouse of Bible truth have been so seriously neglected? The answer my lie in the fact that Jude deals largely with conditions in the last days. The rising of the present high tide of apostasy within the professing Church has been necessary to call attention to the import of the epistle as a whole. Jude must no longer be considered a mysterious book, offering only two or three verses of value in the ministry of the Word of God.
The possibility that the denial of our holy faith, so widespread in our own generation, may be a prelude to the great apostasy referred to by our Lord (Luke 18:18) should quicken our interest in this final epistle during these momentous times. If the last page of history of the Church is about to be turned, we may expect the Holy Spirit to give us new light on the strange and terrible words and warnings of Jude. A fresh study may awaken us to a solemn realization that it is later than we think, so that we shall pray and work as never before, with the confident expectation of revival within the Body of Christ and an ingathering of many souls before the great and terrible day of the Lord shall come.
The Letter Of Jude As Found In the King James Version
Jude 1 King James Version (KJV)
1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.
17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.