by Mike Ratliff
17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “ In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly- minded, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. (Jude 1:17-23 NASB)
I just watched on FoxNews the the last couple of hours coverage of the Grand Jury decision in the St. Louis County, Missouri not to indict Police Office Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. I listened to the entire speech of the the prosecutor so I had a very thorough understanding of the process and how the evidence went down in that case. However, his speech was then followed by questions from the media. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Did those people actually listen to his speech? Do they have no understanding whatsoever of what the term “Rule of Law” means? It was as if they were demanding that his prosecutor override all the evidence and indict the policeman in the case because so much “political pressure” from all directions demanded it. I thought that with a few exceptions those reporters in would have been given a failing grade from my Newspaper Reporting class professor at Oklahoma State University back in 1970. As the prosecutor left the microphone and headed to the door I heard one of the reporters yell after him, “How are you going to sleep tonight….?”
One thing about this case that has struck me and I hope you as well is how the family of Michael Brown see that “justice” for their son is only to be found in “the system.” They are supposedly Christians and I have seen pictures of them with their pastor. What sort of Christianity is that that seeks social justice for self above all rather than seeking to see God’s grace move and operate in everyone?
God’s grace is far greater than ours. His is infinite while ours is finite. Those who are maturing unto Christlikeness will over time find themselves in circumstances in which it would be ‘the natural thing to do’ to react within a self-protective or self-focused mode instead of reacting as Christ would. However, as their humility becomes more and more predominate over their pride they will find themselves reacting towards others with an unconditional love.
When we love one another with that unconditional love that only comes from God then we will be gracious as His is. Our reaction of grace towards those who don’t deserve it are mere shadows of God’s gentleness with His children. We deserve eternal Hell yet our Lord Jesus Christ went to the Cross and died for their sins. Think long and hard on that one my brethren. That is Grace. On the other hand, God is also just. His Love and Grace do not trump His justice. He is going to judge all sin. Those in Christ have already had their sins judged as Christ died on the Cross. All outside of Christ are still in their sins and will be judged with no advocate there to take their judgment away.
God’s love and grace is also seen in His tough love with His children. I would love to give my grandson all the sweets and kool-aid and soft drinks he wants, but it really causes him problems when he gets too much. Therefore, I have to say no to him sometimes as an act of love. God does this with us as well. There are all sorts of things I would like to have that God does not allow. He blocks me from doing things. He keeps me from possessing certain things. I must say that God is great deal more patient toward me than I deserve and a lot more patient than I am toward my grandsons.
What about God’s justice? Does His grace trump His justice? In the book of Jude, we read of an urgent appeal for the Church to earnestly contend for the faith.
3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4 NASB)
Why are believers being urged here to contend for the faith? This appeal is also necessary. The readers are being exhorted to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. This is the Gospel. The genuine Gospel is unchangeable and uneditable. It is complete, however, certain people have crept in unnoticed. These people are not elect. They have long ago been designated for condemnation. They are ungodly people who pervert the grace of our God. How? They turn it into sensuality and deny our Lord Jesus Christ. This sounds like a description of today’s church to me. Any attempt to market the gospel by using appeals to the flesh in order to build interest and get people to come to a “church” falls into this category of apostasy.
5 Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:5-7 NASB)
God’s justice is not trumped by His grace. It was by His grace that the Israelites were taken from Egypt into the Promised Land. However, how many of the original Israelites who left Egypt made it? Only two survived the journey, Joshua and Caleb. Those who entered the Promised Land with them were the children of those whom God took from slavery. God caused those in unbelief to die on the way. I also offer you from the New Testament the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5).
Currently much of the visible Church is in a very fleshly, immature, unholy state. Professing Christians who use people’s holiness as a standard (either of good or evil) are walking according to the flesh. Why? There is only one standard of holiness and purity for the Christian. That standard is God’s holiness and purity. There are certain “pastors” and “teachers” who profess to be Christians while telling their followers that God’s grace trumps his justice so there are no boundaries to their fleshly pursuits. This teaching says that all who profess Christ as their Saviour can live any way they want because they are forgiven. These are guilty of perverting the grace of our God into sensuality and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
The Lord is going to return at the proper time. He will return with thousands and thousands of his Holy ones to execute judgment. Therefore, let us seek to mature in Christ so His character will become manifest in ours. We will then graciously snatch many from the fire while we earnestly contend for the faith, withstanding those who teach what is false until our Lord returns.
Soli Deo Gloria!