Month: October 2012

Jude’s Specific Application

Note: This post is part five in a six-part series on how the book of Jude demonstrates qualities of a good sermon.

After Jude states his main idea and illustrates clearly what he means by the ungodly, he completes his thesis by appealing for his readers to contend for the faith. So just how do we contend for the faith? Jude provides five imperatives from verses 17-23, which form at least four points of application to support his main idea.

17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. (ESV)

First, in verse 17, Jude states, “you must remember.” He tells them to remember the predictions that scoffers would arise. The current situation should not surprise believers; we should expect it. As part of remembering, we should build ourselves up and pray in the Holy Spirit. Prayer forms a good specific application as well as the various ways to build your faith.

In verse 21, Jude commands, “keep yourselves.” He writes in order that his readers might keep themselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. So first, you remember or you meditate upon the Gospel, and second, you keep yourself by acting in line with the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (v. 3). The first two applications focus on you–your beliefs and your actions. The following applications focus on others.

Third, in verse 22 and again in verse 23 you see “have mercy” and “show mercy.” Perhaps this repetition indicates that Jude’s audience struggled with mercy, but more likely Jude wants them to show mercy to two different groups. Have mercy on those who doubt, and then show mercy with fear by snatching some out of the fire. Jude provides two specific ways his readers should demonstrate mercy.

The final imperative falls in verse 23, “save others.” Notice how Jude’s words paint the picture and create urgency when he writes “snatching them out of fire.” We can visualize the weight of necessity of the task. How is it that we save others? We share the Gospel message with them. But do we really see sharing the Gospel as snatching the lost from the fires of hell? Jude wants us to contend for the faith, and one way we contend for the faith comes through sharing our faith.

By making specific application to the listener, sermons with deep exegetical work also become intensely practical and applicable to lives of the listener. Good application will avoid any criticism of boring exposition, and it follows the biblical model established for us in the New Testament. So in your next sermon, make sure to look for the specific application flowing from the text and then paint a memorable picture of that application for the listener to imagine.

In the last post, I will look at how Jude’s conclusion avoids moralistic emphasis and points the reader back to the glory of God.

Can I Vote for the Stormin’ Mormon–Mitt Romney? It’s Decision Time.

I posted my views on Romney during the primary hoping that he would not be the nominee. Well, I didn’t get my way. So after pitching a temper tantrum, constantly thinking about how little the Republican National Committee understands evangelicals, shooting a few guns while clinging to my Bible, and praying about what God would have me do. I have a few further thoughts that occurred to me along the journey to making a difficult decision.

My motive all along has simply been to please God. I’m not looking for pastor in chief nor have I ever. I fear God more than man and want to do right before Him regardless of what others think about my actions.

First, I cannot vote for Barack Obama. He favors big government, has a socialist agenda, compromises freedom of religion, doesn’t support the second amendment, treats the deficit like a lottery jackpot, and won’t defend the most innocent of all–the unborn.

So I had two options. I could write in a name like Gov. Mike Huckabee, or I could vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket.

I wanted to write in Huckabee for the following reasons:

  • I live in the great state of Texas and Barack Obama will never win in Texas so doing so would not be a vote for Obama.
  • Perhaps it would demonstrate to the Republican National Convention that the evangelical vote is not automatically in their pocket every election.
  • It would demonstrate that I care more about eternity than I do about my personal situation. I am confident Obama will destroy our economy with debt and socialism. Romney would do better fixing the economy but would legitimize the Mormon belief system which harms eternal destinies.
  • It would position me to defend the faith against Mormonism should Romney be elected without having to answer why I voted for a Mormon and now wish to criticize his religion.

I felt the need to vote for Romney for the following reasons:

  • We can’t take four more years of Obama and a growing national deficit.
  • Romney will do better on the economy than Obama. I mean this is a given right? All he has to do is not go 6 trillion further in debt. Anyone who has ever balanced a checkbook should be able to do that.
  • Romney does hold similar views to mine on defending the unborn and other social issues, which will matter in the appointment of Supreme Court Justices.
  • The legitimizing of Mormonism has already occurred to some degree with the debates and the candidacy for the office of president.

God never left my platform so I often prayed about whether to write in a name or vote for Romney.

At the end of the day, the questions that affected me most are ones I asked to a men’s conference a couple of weeks ago. What if every Christian acted just like you? What if every church member acted just like you? What if every citizen acted just like you?

With those questions convicting the speaker as much or more than the listeners, I struggled even more with which decision would be best.

My place of work serves as an early voting location. So for me decision time came today. I voted for Mitt Romney, but I still don’t feel good about it.

To put it in biblical terms, I came to the conviction that writing in a name comes close to committing the sin of doing nothing. You know like Barak in Judges 4 almost did when he lost the glory of conquering Sisera. Like some of the tribes, especially Meroz, did in Judges 5 when they failed to participate in the battle against the Canaanites. I know that America is not Israel and that my citizenship as a Christian lies ultimately in heaven, but a minister of the Gospel should set an example and if every citizen acted just like me…well, you get the point. I do, however, understand the struggle for Christians trying to determine whether they should vote for a Mormon. I’ve been there.

After casting my vote and being a good citizen of this world, I will now turn my energies to defending the faith against the cult of Mormonism and fighting for the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that I may be a good citizen of the next world.

Jude’s Variety of Illustrations–Natural Analogies and Culture

Note: This post is part four in a six-part series on how the book of Jude demonstrates qualities of a good sermon.

Is it appropriate to use non-biblical illustrations, and if so, where do you draw the line? Jude provides a good example for us. He uses non-biblical stories and natural analogies, but he keeps those illustrations short and focused on clarifying the main idea of the sermon. His illustrations do not overpower the main idea or detract from the main idea.

In the last article, we looked at Jude’s use of biblical examples. In this article, we will look at how Jude uses non-biblical stories and natural analogies.

Jude begins his use of extra-biblical illustrations by discussing Moses’ body and Enoch’s prophecy.

But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. (ESV)

Using current events, popular books, or well-known stories allows one to challenge the listener to think biblically about culture. Believers need to develop the ability to think biblically about culture because it allows one to bridge into evangelistic conversations and to live a Gospel-centered life. Every preacher should be aware of current events and constantly reading to find new material for illustrations; however, these illustrations should not overshadow the text or replace the time spent studying the text. Keeping the elements of the sermon in proper priority, illustrations should always serve the text, and the text should drive the sermon.

In addition to cultural stories, Jude also uses natural analogies. He describes the ungodly as shepherds feeding themselves instead of the sheep, waterless clouds, fruitless trees, wild waves, and wandering stars. He uses both agricultural and seafaring examples to illustrate this concept to a wide audience. Preachers should also look for a variety of illustrations. I know that too often I default to hunting or sports analogies because that is what I know best, but those illustrations do not communicate well to everyone so the broader your illustrations the better your connection to the variety of people who will be listening.

12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (ESV)

For the landlocked, who could imagine a shepherd feeding himself and not taking care of the sheep? This would eventually put him out of a job, and yet there are many points of application that can be drawn to pastor/shepherds who seek their own welfare over that of the sheep. Pastors who take the easy road and avoid the confrontation of contending for the faith render themselves useless at the end of the day.

During the hot Texas summer, we welcome the sight of incoming clouds, but those clouds without water leave the earth cracked and parched rather than quenching thirst with a cool rain. In his final land analogy, a tree that does not produce fruit in the proper season uses the resources of the land and gives nothing back. Such trees are uprooted and pronounced twice dead, so it is with the ungodly.

For those who may travel the sea, Jude begins in verse 12 with the reference to hidden reefs. I fish at a lake with submerged trees, and I am constantly on the lookout for those trees so that I don’t hit one with the bottom of my boat. Seafarers would know the concern of a hidden, unmarked reef, which can mean disaster.

Jude continues this oceanic line of thought in verse 13 with wild waves of the sea casting up the foam of their own shame. Such wild seas could not be traveled and thus proved dangerous and useless, just as the ungodly. He furthers the analogy with wandering stars. Any good sailor could navigate his boat by stars fixed in their positions, but wandering stars would lead the boat astray and off course. Similarly, the ungodly lead people astray and off the course of the narrow path toward godliness and heaven.

Finally, in wrapping up his illustrations of the ungodly, Jude uses repetition. In verse 15 alone, notice how many times he uses the term “ungodly” and the specific description of them in verse 16. The strong words of verse 16 demonstrate Jude’s passion for contending for the faith and confronting the ungodly.

15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. (ESV)

Jude demonstrates variety in the use of illustrations. He draws from biblical examples, cultural stories, and natural analogies. He also uses language that paints pictures for the reader showing them rather than simply telling them. Of course, Jude could have rounded out his arsenal of illustrations with a personal illustration or two, but Paul and others provide adequate warrant for using these in preaching. Perhaps Jude thought a personal example would not be wise since he is the half-brother of Christ; however, Jude does provide an admirable variety of illustrations while keeping the main idea central.

In the next post, I will look at how Jude applies the main idea through imperatives that provide the application for the sermon.

Texas Teal Hunt Video

The video above was taken with a Go Pro Hero 2 HD camera attached to the barrel of my Benelli SBE II shotgun. We hunted a nice pond in Texas on the opening day of teal season with layout blinds using decoys and two Mojos. We easily took our six man limit with birds still coming in while we packed up. I will be working on how to video better when big duck season comes in. The Go Pro kicked forward every time I pulled the trigger so I refrained from shooting a few times to get better footage. I had great fun on this trip with several students and staff from Southwestern Seminary. Enjoy!

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