Sermon #24 Jude Sermons
Title: Five Metaphors of Great Danger
Text: Jude 1:12-13
Subject: The Danger of False Prophets
Date: Tuesday Evening — April 5, 2005
Tape # Jude #24
Readings: Larry Criss and Larry Brown
The title of my message is — Five Metaphors of Great Danger. A metaphor is a word picture. We commonly use metaphors in our daily conversations. They are so woven into our speech that we commonly use them without even realizing it. For example: The word I just used, “woven,” is a metaphor picturing the blending of words. Sometimes we use them deliberately to vividly convey a thought. When that is the case, we carefully select the precise words needed to convey the thought or thoughts we want to express.
In our text (Jude 1:12-13) Jude was inspired by God the Holy Spirit to give us five metaphors illustrating the great danger of false prophets in the church.
(Jude 1:12-13) (1) “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: (2) clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; (3) trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; (13) (4) Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; (5) wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.”
Jude very carefully chose five metaphors to describe “certain men” who have crept into the church “unawares,” bringing with them damnable heresies, “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Spots of danger, clouds without water, trees without fruit, wild waves of the sea and wandering stars are all metaphors used to vividly portray the men who had crept into those churches (v4).
Who are these infiltrators, who have crept into the church? Jude does not leave us in doubt. He tells us plainly.
1. They are men who turn “the grace of our God into lasciviousness” (v. 4) who assert that the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, without works, opens the flood-gates to licentiousness and causes people to live in lasciviousness. — Self-righteous Pharisees and Legalists.
2. These false prophets are men who deny “the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 4), denying Christ’s deity and his right to have dominion as Lord over all, by denying the efficacy of his finished work of redemption. — They despise his “dominion” as Lord and speak evil of his “dignities,” all his glory revealed in the gospel(v. 8). — They speak evil of (blaspheme) the gospel itself, the gospel of salvation in and by Christ alone, speaking “evil of things which they know not,” corrupting (destroying) themselves and all who heed their doctrine (v. 10).
3. In verse 11 Jude tells us that these false prophets (Remember, he is describing all false prophets.) “have gone in the way of Cain” teaching works salvation, “and ran greedily after the error of Balaam” teaching men to compromise the gospel. “Walking after their own lusts,” they speak “great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” And they are men who have “perished in the gainsaying of Core,” men who have perished because they have rebelled against God and his Sacrifice, the Lord Jesus Christ, refusing to trust Christ alone for righteousness and acceptance with God.
4. They are “mockers” who are motivated by and walk “after their own lusts” (v. 18). — Everything they do is motivated by self-interests.
5. False prophets are men who separate themselves from God’s faithful servants and seek to separate you from them (v. 19).
6. Such men are lost, unregenerate, self-serving, religious hypocrites, “sensual, having not the Spirit” (v. 19). — Their religion is sensual and their doctrine is sensual, because their motives are sensual.
7. In a word, Jude is telling us that all false prophets are Gnostics.
You have heard the term “gnosticism” many times. Paul’s letter to the Colossians was written specifically for the purpose of correcting the Gnostic heresy. But you may not know exactly what a Gnostic is. Very simply put, a Gnostic is one who denies the supernatural. He believes that he has special, superior knowledge in spiritual matters, and that salvation is attained not by the supernatural work and omnipotent grace of God the Holy Spirit in making us partakers of the divine nature in regeneration, but by his own super-human brilliance. Of course, he asserts that his brilliance is “the gift of God’s grace.” But that which makes him to differ from us poor, ignorant sinners, is his great knowledge, not God’s great work of grace. Gnosticism makes acquired knowledge, not the finished work of Christ the assurance of salvation.
Undoubtedly some of these false teachers and their followers had grown up “in the church” and considered themselves Christians, but they had turned away from “the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (v. 3). They considered themselves superior to the ignorant masses because their self-proclaimed acquisition of higher spiritual knowledge. Though such men and their followers think that they were a special class of spiritually elite saints, they are denounced by God the Holy Spirit as those who are as spiritually ignorant as brute beasts (v10).
Proposition: The five metaphors in verses 12 and 13 denounce these infiltrators, exposing their deceptive characteristics and insidious tactics. The Holy Spirit inspired Jude to use these five metaphors both to reveal the nature of those first century heretics and to vividly portray the character and tactics of false teachers and apostates within the church today. Let’s look at them together.
“Spots in Your Feasts”
First, Jude tells us that these false prophets within the church are “spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear.”
The word that is translated “spots” is not the word we would use today to speak of “specks of dirt” or “dirty spots.” This word means “spots of danger.” In fact, a literal translation would be, “they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you.” Young’s Literal translation translates Jude’s words, “These are craggy rocks in your love-feasts.”
Jude is telling us that these false prophets who fearlessly join themselves to God’s saints, gorging themselves upon the generosity of God’s people, are like the dangerous hidden reefs upon which ships are wrecked as they approach the shore. They gorge themselves upon the generosity and flattery of unsuspecting men and women, as Jude puts it, “feeding themselves without fear.” Like the hireling shepherds of Israel, they feed themselves, and not the flock.
(Ezekiel 34:1-10) “And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, (2) Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? (3) Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. (4) The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. (5) And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. (6) My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. (7) Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; (8) As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; (9) Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; (10) Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.”
Jude’s imagery is graphic. Imagine a ship clipping along in open waters where there is no indication of danger. The ship’s captain and crew are totally unaware of the hidden craggy reef ahead. They are sailing, anxious to get ashore, joyfully anticipating their haven. Then, suddenly and without warning disaster strikes, everyone on board is killed in the shipwreck.
False prophets participate in the fellowship of God’s saints, but they are the hidden means of shipwreck for those who follow their doctrine. Without fear, acting just as though they really love you, they seize every opportunity to vigorously push their distortions of the gospel upon unsuspecting souls. They don’t look dangerous; but below the surface they are hidden reefs which will cause the shipwreck of unsuspecting souls.
“He that hath an ear, let him hear.” — Any doctrine that would take your eyes of Christ is a hidden reef that will destroy. It may look good, and sound good, and appear very reasonable (In this case the reef is hidden deliberately!), but it is sure to destroy, if it causes you to look…
· To your works for righteousness, rather than to Christ’s finished work!
· To your experience for peace, rather than to Christ atonement!
· Your knowledge for assurance, rather than to the Gospel’s declared good news.
“Clouds without Water”
Second, Jude describes all preachers of freewill/works salvation, all preachers of salvation based upon and/or determined by something in you, are “clouds without water, carried about of winds.”
“Clouds they are, without water.” — They are compared to clouds because there are many of them. Many false prophets and antichrists have gone out into the world. Like clouds, they appear suddenly, spreading darkness, not light, over us, making the day in which they appear a day of thick darkness and gloom and a day of trouble.
Oh, what troublesome strife, factions and divisions these clouds bring! They soar high and are vainly puffed up. But, blessed be God, they shall be destroyed suddenly and dispersed with ease when Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shines forth!
But these men are not just clouds of darkness. “Clouds they are, without water.” — What could be more useless? They are utterly destitute of the grace of God, and the gospel that proclaims it.
(Deuteronomy 32:1-5) “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. (2) My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: (3) Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. (4) He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (5) They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.”
But there is no rain in these clouds, nothing to refresh, renew, and comfort troubled souls, just darkness and gloom. They give every promise of good, but produce no rain.
Like empty clouds, false prophets change doctrine almost as often as they change shoes, because, as we read in our text, they are “carried about of winds.”
· False prophets feverishly chase the winds of their own foolish imaginations. They call it “new light.” (If it’s new it’s not true. If it’s true it’s not new.) God calls it “wind.” They are always in doubt. So they are easily tossed with the winds of opinion.
· The word “winds” distinctly refers to the lower winds of the earth.
· Faithful gospel preachers never alter their message. — Christ crucified!
(Ephesians 4:11-14) “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
Look at Jude 12 again. The Holy Spirit tells us, third, that all preachers of another gospel are “trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.” If there is anything more worthless than a cloud without water, it is a dead, fruitless tree.
· It has no life.
· It has no leaves for shade.
· It does not even make good firewood, because it burns so quickly.
· And it has no fruit.
False prophets, being altogether void of the grace of God themselves and of the gospel of God’s grace, like the Pharisees of old, when they have made one disciple or a thousand, they make them twofold more the children of hell than they were before. — There is absolutely nothing good that comes from them.
They are “twice dead, plucked up by the roots!” They are spiritually both dead, like all men by nature, and they are judicially dead, reprobate, being under the sentence of everlasting condemnation, because they (following their own craftiness) have been plucked up by the roots and completely separated themselves from the garden of grace.
The fourth metaphor Jude uses to describe heretics within the church is “Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame.” Knowledge without grace swells the head and the heart. Their ever swelling pride, like raging waves of the sea, is the thing that motivates and drives their lives. And like raging waves of the tempestuous sea, they are full of anger, lashing out without restraint against God, his gospel, his servants, and his people, “foaming out their own shame.” That which ought to make any sane man blush is their pride. — Themselves! And they shall, at last, be brought to shame.
Blessed be our God forever, these raging waves are beating against that mighty Rock of Salvation upon which we stand, Christ Jesus. And this Rock is totally unaffected by the waves that beat against it. Their beating against him only results in the waves being slashed into oblivion!
The fifth metaphor Jude uses to describe false prophets is — “Wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” Like shooting stars that appear for a brief moment and then vanish into the air, false prophets arise in the church, make trouble for a brief time, and then fade more quickly than they arose.
· They appear like bright, new lights in heaven. But their light is just the light of shooting sparks. If you walk in it, you’re a fool.
· Like shooting stars, they appear to burn with great zeal. But their zeal is only the pursuit of their own lusts and ambitions.
· Jude calls them “wandering stars” because they usually wander from place to place, pursuing their lusts.
· To these wandering stars is reserved the blackest darkness of hell forever.
(Jude 1:12-13) “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; (13) Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.”
What are we to learn from these pointed, caustic metaphors? What lessons are we to carry home with us from all that has been said? There are many lessons that could and should be drawn from what we have seen in these two verses of Holy Scripture; but I want to give you five, five lessons which I pray God the Holy Spirit will write upon our hearts, for Christ’s sake.
1. Let us ever trust Christ, ever look to Christ, ever cling to Christ alone. — Not Our Experiences! — Not Our Feelings! — Not Our Works! — Not Our Knowledge! — But Christ alone (1 Cor. 1:30-31).
(1 Corinthians 1:30-31) “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
2. Let us never forget that as long as we are in this world, the church of God in this world is and shall be a mixed multitude.
3. I urge you and urge myself, let us make our calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10; Col. 2:6).
(Colossians 2:6) “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:”
3. Holdfast the only Holdfast there is — Christ crucified! Here is a nail in a sure place. Hang everything on him!
(Hebrews 2:1-3) “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. (2) For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; (3) How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?”
Thy promise is my only plea,
With this I venture nigh;
Thou callest burdened souls to Thee
And such, O Lord, am I.
Bowed down beneath a load of sin,
By Satan sorely pressed,
By wars without and fears within,
I come to Thee for rest.
Be Thou my shield and hiding place,
That, sheltered near Thy side,
I may my fierce accuser face,
And tell him Thou hast died!
O wondrous love! To bleed and die,
To bear the cross and shame,
That guilty sinners, such as I,
Might plead Thy gracious name!
Chorus: Approach, my soul, the mercy seat,
Where Jesus answers prayer;
There humbly fall before His feet,
For none can perish there.
When from the dust of death I rise
To take my mansion in the skies,
This then shall be my only plea:
Christ Jesus lived and died for me.
Then shall I praise Him and adore,
With joyful song forevermore,
Who once, for me atonement made,
And with His blood my ransom paid!