Monday, November 19, 2007

Finish Jude--Those who cause divisions v19

Call it irony, call it laziness, call it distraction, call it what you will. I just realized today that I never finished up our bible studies on Jude. My plan is to finish the last 4 messages (1 of those today) and then begin a series of Bible studies on 1 Thessalonians. So, for the poor guy who has been checking this website every day since September 17th, here you go:

"It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit"
If you have been involved in the life of a church for any time at all you have problem experienced a church conflict. Sometimes there are significant theological differences that cause problems in the church. Sometimes it is over methodological changes (such as a change in style of worship music or outreach). Sometimes it is just plain stupid (like carpet color, clocks, etc.). All of these things, however, have something in common—according to Jude they are caused by people who are worldly and devoid of the Spirit. Today we are going to discover what we can NOT learn from Jude and what we can learn from Jude about conflict.

Before we really understand what Jude is saying we need to look at what Jude is NOT saying. If you read the story of Paul and Barnabas splitting up in Acts 15:36-41 you see that even great men of God go through difficult disagreements and conflicts. What we Jude is NOT saying is that “if you have a conflict in your church it’s because someone is not saved”. Granted, sometimes that person, who is always complaining and is exhibiting no grace whatsoever, is doing so because he/she is not regenerate. But we can see clearly from this example in Acts 15:36-41 that sometimes “sharp disagreement” and even a parting of ways happen because two believers do not see eye-to-eye on a significant issue. Therefore, it is important for us to remember that whenever we are in conflict we cannot pull the trump, “you’re probably not saved”, card.

But Jude is helping us to see the underlying cause and nature of much division in the body of Christ--lack of unity in doctrine. False teaching always destroys the church and it should not be put up with. How then do you determine whether it is false teaching or biblical teaching that is being propagated? It is an important question. The Puritans caused division in the church. But they did so because they were hoping to transform the ungodly church. So, it really was not the Puritans who caused the division but the one who had adulterated the gospel in the first place. But what do you do when you find your church in the middle of a division? How do you know which side is correct, and which side is the one causing the division?
First of all, not every issue is as black and white as "The Heretics v. The Bible-Believers". There are definite issues that the Bible does not spell out clearly. But I offer 3 suggestions for determining who is "right" in the argument.
1) Determine the fruit. Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-20 that you could determine false teachers by their fruits. Is their teaching producing godliness? Are they themselves growing in love for Christ? If you can see that one side is producing fruits of the flesh instead of fruits of righteousness it is quite possible that it is because their heart/doctrine is devoid of the Spirit.
2) Which treasures and exalts God more? The one that gives God the most glory is always the right one. I cannot think of a single circumstance where it would be fitting to do something that gave God less glory. Therefore, if one side is promoting something that would diminish the glory of God and the other would give Him more glory, it is probably the latter which is correct. Sometimes it is a matter of good versus greater. In the case of Jude it was heresy versus godliness. Alongside this is to ask the question is Christo-centric? Does it exalt Jesus Christ? Is it Cross-centered? Does it display man in his proper place? Does it show God to be the redeemer? Is it man-centered or God-centered? These are great questions to ask to determine which is truth.
3) What is historical? It might seem like this is saying to mindlessly follow tradition. I assure it is not. But it is an exhortation to follow "the most holy faith" of which Jude speaks of in v20. Usually if a strange doctrine enter the church it is not new. It has probably been dealt with before. Therefore, history is a good place to look. Usually if something flies in the face of historic Christianity it is going to be unbiblical. Be very cautious of accepting the newest fad and newest teaching. It is quite arrogant to think that we are just now discovering the 7 secrets of the Christian life, or THE KEY to living the Christian life.
All in all it is those who want to exalt themselves in the place of Jesus--men who are devoid of the Spirit that are proponents of false teaching. In given time they will be exposed and the truth of God will reign victorious. If you are in the midst of a church conflict I urge you to cling to Jesus above all things. He will reign victorious and so long as you are clinging to the Cross of Christ and the glory of God is your hope you will in no way be ashamed!

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...