For 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. Jude 4.
In our last article we began a discussion of an important question sent in by a reader concerning the passage in Jude 4. I quote the entire question. “Of course, this verse is one of the relatively few times the NT mentions reprobation. My question is about the phrase, ‘turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness.’ I have seen this phrase used to teach that God’s sovereign grace is resistible when shown to the wicked reprobate. I know that that explanation is in error. But what does the phrase mean? And why is the phrase used in a verse about the reprobate? Were the false teachers antinomians who were perverting the truth of salvation by grace to excuse immoral behavior? Does the ‘grace of our God’ refer to the grace God has shown to the Christians in the church, which the false teachers were distorting, rather than grace that was actually shown to the false teachers (since they received none)?”
We were discussing in our last article a few other aspects of the text before we get at the main question which concerns the clause: "turning the grace of God into lasciviousness." In particular we were discussing whether or not the text teaches divine reprobation. I had pointed out that the words in the text translated "before ordained" can also mean "before written." Many appeal to this translation and deny that the text teaches divine and sovereign reprobation.
We granted that this was a possible translation and that indeed it was true that the Scriptures written prior to Jude's epistle often spoke of such ungodly men who creep unawares into the church, and Scripture over and over again warns the church against such men.
Nevertheless, the translation of the AV is also a proper translation of the word used in the Greek. In fact, the idea of being written before (in a Scripture infallibly inspired by God Himself) surely implies also that they were ordained before unto this condemnation that they would creep unawares into the church to corrupt it.
But it must be remembered that although their motives are to corrupt the church, they cannot do this. The very fact that they are ordained before means that they serve a purpose in the church ordained by God. They cannot destroy the church, nor can they lead one elect away from Christ. Their purpose is to corrupt the church; but God's purpose for them, which is always realized, is to purify the church. It may seem as if their efforts are successful when they lead many astray and the church is reduced in size. But the fact is that they are ordained by God for the purpose of serving the good of the church. Those who are led astray fit the category of men described by John in I John 2:19: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." And when these men who are led astray by those who corrupt the gospel leave, the church is purified.
But what John writes is true when the church is faithful and expels from her fellowship these ungodly men who change the grace of God into lasciviousness. If the church refuses to expel such ungodly men -- and this is increasingly true in our day when we are told to love everyone, tolerate every one's opinions, and permit everyone with any heresy to remain in the church; if, I say, the church refuses to expel ungodly men, the church signs her own death warrant. But even then, the church of Christ is not harmed, for Christ calls the faithful out that they may, through church reformation, re-establish the church of Christ.
In our next issue we will answer the specific question of the reader.
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 5
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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