Saturday, August 8, 2015, 8:06 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jude 1 (Select vv. NASB). Into Licentiousness (vv. 1-4) Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude wrote here to those who were born of the Spirit of God, who shared in the salvation that is ours through faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord. He appealed to them to contend earnestly for the faith of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for there were certain people who had snuck into the fellowship of believers who were promoting a false grace gospel, which gave free license to its adherents to continue (remain, endure) in walking (conducting their lives) according to the sinful nature, while claiming the hope of eternal life for themselves. And, the same is true in the church today. It has become epidemic in today’s evangelical church, which used to teach the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to teach and to believe in a gospel which does not require death to sin and living to righteousness. In this gospel, all you have to do is pray a prayer, described as a prayer to receive Christ as Lord and Savior, but you don’t have to repent of sin (turn from sin) or turn to follow (obey) Jesus Christ with your life. Basically, nothing has to change at all according to this gospel. You are guaranteed heaven upon death, but you can continue in sin. You, as well, are told that no one can take that salvation away from you, not even yourself. And, many go so far as to convince you that God is pleased with you and he smiles upon you even when you are in the depths of sinful acts. They teach that if you are sinning, you should just claim who you are in Christ, thus you don’t feel guilty about your sin. And, once you have “believed” you are stuck going to heaven, even if you deny Jesus Christ later. What a mockery this makes of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. So, what is the truth of the gospel for which we are to contend so earnestly? And, what does it mean to earnestly contend for the faith? First of all, Jesus Christ said that if we want to come after him we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin and self), we will gain eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25). Some people will tell you that Jesus’ words don’t apply to us today, even though our salvation comes from him, and he is the foundation for our faith, and he is God, yet did the apostles teach the same thing? Yes! We read in the writings of Paul that the way we come to know Christ is that we “lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (See: Eph. 4:20-24). As well, Paul stated that when we believe in Jesus as Savior of our lives our flesh is crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be done away with, “so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7). When Jesus Christ became the offering for our sin, “He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Ro. 8:3-4). Jesus Christ “died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Co. 5:15). “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet. 2:24). Jesus did not die just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died so we could die with him to sin and be resurrected with him to newness of life, walking daily in his truth and righteousness. This is the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ for which we are to earnestly (seriously, intently) contend (strive or fight for). In other words, we can’t be casual about our faith. We can’t just sit back and say nothing while the gospel is being obliterated, and while people are dying and going to hell on the promise and hope of heaven when they die. We can’t spend our lives just playing games, entertaining ourselves or others, and/or being unconcerned about all the deception which is going on within the church. We must not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to the direction the church is headed while we are too busy taking care of ourselves and living our own lives the way we want. I see so many Christians just going through life not much different from those who make no claims to faith in Christ at all. Yet, Jesus called us out of darkness into his wonderful light, thus we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and so we are to let our lights shine before men (humans). If we are truly in earnest about fighting for the gospel, then we must be resolved in our minds and committed to the task of defending our faith against all these liars and deceivers whose goal it is to destroy the gospel, and who are seeking to remove all those who are its ministers and faithful servants. We have to be purposeful about this. We must set this as our aim, not just to defend it against lies, but to preach it and to live it so that others can know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, too. We have the gift of life. We have the only hope for what ails this world of ours. We have the only true peace and joy and freedom. Many are preaching peace and freedom, but it is not freedom from sin, or peace with God, or the joy of walking in obedience to the Lord. “Peace” to them means forced “unity” globally, where we remove all that divides us as the people of the world so that we can all come together under the rule of the beast (See: Rev. 12-14). So, be earnest and contend for the faith of the gospel of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and do not shrink back out of fear. Following After Ungodly Lusts (vv. 17-25) But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. We are definitely living in these last times. Those who preach a gospel absent of the cross of Christ in our lives, who teach we don’t have to repent of (turn from) sin, and that we don’t have to obey Christ with our lives, but all we have to do is “believe,” though they rarely explain exactly what “belief” means, are mocking Christ’s sacrificial offering for our sin which he provided so that we could be set free from slavery to sin, and so we could become slaves of righteousness. The faith they teach sounds more like intellectual assent to what Jesus did in dying for our sins, or an emotional decision made at an altar, or merely saying “Yes” to the offer of escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die, but with no real heart transformation or commitment to the relationship with Christ at all. It is a lot like wanting the resurrection of Christ without the cross of Christ, i.e. like wanting life without first death. It is also like wanting all the benefits of marriage, without any of the commitment, like living together with someone with whom we are not married, and thus living like we are still single. These liars and deceivers have, over the years, moved their way into the church gatherings in order to deceive the church, and that they have done. Instead of the church meeting together with other followers of Jesus Christ, with each part of the body doing its work, as God assigned each part to do, and for the edification and encouragement of the other members, so that the members of the body of Christ can go out into the world with the gospel, they have filled the meetings of “the church” with the unsaved, and have turned the gatherings of the church into a circus where they entertain the world and where they pattern their meetings around appeasing and satisfying the fleshly desires of the people of this sinful world. Movies and movie clips and books written by mere humans have replaced solid biblical teaching. Instead of money going to spread the truth of the gospel, it is spent largely on the Big Show on Sunday mornings, or Saturday mornings or nights, at which time people receive a Christianized version of the entertainment the world is offering. Since the focus is on winning the world to “the church,” i.e. to businesses created by human beings, run just like any other human-based businesses, and marketed just like them, too, the gospel has had to be diluted to make it more acceptable and pleasing to the people of this sinful world. So, the goal of the preaching of the gospel has shifted away from turning people away from sin to making them not feel bad when they do sin, and to convince them, too, that God does not require them to turn from sin nor to obey him. Satan is behind this apostasy (defection, desertion) from the gospel as taught by Jesus and his apostles, because he wants us to still be under his control, and for us to not go to heaven nor to experience eternal life with God or freedom from slavery to sin. So, he has filled the gatherings of the church with all that is worldly and ungodly and is entertaining, and has convinced much of the church that “church” should just be “fun.” And, they try to convince the people coming to “church” that those who still hold to the tenets of the faith are those who divide, who are troublemakers, and are hatemongers, extremists, crazy, and are the ones who need to be thrown (or encouraged) out of “the church.” One day Jesus is going to return to gather to himself his true bride. He is also coming to judge the people of the earth. If you have not humbled yourself before God, and truly surrendered your life to Jesus Christ; if you have not, by the Spirit of God, been crucified with Christ to sin, and been resurrected with Christ to newness of life to live to Christ’s righteousness in the power and working of the Spirit within you, but you are still walking according to your sinful flesh, thinking you have the promise of heaven, think again. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. So, those of us who know him must mature in our faith, and pray in the Spirit, and keep ourselves in God’s love, and lead others to follow (obey) Jesus Christ with their lives. And, we must hate sin, believing that Jesus Christ is fully able to keep us from falling into sin, and to present us as having had Christ’s righteousness credited to our accounts because of God’s grace, and because we believed. My Sheep / An Original Work / June 24, 2012 Based off John 10:1-18 NIV My sheep hear me. They know me. They listen to my voice and obey. I call them and lead them. They know my voice, so they follow me. They will never follow strangers. They will run away from them. The voice of a stranger they know not; They do not follow him. So, I tell you the truth that I am the gate, so you enter in. Whoever does enter Will find forgiveness and will be saved. Nonetheless whoever enters Not by the gate; other way, He is the thief and a robber. Listen not, the sheep to him. Oh, I am the Good Shepherd, Who laid his own life down for the sheep. I know them. They know me. They will live with me eternally. The thief only comes to steal and Kill and to destroy the church. I have come to give you life that You may have it to the full… They know my voice, so they follow me.