Well, let’s turn to the wonderful little epistle of Jude. And tonight our movement through this letter takes us to verse 14 and 15 and 16. Just three verses to talk about and a lot to say.
Jude verses 14 through 16, and let me just read these three verses, and I’ll set them in your mind. Verse 14 begins, “And about these” – that is the false teachers, the apostate false teachers – “About these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’ These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.”
Here is a statement about judgment, about the Lord coming – coming to execute judgment, to convict and to punish sinners. This, of course, is a theme throughout the teaching of the New Testament. It is a very important part of the teaching of Jesus, who had more to say about hell than any other person in Scripture.
Our society has become well-insulated from the reality of hell. In fact, preachers don’t preach about it; writers don’t write about it; evangelists don’t even necessarily warn about it. The culture thinks everyone is basically good and life after death is either happy and full of pleasure, or it doesn’t exist. Hell is neither politically correct, socially acceptable, or even evangelical these days. We have become so comfortable with the absence of hell from our evangelism that our superficial gospel has no threats, no warnings about eternal torment and eternal suffering.
But on the other hand, the Bible is very clear on the reality of hell, very clear on the reality of eternal punishment, very clear on the reality of eternal darkness. Scripture tells us that human history ends with God’s judgment on all the ungodly. And that’s what the text that I just read says.
Now, let me just give you some sort of broad, sweeping, oversight into this concept of final judgment, just to help you pin it down as to some particulars. Number one, when we talk about the Lord coming in judgment, we’re talking about a special event at a specific time. We’re not just talking b life going on and on and on interminably and somehow God interjecting a certain level of judgment from time to time. We’re talking about a special event at a specific time, when the Lord comes to end human history and bring about final judgment.
And to show you that, I want you to turn to Acts chapter 17. Acts chapter 17. We’re going to move through this just to give you the big picture, if we can, for a moment. In Acts 17 and verse 31, it says this, “God” – borrowed from verse 30 – “God who is now declaring all men everywhere should repent, God has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed” – what man? Clearly the rest of the verse tells you - “having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” And, of course, the one that God raised from the dead is Jesus Christ. He, then, is the man by whom God will judge the world, and he has fixed a day in which He will do that.
Human history does not just continue along an inexorable line. It doesn’t go on forever. It is really very brief, and it comes to an end with a specific event or series of events, at a specific time, inaugurated by a specific person, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Turn to Romans chapter 2 for a moment, and just verse 5 is a good starting point. Romans chapter 2, verse 5. It talks about sinners who store up wrath. In other words, they accumulate guilt; they accumulate judgment by sin. All their sin accumulates or stores up wrath. It says, “Storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath” – again a specific event at a specific time. And that “day of wrath brings about the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who on that day will render to every man according to his deeds.” In the sixteenth verse of Romans 2 it says, “On that day” – that day of wrath, that day of judgment – “God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” Again it is clear to us there is a day of judgment coming.
Notice 2 Peter 2:9, to add the words of Peter in a chapter that is really a sort of a fraternal twin to Jude. In 2 Peter 2:9, it says, “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.” The day of judgment.
In the book of Revelation, one more text outside the epistle of Jude, not that there aren’t many more, at the end of the sixth chapter of Revelation, we read about God splitting the sky and the stars falling and people saying to the mountains and the rocks – Revelation 6:16, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
Now you can go back to Jude and look, for a moment at the sixth verse, “Even angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of that great day.” It is not a 24-hour day; it is an epic. It is an era. But it is nonetheless a fixed time. “And of that day and that hour, no man knows,” but we must understand that when the Bible talks about the judgment of God on sin, it is talking ultimately about an event – a special event – at a very precise time, when the Lord Himself will come as judge.
The second thing to understand about this judgment is that it will be general and public. It will be general and public. We’re not talking about living your life and just dying and going to hell and no one knows. You can’t get away with that. The final judgment will be general, and it will be public. “Each one of us will certainly give an account of himself to God,” says Romans 14:12. Everyone will.
But it’s not going to be something hidden and something very private. In fact, in Matthew chapter 25, as Jesus talks about His own coming, He says, “When the Son of Man comes” – verse 31 – “and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the spirit separates the sheep from the goats.” This is very general and very public. It involves all the world of sinners in a final tribunal before the throne of God. The day of judgment of all the ungodly.
A more vivid and specific picture is given in the twentieth chapter of Revelation. Revelation chapter 20 and verse 11, “And I saw a great white throne” - this is the throne of judgment – “and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne” – all of them – “and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
And there will be a day of judgment, a specific event at a specific time, and it will be general and public. Thirdly, God is the judge. God is the judge. Hebrews 12:23 identifies God as the Judge of all; He is the Judge. He possesses the perfect criteria to be the Judge, because He is perfectly holy, perfectly righteous. And all violations of God’s law are violations of His person.
In Romans 2:2, it says, “We know that the judgment of God rightly falls” – the judgment of God rightly falls – “Do you suppose, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?” No one escapes the judgment of God; it rightly falls. That is to say He judges justly and righteously.
However, though God is the Judge, God has delegated that judgment to Christ who is God, the second member of the Trinity. But God has determined to delegate His role and authority to as judge to His Son.
Look at John chapter 5. Stay with me on these verse because we’re building such an important foundation. John 5, verse 22, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son” - the Father has determined to commit all judgment to the Son so that the very one who has been despised and rejected becomes the judge. The very one who offers Himself as the Savior and Redeemer becomes the Judge and Executioner.
Down in verse 27 it says, “The Father gave Him authority to execute judgment, be He is the Son of Man” – because He has been identified with humanity and the incarnation; because He was in all points tempted like as we are, He is a Judge who is suited to this responsibility. Jesus alone will render judgment as God grants Him that privilege.
The end of chapter 16 of Matthew says, “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then recompense every man according to his deeds.” Now the picture starts to come together. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, with delegated authority from God who is the Judge, comes at a moment in time to bring about the final devastating judgment on all the ungodly; none other than the Son of Man who is fitted and suited to make that judgment and who Himself once offered as Savior is now appointed as Judge.
Listen to Acts 10:42, in this from Peter. It says, “And He ordered us to preach the gospel and solemnly to testify that this is the One” – that is the One God rose from the dead – “this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.” It is Jesus alone. And we saw that already in Acts 17:31, “He’s appointed a day in which He will judge the world by that Man whom He has appointed, that one whom He raised from the dead.”
This is where world history is going, folks. It is headed toward the judgment of God rendered by Christ at His return. There is a fifth element in this judgment to understand it, and it is this: the promise of judgment is intended as a warning. The promise of judgment is intended as a warning. The promise of judgment is designed by God to produce fear of divine wrath, which is critical. Jesus put it this way, in Matthew 10:28, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Fearing terrorists is one thing; fearing cancer is one thing; fearing heart disease is one thing; fearing a criminal invasion is one thing; fearing war is one thing. Fearing eternal damnation is a far more important fear. And so, the Bible tells us clearly that judgment is a specific event that will occur at a specific time, that judgment will be general and public, that God is the Judge who has delegated His judgment to Christ. And the warnings, which are all through Scripture, are designed by God to produce a fear of this judgment, a fear that leads to repentance and faith.
Now, just a couple of more things to think about when you think about judgment, and they’re very basic. Number six, the standard for judgment is the law. The standard is the law. The holy law of God, about which we spoke this morning. That is the standard for judgment. And all people are held accountable for obedience to that law. Even though man is deceitful and desperately wicked at heart, even though he cannot keep the law, he is still held accountable for it because he is willfully disobedient and seeks not the forgiveness and grace of God which is available to him.
“All people” – Romans 1 says – “are without excuse because they have willfully sinned against God.” They have willfully become unrighteous; they have willfully ignored reason which takes them back to God and, Romans 2, conscience which takes them back to God’s moral law.
Second Thessalonians says, “Judgment will fall on all those who obey not the gospel.” They don’t obey the law, and they don’t obey the gospel. They don’t obey the law which they cannot keep, and they don’t obey the gospel which could deliver them from the consequences of the law.
So, the standard for judgment is the law. That’s why there are books, as we read in Revelation 20, and on those books are written the records of everyone’s sins. And you know what? We all have that record, but the final judgment is made not on the basis of the record of our sins, but on the whether or not our names were written in the Book of Life. The names of those in the Book of Life are not those who never violated the law, but those who accepted the provision for sin in Christ and through faith in God came penitently to seek forgiveness.
And then a seventh thing to think about, when you think about final judgment, is the place of judgment is first on earth, and then before the heavenly throne of God. I don’t want to take the time to go through all of this, but the first judgment takes place when Christ returns. The judgment of the sheep and goats I mentioned to you from Matthew chapter 25 is the judgment of the nations that takes place on earth when Christ comes to earth to set up His kingdom. That is the earthly judgment. It starts with all the horrible, devastating, deadly judgments of the time called the tribulation, the seven-year period of time after the rapture of the Church, when all hell breaks loose in this world, as God unleashes His wrath through demons running amok, through the removal of the restraint of the Holy Spirit. And it culminates in those sealed judgments, trumpet judgments, bowl judgments, and then Christ coming out of heaven on a white horse with a sword in His mouth to slaughter all that remains of His enemies all over the world. And then they’re all brought before His judgment.
This is, in a sense, a judgment that takes place, in some measure, on earth. And then the final judgment, at the end of the thousand-year kingdom, a thousand years later, takes place before the throne of God when all the dead already dead – all the ungodly dead of all the ages are brought back from their place – their place of torment – to the throne of God, at that point given bodies suited for an even more horrible torment, and that is the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20.
So, there is an element of judgment that occurs on earth and culminates at the end of the time called the millennial kingdom. And at that point, the whole of the universe disintegrates and a new heaven and a new earth are created, and those ungodly are cast out of it forever into the lake of fire. And those who belong to God dwell forever in the bliss and joy and holiness of the eternal state.
One final thought, the sentence of this judgment is eternal hell. It is the judgment of damnation. And that is very clear in the language of our Lord Himself. When He was given judgment, John 5, in verse 29, it says, “Those who did righteous things will have a resurrection of life” – and that righteous behavior manifesting their changed nature – “those who committed evil will have a resurrection of judgment” – or damnation. And he describes that place as weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, torment, the worm never dies, blackness of darkness and so forth.
So, whenever you read about judgment in the Bible, you’re not talking about something that just kind of happens now and then, sort of consequential, sort of the law of sowing and reaping. There is that kind of judgment. But the judgment we’re looking at, back to Jude now, and the judgment that is featured in this epistle and throughout the New Testament is that particular judgment that occurs at a special time, that judgment which is general and public, that judgment in which God the Judge delegates His judgment to Christ, that judgment which is designed to produce in us now enough fear to drive us to repentance and faith, that judgment which will be a judgment based upon our violation of the law of God and whether or not we put our trust in Christ so that those sins could be taken away from us, that judgment which begins on earth and ends before His throne in heaven, and that judgment which ends in eternal damnation. This is the final judgment. How close is it? Closer than ever. Closer than ever.
Now, it is this final judgment that Jude has in mind. Go back to the text here. He says at the end of verse 14, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all.” This is that final judgment. All impenitent, God-rejecting sinners are headed for this final judgment and eternal torment in hell. Even those who have died and those who have died in centuries past, and those who will die before this happens will, upon their death, be judged and sent out of the presence of God forever. They will, in the future, be resurrected and given a body suited for the eternal lake of fire, and they will be brought to that final tribunal. So, in that sense, judgment occurs whenever the sinner dies.
Do you remember the words of Hebrews 9? “It is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment.” In that sense, judgment is personal and private. But the final judgment is general and public. All impenitent, Christ-rejecting sinners are headed for this final tribunal called the great white throne and headed for the lake of fire and eternal torment, both of soul and some kind of body suited for hell.
Now, the question often comes up, “Does everybody experience the same hell? Does everybody experience the same torment?”
The answer to that is no. Just as there are degrees of service in heaven, based upon faithfulness here, there are going to be some degrees of suffering. And I can show you that from some simple passages.
Matthew chapter 11 is a good one, because it sort of jumps up and surprises you a little bit. Matthew chapter 11. Jesus is addressing some towns around Galilee, where he had ministered. And He said in verse 21, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!” And then He comes down to verse 22, and He says, “I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.” What an interesting statement. It’ll be worse in hell for the occupants of Chorazin and Bethsaida. It’ll be worse for the occupants of Capernaum in hell than it is for the inhabitants of that horrific, sinful cities of Tyre and Sidon. Pagan to the core. It’ll be worse. Why? Because they were exposed to Christ; they were exposed to the Son of God.
Verse 24 says, “It’ll be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you, Capernaum.” How amazing. Sodom, that homosexual city, where they wanted to rape angels. It’ll be worse for Capernaum, that little town in Galilee where Jesus ministered. It’s back to that principle, “To whom much is given” – what? – “much is required.”
Turn to Luke chapter 12 for a moment, because this also fits. Luke chapter 12 and verse 47 – verse 47, “That slave who knew his master’s will and didn’t get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes; and that slave who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few.” And then comes that principle about, “To whom much is given, much is required.” And it’s in the context of judgment. If you knew God’s will, and you didn’t act according to it, you get many lashes. If you didn’t know it, you get fewer lashes. The more you know about the gospel, the hotter hell will be. The less you know, the more tolerable it will be.
And people ask the question, “What about the people who never heard the gospel? Will they be in hell?”
Yes, but whatever level of relative tolerance there can be there, their experience will be less than the experience of those who knew the truth and rejected it.
One other passage, Hebrews chapter 10; and this gets us to where we need to be, back to this epistle. Hebrews chapter 10, “Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy” – verse 28 – “Anybody who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” People who disobey the Law of Moses are going to be punished. They’re going to be punished mercilessly. But verse 29 says, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”
Verse 31, “It’s a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” – particularly if you’ve trampled the gospel, particular if having known the truth you abandon the truth. The hottest hell, the severest torment is for those who knowing the truth rejected the truth, and that is what we call apostasy. To know the truth and reject the truth. Hell is horrible no matter who is there. But James warns us, “Stop being so many teachers” – James 3:1 – “for theirs is a greater condemnation.”
So, follow the thought. If you know nothing about the gospel, if you know very little about the law of God, you still die and go to hell, and in judgment you suffer. But if you knew the law of God and rejected it, your suffering is greater. If you knew the gospel of Christ and reject it, it’s greater. And I will add in if you knew the gospel of Jesus Christ and rejected it, and you have become a teacher of perversion and damnable error, your judgment is greater yet.
Now, if the judgment texts of Scripture are designed to warn people, false teachers ought to be terrified. They ought to be absolutely petrified. Of what awaits them. Those apostate false teachers, who stay within the framework of Christianity and pretend to represent God and even Christ and pervert the truth to the destruction of souls, theirs is the severest judgment of all. Of all.
And do you know there are many in that category, not the least of which were the Pharisees who said they represented God, who said they taught the truth of God, they were the people of God, they were the conscience, they knew the law of God, they were God’s representatives in the world. And Jesus said to them, “You make people more sons of hell than ever with your teaching.” Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees” – Jesus says to them – “you whitewashed tombs, on the outside appearing beautiful, inside full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. You outwardly appear righteous to men, inwardly are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” And He says in verse 33, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?”
The severest diatribes given in the New Testament are against false teachers, those who lead people astray in the name of God, in the name of Christ. Nothing is going to compare to the suffering of the spiritual phonies, the spiritual fakers, the false prophets, the false teachers, the Christian conmen, the liberals, the spiritual fakes in priestly garb, the gospel-denying theologians; theirs is the worst hell of all.
Now, Jude, our Lord’s half-brother, and a full brother of James, was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write this letter, and to write it about the issue of apostasy. And it primarily deals with the judgment of apostates. While it characterizes them for sure, it does so always with reference to judgment. He deals with their presence in verse 4. Certain persons have crept in unnoticed. Ungodly persons who turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny our only master and Lord Jesus Christ.
He talks about their presence in the Church, verse 12, “They’re hidden reefs in your love feasts; they feast with you without fear.” They’re embedded in Christianity. He talks about their character. They are licentious; they are grossly immoral; they are defiled; they are beasts, “Like wild waves of the seas, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars; they are like fruitless trees, doubly dead, uprooted.”
He talks about their influence. They have been very influential. They have managed to lead many, many astray. He talks about their doctrine; denying lordship; being libertines, antinomians; justifying their evil. But always he talks about their judgment.
Go back to verse 3, “I’m writing you about this, you have to contend for the faith.” Then verse 4, “Certain persons have crept in unnoticed” – immediately – “where were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation.” He talks about the illustration of angels in verse 6 – apostate angels – always in reference to judgment. He’s kept them in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of that great day.
He talks about Sodom and Gomorrah, perverted, twisted Sodom and Gomorrah, who were exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. He talks about “these false teachers who revile things” – in verse 10 – “they don’t understand, things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals.” And he says immediately, “By these things they are destroyed.”
And he says in verse 11, “They’re like those who followed Cain and those who followed Balaam, and those who perished in the rebellion of Korah.” He says about them, in verse 13, that “black darkness has been reserved for them forever.” And here he specifically says, in verses 14 and 15, “The Lord is coming to execute judgment on everyone and particularly on them.” And as I said, this should be absolutely terrifying to anyone contemplating being a false teacher.
In fact, this epistle is so frightening that we have to be thankful verses 1 and 2 are here because we might think ourselves to be swept away had Jude not said, “Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ; to them mercy, peace, and love be multiplied.”
This epistle is so terrifying, it is so frightening, it is so fraught with warning that a Christian reading this might be scared to death that somehow these false teachers would influence him to his eternal damnation. And so, Jude begins with an important statement about the security of true Christians. We are the called, we are the loved, and we are the kept. We are protected from the influence of false teachers and protected from the judgment that falls on them.
So, with nothing to fear, by engaging them, verse 3 says we have to earnestly contend for the faith. We have to get into battle with the false teachers. We can do that with some temerity and some fear, lest our own garments be singed, as Jude says later in the letter. But we can engage ourselves in the battle for the faith, earnestly contending for this faith against the false teachers and know that they will have no influence on us because we are the called; that’s an effectual call to eternal salvation. We are the loved; that’s an eternal undying love. And we are the kept, and that’s the perseverance of the saints.
And so, we are called to engage ourselves in a battle for the truth. We called the series the war for the truth. The truth war. The truth is at stake. The letter is a call to arms to protect the truth from those who pervert it for personal gain, to the damnation of souls. False teachers are destructive; they cannot destroy us, but they are destructive. And we have to fight the battle to protect the truth, fearing nothing from them, and knowing they will, in the end, be judged.
Look at the end of verse 4, “They are marked out for condemnation.” Literally, it says, “Were long beforehand marked out for condemnation. Marked out doesn’t mean an X was put on their head. It means they were written about. Their destruction was written about long ago. And we went through that. We covered those Old Testament passages that talk about that. There’s plenty of writing about the destruction of false teachers and those who violate the truth of God. Their doom has been predicted, and the judgment, as I noted, is woven through this entire text.
This whole letter is like a curse on apostates, a curse on false teachers. And there will be judgments on them in this world. I think right now the Catholic Church is feeling a long overdue judgment because of horrific, perverted, apostate nature of that system. That’s nothing. You know? Losing billions of dollars and having to close 65 parishes in Boston doesn’t compare with the judgment of God that will fall on those who falsely represent Christ. Blasphemers who teach their blasphemous doctrines will suffer the greatest in the future.
And so, Jude warns false teachers and calls us to arms to battle for the truth. And by the way, as I said a little earlier, 2 Peter 2 parallels Jude. It’s a fraternal twin if not an identical twin. And you can read through 2 Peter chapter 2 and see so many parallels. The difference is Peter said it was coming; Jude, writing later, says, “It’s here.” It’s here.
Now, that brings us down to verse 14, just a little introduction – 45 minutes worth. But I had to get you back. Finally, Jud comes to the culmination. And he says in verse 14 – we’ve already covered verse 14, so you can get the tape if you’re curious about that whole Enoch prophesy, but he writes, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones.” And he introduces the coming of the Lord in final judgment. Final judgment.
Now, in these statements regarding final judgment in verses 14, 15, and 16, I want you to see five certainties. Okay? Five certainties. And I’m telling you, I could expand this forever and ever and ever, but I will do the best not to do that. I think it’s clear enough to us, because we know the Word of God fairly well, to just touch these five certainties about divine judgment.
First, we are told the Lord will come. That’s the first certainty. The Lord will come. How are we told that? Because the writer puts the prophesy in the past tense, “Behold, the Lord came.” In this prophetic word, which was obviously recorded in a non-canonical, non-biblical prophecy of the name of Enoch, the truth was reiterated. And the truth can be found in a number of sources outside the biblical. From time to time, I often say, like the clock that doesn’t run, it’s still right twice a day.
And the book of Enoch was a popular book at the time, we know, historically. And the people had read it and were familiar with it. And in that book was an accurate statement, and the assurance and the certainty of the coming of the Lord is indicated because it’s as if this person who’s writing, called Enoch, is having a vision, and he sees the Lord came. Stated with the shock of one who saw it happened. Enoch’s prophecy was spoken as if the judgment was being seen, so certain was it.
Not everybody thinks this. Look at 2 Peter chapter 3. Second Peter chapter 3, verse 3, “Knowing this, first of all” - writes Peter, who has just written, as I said in chapter 2, a parallel to Jude – “Knowing this, first of all, that in the last days” – that’s the last days since the coming of Messiah, and we’re still in the same last days. “In all of these last days” - since Messiah has come, and since He has promised judgment – “mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts” they live for lust just as Jude has described – “and they way, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’” - this is mockery; this is saying, “He’s not going to come” – “For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” This is the stupidity of their idea, “He’s not going to come because He never has. He never will because He never has.” That’s what the pre-flood people said. “What are you talking about? It’s not going to rain; it never has.” But it did. It’s like saying, “I’m not going to die; I never have.”
“This is the uniformity theory of evolution, everything continues the same. Have you forgotten the flood that destroyed the whole human race? Have you forgotten catastrophe after catastrophe? All things don’t continue as they are from the beginning of creation.” And he goes on to talk about that. It escapes their notice that by the Word of God the heavens existed long ago. The earth was formed out of water and by water. And he’s talking about creation, because creation was not a result of uniformity. It wasn’t evolutionary uniformity; it was catastrophe; it was upheaval beyond description for God to create the entire universe and all the life we know on this earth in a six-day period. Catastrophic changes.
There’s no uniformity; creation shows that. And then in verse 6 he says, “And the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” There’s no uniformity after creation either. You have catastrophe at creation, and you have catastrophe at the flood.
And then verse 7 says, “The present heaven and earth by His word are being reserved for fire.” Another catastrophe is coming, this time not water but fire, and it’s “kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”
And you think it’s been a long time? You need to remember something; “Don’t let this one fact escape your notice” – verse 8 – “beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is” – what? – “as one day.” And it’s been certainly no more than 10,000 years since creation, maybe closer to 6,000 years since creation, and it’s just 6 days in God’s mind.
And the end could come very soon. It will come. Why? Verse 9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise. The reason He hasn’t come yet is because He’s patient, not willing that any should perish, but for all to come to repentance.” But when it comes, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief” – unexpected – “in which the heavens will melt away with a roar. The elements will be destroyed with intense heat. He earth and its works will be burned up.”
Since you know that, what kind of people should you be? The Lord will come. He will come, and He will come to judge the ungodly, and it will start in a period of time called the tribulation, with upheaval on the earth and in the sky, that gets worse and worse through the seals and the trumpets and the bowls, culminating in the return of Jesus Christ, the establishment of His kingdom, at the end of which is the destruction of the whole heavens and earth as we know them and the casting of all from the great white throne into eternal hell. It will come. So, we are told the Lord will come.
Secondly, we are told He will not come alone. He will not come alone. “Behold the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones.” He alone is Judge, but He will be accompanied with many thousands of His holy ones. Some have thought this could be us, saints. And we are saints. We are called saints, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 3:13. Believers are saints. We are set apart, and we do return with Christ. We are pictured, in Revelation 19:14, returning with Christ at His coming. And He comes riding out of heaven in that magnificent imagery, and with Him come the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. It seems best to see that as believers, having been gathered with Him for our marriage supper and our time of rewards during the time of tribulation. We then come at the end back to this earth. We return with Christ in a holy array in that glorious return in judgment.
Zechariah 14:5 says, “The Lord my God will come and all the holy ones with Him.” And it could be that He refers to saints. But I think it’s better, though we are coming with Him, that this, because it’s a judgment scene, be understood as referring to angels, because angels appear in other judgment environments. If you read Matthew chapter 13 – won’t’ take the time – and you see how God’s going to send His reapers in the day of judgment – right? – to separate the wheat from the tares. And who are the reapers? The angels.
The sermon on the second coming, the Olivet Discourse, Jesus talks about how the angels are going to gather His people from the four corners of the earth, and He’s going to come with holy angels out of heaven as well in judgment.
The angels seem to be in view here. And in particular, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, “When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not know obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction.” And there it says specifically He comes with His holy angels. And the holy angels are associated with judgment. So, He will come, and He will not come alone. But the angels, seen often in judgment action, even slaying people in the Old Testament, will come with Him. And Matthew 24 an Matthew 25 depict Christ returning with the angels.
There’s a third thing we are told here about this final judgment. We are told He will come, He will not come alone, and we are told the purpose of His coming: to execute judgment upon all, verse 15. To execute judgment upon all. All means all. Everybody who has violated God’s law.
In fact, the “all” are further defined. Verse 15, “To convict all the ungodly” – all the ungodly. So, the purpose of His coming is to execute judgment upon all. Who are the all? All the ungodly. The verb elegchō means to convict in the sense of find guilty. Like we say, “The jury convicted him.” It means to expose them as culpable, as guilty. There’s no hope to escape this. You have no defense, no advocate, no lawyer. All crimes against God will be kept to the account of every sinner. There is no advocate; there is no appeal; there is no escape. All of the asebēs, the ungodly, the irreverent will be convicted of crimes against God for which the penalty is eternal hell. And they will be judged out of the record of their sins in the books and sent to hell because although all of us have a record of sins, their names are not written in the Book of Life.
And so, we are told, He will come. And we are told He will come to execute judgment. One final thing to think about, “We are told the reason for that judgment, and the reason for that judgment is because of – look at verse 15 – “all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” There it is; this is the reason, because God is righteous, and He’s going to end sin. He’s going to bring an end to sin. And He’s going to bring an end to sinners. And He’s going to bring in a kingdom of righteousness and, ultimately, eternal righteousness.
How many times can you say “ungodly” in one verse? You get the point. Anti-God, irreverent, blasphemous. They’re all going to be punished for all their ungodly deeds and all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against the Lord Himself. And we have, of course, covered all of that. At least that that relates to the false teachers and the apostates in the earlier parts of this passage. All sinners are treasuring up wrath against a day of wrath, and they’re going to pay in that day.
And then in verse 16, almost like a review – I’m going to close with this – maybe pick up a few of these thoughts when we start next time – but in verse 16 says, “These” – and pulling out of all the ungodly, and pulling out of this destruction of all sinners, he goes back to this group of apostate false teachers – “These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.”
And he goes back to the apostates described in the passage before verse 14, and he particularly looks at the sins of their mouths: grumblers, fault finders, speaking arrogantly, flattering people. These heretics are described as grumblers – goggustēs. It’s used to describe, in the Septuagint, the murmurings of the Israelites. They grip against God; they murmur against the true and living God. The Jews were guilty of this. John 6:41 says, “The Jews murmured at Jesus, because He said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’” Grumblers over the truth, complainers against God’s holy law, holy will, holy Word.
They attack the Lord by attacking His truth. And we saw that in verse 4. We saw it in verse 8. We saw it in verse 11. In fact, the illustration of the kinds of thing that they say against God is staggering. They rush into blasphemy; they run headlong into rebellion against the true God.
And He says that they find fault. This is a funny Greek word, a rather long one. It means to blame. It’s used – it’s a word used by Greeks to describe a kind of person who is perpetually discontent and unsatisfied. They never submit to God’s will. They murmur about it. They complain about it. They gripe about it. They resist it. They hate it. They rebel against it. This is always, folks, characteristic of false teachers. They won’t accept the truth. They never submit to God’s will and to God’s Word. Second Peter 2 makes much of this very same thing. The way of truth is maligned by them, and they speak harsh words against God and against Christ and against the truth.
And they follow after their own lusts. That’s the comment on their behavior. We saw that background in verse 8 in more detail. They’re dominated by self; they speak arrogantly – huperogkos which means – ogkos – they speak – how can I say it – they speak swollen speech about themselves. They puff themselves up. Another clearly dealt with characteristic of false teachers earlier in Jude, as well as 2 Peter chapter 2. “Then they flatter people.” Why do they flatter people? Because that’s how they get money and power. So, they get you to send you their – send them your money when they’re on TV. Take your money away in their false churches and institutions, always for profit.
Well, we kind of hurried through the last, but I think we’ve covered so much of that in the past we don’t need to beg the issue. The only thing to ask is if we’ve looked at the “if” and said, “Yes, He will come”; and the “who,” He won’t come alone. And the “why,” because of our ungodliness.
And the only question really remaining is the “when.” And the answer to that question remains with the Lord. We don’t know when, but we believe it’ll be triggered with the rapture of the Church, which is a secret event with no warning. The Lord’s going to snatch the Church away, and then the judgment will begin. And the hottest hell remains for the apostate false teachers.
Now, some of you may be sitting on a fence a little bit. Maybe you don’t know if you’re a Christian or not. Maybe you’re worried about false teaching and how much of it you’re being exposed to. So, in our next study of Jude, we’re going to talk about how to avoid being stained and tainted by false teachers. Okay? That’s Jude’s theme from verse 17 to the end of the chapter.
Lord, it’s been a wonderful day, and a great evening, and we’ve covered a lot of ground, and not particularly the pleasant teaching, but the necessary. You have given us all these warnings because You care, because You’re gracious, because You’re loving. You’ve given us warnings that it might instill in us terror and fear.
For those of us who’ve already been saved, we, like Paul, knowing the terror of the Lord, persuade men. For those who have not embraced the Savior, may they be so terrified as to rush to be forgiven for sin, put their trust in Christ who alone can deliver them from judgment.
And we would even be so bold as to pray that You would give truth to triumph over false teaching, that You would silence the apostates, that You would unmask them and help us as the fighters for the truth, as the spiritual army to earnestly contend for the once-for-all delivered to the saints faith, to be warriors for Your truth and to protect people from error, to expose the false teachers and the apostates. Give us boldness and courage and impact for Your glorious truth we pray in Your Son’s name, Amen.
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