Friday, August 31, 2012

Jude XI: Introduction to Peter's warning of apostasy

The epistle of 2 Peter is the apostle Peter's address of apostasy. We will not go through the whole epistle for practical purposes, although someday if I feel led by the Lord, I may write an exposition of the Peter's second epistle. For now though, Lord willing, we will look at 2 Peter 1:19-3:7. 

2 Peter 1:19-21
"We have a more sure word of prophecy to which ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arises in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake under the power of the Holy Spirit."

The theme of these three verses is the reliability of the prophetic word in the holy scriptures. The King James Version of verse 19, does not do justice to the text. The reason why is thus: the prophetic word is inspired and infallible, and nothing can ever make it more dependable or trustworthy. F.W. Grant's translation of this verse may make the verse 19 easier to understand: "We have also the prophetic word confirmed, to which ye do well to take heed as to a lamp that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the morning star ariseth in your hearts."1 Peter goes on to give a detailed description of false teachers and apostates that will rise up in the last days, and they will deny the second coming of the Lord. 

There are several reasons why God has designed His inspired word to have "spoiler alerts" about certain events. Two of these reasons would be: 1. To show that He is faithful. and 2. To warn believers and exhort them to live according to His promises. The prophetic word in scripture would fall into two categories-- fulfilled prophecy, and unfulfilled prophecy. You can guess which events would fall into which category, so I won't waste time explaining that. In Peter's day, Christ's first coming fulfilled over 300 prophecies. Peter points out that the prophetic word confirmed, that which is unfulfilled prophecy will come to fruition. We are exhorted to take heed to this prophetic word, namely the Lord's coming for His Church, for it is a lamp that lights our path in this dark world. When Christ returns, a new day will dawn, and we shall see Him face to face. This is what the morning star would be in reference to, the rapture. In Revelation 22:16, the Lord says: "I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."

Next, in verse 20, Peter gives one of the states one of the most fundamental principles in hermeneutics: that the interpretation of prophecy is not based on an isolated method for each individual passage. All of scripture is to be interpreted to the rest of scripture, for this is the only way to make scripture most consistent. 

The reason why no scripture is of its own interpretation is given in verse 21. No prophecy ever came by man's will, but by the eternal Spirit of God who moved holy men of God. If prophecy did come by the will of man, imagine the results! Man has a hard enough time communicating earthly messages to one another that good communication skills is considered to be a precious commodity in today's work place. Even the holiest men if not moved by God's Spirit would come to their own conclusions and we would not have such glorious gospel verses such as John 3:16, or Romans 5:6-8 because they would probably disagree as people tend to do. But the Holy Spirit, who is eternal and all-wise, brings the writing styles of both apostles, John and Paul, and brings the message of both into uniformity. 

2 Peter 2:1-3
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 

Now, Peter reminds his audience that there were false prophets in Israel's past just like there were false prophets in Peter's day and there are false prophets in our day. These false prophets draw a sharp contrast between the holy men of God who were moved by the Spirit, and were true prophets. Jeremiah 14:13-15 says of the false prophets in OT times: "Then said I, ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets say unto themm, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place. Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke unto them; they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore, thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed." The false prophets in Jeremiah's day claimed to represent God. They claimed to have a message from the Lord who they claimed sent them. Yet they spoke lies in the name of God. It is an awful thing to claim representation of the Eternal One and speak lies on behalf of Him. There lies a sense of poetic justice for those who falsely prophesy in the name of God. Christendom has many pastors who profess to speak for God today and only speak lies. Rob Bell is one such example. His latest book, "Love Wins" presents a universalist gospel that eventually, all of humanity will go to heaven. 

1. F.W. Grant's Numerical Bible cited in II Peter & Jude: The Christian and Apostasy by William Macdonald (Kansas City, KA Walterick Publishers, 1972) pg. 25  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Jude pt. X

Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.(2 Timothy 3:4-5) 

The first description in this- traitors is used two other times in scripture: once in Luke 6:16 in reference to Judas Iscariot, and once in Acts 7:52 in reference to those who betrayed and murdered the Lord Jesus. In the last days many so called believers will be like Judas Iscariot towards his fellow brethren in Christ. In these times when persecution of christians becomes more common, there will be some who out of the covetous nature of their heart will betray and give over their "fellow" believers to the authorities. I put fellow in quotations for in reality, these men described here in 2 Timothy are not our fellow brothers in Christ; They are impostors and hypocrites. 

The next word that the King James Version uses is a bit archaic-- heady. Modern translations use the word "reckless", and other translations prior to the 20th century use the term "headstrong". "Haste" is a word with a similar meaning as "heady" which appears more frequently than the latter. To be hasty, make haste, or act hastily, is not always a bad thing. Many times in both the Old and New Testaments people acted most righteously when they made haste. The psalmist of the 119th psalm wrote concerning the commandments: "I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments." Zacchaeus made haste in coming down from the sycamore tree when he met the Lord (Luke 19:6). But there are many verses--especially in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes-- that speak negatively of the man who speaks or acts in haste and behaves rashly. 

Proverbs 14:29 says: "He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding; But he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly." This seems to be in agreement with 2 Timothy 3:3 in that a men in the last days will be fierce. Proverbs 28:20 says: "A faithful man shall abound with blessings; But he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent." This verse agrees much with 2 Timothy 3:2 where the word "covetous" is used to describe man in the end times. As previously mentioned, there are some verses in Ecclesiastes that warn man not to speak rashly or to be hasty towards anger, (Ecc. 5:2, 7:9) both of which would be appropiate if only space would permit to include in this article on how man will act near the end of the age and what the inspired word of God has to say about said behavior.

Highmindedness is another word for proud, or to be puffed up. In Paul's letter to the christians at Corinth, he uses the phrase "puffed up" five times in describing that assembly. Now, imagine all of Christendom puffed up as the Corinthians were. It's really not too hard to imagine when observing the current state of Christianity. 

In the end times men shall be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. The greek transliteration for "lovers of pleasure" is philedonos. The greek transliteration of "lovers of God" is philotheos. Men will be fond of sensual, fleshly pleasure more than being fond of God. Quite often these days, I see fellow believers showing more fondness for earthly activities such as sports and games than being fond of studying God's word with brothers and sisters in Christ, or giving thanks for what He has done. 

These men have a form of godliness; An outward semblance of piety and respect towards God. But they deny the very inward power of such godliness. While they display external fruit of a pious, God-fearing life, there is no internal reality of respect to the Creator of all things. I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 11:3-15, the well known passage which speaks of Satan transforming himself into a messenger of light. Satan can take a form of one who speaks on God's behalf, but preached a different Jesus than what is presented in the gospels. In Jeremiah 3:8-11 says: "And I saw that when for all the causes wherein backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce, yet the treacherous Judah, her sister, feared not, but went and committed fornication also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her fornication that she polluted the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. And even for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not returned unto me with her whole heart, but with falsehood, saith Jehovah. And Jehovah said unto me, Backsliding Israel hath shewn herself more just than treacherous Judah." A professing believer who only shows a form of godliness is by principle less just than those carnal christians who know they lack reverence for God. Just as Judas Iscariot for a time appeared to be one of the most trustworthy disciples and in time would become the one who betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver, many christians today some of them even more reliable than your pastor, will deal treacherously with Christ and His followers. 

If the experiences of Israel and Judah when the kingdom was split into two-- a northern kingdom and a southern kingdom-- could be considered illustrative of the current state of Christendom today with a Protestant side and a Roman Catholic/Orthodox side, then I would submit to my reader that the Protestant side is in greater sin than the RCC's. As far as professing believers go, those in the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox churches have not committed half as many sins as those who profess to believe and do not in the Protestant churches. The RCC's and Orthodox churches are quite blatant in their spiritual harlotry. But Protestants who have a false profession of faith are guilty of committing more whoredoms than that of the Roman Catholics. For it was in Protestantism that justification by faith reclaimed, but now many Protestant churches preach salvation by baptism, going to church, tithing, saying a prayer, etc.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jude pt. IX: Paul's Description of Apostates in 2 Timothy 3:3

Without natural affection--meaning unloving, without natural love. It is used especially of the natural affection parents have for their children and children have for their parents.(1) The Greek word for "trucebreakers" like many of the other adjectives in this list contains the negative participle "a" signifying there is an absence of a certain quality or trait. In this case, trucebreakers speaks of the absence of devotion. The opposite of this word is transliterated as "spendo". Thayer's Greek Definitions gives three defines this word as: 1) to pour out as a drink offering, make a libation
2) in the NT to be offered as a libation
3) fig. used of one whose blood is poured out in a violent death for the cause of God.(2)

It is used in the NT in such verses as Philippians 2:17, and 2 Timothy 4:6. In both these passages Paul is writing of how ready he is to die for his faith. This is the meaning of the antonym for the word "trucebreakers". The fact that this word is linked with the opposite of having a willingness to die for your faith is very interesting. By having a willingness to pour his life out as an offering, Paul display the characteristics of a trucebreaker. But anyone who does not have this selfless attitude could be looked at as being a trucebreaker. These people who possess this trait cannot be persuaded to enter into a covenant. Although they may profess to be a believer in Christ, they refuse to enter into a living relationship with Him. 

After trucebreakers, comes the description false accusers. The Greek for this is the same as "slanderers" in 1 Timothy 3:11, and "devil" in John 6:70. The reference in 1 Timothy is used by Paul in giving instruction to Timothy on the conduct of the wives of church elders and deacons. In John 6:70 the Lord tells His disciples that He had chosen the twelve men and yet one of them was a devil, or false accuser. We know that Christ was referring to Judas Iscariot, and that when Iscariot sold Christ out to the Pharisees for thirty pieces of silver, he was in effect aligning himself with those false accusers, the Pharisees. 

They are also incontinent--that is, lacking self-control. As I pointed out in the previous paragraph, many of the Greek words for the adjectives Paul uses in this list have the "a" prefix giving the connotation that there is a quality missing. We can gain much information then by finding out what the word minus the "a" prefix means and how it is used throughout scripture. In the case of the description "incontinent", the Greek word is akrat─ôs. It literally means powerless, or without self-control. It is found only here in 2 Timothy 3:3, but the antonym--kratos (G2904) is found in several passages such as Ephesians 1:19, Colossians 1:11, 1 Timothy 6:16, 1 Peter 5:11, Jude 1:25 and Revelation 5:13, et al. All these verses speak of the mighty power of Christ. W.E. Vine defines this characteristic as "morally impotent."(3) 

The word for fierce, the next term on the list, is not found anywhere else in scripture. It does however, have the negative participle for a prefix like many of the others, which can clue us in as to what the antonym is. The opposite for fierce that is used in scripture is meek, or gentle. Many passages in the New Testament have an author of an epistle exhorting his audience to practice gentleness and meekness towards all people and that the servant of God is not to be a brawler or striker(1 Tim. 3:3), or display any kind of ferociousness to anyone. 

Rounding out the list of terms that contain the negative participle prefix "a", is the description that is translated into the KJV as "...despisers of those that are good." The Greek for this phrase is transliterated "af-il-ag'-ath-os" which literally means "hostile to virtue" or "opposed to goodness and good men." The opposite of this word is found in Titus 1:8:"But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;"(emphasis mine). Such a one who is a "lover of good men" stands in direct contrast to one who despises those that are good. They are completely despondent of any internal reality toward a relationship with the risen Saviour. Yet, they maintain a certain form of godliness, or piety as we will see in a future post.

1.W.E. Vine Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words 1996 Nashville, TN                                    
2.Thayer's Greek Definitions
3. Ibid