A Timely Tip
(From the Book of Jude)
By Iverna Tompkins
Transcribed by Jane Vaughn
We are, in deed, living in trying times today. And yet, happily over the past number of years, we have been privileged to watch the power of God literally explode in various selected meetings and locations. Revival seems to have begun in places near and far as the people were “prayed up,” ready to receive from God and really opened their hearts to Him. But too soon, it was as if it all came to an end. It seemed as if God withdrew and the excitement, enthusiasm and fervor of the meetings waned or faded away. Why is that? In each location, we felt we were “doing it right” only to be left wondering “what did we do wrong?”
I believe we are living in a moment of church history, a “season” if you will, that is between moves of God. We are in between the last great move of God and the next one. Such a time is, historically, when the voice of the prophet comes back to the church, and we are witnessing that as well. We could trace a pattern throughout church history – actually from Old Testament to New and far beyond that through the centuries of time to the present. Interim periods of time have existed when God was preparing to do something great, but He had His people in a waiting mode. The truth is God is always “busy” preparing the people, the setting, and the circumstances for His next outpouring of Grace. Think of David. Samuel physically anointed him King of Israel when he was a youth, a mere shepherd, but it took many years (13?) for God to prepare him sufficiently to be able to actually reign as king. He had some personal growth issues to deal with and other things to learn. So do we.
While God is setting the unseen stage, the voice of the prophet returns to the church. But – watch for this: the enemy equally sends his counterfeits! We must be discerning in these interim moments, listening for the voice of God’s true prophets and identifying the phonies. False prophets never sound like their evil origins, they mask themselves as “real.” They say, “Thus saith the Lord” but He does not so say through them – they are imposters. If the devil can get the church to listen to enough of his messengers, enough of his counterfeits, it will sour us or disgust us or scare us and we will eventually reject the real, perhaps afraid of being fooled into error. We reject it all trying to avoid being deceived. It is a contemporary danger!
Today, we are in an interim, a moment between seasons, which I believe is a moment of judgment. The judgment of God begins in the house of the Lord (1Pet.4:17), and therefore, with believers – especially with leaders. It will always be so. Would you agree? We have been experiencing God’s judgment of sin in many places and I believe what is now hidden from view will soon be exposed (Mt.10:26; Mk.4:22; Lk.12:2,3; 1Cor.4:5) – for the purpose of cleansing and restoration. God’s purpose in correction and judgment is always to cause us to return to Him, be restored and move on in obedience (see Jer.3:6-10;22).
So, let’s remember this moment between God’s sovereign outpourings is a time filled with the truth and prophetic word of God, but it is also filled with Satan’s counterfeit prophetic. That counterfeit prophecy is rising in such a variety of ways that we could focus on exposing it and miss God’s theme for this message. I would much prefer to preach on the excitement of His pending Revival, but believe we must look at Avoiding Apostasy. This message is particularly for pastors and leaders, but every member of the Body of Christ should be aware of the potential problems.
The text is the entire Book of Jude. Read it (below) with a heart to comprehend what He is saying through Jude. We will look for and at 3 major points in this message: words of consolation (or comfort), concern, and counsel.
Jude 1-25 KJV – “Jude, 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 Gomorrah, 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 Ba-laam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Cor-e. 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.
This man, Jude, brings us a very heavy word from the Lord. We are living in difficult days today, and it was somewhat challenging for me to focus on this message as I was musing before the Lord trying to discover His heart and direction. It was difficult to come to this because we are going to be seeing some individuals in the universal church fall – people we have admired and respected in the pulpit. We will come to this position: “I don’t know who to respect or even who to believe! I hardly know what positions to align myself with.”
In the name of Christian unity, there are many new and different kinds of things commencing today where people are getting together across denominations and promising to commit to one another – even with formal covenants. And that can be very frustrating because it sounds so reasonable and like forward movement toward uniting the Body of Christ. However, not every idea comes from God. It is often hard to determine what is of God and what is not. That, by the way, is an excellent reason for us to press into God for more intimacy so that we can recognize His voice above all others. We must be alert to watch and pray (Lk.22:46; Mk.14:38), embracing His plans, and His ways, and rejecting what comes solely from the mind and heart of man.
“God, why is all this happening? What’s going on? It seems so confusing!” And many leaders declare something akin to: “I don’t want to talk about it. I can’t explain God’s methods. Let’s just praise the Lord!” Gone are the days for that kind of simplicity. We hate confrontation on doctrinal issues because it so often causes disunity and mistrust among believers. But we must admit that those feelings are purely from our human nature and egos being attacked and reacting rather than responding. True biblical doctrine is where we will find our agreement, not in the manmade traditions of denominations. And so, I offer “a timely tip.”
This timely advice comes from the Epistle of Jude. I’d like to spend time talking about who wrote the book. It’s my personal belief that the author is Jude, the brother of Christ (see Mt.13:55). Theologians cannot find definitive evidence for identifying him at all as there are legitimate, positive points of proof for each suggestion of exactly who he is. But I’d just like to think of him as being Jude, the brother of Christ, because he claimed, “Jude the servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James” (vs.1).
If indeed it is the brother of Christ, what a wonderful position he had come to at this point in his life (see Mk.6:3b; Jn.7:5). Instead of trying to have some claim to fame, he simply is saying, “I have seen Him. I’ve met Him. He is the Son of the living God and I am but His servant.” What is actually more important here is that Jude begins with this next word of consolation: “Mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you” (vs.2). I’d like to begin with that same comfort spoken to you. It would be so calming for us in light of the church-wide dilemma we are facing as I have described above.
What is our hope? How will we make it through this seemingly precarious period of time between seasons? How will we be able to discover the difference between truth and error? How can we sift through everything we read and hear, even through Christian media – broadcast or print? What hope have I that I would not fall into the same kinds of problems I see in these others?
Our answer, our only hope, begins with the word mercy – God’s mercy. I think what I like most about mercy is that it is so universal – even the “good” need God’s mercy, not just those of us who have made shams of our lives at certain times. Anyone who looks at or tries to claim his own righteousness must hear the word of the Lord – all my righteousness is as “filthy rags” (Is.64:6). Every believer, and most certainly leaders, must never lose sight of this awareness! We are what we are because of mercy – the mercy of God – and only when we recognize that truth is there any hope for peace.
We can be sincere, true and loyal to God, and yet completely stressed out if we lose sight of mercy. If we somehow come to a position in our own thought-life that we have attained certain things by our own wonderful doings and therefore must walk a certain way to maintain what we have attained, we’ve missed the whole point of mercy. We are – because of His mercy! We have not earned, nor do we deserve any of the good that comes our way. We are and have because of Him and Him alone. The person at peace is the one who knows the truth: “I didn’t attain it in the first place – I obtained it by the grace and mercy of God and I can lead the choir in singing: ‘Amazing Grace how sweet the sound.’”
Jude continues, “Love be multiplied” (vs.2b). I have never needed love in my life more than I do today. And the same is true for you! Pastors, there has never been a time when we have needed more to show and “shed abroad the love of God” (Rom.5:5) in our churches, to our people, than we need to today. So many people hop and skip from one church to another looking for the “ideal” landing place. Wrongly so, they vote on everything said or ministered and find fault wherever they can. Suddenly, they may even decide to be your judge. They wish you were famous So-and-So instead of who you are. What is our hope in ministering to these people?
It’s the same hope that Jesus had when He ministered to His critics – even to death on the cross (see 1Jn.3:16). It’s the same reality that personified itself in Christ when He could look at those assembled below Him, taking His last breath on the cross and saying, “Father, forgive them” (Lk.23:34). It is love. Our only hope is “love multiplied.”
We have lost that kind of love in the church. In recent years we have tended to make people earn our love and attention. If they want our acceptance, if they want us to use them in the church, if they want us to smile at them when we minister from the pulpit, they had better toe the mark. Unfortunately, we are a lot better at marking those who cause dissension among us than we are at loving our enemies (Mt.5:44).
The glorious calculation is that His love is available – in abundance – “multiplied” (see 1Jn.2:5; 4:9,16). God didn’t put us, or call us into ministry and then say “You had better be able to love them!” On the contrary. He put us here knowing everything He knew about us - and them - ahead of time and said, “I’ll love them through you. ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ (2Cor.12:9) and I will give you a love that will couple itself with My faith for the least stable person over whom you hold influence.” Oh, how we need that in the church today!
Go to Part 2