By Nathan Jones
How can our churches determine who is a real Christian?
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista of Miami's Calvary Chapel Aventura and I will continue our study of the little book of Jude from a prophetic perspective.
Jude, Sentencing to Blackest Darkness (Verse 13)
Jude continues to wax poetic in verse 13: "...raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever."
The false teachers Jude is referring to are like the raging waves of the sea, but they only produce their own shame. They are like beautiful stars, but they are reserved for blackest night. It is very important to mention that they are reserved for the blackness of darkness forever, for Jude is referring here to Hell.
Many people when they think about Hell they think fire, and so they think Hell is going to be bright, but there are many verses in the Bible that describe Hell as "outer darkness." You cannot see into it. And so, Hell is where these people are destined to go forever. God's punishment is Hell. These false Christians will never be included in our heavenly church services.
Vic Batista: Christians need to talk about what the Bible teaches about Hell because it is a real place. We often times don't focus on talking about Hell in our Bible studies, but we do love to talk about Heaven where all Christians are going to spend eternity. On the flip side, there is a place called Hell, and sadly those who don't turn to the Lord for salvation will have to spend all of eternity separated from God. How sad that is, right!
Nathan Jones: Hell was created for Satan and his angels because of their rebellion against God. When mankind fell into sin, when we each sin, when you and I was born into a sin nature, then all of humanity came under the judgment of Hell. Thank goodness the Lord sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins and take that punishment of Hell upon Himself if we accept Jesus in faith.
These false teachers and false congregants, when they are coming into our churches, they don't care about accepting Jesus as Savior. Instead, they want to make sure that as many people as possible are dragged away from Jesus. That's why Jude is so emphatic about bringing up the truth that these people should not be allowed into our churches.
Jude, Recognizing a True Christian (Verse 13)
Nathan Jones: Some churches have a real problem with ejecting from their churches pastors, staff and congregants who are living in sin and teaching false doctrines. They are worried about lawsuits nowadays. They are worried about being sued. They don't engage in church discipline because they are worried about frivolous lawsuits. But, we have to stand up for what is right, because if we don't, our churches will suffer and our people will suffer, and we can't allow that to happen.
Vic Batista: Excellent point! Pastors and elders need to look at these verses in Jude very carefully.
There is nothing more disappointing than a raincloud that doesn't bring any rain to a hot and thirsty land. Imagine if you were a farmer and you were waiting for that rain to come to bring refreshing to your parched crops, and at the end of the day the cloud brings nothing.
Nathan Jones: Well said, Vic! Down here in Texas for the last three years we've had terrible droughts. The little water we had left in our lakes and rivers was almost gone. This spring we've received a tremendous amount of rain. Some of our lakes are now back up to 100%. But, if those rainclouds came without rain, we would have been so disappointed and kept on praying to the Lord for deliverance from the drought.
The rain signifies something. It signifies refreshing. It signifies revitalization. It signifies life. The real Christian will be brought by the Holy Spirit into the Church where they will find spiritual revitalization and refreshing. True Christians bring life to a congregation. It is very important that our churches are discerning and can recognize true believers in Jesus Christ.
How do we do that? We know a true Christian by the spiritual fruit they produce.
Vic Batista: When you plant a tree you are looking forward to that tree producing fruit, and not just any kind of fruit, but healthy fruit. Likewise, concerning false prophets, Jesus said in Matthew 7 that you will know them by their fruit.
Nathan Jones: Exactly! I have two fruit trees that I planted in my backyard. They produce the saddest looking fruit. I just picked the fruit but had to throw it away. I'm thinking I just need to chop those trees down. They are pathetic.
Likewise, these false Christians bear no good spiritual fruit. They are not the type of people you want in your church.
Christians are members of churches in order to have Christian fellowship and accountability and to worship the Lord. But, we have turned our churches into evangelistic centers. Instead of going out into the public and sharing Christ with the lost, we are now getting lazy and expecting the lost to come into our churches in order to hear the Gospel and get saved.
This is what Bill Hybels calls the Seeker-Sensitive Movement. The movement was welcomed into our churches with open arms, but tragically it has converted many of our churches into houses of paganism. We now have more unbelievers than believers coming through our doors. Non-Christians have been put into positions of power and authority in our churches. They don't even have the fruit of the Spirit in them.
The Seeker-Sensitive Movement is ruining our churches. As a matter of fact, the Willow Creek Association even came out a few years back and admitted that the seeker sensitive initiative was not working and they needed to stop it. But still, many churches unfortunately have not stopped.
What happens when every service is an outreach service? The sermons and Bible studies remain at a 101 level and the more spiritually mature are never fed, and so they leave. You end up with an entire church of spiritual babies who never grow, or who want to grow and so have to move on to find spiritual meat.
This is not what our church services were meant to be. They were meant to worship our Savior and edify and grow the believer in Christ. They're an oasis in a sea of paganism. You can't do that when your services are all geared towards unbelievers.
Vic Batista: Great point, Nathan! Jesus and Paul prophesied that a proliferation of false teachers and a growing apostasy in our churches would intensify and become worse as we see the day of Jesus Christ's return approaching.
Jude, Discouraging the Wrong Motives (Verse 13)
Vic Batista: Verse 13 says, "These are raging waves of the sea, foaming in their own shame." Those who are playing a game with their relationship with God, it is really to their own shame.
Nathan Jones: It is. Eventually every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. These false Christians will one day have to stand before the Lord. They will have to give an account of their lives. Instead of saying that they gave their life to Jesus Christ and so had meaning and purpose, what they can only report is that they spent their life trying to destroy the Church by turning people away from believing in Jesus.
There are people out there, especially the militant Atheists, who live in their attempts to destroy the Church. We just cannot let these people become part of our churches. We should love on them, sure. We should witness to them, definitely. We should do everything possible to bring them to the Lord, but they should not be part of our congregations. Like you said, Vic, they are a blemish on a perfectly white shirt.
Vic Batista: As a pastor, I love people coming into my congregation, but they have to come with the right motives. They should desire to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ and not cause division or troubles for our people. Certainly, we know that there is no perfect church. I often quip if you find the perfect church, don’t join it, because you will end up ruining it!
Nathan Jones: Well said! That's right, what is their motive for coming? Are they coming genuinely to learn about Jesus and so grow spiritually in Him? Or, are they coming to destroy it with division? That would be as crazy as saying we want to bring a bunch of militant jihadists into our country just so that we can get to know them better. You don't do stuff like that. And so, why would we want to bring into our churches a bunch of doctrinal jihadists who come only to destroy our churches? It just doesn't make sense!
Pastors, I really encourage you to stand up for church doctrine and follow church discipline. The Apostles were clearly dealing with a lot of incoming heresy, as we read about in Jude here. We can't be timid about this lest we lose our congregants to Satan and our churches start falling apart.
Vic Batista: I think this is also a message for those who don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you recognize that you are not right with the Lord, there is still time for your to come to the throne of Jesus and allow Him to make things right in your life.
Nathan Jones: But there isn't a lot of time left, for Jesus could come at any moment and Rapture the Church away. So, if you are ready, you need to put your faith in Christ now. Give your life to Jesus Christ. Pray in your heart, "Dear, Jesus, please forgive me of my sins and be my Savior." He promises to do just that. He will forgive you of your sins, take away your guilt, and give you a new life with that eternal hope of Heaven.
I don't know how long that we have until the Rapture, or even death, but we know that Jesus is coming back soon. Therefore, we need to get real serious about giving our lives to Jesus Christ for the salvation of our sins and the acquittal of our punishment in Hell.
Vic Batista: Turn to Jesus Christ now. It's not complicated to start a relationship with the Lord.
In the thirteenth segment of our study of the book of Jude, we'll look at what Enoch prophesied so many millennia ago concerning the Second Coming.