Thursday, August 23, 2007

Would a loving God really do that? Jude 5-7

“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”

You have probably heard the objection, “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” Why would God send loving ol’ granny to an eternal torment just because she does not want to come to Jesus? Many people give the “freedom of the will argument”. I recently read one defense that falls way short of the gospel and actually ends up robbing us of our only hope of salvation. Some guy named Lenny from offers this as an answer, “If God is the author of all good and people have the free will to follow Him or separate from Him, then it must follow that people will suffer if they don't choose to follow God. In this way it is not a "punishment", but the only option left to God who cannot destroy your sovereign will.”[1]

Lenny strips us of our only hope because if “God cannot destroy our sovereign will” then we are all destined to hell. Our only hope is that God might destroy our “sovereign will”. The truth is that our will is not sovereign, God is! Now, Lenny (and all those who use the free will argument) get at least two things right. 1) People really do go to hell. 2) People really do go to hell because they desire to. That is the human condition we hate what we should love and we love what we should hate. But where they miss the boat is in believing that God is passively sitting by just hoping that we will somehow out of our God-hating hearts “choose Him”. This will never happen! Our only hope is that god might, in his sovereign love change our heart so that it might desire what it ought—Jesus Christ. The question really is not, why does God send people to hell—the question we should be asking is, “why am I not in hell right now”?

Jude’s message to us today is; God really does send people to hell. People who are disobedient and rebellious will undergo the same punishment of eternal fire that Sodom and Gomorrah did. Jude gives three examples from biblical history to prove his point. First of all he points us to the Israelites whom God had just redeemed out of Egypt, afterward when they grumbled and disobeyed God destroyed them. (See Numbers 14:29–37 and Hebrews 3:17–19). Secondly, Jude points us to angels who left their proper dwelling are now kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until judgment day.[2] Lastly, Jude is going to give us the great example of sin; Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis 19). Jude’s point is simple—look at history, God will punish those who rebel, those who break his law, and those who disobey.

Jude is using this example to point us to these false teachers and is ultimately saying, “Do not follow them”. But the question I ask is this; where does this leave me? I am a rebel. I have broken his law. I have disobeyed. What then does this mean for me? Brothers and sisters we must feel the weight of this—don’t answer it too quickly. Own your rebellion. Come to grips with your lawbreaking. Embrace the fact that you have disobeyed. It is the gospel! We cannot come to an understanding of the gospel until we can grasp (and feel) the weight of our fall. Until we feel the heavy, painful burden of Galatians 3:10[3] we will never feel the life-changing joy, peace, freedom, and grace of Galatians 3:13[4]. If we do not understand the seriousness of Jude v5-7 then we will not appreciate the Gospel.

What is the answer for those of us who have rebelled (that means everyone)? The answer is in the gospel. The answer is in Galatians 3:13. Jesus Christ became that curse—he has taken the punishment for our rebellion and disobedience.

[2] We actually know very little about Jude’s reference here, possibly it is a reference to Genesis 6:2, and the belief that angels left heaven and came to earth—but this is difficult to prove. We must focus on Jude’s main point here—they rebelled, they were punished.
[3] For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them’.
[4] Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’

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