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What is apostasy and how has it crept into the contemporary church in America? The answers might surprise you.
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Hey, welcome. We realize that while you know it's no fun to have a bunch of little ones who are passing around a very contagious bug that makes your house very uncomfortable for a season, it's not a good thing, we know there a lot of you in this room who have dealt with far more than just a 24-hour virus that has flown through and caused some disturbance.
We realize there are many of you all who are dealing with some real pain. We know there are folks who have made decisions as early as last night that have you wracked with guilt and shame, where you've compromised again and done things you promised yourself you'd never do again because it left you so empty.
I know there are folks who this week have been betrayed by spouses, or you've betrayed your spouse, and you're scared to death that others might know about it. I know there are folks this week who have had diagnoses and doctors talk about issues that are going to continue now to be a threat to their well life. It has you anxious and discouraged. I know you have coworkers who have real crises going on with their families and their children, and on and on it goes.
We want you to know that God desires for you not to go through these things alone. He also wants you to know that if you're imprisoned by a choice and a lifestyle that continually brings heartache to you, he wants more for you. His grace is available to all of us, and our head calls us to experience the kind of community Mike was talking about.
We want to let you know, we are imperfect people who have a perfect Lord, who are calling other people to come and find the mercy, grace, forgiveness, and hope he has, even in the middle of some things that are anything but what we wanted. Let me just pray for you, and I'm going to tell you that that's the basis for why we're going to go hard at what we're going to go hard at this morning.
There are all kinds of people who want to offer a false hope, a false gospel, a watered-down version of what Jesus has for you when he talks about giving you a life that can only be described as abundant and free. We don't want to make that mistake here. We want you to get all of Jesus, take the whole pill, not just some idea about who he might be. Not get you just to show up at some religious institution. We want you to know him because in knowing him there is life, and I mean that.
Father, we come to right now, and there are all kinds of us in this room who are not experiencing life. We're experiencing discouragement. We're experiencing brokenness. We're experiencing despair. You know all about the fact that this world is filled with that, partly because of the rebelliousness that's in our hearts. We know that some of the pain that we're experiencing in this room is because of choices we have made this week, that in our weakness, in our rebellion, we have gone our own way.
I thank you that we can be here together this morning to talk about how your mercies are new again and again and that the God of wonders is here to make himself more famous by once again saying, "Would you just come to me? Would you let me order your life? Would you let me fill your priorities? Would you let me give you all the desires of your heart and quit looking for it in fleeting places?" I pray folks, Lord, who have been filling their lives with pain because they have not gone your way would come, today, to you.
Father, there are others of us who haven't chosen on our own accord to bring destruction to our lives, but we live in a fallen world where bodies break, where children die, where cancer reigns, where hurricanes come, where poverty exists. I pray that you would train us to keep our eyes focused on the hope that is before us, that we would be content in the midst of our less than perfect circumstances because you have overcome all things.
Whether you heal of us our diseases now, or whether you do that through the instrument of physical death, if we trust in you, we can have hope. I pray we would live as people of hope. I pray that you'd show us things we need to do to embrace your way again this week. We know that one of those things is to not isolate ourselves, so I pray for friends who are here wondering if there's somebody who can represent your love to them, that they would come, that they would trust us enough to share with them your love.
I pray for folks who are out there alone who need somebody to comfort them with the comfort with which we ourselves have been comforted, that they would come, that they would be a part of this body, underneath your headship, and that we would love them well as a source of glory to your name and good for them, your people. Would you help us to operate as a body, to forsake sin, to love Christ, and to make him more famous in doing all of that? For your glory and our good, we pray, amen.
This is not one of the messages you like to give if you're a person who wants to be encouraging to people, but it's a message that periodically we have to give. We're in the middle of book called Jude. If you have a Bible, and I hope you always bring them, if you have one, go to the book of Revelation and hang a left. It's the second to last book in your Bible. It's a very short book, but it is full of great truth.
Like a lot of pastors who want to get up here and tell you about the greatness of the things Christ has done for you, would rather teach about those things, but sometimes have to teach about the things I'm talking about today, men who were used by God to communicate his truth to folks to be preserved once and for all that God's worldview and God's revelation might be clearly seen and understood, he had individuals not just write about the supremacy of Christ, the wonders of the justifying work of what Jesus has done, the greatness of the church and what it looks like.
He sometimes had men write about some things that are not very pleasant to get your arms around because he loves us. The Scripture tells us that all Scripture comes from God. You're going to find out that there's a guy who happened to be the half-brother of Jesus but doesn't want to become famous because he's the half-brother of Jesus.
He wants to be well known as a servant of Christ because he wasn't really impressed with his half-brother until he saw who his brother was, the one who would come to remove sin and death from us, the one who himself overcame sin because he wasn't just a physical brother. He was eternal Father, Mighty God. He was the Risen One. He came later in his life to believe that Jesus, who he grew up with in his home with Joseph and Mary, was the Savior of the world. He was Immanuel, God with us, and he became his servant. That is how he wanted to be known.
As Jude was writing a letter that the Holy Spirit deemed appropriate to preserve for all time, he was corrected in what he was going to make the theme of this letter. That is why we will ourselves look at it this week because it's the book we're studying. Here's what it says in the book of Jude:
"Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ…" Not a brother… "I'm not famous because of what my daddy has done or who my brother is. I ultimately want to be known as somebody who serves the risen King. "To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ…"
We talked about the power of those three words, called, beloved, and kept, and how it's the desire of Christ that mercy, peace, and love would be multiplied in all of us, that we would not just have the peace with God that comes through this Jesus but as we know him more fully, as we looked last week, that we would become people who would even experience the peace of God, which passes all understanding.
Jude said last week, "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity [the compelling force] to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." Let me explain this to you. This is a very important verse of Scripture. We touched on it last week; we want to go a little deeper here.
What Jude is going to say is, "I'm going to write to you what is common fare. I'm going to write to you about what has been commonly proclaimed as the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Jesus was here, this is what he said. This is who he was. This is who we were. This is what he has done with our condition. This is what he has told us to do in response to who God was and what he believes about our sin and rebellion from him.
He has come that we might have life and have it abundantly. He said that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except by him. We know that Paul and others have written," Jude might have said, "that the wages of sin are death, eternal separation from the life-giver. But we know what Jesus said, that the free gift of God is eternal life through him, and that if you know him, you will follow him, not just give loose words of surrender, but that you will seek him with all of your heart.
In seeking him with all of your heart and in asking for him to come into your life, and for knocking upon the door you have slammed in his face and saying, 'God, would you come and have a relationship with me?' he will come in and dine with you, sup with you, and his Spirit will indwell you. His Spirit will do a work in your life, producing in you a transformed life that is so holy and otherworldly that the world will ask you to give an account for the hope that is within you.
You will be a people that is set apart, as God takes the nature that was in you and by his spiritual working has it, if you will, crucified on the cross with Jesus Christ and will supplant in you a new nature, a nature that is like the nature of his Son, Jesus. As his Spirit wells up inside of you, you will begin to be a people of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. That will be increasingly how you are marked." That is the common gospel message. It's what is known. It is what is held by all men.
He's going to tell you that there are going to be some people who are going to come and preach an uncommon gospel. Not the one that Peter, not the one that Paul, not the one that John, not the one that the writer to the Hebrews, not the one that the New Testament and the apostles who were with Christ have been teaching everywhere…
There are going to be people who are going to come and say, "We love you with your little Jesus, but in addition to knowing your Jesus, you need to have an understanding that there is further enlightenment over here." Or, they're going to pervert the gospel. They're going to come alongside and say, "Hey, it's great that Jesus has forgiven you for your sins. Now that your sins have been forgiven, the more you sin, the more his grace will become famous, so it doesn't matter what you do."
In the day and age that Jude wrote this, in the early part of the church, there was a group of people, and it doesn't really matter that we remember this, but they were called Gnostics. It comes from the Greek word gnōsis, where we get the idea to know. Understanding, knowledge. These men would say, "It's great that you have Jesus, but you can do one of two things with this." They believed in dualism. They believe there was a spiritual world and a material world because they were enlightened then.
They said, "The spiritual world has accomplished these things, so the material world doesn't really matter. You can live however you want to live." They would encourage people to take license with what Christ had done and to live unholy lives. Not to be set apart by their holiness but to be set apart by their craziness because they believed certain things about what Jesus had done. That wasn't the common gospel message. It's not what Jesus called us to.
There was another group of Gnostics who said, "No, you need to have your Jesus and add to him a greater understanding that we have over here, that we've discovered." Or, "You need to add to this Jesus some self-abasement, some philosophy, some self-mutilation, some practice that will make your knowledge of Jesus even more effectual in your life."
They were legalists, they were licentious people, or they were people who left the Word of God, the common Word of God that was embraced by Christ followers, and added to it something of their own. They were not lovers of God or lovers of good. They were lovers of self, and they came up with their own uncommon philosophies and led people astray.
Jude says what others say, and that is that these men don't just come and say, "We are anti-Christ. We are anti-God. We are anti-truth." They would say, "We're for you and your Jesus, but we want you to have more than just what you have when you're stuck with your dumb little Bible." They would creep in unnoticed.
Look at verse 4. "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…" It's a compound of three words in the Greek. One is para, which means alongside. The other word is the word eis, which is the word which we get from into, and the other word is dynō, which is the word to enter. They would come alongside to enter into. "They would creep in," it says there in Jude 4.
"These men," it says, "were marked out long beforehand for condemnation." Even though they crept into our company unaware, somebody else noticed them. What Jude's going to say about these individuals is, "You may not know who they are. God knows who they are, and this is what God has always done with individuals like this, so don't be like them."
This is what he says in verse 5: "Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe." He's going to talk here about apostates, people who have backed away from the stand, the stand of truth, the stand of common revelation God has given us.
There are individuals who come alongside people who have embraced the truth of who Jesus was, and they act like they're your friend, but then they back away from that and try and pull you other directions. Sometimes they pull you into legalism. Sometimes they pull you into a life of great error, sin, and sexual indulgence. They always leave the common revelation that was clearly taught and pull you a different direction. When they do this, they do it in a very subtle way.
I'll give you a few examples. I'll start in a secular realm first. I can remember when I graduated from college. I got a little envelope in the mail one day, and it was a group that wanted some money. They were a group called People for the American Way. I was a young patriot; I though, "Hey, I'm for the American way. Who wouldn't want to be about that?" I opened up and read their letters, only to find out the way they were trying to endorse was not a way that was consistent with what I thought America should embrace.
There's a group called the American Civil Liberties Union. "I'm American, I'm for civil liberty, and I'm for togetherness. Sounds good to me." Only to find out that the things they propagate and that they're for stand directly opposed to many of the things that I would say God would tell a group of people they should operate and live by.
You transfer that over to some spiritual realms and listen to this. How about the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints? "Church of Jesus Christ? I'm in for that. I want to be a saint, living here in the latter-day." There's a reason they did not come along and say, "We are the Church of the Antichrist and Latter-day Pagans." I would have gone, "Now wait a minute; I don't want to be a church of the Antichrist, and I certainly don't want to be a latter-day pagan."
How about this? Jehovah's Witnesses… We're teaching our kids, you'll read right now in the Watermark News, about the different names of God. One of them is the Jehovah, which is basically the name that means he is the great I Am, the one who always was and always will be, the beginning and the end.
"I want to witness for my God. Who wouldn't want to be a witness for Jehovah?" They didn't come along and call themselves Lucifer's Liars. I would have said, "I don't want to be a part of you." They come knocking on my door and say, "We are here to witness for Jehovah." I go, "Hey, let's talk about this." They'll embrace the name of Jesus. They'll open your Bible.
It's hard to find a Mormon who will come straight out and tell you why they disagree with the common gospel. They creep in, unaware, and many folks can't figure out why they're different. The Way… Early on, in the book of Acts, Christians weren't called Christians. They were called people of the Way, and there was a group that rose up not long ago called the Way, that led people away from Christ and dependence upon his finished work on the cross. They didn't call themselves the Maze; they called themselves the Way.
There are Christian Scientists. "I want to be a Christian, and I don't want to be some person who's unintellectual." They didn't say, "Come worship here with atheistic idiots." No, they creep in alongside, and they sound like and use terminology that is consistent with ours, but it says that they have stood back from the common gospel that is delivered once and for all, meaning there needs to be nothing added to it.
You'll see in verse 8 in Jude, when we get there next week, that these men are dreamers. In other words, they add to what God has given once and for all as truth, and they dream up their own knowledge that is added to what Jesus has said so that they can drive you either into your own confidence in what you do, or into rude, crude, greedy, and immoral behavior. They won't call you to what Christ has called you to.
It says, "They may have crept in unnoticed to you, but God knew who they were. These men are marked out for condemnation." Apostates always are people who pull back from Jesus. Now watch this. Apostates are not people who have embraced Jesus in terms of a personal trust, where they posses a relationship with him by following hard after him. They are individuals who were near him, had heard of the teachings of Christ, and then backed away from it at some level.
By the way, I'm going to give you a few other names of apostates who are out there today and focus specifically on the greatest threat to us. You need to know that while Mormonism is really taking great strides in our country, it's really doing a lot overseas. Most of you are not going to be led astray by Mormons, most of you. Because someone knocks on your door and tells you they're a witness of Jehovah, most of you are not going to join the Watchtower Society this week.
Some of you are going to be pulled in those directions because you see some things that confuse you, but frankly, the people who creep in unaware who are going to affect you negatively, me negatively, and most of our society negatively are people who operate under organizations called the church. Some of them have the title pastor. Some of them have the title priest. Some of them have the title father.
These individuals who are in these organizations, some of them who meet in places with crosses in them, act like and look like what you and I want to be a part of. When you get inside of these places, you'll find out they do not hold to the common, previously declared, traditionally held gospel of God. These men, like the others who I have mentioned, and like Jude and Paul write about, have been marked out for condemnation. They are not people who have known God, loved God, had a relationship with God, but they have some level of awareness of what he was, and then they have stepped back from it.
Now watch this. The counterfeit can look like the real, but the Scripture says the real can never go the way of the counterfeit. Jesus says, "I know my sheep. I call my sheep. They'll follow me, and I won't lose one." If you know Christ, the expectation and teaching of Scripture is that when you come into a personal relationship with him, his Spirit will indwell you and will produce in you a new nature that will not return to the mud or the vomit but will grow you evermore in Christlikeness.
It's the individuals who back away, who give some intellectual assent to certain truths about Jesus but don't embrace it, who are people who are apostatizing. I'm going to give you more on that in just a moment but watch this. He's going to give you three examples here, just to cover this Scripture, where he says, "Watch." Just so you know that God is not unaware of them, and so that you know you don't want to be like them, he says in verse 5, "…the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe."
In other words, he's going to use Israel and the fact that they were called out of bondage in Egypt into freedom, that they followed after God to go into the land of promise. There were many Israelites who were guilty of unbelief. They didn't make God God. They decided to follow God when they wanted to follow God. When things didn't look like they should follow God, they bailed out.
God said, "That is happening because you don't stand with me. You never knew me. You never had a real relationship with me. You were just caught up in the crowd." There is, time and time again, example after example in the Old Testament how God purged, from the large group of Israel in the wilderness, people who did not believe in him. He said, "I know who mine are, and I know who is just moving along with the crowd within a covenant nation, and I judge them."
He goes on to say in verse 6, "And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day…" Israel is an example of those who were guilty of unbelief. The angels are an example of those who are rebels against authority.
They'll say they're around God. They have knowledge of who God is, but they stand back from God at some point and say, "You know what? I'm not going to enjoy God forever. I'm not going to relate to God as he created me to relate to him. I'm going to assert my own authority and will. I will put myself over him. I will declare myself lord. I will call people to follow me." He says that God noticed them when they stood back from him, and they showed themselves not to be people who loved him, and they were judged.
He goes and gives one more example, and they are the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Verse 7: "…just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire."
Meaning, here is a group who is an example of unbelief, here's a group of people who rebel against God's authority, and here's a group of people who rebel against God's morality, evidencing that they are not possessed by a spirit of holiness but a spirit of immorality, a spirit of unholiness. It says that these individuals were singled out as an example to you, that God always knows those who remove themselves from him, and they are marked out for condemnation.
Remember how Jude started this book. He wants you to be sure you are secure. He wants you to know that if you are called and beloved, you are kept. What he's saying is if you are called of God and beloved of God, and in relationship with him as his dear one, then you will stay with him, he will keep you, and it is a tribute to your shepherd, not to you.
I'm going to take you one place and show you this very quickly. In John 10… Look at this with me. This is what Jesus says. I'm going to show you that what these guys do in talking about who Jesus is… One of the things false teachers have always done is deny the authority of Jesus Christ.
You'll hear the Mormons, you'll hear the Jehovah's Witnesses, you'll hear liberal theologians today say that the virgin birth isn't significant. You'll hear them say that Jesus is an angel, that Jesus is a God man, that he is not Jehovah-God. They're going to make Jesus out to be less than who he revealed himself to be.
This is one of the clearest places in Scripture of two things. First, if you have a relationship with Jesus, he will keep you. Second, if you think of Jesus as anything less than God incarnate, God in the flesh, you are making Jesus out to be something he is not, and you are a person of unbelief as far as the gospel record is considered.
Look at this; John 10:24-25… It says, "The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, 'How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ [the Messiah, the Anointed One, who we know is mighty God, eternal Father, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor] tell us plainly.'" Watch what Jesus says. "I told you already, and you did not believe. Not only did I tell you, but I showed you some things." "…the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me." In other words, "What I said is true."
"But you do not believe [me] …" Talking to the religious leaders of the day. "…because you are not of My sheep.""You're false teachers. You're men who, even though you look like you're part of a religious organization, even though you're Jews, even though you're a part of a group who should be my covenant people, and you adorn yourself in religious attire, you don't follow me. You're a people of unbelief, who usurp my authority, who have lives that are not marked by holiness."
Watch what he says. "You have stood back from truth; you're apostates." He said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and…" This is key. "… they follow Me…" "They go where I go, do what I do, love what I love.""…and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand."
Let me say this very quickly. The doctrine of eternal security is not an arrogant doctrine in terms of the fact that I'm going to tell you that I'm so sure I'm not going to lose my salvation because I'm not going to turn away from Jesus. No. The Scripture says, "If you know Christ, and you have a relationship with Christ, and you don't just profess to know him but you possess his Spirit…" If it's not just a said faith but a saving faith, Jesus says that he will keep you.
When people challenge the ability of a believer to be secure, they are criticizing not you; they are criticizing your Shepherd. Sheep don't preserve themselves. They are weak, scared, vulnerable creatures, but good shepherds don't lose sheep. When people say that you can lose your salvation, what they're saying is, "Jesus is not a good shepherd." Our security is not in what we do or what we have done; it's in who Jesus is and what he said he will do with us because he's the Good Shepherd. It says he will not lose any out of his hand.
"My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." Watch this. "The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, 'I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?'"
Anybody can say, "To know me is to know the Father; God and I are the same thing," but Jesus says, "I didn't just say that. I brought people back from the dead. I cast out demons. I walked on water. I fed 5,000. For which of these things that I did that validated that I could say the things I've said do you stone me?"
People say all the time, "Why doesn't Jesus just come right out and claim to be God?" Let's see if the people he ran with thought that he did. This is what it says. "The Jews answered Him, 'For a good work we do not stone You [you've done a lot of good works] but for blasphemy…" Blasphemy is one of two things. It's attributing to God something that should not be attributed to God or removing from God an attribute which is his. They're saying, "You are giving God an attribute which you shouldn't give him, which is your likeness." What they say is, "…You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."
I have a question for you. Did Jesus think he was God? People who said they were zealous for God's name during that day sure thought so. It is unbelievable that people say, "Jesus never really claimed to be God." They picked up stones to stone him! You'll find out a little later they would have done it except that God decided not to let Jesus die at that moment. He was gone!
In John 10, you see three things. Jesus clearly knew who he was, clearly declared who he was, and clearly declared the reason people did not accept who he was is because they were not his sheep, because they did not follow him, they did not attribute to him the things he attributed to himself, and did not possess lives that were submissive, that were holy, and that had faith in him and would follow him wherever he called them.
Jude, when he was writing this letter, wanted to write an encouraging letter to the sheep of Jesus, but the Spirit said, "You love those sheep? Then you tell them to beware because there are going to be pastors, priests, fathers, churches, cults that are going to creep in alongside of them and pull them away from me. They're going to look like they're my friends because they're going to take names that are familiar to people, but they're not going to be my friends."
Listen to what it says. Jude knew what Paul knew. I'm going to read to you about five different verses here from Paul. I'm going to start in 1 Timothy; I'll put these up later on the web, but watch this. It is so important to teach sound doctrine. Jude knew what John said. "…you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." There are going to be people who hate the truth.
In 1 Timothy 6:3, this is what it says. "If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, [get rid of them] ." Second Timothy 1:13: "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." Second Timothy 4:3: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…"
Titus 1:7-9: "For the overseer [the true shepherd] must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled [they ought to have evidence the Spirit is in them , holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who[creep in unaware and contradict the common gospel message, which was once and for all delivered to the saints]."
You don't need to hear from Muhammad. You don't need to hear from Mary Baker Eddy. You don't need to hear from Joseph Rutherford. You don't need to hear from some person who calls themselves a holy father who has new insight. You don't need to hear from anybody but God. He has spoken once and for all. People are going to creep in and pull you away. You don't need to hear from Oprah. You don't need to hear from Deepak Chopra. You don't need to hear from Todd Wagner. You need the Book, and you be committed to it because God has given it to you.
Here's what it says in Titus 2:1: "But as for you [Titus], speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine." Let me tell you why this is such a big deal and why this book is so relevant to us today. We live in a world where sound doctrine is not taught. We live in a world where there are people in churches, people who are senior pastors, who will lead you astray. We're going to put up before you what is commonly described as basic tenets of what is called a biblical worldview. In other words, a lens through which you see reality, because this is how God has revealed truth to us. This is a biblical worldview.
You must believe that absolute moral truth exists. If you don't believe that, then you have not believed in the common gospel. That is being challenged all around us, but the necessity of a belief in absolute moral truth is central to what Jesus claimed was true, what the apostles claimed was true, and what the true church has always held to.
Belief that absolute moral truth is found in God's Word, in the Bible.
The Bible is accurate in all of its teaching, and specifically, these five areas.
A. Belief in the sinless nature of Jesus. Not that he was just some good teacher, not that he was just some prophet, not that he was just some self-actualized individual, not that he was some angel, but that he was God in the flesh, born of a virgin, without sin so that he could pay the wages of sin, that God could make him who knew no sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
B. Belief in the literal existence of an Enemy. He's there; he hates us.
C. Belief in the omnipotence and omniscience of God.This means that God is all-powerful, will set all things in order in today, that he is all-knowing, and that he doesn't need our assistance or help.
D. Belief in salvation by grace alone. If you don't believe in that, you have not believed in the commonly held gospel that has been given once and for all for the saints. Individuals are going to give you an uncommon gospel that can't be found in the Scriptures.
E. Belief in a personal responsibility to evangelize. This is what defines a biblical worldview at the most basic level.
Here's what's amazing about that. Do you know that only 7 percent of individuals today…? I'm going to leave the cults alone. I'm going to leave non-Protestant faiths alone, and I'm going to show you how much these men have crept in. We live in the days of apostasy.
Only 7 percent of people who attend Protestant churches today, churches that have been reformed from the error of false teachers prior… Only 7 percent of individuals who are in churches that would lump themselves categorically where Watermark would lump itself believe in those specific tenets I just put before you.
You might ask yourself, "How can that be that people who are in this thing called the church, who are about what we think the church should be about, believe that?" Here's the reason why. Because 50 percent of Protestant shepherds, Protestant senior pastors, don't believe in those basic tenets you see listed before you today.
There are 320,000 different Protestant churches in the United States of America today. Southern Baptists and Methodists make up 25 percent of those. Of the 35,000 Methodist churches that are out there specifically, do you know that only 27 percent of leadership in those Methodist churches believes in the basic tenets of the common gospel as it has been embraced by Christianity throughout the ages? And we wonder why there are so few individuals in dead churches who follow after Christ in the manner in which Christ said his people should look.
I'm going to show you why this is so important today. Let me walk you through some stuff. If you'll go to 2 Corinthians with me, I'm going to read to you what Paul had to say about where these men would come from. Second Corinthians 11:2-4. This is what it says: "For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy…" Paul says, "I am so desperate that you would love what you should love that I'm going to give everything I could."
By the way, some folks are going, "Man, Todd, this is some hard stuff today. You sound like you're angry about some of these folks." Jude said we should contend for the faith, meaning the singular belief that Jesus Christ taught and sent others out to teach, we are to contend for. The word contend in the Greek is agōnizomai, which is the word we get agony from.
You should agonize. You should strain every muscle, every fiber of your being, to fight for this faith. Don't be placid in your acceptance, or don't be tolerant in other people's declaring other things because it will cost them everything. Contend for this. Paul says, "I am jealous. I contend for this truth."
"I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." Let me give you some other interesting facts. Do you know that when you look at senior pastors in general, pastors who have graduated from seminaries in our country are less likely to believe in a biblical worldview than pastors who never were given a seminary degree?
Do you know why that is? There are fewer than 10 seminaries in our country that hold to a biblical worldview. We are training up leaders, again and again, in denominations, in non-major denominations, that are calling people to reshape truth as God has traditionally revealed it. We are in the middle of a struggle. This is not a little playground we are on; it's a battleground. We are called to be soldiers who war for the truth.
It's uncomfortable sometimes. People will call you bigoted, judgmental, intolerant. We want to say, "Let's go back to who Jesus was. Let's take his words, and if I represent anything he doesn't say, I will let you call me whatever you want. If the way I say it offends you, tell me that, and I'll try and say it a different way. But I'm going to tell you, if what Jesus says offends you and I'm a follower of Jesus, I have to let you have a problem with him, because there is who your problem is with, not with me. I will contend for that."
Not only are the biggest difference and distinction, and I do think there is something to this… You'll see there in 2 Corinthians 11 where it says that just like the Serpent deceived Eve, when Eve asserted herself in a position of leadership God did not want her in and she went astray. Adam, in his passiveness, allowed Eve to lead, which was the first sin, not Eve's sin, there was error that came into the human race.
There are passive males who are all around the church of Jesus Christ today. As a result of that, women have to assert themselves in positions of leadership that God never intended for them. Do you know that only 53 percent of male pastors embrace a biblical worldview, but of churches that are led by women, only 15 percent do?
This is what it says right here in verse 4. "For if one comes and preaches another Jesus [whether they are male or female, I couldn't care less] whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully."
That's not a compliment. What Paul is says there is, "You shouldn't bear this beautifully! It should upset you greatly when they make Jesus out to be something he isn't or call people to live lives Jesus didn't call them to because you're going to lead them astray. They are going to marked out for condemnation, which grieves God. He takes no delight in the death of the wicked."
If you allow them to be inoculated with a mild form of Christianity so they become immune to the real thing, and you don't care about that, then he says, "I will hold their blood on your hands. But if you faithfully declare that as error and they still choose to go that way, then I will pronounce you innocent and hold them accountable for their own blood. But you shepherd well the flock of God that is among you.
You be careful to tell people not to be deluded that just because they're in a church, just because they have a pastor, just because they call themselves Protestant, they know who Christ is. You make sure they're not rebellious, they're not making up their own authority, and they're not living immoral lives."
Let me tell just tell you, one of the largest Methodist churches in the country, a couple of them are very near to us. I know for a fact they have individuals on their staff who are living lives of gross sexual immorality, and they have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. They go, "Our church is not on trial here. Don't ask us to consider how we relate to our staff. If we put people in positions of spiritual leadership and they live lives the Scriptures say they shouldn't live, as long we're not asking them about it on a regular basis, that's just the way we roll over here."
I'm going to say, "That's not the way Jesus says his church should roll." We are to be set apart. I don't care whether it's homosexuality, heterosexual sin, gossip, exaggeration, or pride. If you just say, "We don't ask, and so we don't know. We're not going to worry about it," God says, "I have a problem with that. That is standing back from the truth I said the church should embrace." That is what apostates do, and they are marked out for condemnation.
Now look. In verse 12 of 2 Corinthians 11, he says this: "But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting.""They call themselves stewards of the mysteries of God? They call themselves servants of Christ? I want to cut them off."
I'm going to tell you, I don't know what they are, but they're not Jesus' church when they live that way. "For such men are false apostles…" Individuals who say they're sent forth from the throne room of God, but God says, "They're not sent forth from me." They are "…deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ." They call themselves pastor, they were robes, they have churches.
"No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds." Folks, this is incredibly sobering stuff. In other words, don't let it bother you that individuals call themselves followers of Christ and want to talk to you about Jesus, and yet they make Jesus out to be something that he's not, or call you to a life that is not what Jesus called you to do, because that is what the Enemy has always done.
If you look at Satan's attributes in Scripture… "You want to talk Scripture? We'll talk Scripture. You want to talk about what God's Word says? We'll talk about what God's Word says. You want to talk about judgment? I'll give you my opinion on judgment." He will not give you the common, previously revealed view of judgment and God's Word that he has delivered to you. He will disguise himself as your friend, seeking to release you from the oppression that has been God's Word over you, that you might have life.
"Do you know why God doesn't want you to eat that apple? Because God doesn't have your best interests in mind. Do you know why God doesn't want to let you pursue what you feel like, ever since you were a baby, you wanted to pursue, and you were made that way? Because God doesn't understand, or people who say they know God don't understand. You just go and do what you're doing because that's who you are, and that's okay. God loves you and wants you to live a life that is freedom. You make a decision for what's good and evil for yourself, even though God's Word has clearly spoken to that."
See what's at stake here? Look what it says in 2 Peter with me. If you have a Bible, turn to 2 Peter because I'm going to show you some truths here that are also very sobering. He talks about these individuals. Second Peter 2:1-3: "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly [there it is again] introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned…"
Let me ask you a question. When you talk about the church of Jesus Christ today, and you ask people, "Are followers of Christ set apart in the way they operate and do life, or not?" They're going to say, "No way," and they have statistics to back it up. George Barna, who is a great friend of the church, is regularly doing surveys and is the one who is behind the statistics I'm giving you today.
He will tell you that though 80 percent of Americans claim to be Christians, and 68 percent of Americans claim to be committed Christians, well over 50 percent of Christians' lives cannot be distinguished from people who are not Christians or who embrace completely different worldviews. They are just as base, or just as off-center, and it's because we follow people who have stood back from God's Word and don't teach sound doctrine and because people who lead them don't ask them to follow the voice of Jesus Christ.
This is what it says: "Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." You want to know why God hasn't zapped them dead every time they speak from their pulpit and compromise God's Word?
I know for a fact that leaders of these churches that I spoke of earlier, that are around us, will say, "You know what? You want to believe the Bible is God's Word? Fine. We have a lot of people who lives a lot of different things here. You want to believe Jesus is the only way to heaven? That's fine. We have a lot of people who believe a lot of different things here. You just make your own way. We're all going to get along."
Doesn't that sound great? Who wouldn't want to be a part of the Interfaith Alliance? Who doesn't want to be a part of the World Council of Churches? Well, listen. When I take the faith I am to contend for and meld it with yours, it doesn't become the faith anymore, so I can't align myself with you, for what fellowship has light with darkness? This is not a playground where we can just toss toys to one another. These are eternally divisive truths, not according to my opinion but according to the revelation of God.
Look what it says in 2 Peter 2:13-15. It says, " [These teachers] count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes…" They'll get on TV, they'll look you in the eye, and they'll say great statements like, "War is never the right thing to do. As a council of bishops, leaders, and pastors, we're going to tell you that followers of Jesus would never go to war," completely contradicting Scriptures Jesus has given them and preserved. They don't care because the Bible is not even God's Word.
They come aside and give you uncommon insight as philosophers and leaders of their day. You have to choose who you're going to follow. It says these men "…have eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness…"
In other words, you want to know why these guys do this? Because it's popular to do this. People will never leave them because they're telling the people what they want to hear. "You want to live a life of immorality? Fine! You want to get married to a sixth woman in six years? Fine! Surely God wouldn't be against love. You want to love somebody of the same flesh as yours? Fine! You want to squabble, argue, and go to court with one another? Fine! You want to not honor God with all of your resources? Fine!"
We know for a fact it's been said at some of these churches, "I'm not going to be so naïve as to think you're going to cut God in to a first of all of your produce, so let's blow off 10 percent. I'm asking for 2." Why? Because the average believer doesn't even give that, and he knew if he could get that, he'd be way ahead of other folks.
Balaam was a guy who said, "I'm for sale. I will prophesy according to whoever will pay me the most." This is why many church leaders are afraid today to speak the truth. Because they think people who are sustaining their ministry will leave if they call them to live the way Christ has called them to live.
Let me tell you, I don't want anybody but Jesus Christ sustaining this ministry. If folks leave because we preach with gentleness and reverence the gospel of Jesus Christ, and folks don't want to invest with that, then all the better. That's fine. We're never going to back away from what Jesus has said. If we're going to do that, let's not kid ourselves of what we are.
Finally, in 2 Peter 2:21-22, this is pretty sobering stuff. "For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, 'A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT,' and, 'A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.'" Which is to say, these counterfeits sometime look like they're real.
There are dogs that internally, sometimes, purge from their system things they're uncomfortable with, but because their nature hasn't changed, they go back to the vomit they had previously exited from their body. The reason some of these guys… They go near Jesus, they're familiar with Jesus, but they don't change their nature by depending upon him solely and having his Spirit indwell their hearts and seal them, so they go back, stand away from that truth, and return to the vomit of rebellion that they left from.
Or, at times, they clean themselves up and they look different on the outside for a while, but they go back and wallow in the mud of disbelief, of self-promotion, of self-authoritative understanding, because their nature hasn't changed.
By the way, those of you guys who are reading through in Join the Journey, you read a very difficult, confusing passage of Scripture. It relates to what I'm talking about right now in the book of Jude. It was in Matthew 12:43-45. We've had enough questions on it, and it fits right here, that I'm going to read it to you. Jesus says this:
"Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation."
What's going on here? Jesus is saying this in Matthew 12, and in Matthew 12, the religious leaders of the day, the people who have adorned themselves in outward devotion to God, are rejecting who Jesus was. Jesus is going to say this to them: "Let me tell you something. Israel used to offer its babies up as sacrifices in its Baal worship, in its worship of Moloch, in its worship of Canaanite fertility religions. Everybody could see your idolatry and your gross practices of sleeping with temple prostitutes. Everybody knew Israel was in a wrecked state.
At least then, they would want to come along and minister to you, but now you have adorned yourself in Pharisaicalism, in legalism. You've adorned yourself in self-righteous acts of performance. It looks like, on the outside, all is well, but now, inside of you, the demons of pride and self-dependency have come and dwelled in your heart.
Now you're in a worst state than you were before because before, while everybody could see your home was a wreck and they tried to come along and minister to you, now it looks like you're religious. Now it looks like you're devoted. Now you already go to church, so why would anybody call you to follow Jesus?" Do you see that?
When you leave a life of anti-Christian rhetoric and you call yourself a part of his church, and you carry a Bible even if you don't subscribe to its authority, and you say you're a member of said church, and you have a pastor over you, it look like whatever you need, you don't need Jesus, when, in fact, that's exactly what you might need. You might now be in a worse state than you were before because you're just a cleaned-up pig. No one is going to come along seeking to scrub you, when, in fact, you are now in a worse state than you were before. Very sobering stuff.
I was just in New Orleans this week partnering with the folks who we are going to continue to invest with in some of what we're doing with Katrina. It's going to be so encouraging to you when you see what you're doing with the hundreds of thousands of dollars this body freely gave to make Christ more famous. We're going to send folks and continue to send resources to a church we're partnering with and we're growing more comfortable with in that city.
When I was greeted there by that pastor when I got off the plane, he was talking about New Orleans. He said, "You guys know New Orleans is called the Big Easy? Some people call it the Big Sleazy. Satanists call it the City Where Hell Reigns. We are a city of carnality, revelry, voodoo, rampant immorality, and religion. New Orleans is a wicked city, but it's also a very religious city." See also: Matthew 12. See also: the book of Jude. See also: 2 Corinthians 11. See also: 2 Peter 2.
What happens is all hell breaks loose down there, but then all of the sudden, on Fat Tuesday, you had better get straightened up because, on Ash Wednesday, it's time to take a vow before we celebrate Easter. Do you really think God says, "I could care less what you dress up like, what you do with your neighbor, as long as on a certain day, you show up, have somebody cross themselves and put a mark on your head, you say you're not going to do something for a few days, and then once that season's over, go back to all the hell-like living you want to go back to"?
That is dead religion, and it's the same thing people do when they come not just once a year on Ash Wednesday but every Sunday to some dead church in their community, where their pastor says, "Well, you've been here. You're good this week." Or, "Whether you come here ever again or not, you say you're a member of our church… Every now and then you might send a little bit of money. You said things about Jesus you think we want him to say. You're good; you're golden."
Do you really think so? No, Jesus says, "My sheep know me, they hear my voice, and they follow me. They go where I go. They don't just call me a shepherd; they let me shepherd them. My Spirit indwells them, and they love what I love and do as I did. They hate what I hate." What are we supposed to do in light of this? Here are some very simple pieces of application for us. I want to make it as easy for you as I can. How do you stand firm today against those who don't stand for Christ, apostates, people who back away?
1 . Don't be like them. What I mean by that, and if you look back at verses 4 and 5, this is what it says: "Don't be an individual marked out for condemnation." What kind of people are marked out for condemnation? The kind of people they were. They were godless people. In other words, they had things in their lives which they welcomed and embraced, and that stayed in their lives, that God said, "I'm not about those things."
I said last week that we want to live in such a way that our coach and our program are famous, that Jesus, being our head Shepherd who directs us and gives us a playbook we should live by, that we live lives that are so set apart that they go, "That is a program of redemption and transformation, and I want to know who's behind it."
There are times that all of us play like we don't practice. When we play like we don't practice, which is to be excellent people, we should watch game film. We should have coaches who come alongside of us and say, "Hey, Todd, that was anger. Hey, Todd, that was lust. Hey, Todd, that was arrogance. Hey, Todd, that was not devotion."
I go, "You know what? You're right. I did not run the play God calls me to run. I left the spirit of what our team is about, and I went this way. I want to agree with you guys that that was a turnover. I want to agree with you guys that that was a penalty. I want to agree with you guys that that should be flagged. Thank you for pointing that out to me. I want to continue to practice so when I perform in life, I don't play that way."
But if I say, "Hey, that's the way I'm going to play. I'm godless. I couldn't really care less what team we're on or what program we represent," that's where the Scripture says, "Careful. Don't be like them who just embrace a practice of playing that is not practical Christianity." They are licentious. They use the grace of God as an excuse to not care about what they do because they have some magic formula or some magic practice that somehow erases the rebellion against him. They deny the authority of Jesus. "Yeah, I know Jesus said this, but I'm not really into doing what Jesus says. I'm into doing what I say."
Let me list off a series of questions I think would be helpful to you in asking yourself if you're like them because apostates don't do the things I'm about to read, but people who are fully devoted followers of Christ, this is their practice. Do we deviate from this at times? Yes, and when we see it in our game film, we confess it, we agree with it, we have community around us that helps us practice more that we might play right. Here are the questions.
Do you have a predisposition to seek God's grace? Do you have a predisposition in your heart to follow his will, to earnestly submit to Scripture and to seek with passion the truths revealed within? Is that who you are innately? Do you find your nature pulled in that direction? If so, there's really a good chance you are not an apostate.
Do you regard yourself as a steward or trustee of all of your time and possessions? That's what believers do. Do you see investing in kingdom work and kingdom building as a tax or as a privilege? Believers see it as a privilege that God would trust them with resources they can use to advance his fame.
Do you hate sin, or do you easily tolerate it and even make excuses for its presence in your life? One of the greatest assurances I have that I'm a member of God's team is that when I sin, I hate it. Not because it's on national TV, not because it shows up on game film, not because I'm caught, but because it is contrary to who I want to be. Before anybody says something, there are times where I just go, "Ugh," because the Spirit of God says, "Todd, that's not who you are as my son."
Is it your practice to regularly, as a matter of course, in who you are, how you were made, act certain ways, or do you confess your sin to others and struggle faithfully and biblically against even the appearance of evil in your life? That's what believers do. Do others regularly comment that your life is so different that they ask you to give you an account for the hope that is within you?
Do they look at you and go, "What's the program for your life? You're so different in the way you love, the way you work through conflict in your marriage, the way you own your mistakes in humility, the way you are others-centered with tenderness, kindness, and love, the way you use your resources not to live in a life of comfort but to give and bless other people?" Do folks say, "Would you explain that to me? Why do you care about me? You don't want anything from me, and I can tell you don't want something from me. You just love me. Why are you like that?"
If folks aren't regularly asking you that question, it should cause you some disturbance because that was a question they always asked Jesus. If you follow him, they'll ask you. Are you growing, changing, being further set apart from others in your speech, your conduct, your love, your faith, your purity, your marriage, your priorities?
Do you use your liberty in Christ to indulge yourself, or are you careful to do nothing that would cause the ministry to be discredited? Are you a licentious individual who goes, "All things are lawful, and I can do whatever I want; I'm saved by grace, so it really doesn't matter that I do this"? "I can drink. God doesn't judge whether you have a beer or not, and I couldn't really care less how it affects other folks."
Do you say, "How will what I'm doing affect other people and their understanding of who Jesus is? Whether I drink or don't drink isn't the issue; how do I love other folks for the glory of Jesus Christ?" Or, do you just say, "I couldn't care less; I'm going to do what I want to do because I'm free to do it"? That's not the attitude of Jesus.
How about this one? Do you isolate yourself from others who are calling you to live as Christ has called you to live? Do you purposely not go to team meetings, smaller communities, when the offensive line gets together and watches film and goes over whether or not you're holding? You really couldn't care less if you hold because you're just going to hold; that's who you are. Or will you say, "I want to get in there; I want to folks to spur me on, love me well"?
Do you easily tell others of his goodness toward you, and can you earnestly speak of the transformation your relationship with Jesus has brought? That's what followers of Christ do. Have you personally stood before others as an individual who has trusted in Christ alone and declared your story of grace and your identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ through baptism? If you're an individual who says Jesus is somehow important to your spiritual journey, that's not the common salvation message. Don't be like them. You keep Jesus at the center of who you are.
2 . Don't support the likes of them. This is important. What do people do who are part of dead churches, where leadership doesn't call people to this? I'm going to tell you, if you love Jesus Christ and you're in a church… I've had people ask me, "If Watermark is a church that is living as Christ would have it live, what if I feel called to be a part of a change in my church?" Do you know what I say to you? Great. Fantastic. God bless you. I am so grateful he has left you there, but do what a prophet does, who speaks the truth at all times.
What is your strategy to declare the truth of who Jesus Christ is to your leadership in such a way that you will have a clearly articulated message, that you will have measurements to see if they're listening to your message, or if you're just casting pearls before swine? What is the time period you think God would have you stay there to where if no changes are made, you're going to go ahead and knock the dust off your sandals and go another place?
That's fine you say you're there to make a change; what change are you making? What's your strategy to make that change, and how are you going to measure whether or not that change was made? If the change isn't made, you had better get out. You had better quit supporting, you had better quit attending, you had better quit partnering with, you had better quit enduring, you had better quit condoning or showing patience toward that because you are then supporting those apostates. That is not something you want to invest in.
I'm going to tell you, I am so grateful that there are some believers who say, "I am really called to this particular church." I'm going to say, "Fine. What's your strategy to be God's agent there?" Don't just sit there and say, "I'm just going to love him in this pew and be faithful." No, you're not, just like we're not called to sit passively, quietly by as this world goes a different direction. He tells us to be evangelists who tell others about what God wants.
3 . You duplicate yourself in others. Two verses. First, 2 Timothy 2:2: "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." Give the faith to faithful men who will be soldiers for truth, who will contend for it, who will agonize and fight for what Jesus said he was because people can't just have some loose understanding of who he is. It's going to cost them everything.
Colossians 1:28-29 says this: "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me." Do you know what you do against apostates? You don't be an apostate. You stand firm. You don't support the likes of apostates. You reproduce faithfulness in other people.
When you do that, your Savior will never forget it, and you will hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant, good and faithful soldier. I know they hated you; they hated me. Don't be surprised, but know that I know who you are, and I know who they are. The wicked will not stand in the judgment, but for you is the eternal weight of glory that surpasses all understanding. Follow me, faithful men."
Father, I pray that we would be a church that would speak the truth of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone, that we would not trust our opinion, that we would not supplant our insight, knowledge, or philosophies, that we would stand firm where you are firm and remain flexible where you are flexible.
I thank you, Father, that your Word doesn't tell us how to worship. I thank you for faithful churches, denominational churches today, that are going to have men in robes, that are going to have choirs and organs, that are going to preach the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ and make you more famous. I thank you that that is happening in a remnant of Methodist churches. I thank you that that's happening in a remnant of Presbyterian churches. I pray that those churches so radically transform their denominations that they reclaim the glory they had in their founding.
Father, I know there are churches today where there are guys who are doing contemporary worship, and there is all kinds of error being taught. I thank you, God, that you don't tell us how to worship. You just tell us to worship and that you want us to be people who follow you. The way we follow you is not some form on Sunday.
The way we follow you is to love as you love, do as you did, be gentle, be loving, be kind, be truthful, not be timid in spirit, be men and women of self-control, who when we sin, we go, "Oh, man. Lord, thank you for your grace and forgiveness, but I don't want to lean on it. I need it desperately but may your grace shine ever more in me as I become the man, the woman, you want me to be."
Father, I pray that we would be individuals who would learn that you call us to follow you not because you have a desire to oppress us and to keep us from life but because you don't want us to suffer from our own wandering away. Certainly, you don't want us to face you when you state the case in order before your eyes and say, "You know something? There was absolute truth. There was one way, and his name was Jesus. His sheep knew him and didn't just say things about him, but they followed him."
Father, may we follow you in all humility. May we love each other. May we call others to come, and may we be shepherded so well by green pastures and still waters that others would want to have a relationship with you as well. Would you make yourself more famous through us as we contend for the faith, once and for all delivered to the saints with the grace of Christ and the truth of Christ. For your glory and our good, we pray, amen.
You have a great week of worship.
In this world it is easy to become deluded, tolerating sin and succumbing to isolation. This series, based on the New Testament book of Jude, challenges devoted followers of Christ to recognize who we are in Him. We are wooed by the call of an irresistible suitor, we are loved with the love of a wonderful savior, and we are kept by the will of an unstoppable keeper. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live exemplary lives that are worthy of imitation while standing firm against teachers and doctrines that are not consistent with the character of Christ. This 4-part series explores Jude's exhortations to be different, provides guidelines for spotting false teachers, and explains our role as contenders for the truth.