Professors or Possessors
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

We have been discussing some passages of Scripture that would seem to contradict the truth concerning the security of the believer. We suggested to you that there are approximately twenty-five verses of Scripture that would seem to contradict the truth concerning the security of the believer if those verses were taken out of their context. We have suggested to you that the best way to combat all error is not to study the error, but to study the Word of God and be fully able to understand what God's Word says at any given place. Understanding what it says at any given place, we will be able to recognize anything that is inconsistent with it. The reason that error creeps in with many groups today is that many people don't know the Word of God, and things which are phrased nicely oftentimes are misleading.

We have said to you at other times, but we would like to emphasize to you now, that a man should not be judged so much for what he says as for what he doesn't say because nearly anyone can say good things. When there is a given subject under discussion, and the individual does not say the important things about the subject, then you can assume that he either doesn't know them, or he doesn't believe them. That is the reason it is important for us to know the facts. Then we can evaluate anything that anyone says in the light of the facts.

Setting Of The Controversial Passage

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the epistle of Jude, verse 1:

Jude:

1Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
2Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
4For 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.
5I 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.
6And 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.
7Even 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.
8Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
9Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
10But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
11Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
12These 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;
13Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
14And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
15To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
16These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
17But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
18How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
19These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the spirit.
20But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
21Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22And of some have compassion, making a difference:
23And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
24Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

We read the entire epistle of Jude, mainly because it is brief and because by reading the entire epistle, you will be able to see the setting of one or two verses within the epistle itself which suggests to some people that it is possible for one to lose his salvation after he has been saved. Notice in verse 5 the illustration that is given which some people say indicates it is possible to lose one's salvation.

Jude:

5I 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.

Here we are told there was a group of people who were saved. There came a time in their lives when they didn't believe any more, and God destroyed them. Is this verse of Scripture teaching that you can lose your salvation? That is what some people would say. They would even go so far as to say the angels in Heaven lost their salvation, according to the next verse.

Jude:

6And 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.

If the angels of Heaven could lose their salvation, why could not you and I lose ours?

Believers And Unbelievers Contrasted

It is important for us to understand the reason these illustrations were given in the Word of God, and the thing that I would like for you to keep in mind, as for the reason these illustrations are given, is the reason Jude was writing this letter. Notice Jude, verse 3:

Jude:

3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
4For there are certain men crept in unawares,…

Jude said he wanted to write about salvation. I often wonder what it would have been like had he written about it. There certainly would have been some wonderful truths that he would have emphasized to our lives. But he said, “The Holy Spirit of God came to my mind, and instead of writing to you about salvation and all of its wonder and all of its splendor and glory, I felt the need of writing to you about (now notice) the men who are creeping in among the believers and robbing them of their faith.”

Immediately we recognize in this epistle the contrast between the certain men who have crept in unawares and the believers who are called down in verse 17, the beloved ones , and down in verse 20 again, beloved . The phrase means “loved of God,” the phrase that describes only born-again believers. So the contrast in the entire epistle is related to certain men who crept in unawares and those who are beloved of the Father. If you read anything in this epistle, you need to know immediately who we are talking about—certain men who have crept in unawares or the beloved ones.

Three Illustrations Of Unbelief

To illustrate the fact that God deals with unbelief wherever He finds it, He takes from history three illustrations when it was necessary for Him to deal with unbelief. He uses illustrations which give to us different kinds of belief because unbelief can affect Christians; unbelief can affect sinners, and unbelief can affect even angelic beings. He gives us three illustrations of unbelief, how it affects the individuals concerned, and what happens when each individual in the case in question fails to believe.

Christians Who Fail To Go On

First, He gives us, in verse 5, an illustration of unbelief on the part of Christians— Christians who failed to go on with God, Christians who because of their unbelief failed to obey the Word of God. These Christians who, when knowing what was right to do and not doing it, were walking in faithlessness instead of faith. How does God deal with them? Well, someone may say, “According to verse 5, He sends them to Hell.” He doesn't say that in verse 5. He says He “destroys them which believe not,” and if you read very carefully the historical picture back in verse 5, you will find that the destruction that was described was physical destruction and not eternal destruction. It was not the destruction of the soul. It was the destruction of the body. God deals as it pleases Him with believers who fail to walk in the light that God has given them.

Read carefully, when you have time, I Corinthians, chapter 11, and you discover that when Christians continue to walk in open disobedience against God, God takes their lives or punishes them physically in some way. I Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 31, tells us the reason for it. He cannot condemn Christians with the world. He cannot send them to Hell. He has already made them a promise, but He can't let their sins go without punishment. He cannot condone evil, so He deals with them. And how does He do it? He deals with them on a physical, material basis, and sometimes that results in death.

The children of Israel who came out of Egypt because they failed to believe the Word of God concerning the land of promise, perished—every one of them, physically—in the wilderness. And so this destruction is not related to the destruction of the soul, but to the destruction of the body.

Disobedient Angels

And then you will notice in verse 6:

Jude:

6And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation,…

What happened to them?

Jude:

6…he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Angels don't have souls like individuals. Why this illustration? To show that God cannot countenance unbelief, and God cannot countenance sin. What happened to them? Well, at the moment, they are chained. Why are they chained? They are awaiting the judgment day, and when the judgment day occurs, they will be relegated to eternal fire. But they were not Christians.

End Of The Unsaved

Then in verse 7, we have the illustration of the unsaved: those who were not born again; those who gave themselves over to fornication; those who are set aside as suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Get the purpose of these illustrations. The purpose of these illustrations is not to show that a person can lose his salvation once he obtains it. The purpose is to show that God is not going to tolerate anything that is related to hypocrisy. So the emphasis is being placed upon this truth. The subject is continued in relation to these false teachers who have crept in unawares.

Hypocrisy Of False Teachers

I want you to notice as we look at what he said about these false teachers. Not one time is it said they are born again. Not one time is it said they have ever known Christ. Not one time is it said they have ever enjoyed salvation. In fact, everything is to the contrary. Notice verse 4:

Jude:

4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, [Christians are never called ungodly men. The Men were ungodly.] turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice, not denying “their” Lord—denying “our” Lord; denying the existence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice verse 8:

Jude:

8Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

These are their characteristics. They have never been born again. Verse 11:

Jude:

11Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain [What did Cain do? He refused the only means of salvation there is—blood sacrifice, and they had done exactly the same thing. They denied the blood of Christ.], and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward [What was the error of Balaam? It was thinking that they could purchase the blessing of God with money or with self-effort.], and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

What was the gainsaying of Core? The refusal to accept the fact that you cannot approach God yourself, that you must approach Him through a mediator. There is one mediator between God and man—the Man, Jesus Christ. No one can approach Him unless He comes through Jesus Christ. These people—these false teachers—refused to accept that. You see, they were not even born again. They wouldn't even take advantage of the only means of salvation there is.

Of course, they were in the church, and they were working in the name of Christians. To all outward appearances, they were Christians. That's one of the reasons that folk sometimes get led into thinking that they can lose their salvation. They are judging by lives instead of by the Word of God.

God's Evaluation Of False Teachers

Notice God's evaluation of these people.

Jude:

12These are spots in your feasts of charity,…

“They are dirty marks in your love feasts.” The early Christians had a practice we don't have today—the practice of a love feast. They gathered together, and they spent some time telling each other how much they loved each other, and how much they loved the Lord—just an informal service where they expressed their love for one another. Of course, we don't do that. We're too busy now to do anything like that, but they did. And these imposters would be right there along with the rest of them. But when God looked down on the scene, He said, “There are a few dirty spots on the tablecloth, and that's because these folk who have never known Me are among you.”

Then you will notice in verse 12:

Jude:

12…clouds they are without water,carried about of winds;…

Mere professors—clouds that looked like they ought to have rain in them, but they don't. These people looked like they ought to have eternal life, but they don't. Verse 12:

Jude:

12…trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

Trees who have great promise, but who can produce absolutely nothing. These folks are mere professors, not possessors.

In verse 13, another characteristic:

Jude:

13Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame;…

If you follow the phrase, “raging waves,” through the Word of God, you'll find that it is always used symbolically of sinners. Never is it used symbolically of Christians, and the Word of God is consistent.

Jude:

13Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars [stars out of their course], to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

They look like stars—look like Christians—look like people who ought to possess, but they are mere professors with no aim and no course. Christians, in the Word of God, are always spoken of as having a course. The Apostle Paul said, remember, in his letter to Timothy,“I have finished my course. I have kept the faith.” These stars don't have any course. Unbelievers don't have any aim. They don't have any goals. They don't have any direction, but believers do. That is what makes the difference and is another indication that these people never were born again. Notice verse 16, as he continues to describe them.

Jude:

16These are murmurers [blasphemers, blaspheming God], complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.

The most conclusive argument that these people never have been born again is found down in verse 19, and this should settle it once and for all, permanently, whether or not these people are Christians who lose their salvation. In verse 19, we read:

Jude:

19These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the spirit.

Notice the last phrase, “having not the Spirit.” We are told in chapter 8 of the book of Romans that if a man does not possess the Holy Spirit, he is not born again, no matter what claims he might make to salvation and no matter how full the profession might be. If the Holy Spirit is not dwelling in his heart, then he is not a born-again individual. Here is a definite statement that these folk don't have the Spirit.

So the epistle of Jude is not dealing with the possibility of one's losing his salvation.The epistle of Jude is dealing with God's serious treatment of those who profess to have and do not possess, and the serious treatment of those who are spending their entire time in trying to rob people who do possess of that which they do not have themselves.

Kept In The Love Of God

Will you notice verse 21:

Jude:

21Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Someone says, “Well, if you have to keep yourselves in the love of God, suppose you don't? Perhaps you're lost if you don't.” No, you just don't grow spiritually. This is the same as saying, “Stay in the sunshine.” The more sunshine you have, the more growth there will be. It's possible for you to live without staying in the sunshine, but you're going to be stunted and weak. And it's possible for you to live just outside the sphere of the warm rays of the love of God, but you're going to be spiritually weak if such is the case. Notice verse 24:

Jude:

24Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

The word falling here is not a reference to falling from grace. The word should be translated “stumbling”—“Now unto him that is able to keep you from stumbling”—not “falling,” but “stumbling.” As you keep yourself in the love of God, as you keep your eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ, as you are reminded in verse 21 of this chapter, He is able to keep you from stumbling.


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