From Jim McGuiggan... The Big Picture

The Big Picture

A man with a great reputation for moral uprightness was seen slipping into a brothel late in the night. Those that didn’t know him well knew what the scoop was and spread the word of the man’s shame. Those that knew him well knew that he was a devoted doctor and weren’t a bit surprised when they learned he had been called out of his bed to attend one of the girls that had been badly burned. The big picture changes things.

1 Samuel 1 tells of Hannah’s troubles, her appeal to God and her promise; it tells of the gift God gives her and her faithful response. The chapter certainly speaks to the heart of all caring mothers (fathers too, I’d presume). The message might be phrased: From the very beginning, give your children to the Lord!

But the chapter has nothing really to do with Hannah—it’s about Samuel!

"It must be about Hannah and it’s true that we should give our children to God from the very beginning—even before the birth."

It’s certainly true that we should give our children to God even before they’re born and it’s also clear that this chapter would encourage us to do just that—it’s a glorious story; but it’s about Samuel and not Hannah.

"What difference does it make who or what it’s about if it embodies the truth about our devoting our children to God?"

Look, Israel ended up with a visible king and the underlying spirit that brought in a visible king was God-dishonouring (1 Samuel 8:7). How on earth could that have happened? Who brought in this human king figure? It wasn’t a power-hungry tyrant or a God-despising rebel—it was the one man in the nation that was utterly opposed to such a move! Samuel initiated the institution! And who was "Samuel" that dared to place the Davidic family on the throne over Israel? His qualifications were impeccable. Chapters 1—7 give us a picture of the man. The big picture changes things.

"But that’s not nearly as relevant to our needs as the call for parents to devote their children to God. We need to be concerned about what the text means to us."

Maybe the big picture is just as relevant and will change what we think is important. What the Spirit of God who supervised the creation of the text had in mind really matters and if it doesn’t matter to us, it should!

"What does the text say to us in our setting?" is a vitally important question; but it isn’t the first question! What the Spirit of God would want us to do with the text (given our current situation) should be given careful and prayerful attention but what the Spirit meant to say as he developed the Story is not to be dismissed as if it didn’t matter.

"Are you saying we mustn’t use a text for anything other than what the original writer had in mind?"

I am not! OT writers use other OT writers in new ways. NT writers use OT writers in ways that the OT writer didn’t have in mind. But to use an OT or NT text in a way that ignores the spirit and direction of the text is to misuse it. To completely ignore what a text meant in its own setting just so we can make a point of our own is hardly excusable. Especially if there are texts all over the place that do make the point we’d like to make.

This ceaseless asking, "What does it mean to me?" before we allow the biblical text to speak for itself is part of the reason we are ignorant of the "the big picture" in the biblical witness. The Bible becomes a cafeteria where we pick and choose according to our taste and felt needs. If this becomes our practice our hearts and minds aren’t shaped by the Drama and we lose our sense of "place" in it. Our view of "being a Christian" becomes nothing other than a non-stop search for what we should do in this or that situation. The Bible becomes a "source book" filled with "principles" on how to live a good life. We become obsessed with what we should do and simply by default our eyes are taken off what God has done is doing and will bring to completion. The Story isn’t about us! Well, yes it is, but it’s only about us because it is about God and how he has chosen to relate to us!

"Still, what does it matter who introduced the monarchy to ancient Israel? Is it not more important to speak to parents about their children?"

Well, there’s something on target about that question. Harry Emerson Fosdick was right in more ways than one when he said that no one now goes to church to find out what happened to the Hittites or Jebusites.

But it’s still a mistake to dismiss the earlier acts in a single drama because we aren’t especially interested in them. (Some people, I suppose, would happily rip Leviticus out of the Bible and the bulk of Numbers. They're boring, aren't they? Or are they? "They do nothing for us!" I'm sure that's true for many of us; but should it be so? Maybe if we grasped what they were saying we'd be different people.) God’s grand enterprise is a single enterprise! Each part of it lays groundwork for what follows and it’s dangerous to dismiss material as irrelevant, especially when we don’t know the Story very well. What if it turns out that what we’re dismissing is important to the structure of the Story? I don’t doubt for a moment that (especially) ministers of the Word should respond to the questions people are asking. I don’t doubt either that (especially) ministers of the Word should be teaching people the questions they should be asking.

Our questions and our "felt needs" are the result of our shaping.

"What kind of baby does this coming baby need to be in order to receive a welcome in my world?" That’s a common question.

"What kind of person do I need to be in order to welcome that coming baby into my world whatever ‘kind’ of baby it is?" That’s a prior question.

One is shaped by my circumstances and the Story shapes the other. One is often shaped by a "what’s in it for me?" spirit and the other is surely shaped by the Spirit who speaks to us via the Story, by the big picture.

Let me repeat: I'm sure it's the business of the minister of God's word to respond to the questions people are asking. I'm certain it's the business of the ministers of God's word to teach people so that they begin to ask different questions. 

Romans 14: Faith vs. Opinion by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Romans 14: Faith vs. Opinion

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

To sort out the difference between faith and opinion as it relates to the Bible, one must first define terms. By “faith” we mean those actions that are directed by God, arising from the Word of God (Romans 10:17). For example, partaking of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday is a matter of “faith,” in that it is stipulated by God (Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). It is an action that God requires us to perform. When we speak of “opinion,” we are referring to a viewpoint or action that God has placed within the realm of personal preference. For example, whether we have two songs before the sermon vs. three; or whether we partake of the Lord’s Supper near the beginning of the worship period, or near the end. God has left as optional a great amount of viewpoints and actions—allowing people to exercise their own personal discretion.
God did this very thing at the beginning of human history. On the one hand, Adam and Eve were placed under very specific articles of “faith.” For one, they were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That stipulation was a matter of “faith,” i.e., God had legislated the matter. But the original pair was also given considerable latitude in exercising their own opinions. They could eat the fruit of any other tree on Monday, select another tree from which to eat on Tuesday, and still another on Wednesday. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge was a matter of “faith,” while eating any other tree was a matter of “opinion.”

Romans 14

Having defined our terms, let us turn our attention to two chapters in the New Testament that provide us with valuable information in sorting out the application of these principles in everyday life. Romans 14 has been a passage that has been used frequently in recent years to foster fellowship with denominationalism. They have contended that those denominational beliefs and practices with which churches of Christ disagree are not to be allowed to affect fellowship. For example, they have insisted that instrumental music in worship is strictly a matter of personal preference and tradition, and should be decided individually based on conscience. An appeal is made to Romans 14 to equate the use of the instrument with the eating of meat. It is then argued that those who are more spiritually mature may use the instrument in their worship to God. Those whose consciences prevent them from using the instrument are free to refrain from doing so. But they are the “weaker brother” and must not withhold fellowship from those who do use the instrument.
The first observation that is critical in making sense of this chapter is the fact that this context applies only to matters of opinion and indifference—not to matters of faith or doctrine. In his commentary on Romans, Moses Lard recognized this point when he wrote, “In matters of indifference, each man is a law to himself” (p. 412). He further stated, “it shows what liberty we have in the absence of divine command” (p. 412). In his commentary on Romans, David Lipscomb understood Romans chapter fourteen in the same fashion (1943, pp. 242ff.).
But what are “matters of indifference”? Matters of indifference refer to those practices that are indifferent to God—not to the individual. Obviously, the individual who believes he should not eat meat views his position as a serious “doctrinal” matter and, therefore, hardly “indifferent.” But we must understand that Romans 14 is speaking of those matters that are, in actuality, indifferent in the sight of God. For example, God has commanded Christians to spread the Gospel. The how of this action, whether by Internet, television, or automobile, is a matter of indifference to God. He authorizes us to use various means based upon our own good sense—our own consciences.
It is a misuse of Romans 14 to apply its teaching to any matter that is not indifferent to God. For example, God has specified that in order for a person to become a Christian, he/she must be immersed in water. Suppose a man believes that baptism can be by immersion, sprinkling, or pouring. To him, the “mode” of baptism is a matter of opinion—not faith. So he thinks that the person who limits the “mode” of baptism to strictly immersion is “narrow” and “weak in faith.” He would maintain that it is fine for his critic to be immersed if he so chooses, but this “weaker brother” should not bind his opinion on those who are “stronger” by insisting that only those who are immersed may be fellowshipped. This “stronger” fellow might even appeal to Romans 14 as support for his stance.
Yet, what this fellow would be failing to realize is that Romans 14 applies to matters of option that are indifferent to God. Where God has given His guidelines, all must conform to those specifications. Baptism, in God’s sight, is strictly immersion. Those who insist upon obeying God in this regard are not “weaker brethren.” Rather, they are faithful brethren; and those who differ are unfaithful to God.
Just as God has specified the action and design of baptism, He has been very specific with regard to the action of music in worship. If the use of the mechanical instrument in worship to God was optional, that is, if God left people free to offer musical worship in any form they so chose, then Romans 14 would be one passage that would be germane to such a discussion. But God has not left music in worship unaddressed. Neither has He left the question of the legitimacy of the denominations unaddressed. Denominationalism represents a departure from God’s simple will for His church. Romans 14 is of no help in assessing the legitimacy of either instrumental music or denominationalism.
Observe, then, that the one who is “weak in faith” in this chapter refers to the Christian whose knowledge, and therefore faith, has been insufficient in sorting out a particular issue that, in God’s sight, is a matter of opinion. Where the brother is “weak” is in the fact that he thinks that the issue under consideration is not a matter of opinion, but is, in fact, a matter of faith. The specific issues that Paul discusses pertain to the eating of certain foods and the observing of certain days. Regarding the former, one brother thinks that all foods may be eaten by Christians, while another brother thinks that Christians should be vegetarians. Regarding the latter, one brother thinks that certain days must be set aside and observed in special ways, while another brother recognizes no such requirements.
What is God’s view on this matter? Clearly, God’s view is that Christians are free to eat all foods. Jews had not been free in this regard. The Law of Moses contained numerous dietary regulations. But with the coming of Christianity, no such dietary regulations have been enjoined. Imposing such regulations on others constitutes “doctrines of demons,” as Paul explained in referring to those who were “commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:3-5). You remember the vision that Peter had in which he was commanded to kill and eat certain animals, to which he responded that he had never eaten anything that was “common or unclean.” The voice responded: “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (Acts 10:15). Paul states this point very emphatically in Romans 14:14—“I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself.”
So the Christian who understands that no restrictions apply to food under Christianity is the one who has grasped God’s view correctly. The Christian who thinks he should not eat certain foods is “weak in faith,” that is, his faith/belief on that particular point remains immature and uninformed by the Word of God (from whence faith arises). Due to previous beliefs and/or actions, likely learned while a non-Christian, his conscience was trained by his belief that he should not eat that particular food. A specific example would be a Jew who lived his whole life abstaining from pork which was deemed “unclean.” When he became a Christian, he might not immediately sort out the change. And even when he became aware of the correct viewpoint, it would be very difficult for him to start eating pork without his conscience bothering him. That is precisely why Paul insists that neither the stronger nor the weaker should “dispute” (vs. 1), “despise” (vs. 3), “judge” (vs. 4), or “show contempt” (vs. 10) for each other. Instead, both should want to show proper regard for each other’s consciences and spiritual well-being, and strive to encourage each other to be right with God and prepared for judgment (vss. 11-12).
The same may be said for the observance of a particular day. The context shows that the days under consideration are those that have no religious significance, i.e., they are days that are indifferent to God—like a birthday. The only day that has been legislated by God under Christianity is Sunday, the first day of the week. Christians are to assemble for worship on that day and approach God through the five avenues of worship that He, Himself, has stipulated (e.g., Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). Sunday worship, therefore, is a matter of faith—not opinion. But other days, like birthdays, or national holidays like July 4, are matters of option that the Christian is free to observe. For the Jew who had lived his life observing the Sabbath, to suddenly not be required to abstain from labor on that day, he likely would have felt both a sense of release, but also a sense of fright and uncertainty. He would have to go through a period of struggling with and re-educating his conscience to bring his “head knowledge” into harmony with his feelings and long-term, deeply ingrained habit, before his conscience would not condemn him for Sabbath activity.
Notice, then, that the context refers to the observance of days that are religiously neutral and indifferent to God. They do not involve the observer in any unscriptural religious practice. Placing in juxtaposition this admonition in Romans 14 with a similar one in Galatians 4 will help us to see the distinction:
Again, Paul is not endorsing those who create their own “holy days” which they practice religiously. Christendom has generated an entire “Christian calendar” with numerous observances linked to events that occurred in the life of Christ (e.g., Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Lent, etc.). All such observances are unscriptural since they presume to impose human thinking onto biblical precept, and dictate to God how to practice Christianity. Has God clearly indicated what event, if any, in the life of Christ He wants observed or commemorated? Absolutely—even stipulating the precise procedures to be enacted. He authorizes Christians to observe the death of Christ, every first day of the week, using bread and grape juice to symbolize the body and blood, and to think about His sacrifice while also taking an introspective look at one’s self (1 Corinthians 11:20-34). Beyond that, if God had wanted other events in Christ’s life to be commemorated, He would have said so.
But could a Jewish Christian continue to observe the Sabbath? Yes, if he did so without linking its observance to religious obligation. Since he could no longer be justified by the Old Law (Galatians 5:4), he must not observe it as if it is binding upon himself to be pleasing to God, and he must not bind it on others.
Paul issued another directive to be followed by the more mature Christians toward those Christians who had not yet assimilated proper teaching on the subject of food and days. The brother who recognizes that God permits the eating of a particular food must refrain from eating that food item under the following condition: if his eating would tempt or encourage or incite the brother who thinks it is wrong to eat it, to go ahead and eat it. The brother who thinks eating a particular food is wrong (even if, in God’s sight, it is not wrong) sins if he eats it. He has committed the sin of damaging or defiling his conscience.

1 Corinthians 8

This sin is clarified more vividly in the similar discussion that Paul directed to the Corinthian Christians regarding the eating of food that had been previously used in a pagan offering to an idol: 1 Corinthians 8. Paul insisted that no pagan gods exist (vs. 4) and, as long as a person does not intend to honor or worship a fake god, eating food that had been offered to them was optional. However, “there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled” (vs. 7). The term “conscience” in verses 7, 10, and 12 of 1 Corinthians 8 is suneidasis and refers to that inward faculty of moral/spiritual awareness that was created by God. We must not act in ways that damage (or “sear”—1 Timothy 4:2) our consciences. To do so is sin. The Christian who thinks a particular practice is wrong, when it is not wrong in God’s sight, should be about the business of re-educating his conscience, getting his thinking straight as informed by the Word of God. By that process, in time he will be able to rise above his immature assessment and feel fully “at home” with God’s view of the matter.
Furthermore, returning to Romans 14, the more mature Christian sins if his eating an authorized food prods the immature Christian to go against his conscience and consume a food that he thinks is wrong (“evil”—vs. 20) for the Christian to consume. The mature Christian is guilty of “grieving” (vs. 15), “destroying” (vss. 15,20), “offending” (vs. 21), “making weak” (vs. 21), and causing the weaker brother to “stumble” (vs. 21). In Paul’s treatment of this matter in 1 Corinthians 8, the stronger brother that so conducts himself is guilty of causing the weak brother to “perish” (vs. 11) by “wounding his weak conscience” (vs. 12).

Some Applications

Many churches have undergone internal disruption over an infinite variety of disagreements. These disagreements might be over what color of drapes ought to hang in front of the baptistery or what carpet should be on the floor. Dissension might occur over whether to build a new auditorium or multipurpose room, how to equip the kitchen, which songbooks or Bibles to buy for the pews, or whether a preacher ought to be hired or fired. Some attempt to derail the majority’s decision and get their own way by appealing to Romans 14. They insist that implementing the decision of the elders or the majority of the men would “offend” them. This tactic has been used far and wide to stymie the work of the church and prevent many positive actions from going forward.
In such instances, Romans 14 is misapplied in at least two ways: (1) Paul did not use the term “offend” merely to mean that a brother disagrees with or feels hurt by the decision. “Offend” is not defined as “ruffled feathers.” He used the term to refer to the weaker brother being led into sin. Specifically, Paul said the mature Christian ought to forego committing an action (like eating a particular food), if doing so would cause the immature Christian to engage in the same behavior in direct violation of his conscience. Placing red rather than beige curtains in front of the baptistery would hardly cause the dissenting brother to sin! (2) Those who use this tact would never cast themselves in the role of the weaker brother. They consider themselves the stronger brothers.
The fact is that if such individuals have scriptural grounds for objecting to a particular decision, rather than objecting solely out of personal opinion or preference, they should stake their case on scriptural grounds. Unfortunately, the church has always been plagued by some brethren whose ego, pride, and perhaps lust for power (like Diotrephes—3 John 9), drives them to attempt to control the church. In stark contrast, mature Christians will be extremely flexible, open-minded, and accommodative when it comes to matters of opinion in the church.
Another consideration regarding Romans 14 that helps us to distinguish between faith and opinion is seen in verses 22-23—
Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
To “have faith” in a viewpoint/doctrine means that we are familiar with God’s view of the matter, knowing it to be optional and a matter of opinion. To “doubt” is to lack complete awareness or knowledge of a divine doctrine and/or to have hesitation to accept and enact it in one’s life. Specifically in the context, if a brother was uncertain about (doubted) whether he should eat a particular food, he would be guilty of sin if he went ahead and ate the food, because he would not be doing so “from faith,” i.e., he would be engaging in the action without being fully informed (by God’s Word) or fully convinced that such an action was acceptable to God. Since “faith comes by…hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17), any action that a person engages in that does not have the authority/permission of God’s Word behind it, is a sinful action.
But how may the average Christian distinguish between matters of faith and matters of opinion? When a question or issue arises in the church, how do we know whether it is optional or obligatory? The answer is that we must study God’s Word carefully in order to apply its principles to the matter at hand. Excellent books have been written by Christians over the years detailing proper exegetical procedure for ascertaining God’s will on matters that are not specifically alluded to in Scripture. These include Thomas Warren’s When Is An “Example” Binding? and Logic and the Bible, Roy Deaver’s Ascertaining Bible Authority, D.R. Dungan’s Hermeneutics, et al. Such books help the student of the Bible to think through the principles involved in understanding God’s Word and applying that Word to the multitude of circumstances that arise in our lives. God’s Word was obviously written with a view toward the average human being capable of understanding God’s will for his or her life. Of course, diligence and effort must be brought to bear on the task (2 Timothy 2:15; Acts 17:11). But with adequate effort and interest in knowing God’s will, the goal can be achieved. No one can stand before God at the end of time and legitimately maintain that he was unable to recognize matters of faith and opinion.


May God help us to “pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19). May we never “do anything by which our brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak” (vs. 21). May God help us to grow spiritually every day, that we might be people who are “strong in faith” (Romans 4:20), well able to distinguish between matters of opinion vs. matters of faith.


Lard, Moses (1875), Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing).
Lipscomb, David (1943), Romans (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

From Mark Copeland... The Ungodly Dreamers (Jude 8-16,19)

                         "THE EPISTLE OF JUDE"

                     The Ungodly Dreamers (8-16,19)


1. So far in this epistle, we have noticed that Jude has...
   a. Exhorted his readers to "contend earnestly for the faith" - Jude 3
   b. Made mention of "ungodly men" who have "crept in unnoticed"
      - Jude 4
      1) Men who "turn the grace of our God into licentiousness"
      2) And who "deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ"
   c. Reminded them of examples of God's righteous condemnation in the
      past - Jude 5-7
      1) The nation of Israel in the wilderness
      2) The angels who sinned
      3) The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah

2. At this point, Jude follows the example set by Peter (cf. 2Pe 2:
   10-17) and describes these "ungodly men" - Jude 8-16,19
   a. In doing so, Jude does more than simply repeat Peter
   b. He reinforces Peter's words and adds more information about these
      "ungodly men"

3. In this study we shall consider Jude's description of these "ungodly
   dreamers", noticing that what is said of them is summarized in verse
   a. They "defile the flesh"
   b. They "reject authority"
   c. They "speak evil"

[As Jude elaborates, he starts with the last of these, how...]


   A. OF DIGNITARIES... (8-9)
      1. The word "dignitaries" comes from doxa {dox'-ah}, meaning
         "dignity, glory (-ious), honour, praise, worship"
         a. It can refer to angelic beings, or those in positions of
         b. In either case, these "ungodly dreamers" would not hesitate
            to speak evil
      2. To illustrate the folly of their behavior, the dispute over
         the body of Moses is given:
         a. Michael, the archangel, dared not bring a reviling
            accusation against the devil
         b. Saying only "The Lord rebuke you"
         -- How foolish, then, for these "dreamers" to speak evil of
            those in authority

      1. Unafraid to speak evil of dignitaries, they do not hesitate to
         speak evil of things they know nothing about!
      2. And what they know naturally, in that they corrupt themselves!
         - cf. 2Pe 2:12
      3. In conducting themselves in this manner...
         a. They have gone in the way of Cain
            1) Whose works were evil - 1Jn 3:12
            2) Who did not act out of faith - cf. He 11:4
         b. They have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit
            1) Who loved the wages of unrighteousness - 2Pe 2:15-16
            2) Who put a stumblingblock before the children of Israel
               - cf. Re 2:14
         c. They have perished in the rebellion of Korah
            1) A rebellion that was ostensibly against Moses and Aaron
               - Num 16:1-45
            2) But was really against the Lord Himself - cf. Num 26:9

      1. James warned us about the dangers...
         a. Of the tongue - Jm 3:2-12
         b. Of speaking evil of brethren - Jm 4:11-12; 5:9
      2. Paul also wrote Titus to counsel Christians not to speak evil
         others - Tit 3:1-2
      -- When we add the example of the "ungodly dreamers" and their
         quickness to speak evil of others, shouldn't we be very
         cautious of how we speak about others?

[As we continue, we also notice concerning these "ungodly dreamers"


      1. Feasting "without fear, serving only themselves"; they were
         also "sensual persons"
      2. In prophesying of their behavior, Peter elaborates:
         a. "carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with
            you" - 2Pe 2:13
         b. "having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from
            sin, beguiling unstable souls" - 2Pe 2:14
      3. They took advantage of brethren's hospitality to engage in
         their lustful thoughts

      1. "Clouds without water, carried about by the winds"
         a. Offering promise of blessing
         b. But not leaving any
      2. "Late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the
         a. Barren when fruit should be expected
         b. But even worse, beyond fruit-bearing because they are dead
            and cut off from any source of nourishment
      3. "Raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame"
         a. Like the flotsam and jetsam spewed by the waves
         b. So their shame comes forth by their words and behavior
      4. "Wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of
         darkness forever"
         a. Shining for a moment
         b. But without direction or orbit, they will eventually be
            gone forever!

      1. By Enoch, the man "who walked with God; and he was not,
         because God took him" - cf. Gen 5:24
      2. Enoch prophesied of the Lord's Coming...
         a. Coming with ten thousands of His saints (angels?) - cf.
            1Th 3:13; 2Th 1:7
         b. Coming to execute judgment on all - cf. 2Th 1:8-9
         c. Coming to convict all who are ungodly (such as these
            ungodly dreamers)
            1) Of their ungodly deeds committed in an ungodly way
            2) Of harsh things spoken against the Lord by ungodly

[So the judgment is sure upon these "ungodly dreamers" who speak evil
and defile the flesh.  But if that were not bad enough, we also learn
from Jude that...]


      1. We have seen that they were quick to speak evil, contrary to
         apostolic teaching
      2. Jude's description of them as "murmurers, complainers" also
         shows a lack of respect for apostolic authority - cf. 1Co 10:
         10; Php 2:14
      3. Their use of flattery likewise was condemned by the apostles
         - cf. Ro 16:17-18

      1. "Walking according to their own lusts", as "sensual persons",
         clearly this was a rejection of apostolic authority and
         teaching - cf. 1Pe 2:11; 1:14
      2. The same was true in "causing divisions" - Ro 16:17-18


1. The last phrase of verse 19 truly sums up the condition of these
   "ungodly dreamers":  "...not having the Spirit"
   a. Yes, when they "defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak
      evil..." - Jude 8
   b. They demonstrate that they are walking "according to the lusts of
      the flesh", not "according to the Spirit" - cf. Ga 5:16-23

2. The end of these "ungodly dreamers" is clearly stated in the
   a. As emphasized by the apostle Paul:  "those who practice such
      things will not inherit the kingdom of God" - Ga 5:21
   b. As stated by Peter:  "...to whom the gloom of darkness is
      reserved forever." - 2Pe 2:17
   c. As stated by Jude:  "...for whom is reserved the blackness of
      darkness forever" - Jude 15

3. In our next study, we shall consider Jude's counsel on how we can
   avoid being misled by such "ungodly dreamers"

Does Jude's characterization of these "ungodly dreamers" hit a little
too close to home in some areas?  If they do, why not make things right
with God...?

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From Mark Copeland... Reminders Of God's Righteous Condemnation (Jude 5-7)

                         "THE EPISTLE OF JUDE"

            Reminders Of God's Righteous Condemnation (5-7)


1. Exhorting his readers to "contend earnestly for the faith", in verse
   4 Jude introduces the reason for them to take such as stand...
   a. "Certain men" have crept in unnoticed
   b. They were "ungodly men", guilty of:
      1) Turning the grace of God into lewdness
      2) Denying the Lord God and the Lord Jesus Christ

2. Jude also writes of these men that they were "long ago marked out
   for this condemnation"
   a. Some might infer that Jude meant that these men were predestined
      to act this way
   b. However, as Warren Wiersbe in The Bible Exposition Commentary
      correctly states:
      "Jude did not write that these men were ordained to become
      apostates, as though God were responsible for their sin.  They
      became apostates because they willfully turned away from the
      truth.  But God did ordain that such people would be judged and
      condemned.  The Old Testament prophets denounced the false
      prophets of their day, and both Jesus Christ and His Apostles
      pronounced judgment on them."
   c. Yes, what is ordained is their punishment, that those who turn
      from God will not escape His righteous condemnation!

3. To reinforce his point, Jude reminds his readers of three examples
   in which the ungodly did not escape God's righteous condemnation
   - Jude 5-7
   a. Israel in the wilderness
   b. The angels who sinned
   c. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah

4. That we might be reminded as well, in this study we shall briefly
   review what is known about these three "case histories" of divine
   judgment, and draw some points that can be gleaned from them
   a. If you feel a sense of "deja vu", it may be because Jude follows
      a pattern set by Peter in his second epistle - 2Pe 2:4-6
   b. Jude's action is understandable, as he is warning against the
      very presence of those Peter had warned would one day come

[There is a difference, however.  Whereas Peter used as one of his
examples the people destroyed in the flood, Jude selects the example


      1. A well known event in Israel's history, God "saved" the nation
         by bringing them out of the land of Egypt
      2. Yet despite their being recipients of His wonderful grace, God
         "destroyed" those who did not believe
         a. Their lack of faith required that they wander for 40 years
            in the wilderness
         b. So that those over the age of 20 when they left Egypt, none
            but two (Joshua and Caleb) entered the Promised Land
      3. The final "tally":  603,550 men were "saved", but then 603,548
         were "destroyed"

      1. God may destroy those He has saved!
         a. Paul made this point in writing to the Corinthians - 1Co 10:1-12
         b. The writer to the Hebrews made the same point - He  3:12-
      2. The reason?  Lack of obedient faith!
         a. "God destroyed those who did not believe" - Jude 5
         b. "they could not enter in because of unbelief" - He 3:18-19
      3. While the Bible teaches "the security of the believer" (cf.
         1Pe 1:5)...
         a. It warns against the believer developing a heart of
         b. It teaches "the insecurity of the unbeliever"
      4. Therefore the Biblical admonition:  "...let him who thinks he
         stands take heed lest he fall." - 1Co 10:12
      5. A recurring theme throughout the New Testament is this:

                 "Remember what happened to Israel!"

[Having reminded his readers that the example of Israel shows the
possibility of "once saved, but destroyed", he then provides an example
that shows God has a place reserved for the wicked...]


      1. Very little is known from the Scriptures themselves
         a. As described by Jude, there were angels who:
            1) "did not keep their proper domain"
            2) "left their own habitation"
         b. Peter simply writes that the angels "sinned" - 2Pe 2:4
         c. A very old interpretation is that Jude refers to what is
            described in Gen 6:1-4
            1) Where "sons of God" is understood to refer to angels (as
               used in Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7) who cohabited with the
               "daughters of men"
            2) This interpretation of Gen 6:1-4 is common in Jewish
               literature (Enoch 7; 9:8; 10:11; 12:4), and Jude appears
               to quote from such literature later in verse 14
            3) It is also found in intertestamental literature and the
               early church fathers (e.g., Justin in his Apology 2:5)
            4) It fits in with the connection Jude later makes with the
               sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, that they had "gone after
               strange flesh" - Jude 7
      2. What is clearer about these angels is their condemnation
         a. God has them "in everlasting chains under darkness for the
            judgment of the great day"
         b. As worded by Peter in 2Pe 2:4, God...
            1) "cast them down to hell"
               a) The word for "hell" is tartaroo {tar-tar-o'-o}
               b) "Tartarus, thought of by the Greeks as a subterranean
                  place lower than Hades where divine punishment was
                  meted out, was so regarded in Jewish apocalyptic as
                  well." (BAG, p. 813)
            2) "delivered them to chains of darkness" (The NIV renders
               it "gloomy dungeons")
            3) "to be reserved for judgment"
               a) As Jude puts it, "for the judgment of the great day"
               b) Similar to the scene described in Lk 16:19-31, where
                  the wicked rich man was in torment awaiting the
                  judgment at the Last Day

      1. God is prepared to render everlasting punishment to the
         a. He has the angels in "everlasting chains under darkness"
            - Jude 6
         b. For the "ungodly men" described later, He has "reserved the
            blackness of darkness forever" - Jude 13
      2. Just as He had a place prepared for the angels who sinned, so
         He has a place prepared for the wicked and unbelievers! - cf.
         Re 21:8

[So God has demonstrated that He is prepared to punish the wicked. That
He will do so is emphasized with one more example:  The judgment that
came upon...]


      1. The judgment against these cities is vividly described in Gen 19:24-28
      2. Why this terrible judgment?
         a. The LORD said it was "because their sin is very grievous"
            - Gen 18:20
         b. Jude says that "in a similar manner to these" (the angels
            who sinned), they had:
            1) "given themselves over to sexual immorality"
            2) "gone after strange flesh"
         c. We see a sample of this in Gen 19:4-11

      1. Both Peter and Jude make the point that Sodom and Gomorrah are
         an "example"
         a. Peter, an example "to those who afterward would live
            ungodly" - 2Pe 2:6
         b. Jude, an example of those "suffering the vengeance of
            eternal fire" - Jude 7
      2. I.e., God has given us an example of the eternal fire awaiting
         the subjects of His righteous vengeance!


1. We may be like the original recipients of Jude's letter, well
   acquainted with these events...
   a. But Jude wanted to "remind" them - Jude 5
   b. And we need to be reminded often as well!

2. And what is it that we need to remember?
   a. Remember Israel, as an example of those once saved who were
      destroyed for lack of faith!
   b. Remember the angels who sinned, as an example of those whose
      incarceration tells us God has a place prepared for the wicked!
   c. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah, as an example that God will not
      withhold the vengeance of eternal fire when the time is right!

3. It is only when we keep such events in mind that we will...
   a. Take serious the warnings about those who would lead us astray!
   b. Take serious the admonitions designed to keep us preserved in
      Jesus Christ!

Are you letting these examples serve their intended purpose?  Will you
let them motivate you to make whatever changes need to be made in your
life?  The "judgment of the great day" draws nearer...

From Mark Copeland... Contending Earnestly For The Faith (Jude 3-4)

                         "THE EPISTLE OF JUDE"

                Contending Earnestly For The Faith (3-4)


1. As we begin to focus on the purpose of The Epistle Of Jude, we see
   that his original desire was to write about our common salvation
   shared in Christ:

   "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning
   our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you
   exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was
   once for all delivered to the saints." - Jude 3

2. The need to change his purpose is seen in the next verse:

   "For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were
   marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the
   grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and
   our Lord Jesus Christ." - Jude 4

3. That men "crept in unnoticed" should give us pause...
   a. That such could happen, despite the many warnings given by Jesus,
      Paul, and Peter
   b. How much easier, then, for this to happen today when we live in
      time far removed from those initial warnings!

4. In light of this, Jude's call to "contend earnestly for the faith"
   becomes even more relevant for us today...
   a. We ought to appreciate "the need" to contend for the faith
   b. We should understand "the how" when it comes to contending
      earnestly for the faith

[In this study, "Contending Earnestly For The Faith", it is "the
need" and "the how" that we examine more closely...]


      1. This I infer from the phrase "the faith which once for all
         delivered to the saints"
         a. The expression "once for all" can rightly be worded "one
            time for all time"
         b. That is, "the faith" (that body of doctrine which we are to
            believe) was delivered to the church "one time for all
         -- Revelation was not to be repeated, nor was there more to be
            revealed later on!
      2. That God has revealed all that He would have us know is
         evident from such statements like those of:
         a. Paul, telling the Ephesian elders he had not shunned to
            proclaim "the whole counsel of God" - Ac 20:27
         b. Peter, writing that God has given us "all things that
            pertain to life and godliness" - 2Pe 1:3
         -- If we have "all things", and if we have the "whole counsel
            of God", what else is there?
      3. Thus the Scriptures, which contain the faith delivered "once
         for all", contains all we need to become what God wants of us!
         - cf. 2Ti 3:16-17
      4. But when people suggest:
         a. That God's revelation is incomplete, or it is still in
         b. Or that God's revelation needs to be repeated
         -- Then our task is to "contend earnestly for the faith once

      1. There were those in Jude's day "who turn the grace of our God
         into licentiousness (lewdness)"
         a. Their doctrine of grace gave them excuse to sin
         b. So much so, that they engaged in that which was openly
            shameful (lewd)
         -- Perhaps they said:  "Let us sin so that grace may abound!"
      2. There are some today who pervert the grace of God...
         a. To excuse their disregard for the commands found in God's
         b. To justify their lifestyle that is contrary to the
            principles of the Bible
         -- For they are likely to say:  "God is too loving, His grace
            is too wonderful, to condemn us when we are so sincere!"
      3. But those who "contend earnestly for the faith" will be ever
         mindful of what the grace of God truly teaches - cf. Tit 2:
         a. To deny ungodliness and worldly lusts!
         b. To live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age!

      1. Jude had to deal with those who "deny the only Lord God and
         our Lord Jesus Christ"
         a. The emphasis appears to be on the term "Lord", used to
            describe God and Jesus
         b. The term "lord" comes from kurios {koo'-ree-os}
            1) Which is related to the word kuros (supremacy)
            2) Meaning "supreme in authority"
         c. These people were denying the authority rightly belonging
            to God and Jesus
      2. Today we often face people denying the authority of God and
         a. By their lack of respect to the Word of God
         b. By their setting up other standards of authority for what
            they believe or do
            1) Such as a synod, convention, council
            2) Such as a pope, bishop, minister, or their own person
      3. But those who "contend earnestly for the faith once
         a. Will recognize the authority which belongs to Christ -
            Mt 28:18; Ep 1:21-22
         b. Will recognize the authority delegated to His apostles -
            Jn 13:20; 1Co 14:37; 1Th 2:13; Ac 2:42

[Clearly the need to "contend earnestly for the faith" is present, for
just as there were those in Jude's day who...

                  - denied the all-sufficiency of God's Word
                  - perverted the doctrine of grace
                  - denied the authority of God and Jesus

...so there are such people today!  How then shall we do it?]


      1. From the "Believers' Study Bible":
         a. The vivid expression epagonizomai (Gk.) is translated
            "contend earnestly" and is related to the English word
         b. The term is associated with strife and combat of a most
            vigorous and determined variety.
         c. The present tense of the verb indicates that the Christian
            struggle is to be continuous.
         d. Jude believed that the foundational tenets of the Christian
            faith were under attack.  Nothing but vigorous
            counter-contention would be sufficient.
      2. The use of such an expression therefore suggests:
         a. The matter is serious; we are at war!
            1) Paul describes the nature of our warfare in 2Co 10:3-6
            2) And again in Ep 6:10-13
         b. This is not a time to be unprepared; we must arm ourselves!
      -- We must therefore contend with vigor, even to the point of
         agony, for "the faith once delivered to the saints"!

      1. Paul defines our weaponry in Ep 6:13-18
         a. Girded with truth
         b. The breastplate of righteousness
         c. Feet shod with the gospel of peace
         d. The shield of faith
         e. The helmet of salvation
         f. The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God
         g. Watching with all prayer
      2. Notice that most of these things are for our own defense, lest
         we be lost in the struggle!
         a. The elements of truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith,
            salvation, etc., are needed for our own salvation as much
            as for those we seek to conquer
         b. Make sure that you let them "remove the plank for your own
            eye" so you will be able to see clear "to remove speck out
            of your brother's eye" - cf. Mt 7:3-5
         c. Some people are so quick to take up the "sword", they leave
            the rest of their armor behind!
      3. Paul also has something to say about other weapons that are
         "mighty in God"
         a. Such qualities as "the meekness and gentleness of Christ"
            - 2Co 10:1-6
         b. Making sure that we are first "spiritual", and then
            displaying gentleness and caution - Ga 6:1
         c. Refraining from quarrels, applying gentleness, the Word,
            with patience and humility correcting the opposition - 2 Ti 2:23-26


1. The call to "contend earnestly for the faith" is not a license to
   engage in "contentions" and "outbursts of wrath" - cf. Ga 5:19-21;
   1Co 3:1-3

2. But it is a call to vigorously contend with all the weapons at our
   a. First and foremost, with the Word of God, applied first to self
      and then to others
   b. But also, with the Christ-like qualities that are "mighty in God"
      to win people over to obedience to Christ

3. It is the fact...
   a. That many are not obeying Christ as Lord
   b. But perverting His teaching or setting themselves up as their own
   ...that makes it necessary that we "contend earnestly for the faith
      once for all delivered to the saints"

Dear friend, whose side of this battle are YOU on?  Have you submitted
to Him whom God has made both Lord and Christ?  Are you continuing
steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine? - cf. Ac 2:36-42

From Mark Copeland... Called! Sanctified! And Preserved! (Jude 1-2)

                         "THE EPISTLE OF JUDE"

                Called! Sanctified! And Preserved! (1-2)


1. In several passages throughout the New Testament, we find serious
   warnings about impending apostasy...
   a. Jesus warned that false prophets would arise, the love of many
      would grow cold, and only those who endure to the end would be
      saved - Mt 24:11-13
   b. Paul foretold of many disciples being drawn away - Ac 20:29-30
   c. Peter warned about the rise of false teachers, and how many would
      follow their destructive ways - 2Pe 2:1-3

2. But by the time the epistles of John and Jude were written, the
   danger was no longer impending, it was very much in existence...
   a. Antichrists were present, and false prophets were in the world
      - 1Jn 2:18; 4:1; 2Jn 7
   b. Jude was forced to change his original purpose to deal with the
      crisis - Jude 3-4

3. If the danger of apostasy was already present in the First Century
   a. We should not be surprised that the dangers exists in the
      twentieth century!
   b. We would do well to pay close heed to those epistles written to
      tell us how to deal with it

4. That makes The Epistle Of Jude especially relevant, and with this
   lesson we begin a series of expository sermons based upon its

5. In verses 1-2, Jude begins his letter in typical fashion:
   a. He identifies himself...
      1) As "a servant of Jesus Christ" and "brother of James"
      2) It is considered very likely that James was the brother of the
         Lord who had become prominent in the church at Jerusalem - cf.
         Ga 1:16; 2:9
      3) This would mean Jude was also a brother to the Lord Jesus -
         cf. also Mt 13:54-56
      4) That Judas would describe himself as a servant of the Lord and
         not His brother is typical of the modesty shown by James as
         well - Jm 1:1
   b. He then addresses his original readers...
      1) No particular church or individuals are named
      2) They are simply "those who are called, sanctified by God the
         Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ:"
      3) For this reason, the epistle of Jude has been categorized as a
         catholic, or general, epistle (like James, 1st & 2nd Peter,
         and 1st John)
   c. He concludes his salutation with a three-fold benediction:
      "Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you"

6. Before we go any further, the manner in which Jude addressed his
   readers is worthy of careful notice...
   a. Jude's purpose is to warn of those "ungodly men" who have crept
   b. That a warning is necessary suggests a danger that is real: being
      led away from the faith
   c. Yet Jude uses terms in his address that some would say teaches
      the impossibility of apostasy (especially the phrase: "preserved
      in Jesus Christ")

[Therefore I would like for us to focus on the concepts suggested by
the three words in the title of our study:  "Called! Sanctified!  And

Let's begin with the idea of Christians being...]


      1. We have been called with "a holy calling" - 2Ti 1:9
      2. This calling was not according to our meritorious works
      3. It was according to God's own purpose and grace before time

      1. We became God's chosen and called through the means of the
         gospel - 2Th 2:13-14
      2. By having the gospel preached to "every creature", the call is
         made available to all - cf. Mk 16:15-16
         a. This is consistent with God's desire that "all men be
             saved" - 1Ti 2:3-4
         b. This is consistent with God's offer of His Son as "a ransom
            for all" - 1Ti 2:5-6
         c. This is consistent with the Lord's unwillingness that "any
            should perish", but that "all should come to repentance"
            - 2Pe 3:9

      1. This requires much diligence on our part - 2Pe 1:10-11
      2. Otherwise, we will be like the Israelites in the wilderness
         - He 3:12-19; 4:1-2,11
         a. All were called by God to enter the Promised Land of rest
         b. But most were unable to enter because of unbelief that led
            to lack of diligence!

[It is the need for faithful diligence that explains the many warnings
against apostasy found in the Scriptures.  It also helps to understand
why Jude felt it necessary to write his epistle!

Closely related to the concept of being "called", is the idea that by
God's grace we are also...]


      1. Are translated from the Greek word "hagiazo" {hag-ee-ad'-zo}
      2. Which means to make holy, to set apart for a special purpose
      3. Therefore, God has set apart those who have been called - Jude 1

      1. Is said to be the work of the Holy Spirit
         a. "sanctified by the Holy Spirit" - Ro 15:16
         b. "sanctified...by the Spirit of our God" - 1Co 6:11
         c. "sanctification by the Spirit" - 2Th 2:13
         d. "the sanctifying work of the Spirit" (NASV) - 1Pe 1:2
      2. Is also said to be the work of the Word of God
         a. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." - Jn 17:17
         b. "that He might sanctify...by the word" - Ep 5:26
      3. Since the Word of God is said to be the "sword of the Spirit"
         (Ep 6:17), the Word is evidently the instrument used by the
         Spirit to help bring about our sanctification

      1. Some people understand "sanctification" as "all at once" or
         "in two stages" (e.g., the Wesleyan concept of entire
      2. The Biblical evidence suggests otherwise:
         a. The church at Corinth was made up of members...
            1) Who were "sanctified in Christ Jesus" - 1Co 1:2
            2) Who had been "sanctified" - 1Co 6:11
         b. Yet, many of these members were "babes in Christ" and
            "carnal" - 1Co 3:1-3
      3. As written to the Hebrews, those in Christ are "being
         sanctified" - He 2:11
         a. I.e., sanctification is an on-going process
         b. It begins at conversion, and continues as we grow in the
      4. As Paul prayed for the Thessalonians :  "may the God of peace
         Himself sanctify you completely" - 1Th 5:23

[Whether God does indeed complete the process of sanctification for
those who are called will be determined by whether or not we remain
"preserved in Christ Jesus". (Jude 1)

So let's take a closer look at what is involved with being...]


      1. It comes from the Greek word "tereo" {tay-reh'-o}
      2. Which means "to guard (from loss or injury)"
      3. It is used to describe that which is closely watched and
         a. Such as those disobedient angels who are awaiting the
            Judgment Day - Jude 6
         b. Such as the punishment awaiting "ungodly men" - Jude 13

      1. We are being carefully "guarded" in Christ!
      2. Peter uses a different word (phroureo, froo-reh'-o) to express
         a similar idea - 1Pe 1:5
      3. Paul used yet another word (sozo, sode'-zo) to express his own
         confidence in God's preservation - 2Ti 4:18
      3. Indeed, Jesus reassured his disciples that no one could
         "snatch" them out of His hand - cf. Jn 10:27-29
      -- But does this mean that it is impossible to fall away?  Do we
         have no personal responsibility to remain "preserved in Jesus

      1. Jude uses the same word for "preserved" in Jude 21: "keep
      2. This indicates that we must cooperate with God
         a. As Peter indicated, we are "kept by the power of God
            through faith" - 1Pe 1:5
            1) God provides the power to keep us safe
            2) But we must provide the faith
         b. Jesus' teaching on security is for those who are
            1) No one can "snatch" us away from God against our will
            2) But what if "believers" become "unbelievers"?
               a) Does the promise still apply if the conditions have
               b) What if we choose to leave or jump out of God's
                  protective hand?
         c. That "believers" can become "unbelievers", and thereby in
            danger of losing one's salvation, is clearly taught in He 3:12-19; 4:1-2,11
      3. Thus we are "preserved in Jesus Christ"...
         a. But remaining "preserved" involves personal responsibility!
         b. It requires that we "keep ourselves" in the love of God!


1. We who are in Christ are indeed richly blessed:
   a. We have been "called" by the gospel of Christ, to which call we
      responded when we obeyed the conditions of the gospel (faith,
      repentance, confession, and baptism)
   b. We have been "sanctified" or set apart for a holy purpose by God
      the Father, as He works upon us through His Holy Spirit in
      conjunction with His Holy Word
   c. On the basis of our faith, we are "preserved" in Jesus Christ
      unto eternal life

2. But dear brethren, forces of Satan are very much at work...
   a. They seek to undermine our faith in Christ
   b. They seek to harden our hearts, and to develop an evil heart of
   c. They seek to make us spiritually lazy, and not to maintain the
      diligence necessary to keep ourselves in the love of God

3. Yet God in His grace has preserved His Word to give us ample
   warning; shall we not heed the warnings found throughout His Word,
   such as those found in The Epistle of Jude?

And as we speak of giving heed...have you given heed to the call of the
gospel of Christ? - cf. Ac 2:36-38
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From Mark Copeland... Imitating The Good (3 John 11-12)

                      "THE THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN"

                       Imitating The Good (11-12)


1. After describing "the spirit of Diotrephes" in verses 9-10, John
   encourages his beloved Gaius to be careful about what he imitates:

   "Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does
   good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. Demetrius has
   a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also
   bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true." - 3Jn 11-12

2. Following upon the condemnation of Diotrephes, and followed by the
   commendation of Demetrius, it is easy to infer...
   a. That John was warning Gaius not to be like Diotrephes
   b. And encouraging him instead to be like Demetrius

3. But why does John feel the need to exhort Gaius in this way?
   a. Haven't we seen that Gaius was a man whose soul was prosperous?
   b. Haven't we observed that he was walking in the truth?
   c. Haven't we noticed that he was commended for his hospitality?
   -- Wouldn't this make Gaius himself a man worthy of imitation?

4. Yes, and perhaps this should tell us something...
   a. About ourselves as imitators
   b. About the need for everyone to have good role models that we can

[In this lesson, "Imitating The Good", I would like for us to reflect
on the idea of being imitators.

Let's begin by observing that...]


      1. Especially in their early years, children seem to delight in
         imitating their parents
      2. They quickly pick up their parent's mannerisms:  the way they
         talk, walk, etc.
      3. It is as though there was some innate reason for them to 
         imitate mom and dad

      1. As children get older, they may not seek to imitate their 
         parents, but they are still active imitators
      2. For better or worse (usually worse), they seek to emulate
         those in their peer group, or those whom they hold in high 
         regard (athletes, musicians, etc.)
      3. Despite frequent claims to want to "be themselves", you can
         usually tell by their behavior who they have been watching or
         listening to

      1. I have observed that many brethren often reflect the 
         attitudes, dispositions, and conduct of those preachers or
         elders for whom they have much respect
      2. This can be good, but in some cases it is not...
         a. I have known some Christians (including preachers) whose
            behavior greatly disturbed me, wondering how they could 
            justify their conduct
         b. But when I saw their peers, or those brethren whom they 
            held in high regard acting in the same way, I began to 

[For whatever reasons, then, we seem to be natural born imitators. Once
we are aware of that fact, we are in a position to appreciate John's 
exhortation to Gaius in verse 11.

That leads us to our next point...]


      1. "He who does good is of God"
         a. The one who does good, truly and naturally, bears evidence
            that they have been born of God - cf. 1Jn 5:18
         b. Such was the case of Demetrius, whose life bore testimony
            from all who knew him - 3Jn 12
      2. "He who does evil has not seen God"
         a. The one who consistently engages in evil demonstrates that
            he or she is has not seen God, and is in fact a child of
            the devil! - cf. 1Jn 3:6b,10
         b. The implication seems to be that Diotrephes was 
            demonstrating that he had not seen God
      3. Who is a better role model for us?
         a. One whose life bears witness that they have come to know 
            God, and are led by Him?
         b. Or one whose life demonstrates that despite their claims to
            the contrary they have yet to come to know God?

      1. We become like those we imitate!
         a. Yes, I know this is redundant
         b. But it needs to be stressed, for some believe they can act 
            like others, dress like others, and yet somehow not be like
      2. Children become like their parents, teenagers like their peers
         and idols, Christians like those they hold in high regard
      3. If we imitate the good, we become good; if we imitate the 
         evil, then it is evil we become!

[So if by nature we must be imitators, then let us be selective in who
we follow.  Fortunately...]


      1. As Christ encouraged us to do, in showing kindness to our
         enemies - Mt 5:43-48
      2. As Paul instructed the Ephesians to walk in love - Ep 5:1-2
      3. What better example do we have, than that of God and Jesus
      4. Indeed, some of the very titles we wear imply such imitation:
         a. Children of God
         b. Disciples of Jesus Christ
      5. Do you seek to learn as much about God and Jesus as you do 
         other role models?

      1. To the degree they imitate Christ, as Paul wrote to the
         Corinthians - 1Co 11:1
      2. The New Testament is filled with good examples for Christians
         a. For married couples, there is the example of Aquila and
            Priscilla - Ro 16:3-5
         b. For those blessed with things of this life, there is the
            example of Philemon and Gaius - Phm 1-7; 3Jn 5-8
         c. For women, there is the example of Dorcas - Ac 9:36,39
         d. For young men there is the example of Timothy - Php 2:19-22
      3. This does not mean to preclude many fine Old Testament 
         examples as well:  Joseph, Daniel, Barzillai the Gileadite (an
         old man who helped David in his affliction - 2Sa 17:27-29;
         19:31-39) and many others
      4. Indeed, the Scriptures are filled with many wonderful examples
         worthy of our emulation!

      1. As Paul encouraged his fellow Christians to imitate those who
         provided a similar pattern as he - Php 3:17
      2. Yet we should be careful, for not all who profess to be 
         Christians behave as they should - cf. Php 3:18-19
      3. It is important, therefore, that we know the Scriptures well
         enough to know when someone is worthy of our emulation


1. Since it appears that we are creatures who will imitate something,
   let us make the choice to imitate the good!
   a. Only then do we have the hope of  being "of God"
   b. Only then can we have a testimony like that of Demetrius, to 
      which all bore witness
   -- The only alternative is to imitate the evil, which prevents us
      from ever "seeing God"
2. We close by adding these words of the writer to the Hebrews:

   "And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the
   full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become
   sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit
   the promises." - He 6:11-12

Let us therefore look to the example of Gaius and Demetrius, and beware
of the example of Diotrephes!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011