To Judge or Not to Judge

Reposting since believer and unbeliever alike misunderstand what Christ meant about “do not judge”.

Aletheia (Truth) Blog

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

“There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” Romans 3:10-12

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

I am sharing these verses to show you that the heart of man is evil to its core. Every one of our thoughts is on evil all the time because our focus is not God, but self. If we being evil can take good things and destroy them, then we can take the word of God and mutilate its meaning. My…

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Excerpt From Athanasia: The Unknown Lands

I have taken a break from blogging for almost a year to work on my two books. As many of you know I wrote a commentary on the book of Jude called, “Agonizing for the Faith”. I released it for sale on Amazon on August 3rd. Many of you know that I am writing a 6 book series that is epic didactic fantasy which is also partial biblical allegory. The first book, “Athanasia: The Great Insurrection” was released in April 2016, and the second book, “Athanasia: The Unknown Lands” will be released (Lord willing) in February 2019.

Below is chapter one of Athanasia: The Unknown Lands after 4 rounds of revisions, with one more round of revisions to go. If you have not read the first book then this will not make sense. This series is very similar to Lord of the Rings. It has deep theological truths taught through the story and characters which instruct the reader. The teaching is what makes it didactic. If you are interested, The first book, “Athanasia the Unknown Lands” is reduced in price until December 31st 2019.

I will start up my exegesis of scripture again in the summer of 2019 and will probably go through the book of Jonah.

 

What I would like to ask is for anyone that reads this chapter, would you mind giving me your honest critique and speak to any inconsistencies or gaps that you see? I would be very grateful.

 

1 – The Unknown Lands

 

As Sprasian glared at the wall the reality of this discovery began to manifest in his spirit. A smile crept up on his face and grew larger and larger as every second passed. This wall appeared to be made of stone, was 30 feet in height, and outlined the entire land as far as they could see. This barrier came almost directly up to the edge of the shore leaving hardly any room for even a rowboat to land. They all stood without speaking, looking from one horizon to another at a discovery many of them thought would never have occurred. No land other than Athanasia was ever thought to exist and just as astounding was the fact that the land was evidently inhabited.

Sprasian slid down from the crow’s nest and began embracing the crew as he realized the magnitude of this discovery. Within a few moments the whole ship was in celebration as some of the men even began to dance. Katherine searched out Sprasian and gave him a long embrace. While everyone celebrated, Spiros cast a stoic gaze at the wall, not even cracking the faintest smile. He just stared at the stone walls with his hand holding his chin, while covering part of his mouth, deep in thought. His eyes were so intensely focused on the wall that it appeared almost as if he could see through it and know what was on the other side.

Sprasian’s excitement quickly dropped as he made way to Spiros with Katherine in tow. “Spiros, why does your countenance remain unchanged after such a momentous discovery?”

Spiros looked away from the wall and turned to Sprasian. “Indeed! Sophos did not lead us astray as our faith has become sight.”

Sprasian then replied, “Then why do you look concerned?”

Spiros turned and pointed at the massive wall and said, “I thought to myself, why would anyone build a wall that outlined their entire land?”

Spiros paused and then continued, “I can only think of two reasons as to why. Either they are trying to keep another kingdom out or they are trying to keep their people in.”

Sprasian’s eyes opened wide as his adjulation began to wane. Spiros, like the other Adelphos, was gifted with great discernment. Sprasian retorted, “Which of the two do you think it is, Spiros?”

Spiros replied, “The latter.”

Spiros paused after his brief statement and then began to explain. “All the kings of Athanasia have been at war since kingdoms have been established. Yet, they never built up walls around the borders of their entire kingdom to withstand a threat from another kingdom. This wall was built to keep people in.”

Sprasian responded, “True, but is that your only apprehension?”

Spiros remarked, “Look at the walls. Do you see any sentries looking out to the ocean for enemy vessels?”

Spiros paused again and then pointed at the shore before speaking. “Look at the shore. Why would you build a 30-foot wall up to the edge of the ocean spanning over the entire mass of land? Doesn’t that seem excessive for defending against enemies? It would take an enormous amount of time, material, money and manpower to do such a feat. Walls are not welcoming, I believe that we should proceed with a heightened sense of caution.”

Sprasian nodded his head and said, “We will proceed with utmost care.”

Sprasian looked out to his men and pronounced his orders. “Men, prepare the boats with provisions as we are going ashore. Make sure to arm yourselves and to be watchful for these are unknown lands.”

While the men began preparations to make landfall Katherine approached Sprasian during the commotion and pleaded with him that she should come along.

Sprasian shook his head and said, “These lands may indeed be very dangerous, so I need to take warriors in the case that we are drawn into battle. You will be well protected here on the ship.”

Katherine countered, “We have reached unknown lands and who knows what peril awaits us on land or the sea. There is no place for us to go, we are too far away from home.”

Sprasian took a deep breath and pondered for a moment what Katherine had said. He knew that there would be no place of escape for anyone if they were somehow overtaken. He replied, “My love, these lands are untested. I have no inclination of what awaits us. I believe that trials and tribulation await me and I fear bringing you in the storm that awaits me because it will most certainly draw you in.”

Katherine responded, “Sprasian, we are to be married. Whatever storm that you go through in this life is a storm in which I will accompany you to the end. Whatever happens to you happens to me. There will be times that I will help to shoulder your burdens and times in which you will help me to shoulder mine. If you are to be refined by trials, then I want to be there with you being perfected.”

Sprasian replied, “You are right, Katherine. What happens to one happens to the other. We are to be there for each other even in the worst of times being perfected by Sophos. Being apart is not an option.”

Sprasian paused for a moment and then continued, “You have learned to wield a sword very well and who knows if we may need your skills with medicine to heal us if any of us are injured. I would want you with me so that I could defend your life. It would grieve me if something happened to you and I could not be there to protect you.”

Katherine smiled and kissed him on the cheek and ran to go and fetch her things so that she could go ashore. The kiss caught Sprasian off guard as his face began to turn a light pink, so he tried to find something to redirect his focus. He fished out of his pocket the coin they had found in the pond and began to stare at it wondering how it came to be on the remote island they had found.

Within an hour Sprasian set out to shore with Katherine, Spiros, and 47 soldiers. He left Dulas in charge of the ship as he was the one that saved Sprasian’s life when the men were ready to mutiny. Some of the men grumbled because Sprasian would not only leave them behind to go ashore, but that he had the audacity to leave a cook in charge. In the end, they obeyed Sprasian and the complaints immediately ceased.

The long boats made it to shore and found a small patch of beach amongst the rocks and walls where they could land. As everyone exited the ships, they had to make their way up the rocks beneath the wall as there was not enough room for them all to congregate. They slowly and carefully maneuvered up the rocks to the base of the wall with a trail of people in tow. There was not a lot of room to stand beneath the wall, so only Sprasian, Spiros, Katherine, and a few others got close while the rest waited patiently amongst the rocks.

“Spiros, if we are able to affix a grappling hook, would you be able to scale the wall and help us up?” asked Sprasian.

Spiros replied, “It would be my pleasure.”

One of the men took out a grappling hook with rope tied to it, began whirling it at his side, and then flung it upward. The hook eclipsed the top of the wall taking much of the rope with it. The soldier then began to pull the slack back in until he felt it wedge on something. He began to pull hard and put his full weight onto the rope, but the rope did not budge.

“Be careful,” said the soldier as he smiled and handed the rope over to Spiros.

Spiros took the rope and started up. The wall was slippery from the salt and moisture from the ocean so he had to use his upper body strength to pull himself up. As he reached the peak of the wall he could not find something to grip to pull himself over the wall. Spiros, while holding onto the rope with one hand, pulled out his sword and thrust it into the wall. He then put both of his feet on the flat of the sword while using the rope as leverage and was able to lift himself up. When he looked down on the other side of the wall he saw no ledge with which he could walk on, but rather a straight drop from the top of the wall to the ground. He studied the wall for a long distance in front of him and then behind. There was no ledge in either direction built into the wall with which anyone could walk for as far as he could see.

Upon this realization Spiros yelled down to the group gathered beneath him, “There is no ledge on the wall. We will have to rappel down.”

Spiros pondered for a moment on how he and the rest of the party could repel downward. He then realized that he could keep his sword embedded into the ocean’s side of the wall and tie a rope to its hilt. This would give a counterbalance effect that would allow people to repel down to the ground safely given the durability of his sword.

Spiros yelled down to Sprasian, “Can you send up some rope?”

Sprasian answered, “Yes!”

He then sent a soldier up with the rope that was needed. When the soldier reached the top Spiros extended his hand and pulled the man up.

The soldier gave Spiros the rope and as Spiros began tying the rope to the hilt of his sword the man commented, “What a beautiful sight.” Spiros was so busy trying to find a solution for everyone to scale the wall that he neglected to look at the landscape around him. He looked out at the ocean and saw the sun reflecting off the blue waters as the fog had lifted. He saw beautiful blue sparkles on the ocean’s surface as the light of the sun shined. So beautiful were these waters that the light from the sun made them transparent and showed the shallow bottom and all the fish swimming in these depths. He then looked inward at the land and saw beneath him a beautiful yellowish-brown pasture with rolling hills decorated with white flowers. There were some highlights of green on this yellow canvas as well as a few trees that dotted the landscape.

Spiros commented, “What beauty, what serenity!”

As Spiros continued to gaze at the landscape he saw smoke arising from a great distance away from behind the furthest hill of his sight. He pointed over to the smoke and said, “Are my eyes deceiving me or is that smoke in the distance?”

The soldier fixed his eyes on where Spiros was pointing and said, “Yes! I see it!”

Spiros said, “There must be civilization to the north of our position. Quickly, take this rope tied to my sword and rappel down the wall. Your job will be to ensure that everyone makes it down safely.”

The soldier nodded and rappelled down the rope with great ease. Spiros then called down to the others on the ocean side to start making their way up. One by one each soldier scaled the wall and repelled safely to the other side until Sprasian and Katherine were all that were left on the ocean side.

Sprasian asked, “Would my dear lady Katherine like to scale the wall on my back?”

Katherine responded, “If the wall were shorter I could do it on my own, but since you are offering, then I accept.”

Katherine climbed up on Sprasian’s back wrapping her arms and legs around his torso. Sprasian started to climb the wall and by the halfway point began to struggle. His face started turning red and his breathing became deeper. Katherine held on as Sprasian moved upward. When they were five feet from the top Sprasian’s face turned a deep red and he began to gasp for air.

Katherine asked, “Am I too heavy for you?”

Sprasian exhaled and said in a strained voice, “Not at all.” He then took a deep breath, exhaled, and then finished his sentence, “You are as light as a feather.”

Sprasian continued upward to the top as Katherine smiled. When they reached the peak, Spiros pulled Katherine up and then Sprasian.

As Sprasian was catching his breath he said, “You were right, Spiros, this is a wall meant to keep people in, not turn them away.”

Spiros replied, “I see smoke rising in the far north behind the last hill we can see. I think we should head in that direction as we will most assuredly find civilization.”

Sprasian nodded his head and gathered Katherine on his back as the two rappelled down together to the ground. Spiros followed suit as he pulled his sword out of the wall on the ocean side. He untied the rope on the hilt of his sword and tied it to the hilt of another. He inserted this standard sword into the wall where his sword had been so that they could escape if necessary. He then re-positioned the grappling hook on the ocean side as a second way of escape. Spiros then took his sword and impaled the wall twice on the ocean side, which created insertion points for two more swords. He called for two swords and two lengths of rope. Upon receiving them, he inserted the swords into the wall on the ocean side and tied the rope to each hilt. He then dropped both lengths of rope to the ground. He sheathed his sword and then jumped 30 feet down to the ground, landing on both feet as easily as if he’d jumped from a chair. Katherine had let out a short scream as he fell, but when he had safely landed they all just looked at him, wide-eyed.

Spiros just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I am an Adelphos.”

Spiros then walked over to Sprasian and Katherine and said, “Let us make way towards the smoke, but be on your guard for my senses tell me that we will not be very welcome here.”

Contending For The Faith – Chapter 1

This is a one chapter excerpt from my book, “Agonizing For The Faith: A Biblical Exposition of Jude”

 

“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 opportunity to write to 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.” Jude 1-3

The greatest threat to the church since its formation has always been false teaching. This epistle is a polemical letter to the church in every age. It is a gift from God that is meant to protect the flock from the corruption of sin propagated by false teachers. To begin with, false teaching was not prevalent in the church until around 68-70 A.D. Satan had attempted to destroy the early church by persecution initially, but his plan backfired and instead the church grew exponentially. In light of this failure, Satan took a more clandestine approach. Our great enemy devised a plan to come in under the radar of those who lacked discernment. He came into the church through unbelievers posing as Christians and began to teach false doctrine.

History

The book of 2 Peter was written around 67-68 A.D. before Peter’s death. This is important because it helps us to date the book of Jude. Many scholars believe that Jude was written after 2 Peter, but before Jerusalem was sacked in 70 A.D. The support for this lies in several areas, most notably in Jude 17-18 where Jude makes a direct quotation from 2 Peter 3:3 in verse 18. In verse 17, Jude tells us to remember what the apostles said beforehand (primarily Peter) as he quotes 2 Peter 3:3. This shows us that Jude indeed was written after Peter for him to make this citation. Keep in mind that Jude more than likely lived in Jerusalem at this time. The letter must have been written before the Roman Emperor Titus destroyed the city in 70 A.D. or Jude would most certainly have included it in the epistle. Lastly, there is commonality between Jude 6-7 and from 2 Peter 2:4-9 about Sodom and Gomorrah and the angels who did not keep their domain. The book of 2 Peter is more prophetic about the coming apostasy, whereas Jude reveals to us the fulfillment of those wolves that have entered the church.

Author

Who is Jude? There are two possibilities as to the identity of Jude (Judas): Jude the apostle who was the son of James and Jude the half-brother of Jesus. There are many liberal commentators that espouse that “we cannot know who this Jude really was.” The fact is that we can because there really isn’t a lot of ambiguity. The people who mislead Christians with statements like this are nothing more than wolves in service of Satan himself looking to discredit Scripture any way they can. With this said, We can immediately rule out the apostle Jude, son of James simply by looking at verse 1 which says, “Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.” The apostle Jude was the son of James (See Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13). This would give credence to the fact that the author was indeed Judas the half-brother of Jesus.

James was the leader of the Jerusalem church, the writer of the epistle of James, and the half-brother of Jesus. Mark 6:3 reveals, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?” John 7:5 shows us that none of his brothers believed He was the Christ. “For not even His brothers were believing in Him.” Then in Acts 1:14 after Jesus death the faithful all gathered in the upper room. “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” So at some point between John 7:5 and Acts 1:14 Jesus’ brother Judas, using his own words became a “bond servant of Christ.” This was certainly not the infamous Judas Iscariot, nor Judas son of James. Jude was Christ’s half-brother.

There is one more point to look at in regards to Jude’s salvation. The Greek word for bond servant is “doulos” (δοῦλος). It derives from “deo” which means “to bind”. Originally, it was the lowest form of servitude, but also came to mean, “One who gives themselves up to the will of another.” Jude was no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to Christ, and as such, has given his will up for that of Christ’s. Jude’s identity no longer lies in this world because He has a new Master, one who is not cruel and whose yoke is light.

“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.” Jude 1b-2

“Those who are called” is “kletos” (κλητός) and means “invited”. Its root word is “kaleo” which means “to call” or “to summon”. Kletos is used in Scripture for God appointing someone to an office (i.e. apostle – Romans 1:1), a general call to salvation (Matthew 20:16), or to identify His elect (Jude 1:1). In the context, Jude is referring to those who have been elected to salvation. They are true believers in Christ. This shows us God’s irresistible grace which calls His elect to salvation. This is not the general call to salvation. Believers have been appointed to salvation by God’s grace and sovereignty, not by works lest any man should boast. This salvation cannot be taken away from the believer. “To those who are called beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.” Notice that the believer is not only appointed by God the Father, but “kept” by God the Father for Christ. “Kept” is “tereo” (τηρέω), which derives from “teros”, meaning “a guard”. In context it means “to preserve” or “to attend to carefully”. A pastor friend provoked my thinking in regards to “kept” when he wrote, Jude also says that we are preserved, “kept safe” in Jesus Christ. Just as Noah and his family were kept safe and secure in the Ark, which was a foreshadowing or type of Jesus…”[1] The ark was a representation of refuge in God through Christ. It is Christ who protects the believer from the wrath of God just as the ark protected Noah and his family from God’s judgment on the world. Just as God preserved Noah, so too will He preserve all of those who are called to salvation (See John 10:29).

Mercy, peace, and love was a distinctly Christian greeting. “Mercy” (Eleos – ἔλεος) means “kindness to those that are afflicted”. Jude is asking God to multiply His mercy to the elect that read this letter. He knows that they are afflicted by sin and in need of constant mercy before an all holy God. Praise God that He indeed multiplies His mercies daily for us!

“Peace” (Eirene – εἰρήνη) means “wholeness”. It implies having been at war and then being reconciled. It is the reconciliation that we have to God through Christ that gives believers peace with our Creator. We are no longer at war with Christ. If we are at peace with our Maker, we can be at peace during the seemingly constant storms of our lives that seek to unsettle and sink us. He asks that God multiply His peace to them, which gives the believer assurance of their salvation.

Lastly, “love” (agape – ἀγάπη) derives from “agapao”. This word denotes being full of goodwill. It is the unconditional love out of the four Greek loves. It is showing benevolence and charity to someone who is in need, and might I add, someone who could never pay you back for the good you bestow to them. This is precisely the love that was demonstrated when Christ became a scapegoat on our behalf and bore the wrath of God for our sins. Christ saw our need and paid our ransom to any who believe on Him and repent of their sins. We could never pay Him back for this act of self-sacrificing love.

“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.” Jude 3

What you must understand is that certain heresies began to creep into the church. When Jude started the letter with “beloved” he is wanting to convey his love for them, and inasmuch having this love for them, he must convey a very hard message where his words will not be so gentle. In other words, he does not want believers to take offense to what he is about to unveil. Jude’s original intent was to write about the salvation they share in Christ, however, something happened. The Greek words behind “while I was making every effort” make it hard to know for sure whether Jude had a strong desire to write about their “common salvation”, or was possibly in the act of writing about their “common salvation” when the Holy Spirit prompted him to change directions. Jude was in the act of trying to write the letter about salvation, but the Holy Spirit interrupted and prodded him to a more urgent matter. Have you ever been in the midst of doing something when the Holy Spirit stopped you? I remember many years ago I was on the faculty for a national leadership school up in Chicago for SAE (Sigma Alpha Epsilon). We were teaching undergrads from colleges around the country about leadership. I remember specifically that I saw an undergrad (out of several hundred) at the beginning of the week and had a strong desire to talk to him, but I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t know him, but then I had a sense of regret in my heart for not going up to talk to him that first night. In fact, I didn’t see him the rest of the week and felt a strong desire that I needed to talk to him. I kept looking for him at all the meetings and gatherings, but could not seem to find this young man. Then on the last night I went out with some faculty to a sports bar. I ended up seeing this undergrad sitting at the bar with his friend. Like Jude stated, “I felt the necessity to write”, I felt the necessity to speak to this man for whatever reason. He had people with him on both sides of the bar, so I prayed to God that if it was His will for me to speak to this man that he would open up a seat beside him. Literally, the moment that I finished praying, the man to his left stood up and walked away. I left the other faculty members at our table and just pulled up a seat beside him and sat there. I wasn’t sure what to do from there because his back was turned, so I prayed that God would start the introduction. This young man turned around the second I finished my prayer and asked me from out of nowhere, “Would you ever commit suicide?” I was completely caught off guard. I replied, “No”. He then replied, “I would if my girlfriend broke up with me.” That was when I shared with him the hope believers have in Christ. I shared the Gospel with him and spent the night talking to him. I had intended to hang out with the faculty that night, but the Holy Spirit called an audible. He did not come to know Christ as his Savior that night, but seeds were planted. I found out the next year that he had been through some storms. His girlfriend had broken up with him, but he didn’t take his life. Are you ever so busy or in such a hurry that you cannot sense the Holy Spirit prodding you to minister to someone in need? Or perhaps scrap a lesson you were going to teach? I think there are far more opportunities each day where the Spirit prods us, but we ignore the still small voice inside us.

“I felt the necessity to write to you”. I want to elaborate on the word “necessity” so that you understand what Jude is saying, and the burden I felt in Chicago to talk to that young man. “Necessity” is “anagke” (ἀνάγκη). The preposition “ana” means “upward” and denotes a movement from lower to higher, while the other part of the word “agkali” derives from “agkos” and denotes the curving of the inner angle of the arm, or “a bent arm”. Properly, it means “an arm bent to receive a burden”. These two words together imply a serious compression or stress. It is a burdensome situation that necessitates immediate action. This was no small burden Jude was carrying. God had clearly put something so heavy on Jude that he could do nothing else until he wrote this letter addressing these false teachers. God does not speak to us in an audible voice, but he does take a prod and poke our spirits to make us go in the right direction so as to accomplish His will. In fact, in Psalm 119, “teach me” is a common saying by David. The Hebrew word “lamad” (לָמַד – teach, Psalm 119:12) actually means “to strike with a sharp rod”. It is used in context to an ox-goad which is a sharp stick that is used to prod oxen or cattle to go into the direction the farmer desired. This is exactly how God teaches us, directs us, and grows our faith because we are a stubborn people. Can you now see the pressure that God had truly put on Jude?

Jude exhorts the brethren to “contend earnestly for the faith.” Contend is “epagonizomai” (ἐπαγωνίζομαι). This is where we get our English word, “agonize”. “Epi” (focused on) is a preposition that intensifies the meaning of the word, and “agon” meaning “a contest”. This word is used in athletic competitions where athletes contend against others to win the game. It was also used in a figurative sense of soldiers in combat against an enemy. When your life is on the line and you are fighting vigorously against an enemy combatant, you will pour every ounce of your strength and wisdom into overcoming your foe. If you don’t, you will die. I believe this is the exact thought that Jude is conveying figuratively. It is a battle against enemies. I could imagine Jude saying to the church today, “Stand up against this enemy that has infiltrated Christ’s church and throw them out!” Epagonizomai is in the present tense denoting that believers should be constantly engaged and ready to fight those that malign the word of God. Jude is showing us that there are two options: Fight or retreat. The believer is commanded to fight, though I will say that the fighting is done with the sword of the Spirit in grace and truth, not in malice or hatred. The believer’s fighting must be different from the unbeliever, who will be angry, malicious, and seek to hurt you. If we are not gracious in our rebukes and reproofs then we will look no different from the world. Beloved, if you do not contend for the truth of God then error will abound and a Christianity that is not Christian will prevail.

[1] Quote from Pastor Stephen Bowen

 

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Israel Was Not Enslaved in Egypt for 400 Years

I am breaking my hiatus from blogging temporarily! This blog was inspired from some realizations that I made as I was working on my book, “Agonizing for the Faith”, an exegesis of Jude. I was doing some studying regarding Jude 1:7 where Jude gives us an example of the apostasy of the past. I had read from John MacArthur that Sodom was destroyed approximately 450 years after the flood. This would have meant that Shem was still living at the time of Sodom and Gomorrah’s judgment. He was 98 when the flood subsided and died at 600 years old. If Dr. MacArthur is correct, Shem would have been alive 50 years after the destruction of these cities. This would reveal in some ways that Sodom and Gormorrah are without excuse for their apostasy, especially through Lot, knowing about the flood judgment and ignoring it.

With all of this said, I began to count backwards chronologically from Christ’s birth using scripture as my guide. I was at 1445 B.C. (the exodus) when I was looking at the Abrahamic covenant. Everything was on target until I found some numbers that didn’t reconcile from two different verses:

“God said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years.” Genesis 15:13

“Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And at the end of 430 years, to the very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:40-41

Even the New Testament had a verse corroborating the 400 years through Stephen’s address to the Pharisees. “God spoke to this effect, that His descendants would be aliens in a foreign land, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated for 400 years.” Acts 7:6

How can you reconcile these two different numbers? For so long people have taught from scripture that Israel was enslaved for 400 years. In Genesis 12:4 we find out that Abraham is 75 years of age when God makes the covenant with him. In Genesis 12:41 it specifically says, “And at the end of 430 years, to the very day”. This means that from the very day that the covenant was made with Abraham to the very day that the Israelites were freed from Egypt was 430 years exactly. Our God is a God of details. So, if our God is a God of details then why do we have the 30 year discrepancy between Genesis 15:13 and Exodus 12:40-41?

I knew that there was no way that Abraham dwelled in Egypt at the time the covenant was made. I also knew that Isaac did not. I knew that for most of Jacob’s life he did not. Remember Jacob settling in the land of Shechem (in Canaan) in Genesis 33:18 after he parted ways with Esau? This did not sit well with my spirit, nor did the 30 year discrepancy. I started with what I thought would be the easiest discrepancy to reconcile; The 30 year difference.

As I read commentaries about this discrepancy the overwhelming majority of commentators stated that the author (Moses) was rounding down to the nearest hundredth. I didn’t buy that explanation because God is a God of details, not ambiguity, so there had to be an answer. There are a few examples in scripture of rounding, but they were used in regards to estimating the number of men (Acts 5:36, 1 Samuel 22:2, 1 Kings 22:6). As far as I know I did not see a biblical precedent for rounding to the nearest hundred in terms of years (I could be wrong). The rounding suggestion did not sit well with my spirit, so I continued my studies. That was when I came across a British Theologian by the name of Henry Ainsworth from the early 1600’s. He said regarding Genesis 15:13 in terms of the 400 years of oppression, “Which began when Ishmael, Son of Hagar the Egyptian, mocked and persecuted Isaac.”  So he believes that the 400 years started when Ishmael mocked Isaac. Remember, it was 400 years of persecution, not 430. Genesis 15:13 specifically says that Abraham’s descendants will be “strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed.” This means that Abraham would not suffer this enslavement or oppression, but his offspring would.

Let’s take a look at Genesis 21:8-11 where the persecution of Isaac is recorded.

“The child (Isaac) grew and was weened, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. Then she said to Abraham, “Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac. The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son.”

The word “mocking” in the Hebrew means “to laugh,” but is not a light-hearted type of laughing. It denotes “to make sport of” someone. It is a rather harsh and cruel type of mocking meant to deride its object. It upset Sarah so much that she wanted Hagar and Ishmael out of their lives with no inheritance because Ishmael was not the heir. This was when the persecution started, and they were in Canaan, not Egypt. Is it any wonder that in Genesis 26:18-22 we see that after Isaac dug wells on two occasions he quarreled with herdsmen who claimed that the water was theirs, and they took them from him. Then upon digging a third well there was no more fighting from the herdsman in the land. Isaac did all the work and these herdsmen took the first two wells from him.

Now, Galatians 4:28-29 backs up Henry Ainsworth’s interpretation. In fact, it was these verses that he cited for his support. “And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.”

The believer is like Isaac who was a child of the promise. The “he who was born according to the flesh” is Ishmael and represents those without inheritance into God’s Kingdom. Paul tells us that it is he (Ishmael) who was born of the flesh that persecuted he (Isaac) that was born of the Spirit. Paul is showing us that Ishmael indeed persecuted his brother Isaac and this strongly supports that the persecution started in Canaan before any of Abraham’s children reached Egypt.

In regards to weening. The Jewish Agency for Israel  stated that in Talmudic times children were weened between 18 months and 5 years old. A Rabbi named Joshua stated that a child should be allowed to nurse until the age of 5 back then. If all of this is true, then Abraham was 75 when the covenant was made and 25 years passed until Isaac was born. Isaac was then weened at 5 years old and the persecution began for Abraham’s offspring, starting with Ishmael’s persecution of Isaac. This accounts for the 30 years + 400 of oppression and slavery.

Lastly, it is time to look at why the Bible says in Exodus 12:40 “Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.” Here is the Septuagint (LXX) translation of this exact same verse:

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Αἰγύπτῳ means Egypt, and Χανααν is Canaan. So, why is Canaan not in our bibles? It is not in the KJV, ESV, NASB, NKJV, NIV, or any other translation of the bible. The answer is actually very simple. The Hebrew translation that all of these bibles are translated from derive from the Hebrew Masoretic Leningrad Codex which was transcribed in 1008 A.D. The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the ancient Hebrew text) was translated in 250 B.C. which is over 1200 years before the Masoretic translation. The Septuagint was translated from an older Hebrew text that is no longer in existence. The Septuagint is one piece of evidence against the Masoretic translation. The Hebrew Masoretic indeed appears to have a scribal error when it was copied.

A second piece of evidence against the Masoretic translation of Exodus 12:40 is the Samaritan Pentateuch “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, and of their fathers in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt, was 430 years.” It was written around 100 B.C. and had access to this older Hebrew text that is no longer in existence. This too supports that Canaan was left off because of a scribal error.

A third piece of evidence against this translation is the historian Flavius Josephus. So I opened my book of all his writings to see what he had to say. He had access to these older manuscripts as he wrote history in the first century A.D. He says, “They left Egypt in the month of Xanthicus, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our father Abraham came into Canaan, but 215 years only after Jacob removed into Egypt.” Antiquities of the Jews, book 2.15.2

Josephus corroborates that the Israelites were in Canaan first and then Egypt second during this 430 year period. He even elaborates more by saying that when Jacob moved down to Egypt with all of their relatives (66, but a total of 70 counting Jacob, Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim) that this ended 215 years living in Canaan and would begin a 215 year period living in Egypt. So the Israelites were not enslaved for 400 years as many pastors and movies might tell you. Now we have three sources, which are proving that a scribal error was made in the transcription of the Hebrew Masoretic Codex.

Fourthly, the apostle Paul had access to these older Hebrew texts, especially as a Pharisee. We know that he was a mix of Jew and Greek, and that he was a Roman citizen. Paul referred to himself as a Hebrew of Hebrews. In Acts 26:14 during his conversion on the road to Damascus, Christ spoke to him in Hebrew:

“I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me.”

Paul clearly knows Hebrew. As such, he studied these old texts and references them in his letter to the Galatians. “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.” Galatians 3:16a. Then in verse 17 he says, “What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.” Paul is saying the Law came 430 years after the covenant was made, showing us that the Mosaic Law came right after they were freed from Egypt as he obviously referred back to Exodus 12:40. Note, He did not say 400 years of slavery in Egypt.

I hope this clarifies some things for you. Exodus 12:40 has an obvious scribal error from its transcription in 1008 A.D. and as such makes this verse a contradiction because almost all bible translations do not include Canaan.

I had gotten together about 50% of the information, but then found this resource that helped me to pull all the missing pieces together and solidify it. I have included some of the information I learned into this blog post. It is a brilliant 12 minute video that perfectly articulates not only this, but even down to how many actual years the Israelites were in bondage (No less than 80 years, but no more than 144 years). It goes into several other things that are very relevant which I don’t mention here. It is biblical scholarship at its very best. Please watch it! It will help you to defend against attacks that claim the bible is full of error. That is why I felt it so necessary to write about this because liberal theologians and unbelievers only seek to disprove God’s word. Hopefully, this will strengthen your faith and prove the inerrancy of God’s word.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Beware of Christian Pragmatism

This is not a typical blog post where I exegete scripture. This was a thread I wrote on Twitter today (2/21/18) about the dangers of Christian pragmatism and transcribed upon request. Keep in mind this is a transcript from my Twitter thread so it will be lacking in eloquence 🙂

 

Christian pragmatism is judging the right or wrong of any decision based on the results. If there are good results then that has to be the right way, or if the results are bad it must be the wrong way. This is the Christian Pragmatist line of thinking.

It is the reason why many churches have made changes to attract the unbeliever. It is what has brought about the Seeker movement, but unbelievers aren’t seeking God. “There is no one who seeks for God.” Romans 3:11b Pragmatism says, “We want more people to be saved from Hell.” So, they make a series of decisions that will bring people to the church instead of going out to the unbeliever. They will have large free events for the community, move from a choir to a band that sings hip Christian songs on the radio, the pastor will wear jeans & a shirt, the pastor will stop teaching doctrine, moving from an exegetical position to an eisegetical one. Hell will no longer be preached, but the love of Jesus will be heralded without the consequences for unbelief. Salvation becomes a decision you make, churches get a food court, Jesus is reduced to a self help guru who wants you to do your will, in fact your will is His will. The children’s ministry will become more like a daycare, rather than a place for instruction. The church becomes a place for constant entertainment, church planting is done based on demographics and surveys done in communities to see what type of church the community wants, missions trips will attract few and the sole purpose will be to meet the earthly needs of people, not the spiritual need of salvation in Christ, kids will only play games in youth groups rather than study the word, liberty will become license to do what ever one wants, righteousness will wane as eventually sin will not be taught. I am only scraping the tip of the iceberg with Christian pragmatism, and it is wrong.

Christian pragmatism is an assimilation to the world to carry out the great commission. It comes at sacrificing God’s truth. It believes that large numbers are good when in reality those large numbers of unbelievers aren’t changing, rather it is the true believers that degrade. If there is one thing Satan has done almost from the beginning, it is to infiltrate the church. When he overruns a church with unbelievers coming for a feel good message and entertainment who do you think begins to fill the leadership roles in the church? Unbelievers.

I have seen a God fearing woman lose her job & move in with her boyfriend because she could not afford to pay rent. That is Christian pragmatism. It is based on the end results of what you deem is good, not what God deems is good. Pragmatism is destructive to the church. Stop it!

 

Jude’s Doxology – Exegesis of Jude 24-25

“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. Jude 24-25

Jude concludes this short, but powerful epistle with one of the sweetest doxologies in scripture. After calling out the heresies, motives, and attributes of false teachers, and then the three classes of deceived believers with which we are to show mercy, he then reminds them of the One who will keep them from stumbling. Jude knows the evil that resides in the human heart. It is totally depraved. He knows that the believers that he wrote to at this time will be continually tempted into believing error, and God in His omniscience preserved this book for those of us in the ages to come by including it into the canon of scripture. The phrase “to Him who is able” in Greek is “dunamai”. It means “to be able/to be empowered”. The Greek word for “keep” is not “tereo” which means “to preserve” or “to maintain”. The word Jude uses for God’s action in keeping us from stumbling is “phulasso”. It is akin to “phulaks” which is a military guard. It means “to preserve by having an eye on”. This exact word is used in Luke 2:8 for the shepherds watching over their sheep. Just as a shepherd will be perpetually vigilant when they are watching their sheep, so too does this mean that God is perpetually vigilant in looking after His elect. God is literally keeping watch and guarding His sheep from the ravenous wolves that seek to destroy them. I do believe that this aspect of God’s protection also refers to believers who have been led astray by false teaching. The word dunamai is in the present indicative tense revealing that God is actively guarding His elect. I also believe that God is actively working to bring the brethren back who have strayed into error. If God did not pursue the believer in error it would indicate that this person was not a believer to begin with. We know from John 10:29 and Romans 8:31-39 (to name a few) that no one can snatch God’s chosen out of His hand, even those that stray. Their salvation will always be secure because salvation was never based on works. Those believers that are blinded by their sin grieve God, but rest assured He will not leave them in their sin, whether in this life, but most assuredly the next. I used to believe that abortion was okay in cases of rape and incest, but not anymore. I used to watch Joel Osteen, but never again. I used to think sex before marriage was acceptable, but not anymore. I used to think that I was the one that chose my salvation in Christ, but now I believe that Christ chose me first. Isn’t it encouraging to know that God is actively protecting the brethren, but even seeks after brothers and sisters who have strayed into error? Often times He uses many of us to confront believers who are friends, family, or acquaintances that have been deceived so that they might be restored to Him. Do you have friends or family actively deceived by a false teacher? If so, do you think God might be prodding you to help open their eyes?

We see that God is gracious in that He not only watches us like a shepherd, but He will also make us stand in the presence of His glory. The phrase, “to make you stand” is the Greek word “histemi”. It means, “to place”. It is in the present imperfect future tense which speaks of a time in the future that God will stand the elect in His presence. This is more than likely the Bema seat where Christ will be giving out crowns to believers. Note that it is God who is doing the placement so that it is clear that we contributed nothing to our salvation. How do I know this? We stand in His presence “blameless”. The Greek word used here is “amomos”. “A” (alpha) is a negative meaning “without”, and “momos” means “a blemish”. Properly, it is “without a blemish” or “blameless”. We stand in God’s presence blameless because Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us. As John Edwards said, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”

Continuing on, Jude has told us that we will stand before God blameless “with great joy”. The Greek word is “agalliasis” and speaks to an “exuberant joy” or “an intense joy”. Why would we not have this intense state of exuberance in the presence of God? We will be freed from our sin nature and given new bodies. It is a cause for celebration to no longer be enslaved to our own sin nature. Our faith will finally become sight. I can only imagine the tears shed by every believer that stands before our righteous and benevolent King. We will rebel against God no more and can finally live in true freedom and give Him the worship He truly deserves. What a magnificent day this will be!

In verse 25, “To the only God” is “Monos Theos”. “Monos” means “alone” (without a companion) and “Theos” is God. Monos is an adjective modifying the proper noun, God. It is where we get our English word “mono” meaning “one/single”. This is an absolute statement showing that there is only one God, and one way to Him through His Son Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. Christianity is a religion and it is exclusive because there is only one God in all of creation. All other gods are manmade or are the inspiration of demons. There are not many ways to heaven as the Universalist will boast. Of all the world religions only one boasts of a God that would suffer and die in the place of man for their sins. Only one God was sinless and could redeem man from their depravity and rebellion. This is the God of the Christianity. Siddhartha Guatama (Buddha), Krishna, Vishnu, Brahma, Allah, Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, and all the other faux gods/teachers will lead all their followers to eternal damnation in Hell.

Jude then ascribes to Christ the attributes of all “glory, majesty, dominion and authority”. The Greek word for “glory” is “doxa”. It translates as “praise” or “glory” and derives from the word “dokeo”, meaning “to seem” and denotes an opinion or estimate of someone or something. As such it is honor resulting from a good/favorable opinion. He deserves all honor and glory for all time for His sacrifice on the cross and the grace and mercy he has shown us throughout our lives. If you ever want to say “Praise God” or “Glory to God” in Greek all you need to say is “Doxa to Theo”.

The next word ascribed to Christ is “majesty” which is “megalosune”. It derives from “megas” and means “greatness” in stature. There is nothing in existence that can compare or exceed the greatness in stature of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The next word Jude uses is “dominion” which is “kratos” in the Greek. It signifies “manifested power” but translates as “dominion” signifying an exerted power. As the sovereign Lord of all, He exerts His power to bring about His will, not thwarted by any spirit or man in achieving His desires. Every apple that falls from a tree or every creature’s lungs that take in a breath of air must have God’s divine approval for it to come to pass. It is His power that keeps the universe from collapsing to destruction. It is His common grace that restrains the hearts of men from becoming as wicked as they could be. If God took His gracious hand off this world then all mankind would wipe themselves out. It is His power that sustains life and restrains the depravity of man. Beloved, stand in awe of the God who has dominion over all of creation.

The last word Jude uses as an attribute of God is “authority”. The Greek word is “exousia” and means “the liberty to do as one pleases”. Because the Lord is the author of creation, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Savior of men, the author of righteousness, He is allowed to do whatever He wants. He is the Beginning and the End. Often times we as the pot will tell the Potter that He is exercising His authority all wrong. What arrogance! We try to supplant His authority on a daily basis, but it is futile. We tend to think we are gods or that God is a genie, and then attempt to usurp exousia from Him. Exousia is not an attribute of man and never will be because we are the creation and He is the Creator. All authority belongs to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.

Jude then finishes his doxology with an “Amen”. It means, “so let it be”. It is a transliteration of the Hebrew word Amen which means “truth”. This half-brother of Jesus, who during Jesus’ earthly ministry did not believe Christ was the Son of God, now finishes His epistle by certifying that Jesus is who He said He was. Amen (Truth)!

 

I am going to be taking a long break from writing blogs as I write my book, “Agonizing for the Faith” (An Exegesis of Jude) and work on revisions to the sequel of my fantasy novel, “Athanasia: The Great Insurrection”. I hope to get “Agonizing for the Faith” out sometime in mid to late summer. I also hope to release “Athanasia: The Unknown Lands” sometime in the summer of 2019. I might on a rare occasion put up a post exegeting a passage of scripture if time permits.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Have Mercy on Those Who Have Been Deceived – Exegesis of Jude 20-23

“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 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.” Jude 20-23

Jude has been quite descriptive through this epistle about how to identify false teachers. In verse 19 he finished by calling them people that, “cause division, are worldly mind, and devoid of the Spirit.” Jude then shifts into verse 20 with an exhortation to believers, saying, “building yourselves up on your most holy faith”. What does this statement mean? Let’s first look at the Greek word for “building”. It is the compound word “epoikodomeo”. It breaks down as “epi” (upon), “oikos” (house), and “domeo” (to build). Epi intensifies the word to mean, “to build up/build upon”. The implication is that a pre-established foundation is already in place for which one can build upon. We all know that this foundation is Christ. This verb is used in conjunction with the noun “faith”, showing where the building is to take place in our lives. “Pistis” is the word for faith and derives from the root “peitho”, meaning “persuasion/to persuade”. This word derives from an ancient Greek goddess named Peitho. Peitho was the aide to the goddess of love, Aphrodite. She was the goddess of the art of persuasion and seduction and no one could resist the spells she placed on them. With this understanding of the historical context of “peitho” we see how this relates to God. Those God chooses cannot resist Him. He is the only one able to persuade an unbeliever to salvation. When God calls one to salvation He imputes the gift of faith to them so that they will believe. It is this faith that is the foundation with which the Holy Spirit, using the Word of God begins to build up the believer.

“Praying in the Holy Spirit” is just a simple call for one to submit to God in prayer, because the purpose of prayer is to find the will of God. The Holy Spirit should guide our prayers. He will lead us according to the will of God.

In verse 21 Jude says, “keep yourselves in the love of God.” Let me first say that this does not mean that God can or will stop loving a believer if we don’t meet His standard. We can never meet His standard. You cannot earn or deserve God’s love. It simply means that the believer must always keep the love of God in view. It should be on our minds constantly which will in turn keep us from straying. Remember, it is obedience to God which shows Him that we love Him. “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15. The only ones able to keep His commandments are his elect with whom He has given His Holy Spirit. In fact, the Greek word for “keep” is “tereo”. It derives from “teros” meaning, “a guard”. Jude is using this word to exhort the believer to stay on guard, or to preserve themselves. How do we preserve ourselves in the love of God? We are mindful of Him constantly, guarding our hearts from the deceptions of this world.

The next Greek word is “prosdechomai” (waiting anxiously). Waiting anxiously is an oxymoron in the English language because it combines two words that are in contradiction to one another. So what does the Greek word mean? The prefix “pros” means “towards” and the word “dechomai” means “to receive or expect with ready reception”. The prefix intensifies the word to mean “to wait actively and expectantly.” Prosdechomai is in the present tense making the word active for believers to be in a constant state of watching and waiting. In the context of the verse we are to actively look and welcome Christ’s coming return when He will grant us mercy by giving us eternal life.

What is really interesting to note is that Jude uses God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit together in verses 20-21. He is showing the unity of the Triune God. It is praying according to God’s will through the Holy Spirit that keeps us in the love of God, and it is that constant mindfulness of God which will subsequently give us a patient readiness to welcome in the day of Christ our Lord.

As we go into verses 22-23 Jude gives the believer direction on how they should respond to those who have been deceived in the church by an apostate. He is giving us three types of people, with the first group being the easier of the three to turn away from the error they believe. Then it degrades to the less hopeful group, and then an even less hopeful group. Most commentators believe that these groups are all unbelievers within the church, while I don’t think that is the case for any of these three. Let me show you why:

In verse 22, “And have mercy on some who are doubting”, the word “mercy” (Eleos) means, “to show benevolence or compassion”, but carries with it that the giver (of mercy) has the adequate resources to meet the need of the recipient. The Lord is the only one who has the adequate resources to meet the desperate needs of sinful man. It is through Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement that the Lord paid our penalty for our sin, satisfying His wrath and righteous standard, giving fallen man the only way to salvation. With that said, what is worth noting here is that the word for “doubting” is “diakrino”. The word “dia” means “thoroughly back and forth” and “krino” means “to judge”. Properly, “to judge/investigate thoroughly”. This is the word we used for “judging” which means to exercise discernment in the context of Matthew 7:1-6. The word has both negative and positive implications because it can be used in both a good or bad context. It is the context which prescribes the usage. We can exercise good reasoning in our discernment or bad. In this case it is used in the negative. It is over-judging or vacillating. It is a person that is wrestling back and forth between truth and error, or is just plain indecisive. What Jude is telling us is to have mercy on these individuals. At times people who have been deceived by false teachers will vex us with their wavering back and forth on doctrinal matters, or not suffering adversity well. God will give us the mercy to show them because we do not have it in and of our own strength. Jude is telling us to lean on the God of grace to give us the mercy to help the brethren that are wavering in their faith (or with biblical truth). I tweeted out on February 12th that a couple who had stopped going to church and began staying at home and listening to Bill Johnson’s “sermons” from Bethel each Sunday had agreed to find a church and stop listening to Johnson. My friends who confronted this couple said that when they spoke to the wife, her eyes opened up and she knew that she had been deceived. However, the woman’s husband is having a harder time stopping. He is willing to find a new church, but has not let go of listening to Johnson. My friends that are ministering to this couple are going to have to be extra merciful, and those of us praying for them are going to have to be extra merciful as they waiver back and forth. They are believers who are being brought out of a cult, and just like the Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt, so too will they struggle wanting to go back into sin. Some of you are going to have to bear with believers that have been deceived by people like Rachel Held Evans who promotes homosexuality in the church, abortion, and believes that women should be in the pulpits. You are going to have to long suffer them as they go back and forth between truth and error. Jude is exhorting us to be benevolent to our brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter what they are going through. I believe in time they will return.

The second group is the “save others, snatching them out of the fire”. The language is hard to interpret here, but I believe this group to be believers as well. The Greek word for “snatch” is “harpazo” meaning, “to seize by force” both suddenly and decisively. This term is used in Acts 8:39 when Phillip was snatched up by God from the Ethiopian Eunuch and taken to Azotus which was 20 miles north of Gaza. The implication of “harpazo” is that we will be snatching these people from the fire. I believe the fire (pyr) is being used symbolically for danger and destruction. If this is supposed to be Hell, then why didn’t Jude use the term Hades? This word “pyr” is the root word for “peirasmos” which is the Greek word for trials (See James 1:2). It is most often used in the context of tests, trials, and refining. With that said, I don’t believe that this is eternal torment in Hell, though many commentators espouse this. I say this because it is a command for us to save others from the fire. We can’t save anyone from the fires of Hell, that is God’s duty, not ours. We are literally being told to pull these brothers and sisters away from the destructiveness of the lies they have believed. These lies that have rooted in their lives will lead them to destructive behaviors and habits that will literally damage, or completely ruin their lives to the point of physical death. Can you imagine a believer giving their last $20 to a prosperity preacher thinking that God will increase it by 100 fold instead of feeding their family? How about a homosexual who is told his lifestyle is acceptable in the sight of God? Those that live this lifestyle devoid of restraint have countless partners. An overwhelming amount of homosexuals pick up drug habits within this lifestyle. I just read yesterday where a 26 year old homosexual male prostitute died from a drug overdose. The man who hired him constantly was one of Hillary Clinton’s big donors named Ed Buck. This man introduced him to drug use as he would incorporate drug use in their encounters. This eventually led to this young man’s death. Does this not grieve you? Not to belabor the point, but I heard a pastor say one time that a government study done in Santa Cruz, California revealed that the average homosexual lived to the age of 42. This was just in Santa Cruz, but I don’t think that number would change much nationally. These are the destructive realities of sin, and this is just one facet of sin because there are countless others which all mankind grapple with. If this was your brother and sister in Christ, would you allow them to continue in this, or would you snatch them out of the fire? I pray that the faithful in the church will pull their brothers and sisters from the destructiveness of their sin. Scripture is clear that we must confront sin amongst our brothers and sisters (See James 5:19). It must be done in truth and grace, and if it is public sin, it must be dealt with through the church discipline process.

This last group is the “on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” group. I prayed about this verse asking for direction to see if these were truly unbelievers. As I was reading this verse over again Galatians 6:1 came to mind. It says, “Brethren, if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

I believe that Galatians 6:1-2 goes hand in hand with Jude 23. Both Jude and Paul exhort us to help a brother or sister who has fallen into sin, but they also admonish us to be careful or we will be polluted by this sin. There are brothers and sisters who have fallen out of fellowship with God and have been given over to a darkened mind as a form of chastisement. We have to be really careful here, or the deception that they hold to will grip us. In this scenario someone who has a darkened mind from an apostates teachings needs several brothers and sisters to graciously and lovingly correct their error. They need people in constant prayer for this person, and if necessary, employ church discipline. Church discipline is meant to restore the straying brother or sister, but also is a way to protect the flock from being led astray. The Greek word used for “hate” is “miseo” which means “to detest”. However, the word implies a comparative basis. It is used in Luke 14:26 which says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate (miseo, ‘love less’ than the Lord) his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” I am of the opinion that Jude is telling us to hate the sin more than the sinner using this comparative word. The word “garments” is “chiton” which is the tunic worn on the skin, not an outer garment. This is essentially underwear. Jude is admonishing us to handle this straying believer like you would someone else’s dirty undergarment. Without being descriptive I believe that we would use every precaution when handling someone else’s dirty underwear, and likewise we should do the same with someone deep in sin. We are to bear these brothers and sisters burdens, but with extreme caution.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!