Sunday, March 30, 2008

Preached at Cradley Chapel

I preached at Cradley Chapel again. There were very few people there. However, I did bring a couple of friends with me, one of whom took the opporunity to accompany the hymns on the piano.

My service had four hymns and lasted 45 minutes.

I hope you will be edified by my sermon:

5 ¶ I 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.

6 And 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.

7 Even as Sodom and Gomor'rah, 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.

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

The epistle of Jude is such a short book of the New Testament that it often tends to get forgotten.

It is about false teachers and about how these men are going to get their comeuppance.

I am going to focus on verse 6:

“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day.”

This must be a very important verse. Does anybody know why I say this must be an important verse?

Because Peter wrote an almost identical statement in an almost identical passage in his second epistle. Scholars fail to agree about whether Jude copied Peter or Peter copied Jude. It is not very important, as we know the Holy Spirit inspired both passages.

A few weeks ago, the United Nations criticised Britain. For some reason the UN likes to criticise our country all the time. They complained about how celebrities like Peter Doherty and Amy Winehouse get away with using drugs. They argued that these are dangerous role models for young people.

Just imagine if we read in the newspaper that Amy Winehouse had been convicted of possessing drugs. And she was going to be sentenced to prison.

You can just imagine what the Daily Mail would say. They would praise the courts. They would say this is an excellent move. It sends the message that nobody, no matter how rich or famous can get away with taking drugs.

Now, it may well be that it would not make any difference. Perhaps young people would take drugs anyway. But you can imagine the delight with which many people would greet such a conviction.

We see a similar thing here. The angels that kept not their first estate were condemned for their sin and bound up in chains. If God does not spare these angels, how much will He not spare those who teach falsehoods and heresies in His name?

There is the question of who these angels are. Some hold that they are Satan’s angels. Indeed, many angels rebelled with Satan.

However, this cannot be. For those angels are free. We read in Ephesians that we are at war against principalities and powers in heavenly places, against the rulers of darkness. Satan’s angels are not in hell, but in heaven, where they make war on God’s kingdom. The angels that kept not their estate are helpless. They are defeated.

In the next verse we read of the sexual immorality of Sodom. This gives strong support to the view that the angels here are those Sons of God that are referred to in Genesis 6. They did not keep their estate in heaven, but came to earth and committed sexual immorality with human women. From them the race of giants came. You are welcome to disagree with me about this and debate it with me afterwards, but it seems to me that there is good reason for making a connection between Jude and Genesis 6.

I would also suggest that these angels are the ‘Spirits in prison’ referred to in 1 Peter. Peter tells us that Christ preached unto the ‘Spirits in prison’ which were disobedient in the days of Noah. This would have taken place in between His death and resurrection.

Clearly, the angels in prison were not being given a second chance. The message our Lord preached to them was a message of victory and triumph.

Indeed, Christ’s triumph has been declared to the angelic world. All thrones and dominions in heaven were created for Him. And He is exalted over all of them. We read in Colossians that Christ has made a show of principalities and powers. They have been humiliated before Him. I think that would seem to be in view in Peter’s comment about the spirits in prison.

It is easy to forget that beyond this world, there is a vast world of angelic beings, thousands and thousands of them. They are witnesses of God’s dealings with man. Christ is exalted above them all and He is made ruler over them. Those who are in Christ, who have placed their trust in Him can share that position of rulership over the angelic world. The Christian is called to judge angels and to be lord over them.

This passage is a reminder of the awful reality of hell. Hell is real. There are many churches where there is never any preaching on hell. There are some theologians who deny the reality of hell.

If we believe what the Bible says, we cannot deny the reality of everlasting punishment. And we cannot hide it. Brethren, we must preach it and we must preach the good news that Jesus Christ has delivered us from this place.

The angels are special to God. He created them first. He gave them a place of privilege and glory. Yet these angels who sinned against Him were cast into hell.

If God sent angels to hell, how much more is He prepared to condemn forever those who reject Him and His way of salvation?

If you are here today and you are not a Christian I have a warning for you. If you continue to reject Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers, you will go to hell. There is everlasting torment for those who reject Christ. I don't like having to say that, but it is the truth. Yet if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you can be delivered from hell and receive everlasting life. You can know everlasting joy and everlasting peace.

The failure of these angels is an important warning about apostasy. These angels were great in power and glory, yet they fell into sin and rebellion. They fell from a great height.

Likewise much of Christianity has been removed from its original standing. Through the Church, the Gospel has been made known. The power of the Holy Spirit has been manifested in the Church. The New Testament has been entrusted to Christians.

Yet how far has Christianity fallen!

I need not remind you of the gross errors of the Roman Catholic church; of the idolatry of the mass, the worship of Mary and Saints, of the supposed infallibility of the Pope.

But we must not let Protestants get off lightly.

A Roman Catholic priest was once told by a Protestant that the Roman Church was the Whore of Babylon spoken of in Revelation chapter 17. He replied “Ah, but who are her daughters?”

We have seen bishops who deny the virgin birth and even the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you ask the average minister in any denomination whether he believes the Bible, you are unlikely to get a straight answer.

I need not remind you of the scandal of television evangelists who squander huge amounts of money and get caught out in scandals. Or the scandal of the thousands of Protestant denominations divided against each other.

Christianity is in a sorry state.

Yet God will judge apostate Christianity. The book of Revelation prophesies God’s judgement upon Mystery Babylon, which many commentators take to be a corrupted form of false Christianity, just like the false teachers that Jude speaks of. Judgment begins with the house of God.

However, all over the earth, the Holy Spirit is moving. Men and women are still being born-again and coming to new life in Christ.

We must also recognise the possibility of the failure of individual believers. The child of God can fail in His service. The believer can fall into sin and error.

David, that great man of the Old Testament, chosen to be king of Israel, committed adultery and murder. In the New Tesament, Peter denied the Lord three times and later compromised the Gospel by his incosistent conduct towards the Gentiles.

Yet praise be to the Lord, we are saved by grace. Our salvation does not depend upon our worthiness, but upon God’s grace.

The apostle Paul spoke about those who had made shipwreck their faith. The author of Hebrews gives us many warnings against falling away.

You might then ask: "Is it possible for a born again believer to go to hell?" The Lord forbid! No, the Christian has received everlasting life. Once you have drunk of the water of life, you shall never thirst again. Those who are in Christ shall be with Him forever. They belong to Him.

However, there are consequences for failure in the Christian life. We read in 1 Corinthians about believers who were sinning suffering from sickness as God’s judgment. That is not to say that all sickness is because of sin, but the Lord does use physical suffering as a means of disciplining His children.

If we continue in sin, there is the possibility that the Lord may take us home. You have read about Ananias and Saphirah in Acts. They lied to the Holy Ghost and were cut down dead. No doubt, they went to heaven, but what a tragedy that their lives were wasted. They lost the opportunity to spend their lives serving their saviour. We see no mention of their children, so perhaps they were a young couple, in which case their story is even more tragic.

There are consequences after death too. Paul wrote in Corinthians about the judgment seat of Christ. If any man's work is burned up he shall suffer loss. Not loss of salvation, of course, but loss of rewards. Sometimes you hear Christians say "I'm not worried about rewards, I just want to get to heaven." I tell you this is foolishness. Our Lord commanded us to seek treasures in heaven. You may not worry about rewards now, but you will be disappointed when you get to heaven and you missed out on them.

Paul speaks about reigning with Christ. "If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him." What a tragedy it would be to miss out on reigning with Christ. Let us labour for that inheritance in heaven.

Yet we must not be discouraged. If we are in Christ, we are a new creation. We are indwellt with the Holy Spirit. We have the power to overcome. Were we to depend on our own strength in the Christian life we should surely fail. But we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

At the end of this epistle, Jude reminds us that the Lord is able to keep us from falling. The Lord is able to keep us strong in the Christian walk if we keep our faith in Him, if we keep looking to Him.

Brethren, look to Christ day by day, moment by moment. Think on Him. That way you will be reminded of His power to keep you from falling. If we overcome this world we shall receive a glorious inheritance in the kingdom. We shall reign with Christ and become lords over the angels and all of creation. That is one great incentive for carrying on and never giving up in our Christian walk.


Jonathan Hunt said...

Do you read your sermons out?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Oh, no.

I practice delivering it again and again so that it is thoroughly impressed upon my mind before I deliver it.

I take no responsiblity for any minor difference between what is written here and what I said this morning.

God Bless


mark pierson said...

Matthew, since you showed up in my sitemeter today - the first time in a long time - I felt urged to pop over and see your blog. I see another sermon. I think I've read all of your sermons thusfar, and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I wish to read this sermon too. But, alas! I came over too late as I must leave for work soon. (I'm not a sabbatarian) I SHALL read it tomorrow, the Lord willing. Until then I anticipate that I shall enjy this one too.


Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I am sorry you have to work on the Lord's Day, Mark.

Thanks for visiting.

mark pierson said...

You are an exhorter. Your hearers have been properly warned.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Thanks, Mark.

It is a shame, however, that there were not some more people there for me to exhort.

Earl said...

Brethren, look to Christ day by day, moment by moment. Think on Him.

Excellent words in the strong conclusion of your sermon. I was edified.

While you may have desired greater numbers to hear your sermon, I think God drew the people he prepared to hear those words. In addition, God is drawing others by his grace to read those words.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Earl.