Tuesday, May 25, 2010

“At Risk in the Community” International Sunday School Lesson for Adults

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending May 30, 2010

Purpose: To grasp the danger of false teachings.

Scripture Text: Jude 3-7, 19-21, 24-25 (NRSV)

Jude 3-7
(3) Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share, I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. (4)For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (5) Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, that the Lord, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed those who did not believe. (6)And the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgment of the great day. (7)Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Jude 19-21
(19)It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. (20)But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; (21) keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Jude 24-25
(24)Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, (25) to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

The Book of Jude can be boiled down to this simple statement, “what we believe makes a profound impact on how we behave.” Barclay calls The Book of Jude one of the most relevant books in the New Testament. Jude was one of the last books to be canonized and it is considered one of the Catholic (universal), even though it seems to be addressed to a particular congregation, possibly in Asia Minor. Barclay thinks it is relevant because we face many of the problems addressed by Jude in today's churches.

From the first few verses of this letter it appears Jude, (the half brother of Jesus) and the brother of James, the leader of the Christian movement in Jerusalem, wanted to write about their salvation, but he found it necessary to write about a more pressing problem within the church.

The problem addressed seems to be antinomianism (against the law). Just as in today's world there is a common and popular belief that Christians are free to do as they please and are no longer bound by God's moral law, (10 commandments, or Christ law of love) our actions are no longer important because Christ has died for mankind and grace covers all the things most would consider immoral or unlawful. This teaching is the biggest threat to the true church of Jesus Christ.

Today as I was reading some of the postings on Facebook, one glared at me, a quote from a professor at Chicago Theological Seminary where she reportedly used the phrase “moral autonomy” another way of saying there are no absolutes. Jude was very definite in his letter there are consequences to bad behavior and he uses several examples. “Easy believeism” is an easy sell, it takes no discipline, it costs us nothing. Ask those that spent forty years wandering in the desert until they all died, if God has absolutes. Or ask the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah, if God has absolutes. Unlike those that think we are all automatically redeemed, God says, we are condemned to death, unless we acknowledge and receive Christ into our hearts and our fruits bear witness to the fact that Christ lives in us. James says “faith without works is dead” Jude seems to imply the same thing; there are consequences to our ignoring God's moral law, those that live that way are classified as “wandering clouds without water, trees without fruit, wandering stars that end up in the darkness of nothingness.”

It is not popular to talk about absolutes in this antinomianism society and culture, which is too hard for the world to accept. Those that name the name of Christ are expected to lead an ethical and moral life and any that don't will face eternal judgment; “depart from me, I never knew you”. Jesus said in Matthew 7:16-20 “you will know them by their fruits” Jude wanted to hold those within the church to Christ standard. As Christians we should demand the same from our spiritual leaders.

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