Sermon #15 Jude Sermons
Title: Signs of Apostasy
Text: Jude 5-7
Subject: Apostasy and Reprobation
Date: Tuesday Evening — January 18, 2005
Tape # Jude #15
Readings: Bob Poncer and David Burge
In Jude 5-7 God the Holy Spirit gives us a historical record of apostasy and reprobation and the ultimate judgment it brings. These three verses are solemn, serious warnings, warnings to which we ought to give solemn and serious attention. May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher as we open his Word to us.
(Jude 1:5-7) I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (6) And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (7) Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Let me begin by giving you a clear definition of the word apostasy. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the word apostasy is accurately translated “falling away.” In that passage the Apostle Paul is telling us that there will be a great falling away from the faith, a falling away from the gospel, a falling away from Christ among those who profess faith in him before the Savior comes again.
(2 Thessalonians 2:1-4) Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, (2) That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. (3) Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (4) Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
The word here translated “falling away” (apostasy), means “a defection, a departure, a forsaking, a falling away.” It is a renunciation of Christ and his gospel, a renunciation of faith in him either verbally or by conduct.
· In the early church some forsook the gospel altogether, by returning to Judaism.
· Others did so by mixing law and grace, by mixing Judaism with the gospel.
· Among the Gentiles who professed faith in Christ, some became apostate by returning to their former idolatry.
· Others did so by mixing the customs and beliefs of their pagan religion with the gospel of Christ.
· And some, like those disciples in John 6, simply turn back and walked no more with Christ, though they made no formal renunciation of their professed faith in Christ.
The apostasy of professed believers is not an indication that the apostates were once saved and then were lost again. Apostasy does not imply any change in the apostate at all. Rather, apostate behavior is simply the manifestation of an apostate heart (1 John 2:19-20).
(1 John 2:19-20) They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (20) But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
Proposition: Apostasy is the willful rejection of divine revelation. The result of apostasy is reprobation. And reprobation is but the forerunner of everlasting damnation.
The one sign given in the New Testament that our Lord’s coming is near is the apostasy Jude describes in these verses. Our Lord Jesus warned us in Matthew 24 that before his second advent there would be a great falling away and that multitudes who profess to be believers would become followers of antichrists, of false christs. And so it has come to pass in our day.
Signs of Apostasy
The signs of apostasy are difficult to observe. They are set before us in clear, unmistakable terms in the New Testament. Let me show you from the Scriptures specific things that identify apostasy. These are things that characterize the departure of men and women from Christ.
1. Apostasy, of necessity, involves the rejection of God’s Word as our only authority and rule of faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:8).
(2 Timothy 3:8) Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
2. Apostasy is a form of godliness that denies the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:5).
(2 Timothy 3:5) Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
3. Apostasy is a departure from the faith, embracing the doctrine of devils (1 Tim. 4:1).
(1 Timothy 4:1) Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.
4. Apostasy is the denial of doctrine of Christ (2 John 9).
(2 John 1:9) Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
5. Apostasy is the mixture of grace and works, a denial of the believer’s complete freedom from the law and its condemnation in Christ (Rom. 9:31-10:4).
(Romans 9:31-33) But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. (32) Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; (33) As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
(Romans 10:1-4) Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. (2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
6. Apostasy is the denial of the gospel of the grace of God (2 Tim. 4:1-4).
(2 Timothy 4:1-4) I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; (2) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (4) And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
7. In a word, apostasy involves a turning away from the gospel of Christ unto another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9; 5:1-4).
(Galatians 1:6-9) I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: (7) Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (8) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (9) As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
(Galatians 5:1-4) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (2) Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. (3) For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (4) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Strange as it may seem, these denials come within the walls of Zion! They come from those who profess faith in Christ and profess to be serving him.
Cautions Against Apostasy
Like the Book of Hebrews, Jude warns us of the danger of apostasy, telling all who profess faith in Christ that to turn away from the gospel of Christ and walk no more with him, is to turn away from life and walk in death, to turn away from grace and walk in judgment, to turn away from redemption and walk in reprobation, to turn away from heaven and walk headlong into hell.
In verse 4 he tells us plainly what this apostasy is, how serious it is, and what a real danger it is.
(Jude 1:4) For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Then, in verses 5-7, he shows us how God deals with apostates in judgment by drawing our attention to the fallen Israelites in the wilderness (v. 5), the fallen angels (v. 6), and the fallen inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha (v. 7).
The Fallen Israelites (v. 5)
(Jude 1:5) I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
This is a piece of history with which we are all familiar. God delivered Israel out of the land of Egypt by a series of miracles, freeing them from Pharaoh’s oppressive yoke of bondage. The children of Israel passed through the midst of the Red Sea and saw its waters had rolled destroy Pharaoh and his army. God gave them his law at Mt. Sinai. He fed them with manna from heaven. He gave them water out of the Rock. Yet, as the stood on the borders of Canaan, they turned their backs on God in unbelief, became apostate, and perished in the wilderness.
Jude says, “I will therefore put you in remembrance of them,” lest you also perish. Why should we remember these lost Israelites who perished in the wilderness? They stand before us as glaring, alarming examples of people who having escaped the pollutions that are in the world through lusts, yet perish in unbelief! They wilfully, deliberately turned from the truth. They wilfully, deliberately turned their backs upon Christ. And the perished. It was not that God gave them no light. They had all the light of God’s revelation. But they closed their eyes to the light! Because God stretched out his hands and they refused, God gave them up to their own devices in reprobation. And reprobation is but the forerunner of everlasting destruction. It is death before death. It is judgment before judgment. It is hell before hell!
Steps to Apostasy
Apostasy is rarely, if ever, a sudden act. It is a gradual, deceitful process. I am sure that none of those who left Egypt on that momentous night would ever have dreamed that that had left their hearts in the land of darkness. What leads people into apostasy?
1. Some become apostate as the result of persecution, or trials (Matt. 24:9-12; John 6).
2. . Some become apostate by the influence of false doctrine (Matt. 24:11-12; 1 Tim 4; 2 Tim 3).
3. Some, like Demas, depart from the faith because of the love of the world.
4. Apostasy is usually the result of an unarrested hardness of heart and neglect of Christ (Heb. 2:3; 3:7-19; 10:25-26).
The Fallen Angels (v 6)
Jude gives a second illustration of apostasy in verse 6. This is an illustration that comes not from the realm of men, but from the realm of angels.
(Jude 1:6) And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
We tend to think, “What a terrible thing that people go to hell?” But these angels stand as a glaring example of the fact that no one ever goes to hell who does not choose to go to hell! How I wish I could make you see that fact of divine revelation (Pro. 1:23-33). Here are a host of angels in heaven, but they chose to leave their holy habitation and wound up in hell. That’s essentially the same choice that a men make in their willful rejection of the light God gives them. These angel’s chose to believe the devil’s lie and turned their backs upon God’s truth. For that they are reserved “in everlasting chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”
Perhaps you think, “Bro. Don, how can you compare what the angels did in their revolt to what men do in their unbelief?” Well, the fact is, I would never dream of making such a comparison, if the Holy Spirit did not make it himself in the very next verse.
The Fallen Gentiles (v. 7)
In verse 7 the Spirit of God tells us that is exactly what the fallen Gentiles in Sodom and Gomorrha did. Notice the words with which verse 7 begins, “Even as.” In other words, the Sodomites perished for exactly the same thing.
(Jude 1:7) Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
The Gentile inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha had the truth of God set before them by the testimony of God’s righteous servant, just Lot; but they wilfully turned their backs upon God’s truth and perished, just as the angels did. — “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” What a warning we have here! Read Romans 1:18-25.
(Romans 1:18-25) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (19) Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. (20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (21) Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, (23) And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (24) Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: (25) Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Apostasy is the willful rejection of divine revelation. The result of apostasy is reprobation. And reprobation is but the forerunner of everlasting damnation.
I want you to see one more glaring fact revealed in the fallen Israelites, the fallen angels, and the fallen Sodomites. There is no recovery from such apostasy (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:25-39; 3:12-15, 19-4:1).
(Hebrews 6:4-6) For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (5) And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (6) If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
(Hebrews 10:25-39) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (26) For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (27) But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (28) He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: (29) Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (30) For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. (31) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (32) But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; (33) Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. (34) For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. (35) Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. (36) For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (37) For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. (38) Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (39) But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
(Hebrews 3:12-15) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. (13) But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (14) For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (15) While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
(Hebrews 3:19) So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
(Hebrews 4:1) Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.