"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 four articles we were discussing 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)?"
Because of its importance, we discussed this passage rather thoroughly. I want to make only a few more remarks about the sin itself which is so sharply condemned in this passage.
Our readers will remember that the great sin condemned here is the sin of professing to believe the truth of Scripture while in fact denying it by one's life. It is the sin of antinomianism which denies the validity of the law of God for the sanctified believer. It is the sin of using the truth of sovereign grace as an excuse to sin. It is saying: If we are saved by grace alone without works, then we can live like the devil and be saved anyway. It is the same as Paul's burning question: What shall we then say? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? (Rom. 6:1).
The church always has these people in it. It was true in Jude's day; it is true in our day.
These people walk in the world. They commit the same sins as are found in the world. They live in evil and immorality. They read the world's books, watch the world's television, sing the world's songs, pursue mammon as the world does, so that it is impossible to tell by their life that they are members of the church.
In some instances, rather than live like the world, they teach the philosophies of the world. They may, e.g., teach evolutionism in one form or another as an explanation of the world's origin. Or they may promote homosexuality as a legitimate alternate lifestyle, all the while professing Christianity and even claiming that their defense of homosexuals is true Christianity, for they truly love their brother.
They continue to maintain that they are believers. They are insulted and angry when their Christianity is questioned. They are quick to profess their love for Christ and their eager desire to serve Him faithfully.
Two sins are, therefore referred to: 1) A walk in the world which contradicts an outward profession of Christianity; 2) an appeal to Christianity as the justification for their walk. They change the grace of God into lasciviousness by walking contrary to the truth of salvation by grace alone; or they use the very doctrine of salvation by grace alone as an excuse for their sin.
In any case, the condemnation of the text is sharp and uncompromising. In fact, in spite of their profession, they deny both God and Christ. All their pious protestations to the contrary, they are the enemies of God and His Christ.
Nor ought we to overlook the very personal element which Jude includes: they turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness; and they deny our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hence, the people of God who love God and His Christ, who confess His truth and walk in obedience out of fear and reverence, must do battle against these wicked and expel them. The church will be lost if the faithful do not fight.
Or if the church refuses to expel them, for the sake of the God Whom they love and the Christ Whom they serve, they must separate from such a church lest they become partakers of the evil deeds of these wicked men.
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 8
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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