Monday, May 31, 2010

The Real Deal

The world is full of false promises, false hope, and false religions and faiths. It seems like there is a new religious group springing up just about everyday. With so many different religions, all claiming to be the truth, how do Christians know what is real? Especially with so many people seeming to add or modify to the requirements of salvation, how do we know what teachings to believe? The book of Jude addresses these issues and the solution he gives might seems sort of surprising. In the book of Jude, which is only one chapter, verses 3- 7 read (NIV):
3Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4For certain men whose condemnation was written aboutb]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[b] long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lordc]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[c] delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6And 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. 7In 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.

Here we first see how important this matter really is. Jude wanted to write to these Christians about salvation, but the matter of false teachers was more important at this point. These matters needed to be addressed immediately! How could he write to them about salvation if their views about salvation were being distorted? He mentions here that these false teachers, or godless men, have secretly slipped in. We must remember that deceivers will not jump up and say, "Hey, I'm trying to trick you!" No, they will be slick about it. Therefore as Christians we must always be on the lookout for individuals teaching matters that are contrary to God's word.

An amazing point that came up in Sunday School was stated as follows, "False teachers will not always be some man or woman in the front of the church speaking from the podium. They can also be in the form of a song, television show, movie, and the media in general." Just think about it. If there are certain musicians, shows, websites that you constantly watch, then you are learning whatever values and lessons that are being displayed. Just because you don't realize you are learning does not mean you aren't. Arguably, it could mean you are learning even more than a classroom setting, because it's fun.

Later in this section Jude brings up examples some who were punished for not following God's commandments. The Egyptians (Exodus 14), the angels that deified God (2 Peter 2:4), and even two whole cities (Genesis 19). From this we can see that these false teachers will be punished. So ask yourself in all aspects of your life; who am I following? Those who will be rewarded, or those who will be punished?

So now that we have a better understanding of false teachers, how do we avoid them? Later, in verses 17-23, Jude says:
17But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." 19These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

20But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22Be merciful to those who doubt; 23snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

He tells us that there will be those who follow the fleshly desires and not the Holy Spirit. However we are to obey God and learn more about God by following the Holy Spirit. How? Jude tells us here to do this through faith, prayer, and keeping ourselves in God's love. We can do this through prayer, bible study, devotion, and surrounding ourselves with other serious Christians who are striving to please God in ALL areas of their lives. The more we follow God and study His Word, the more we will understand His Word. As we continue to understand His Word more and more, we will be able to recognize teachings that contradict God's Word.

Some people try to study every religion and faith that exist in the world so that they can compare what is right and wrong about each. As Christians, we know that the Bible comes from God (2 Timothy 3:16) and that God's Word is faithful and true (Revelation 21:5). God's Word is always right. Therefore when we study what is correct and true and gain a deep understanding of it , when something incorrect comes along we can detect it and get away from it.

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