Dear Student of the Word,
Well, here it is, the culmination of almost nine years of work. This study from Jude's epistle is my last study since I have now finished every book in the New Testament. I started in August, 2001, putting out a weekly study focusing on 3-4 verses every day and I just kept writing. Now I have done a study for all 27 books. I am so grateful to the Lord and to you, the reader, for your encouragement and support. I feel quite a sense of accomplishment today.
This does not mean that this will end what I send you. I will now begin to edit and recycle my past studies, starting with Ephesians. I will continue to send you a study, but I am going to take the month of June off, so you won't hear from me again until July 1.
Jude's epistle is short, but powerful, focusing on evil men who had infiltrated the churches, actually ascending to leadership positions. This week I wrote on day five of this seven-day study:
v. 16 – The leaders Jude was addressing had all kinds of problems, didn’t they? Not only were they heretics, but they had bad character and expressed that character openly. Jesus promised that we would know His followers by their fruit and these men had bad fruit. This does not mean that a leader will ever be perfect; only Jesus was that. Yet these men knew how to manipulate people to keep them under their influence and use words to promote themselves and flatter others. I have watched that scene in modern times repeated over and over again, especially from those who make a living by traveling to churches and speaking. They know how to “market’ themselves and flatter local leadership so they hopefully get a return invitation.
For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears (Acts 20:29-31).
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:15-16).
v. 17 – Jude’s remedy for this problem was to hold on to the apostolic tradition that was handed down to the people by the Lord’s apostles. The same remedy holds for today. You and I must also hold fast to that apostolic tradition, which was handed down to us through the Word of God. What’s more, the Holy Spirit will help you know the truth as you read and study the Word. I have talked to many people who talk themselves out of what they are sensing and what the Spirit was trying to show them. They sensed a situation was bad, but they ignored it or said, “No, that can’t be right” and proceeded down the wrong path. Are you talking yourself out of anything that the Spirit and the Word are showing you? Are you in a bad church situation where the leadership is manifesting bad fruit and you are afraid to do something about it?
vs. 18&19 – The apostolic founders of the churches Jude was writing had been warned: They were told that Satan’s ploy would be the same over and over again. He would attack the so-called leaders, trying to pervert them and their message. Their goal would be to divide the flock around their own personality and insights and they would seek to divert attention from the Lord Jesus Christ onto themselves. Their personalities would be the focus instead of the Lord. If I am not mistaken, this is exactly what Satan himself tried to do, by making himself the focus and minimizing God. So you can see, his tricks are not new, but they are certainly effective. Jesus had promised:
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:18).
Just because hell won’t prevail does not mean it won’t try to prevail. And the book of Revelation clearly outlines that the kingdom of darkness will try over and over again to overthrow God’s rule and destroy His people. We know that God is always victorious, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be battles to endure. Are you mindful of the continuous warfare in which you are engaged? Do you know you cannot win this battle without total dependence on Him? Do you also know that you may need to exercise courage and faith to confront evil, even if it is among those you love and respect?
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional New Testament Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse Bible studies from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Philemon Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter, Hebrews, 1-3 John and Revelation, along with the unpublished volumes of The Faith Files.
KENYA: I just returned from Kenya and had a great visit. The training I did for The Pacific Institute was well received and we are planning another seminar in August. I will give you some updates in the future on my visit and share more information about how you can be part of the next TPI seminar in August.
I also distributed 2500 sets of undies, 350 brassieres and $5000 from the Sophia Fund to feed orphans and widows. All in all, it as a fabulous trip. Thanks for helping to make it happen.