Pick a Path

I’m sure we’ve all noticed the connection between Jude and 2 Peter 2.  I’d like to take a minute and look deeper than just the obvious ‘warning about bad guys’ and their future punishment that they both talk about.  And be ready.  Soon we’ll get to a point where you will need to make a decision or pick a path in order to get the full meaning of what they’re saying.

[The video for this article is at the end!]  

We’ll start with Jude, then move on to 2 Peter 2.

Jude

My summary of Jude would look like this:  “Beloved, contend for the faith.  Remember when the Apostles told you that ungodly persons would creep in unnoticed?  Well, here’s what they look like”: 

They turn God’s grace into licentiousness; deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ; by dreaming defile the flesh; reject authority; revile angelic majesties; revile instinctively; greedy.  They’re in your love feasts, feasting without fear; self-focused; grumblers; fault-finders; lustful; arrogant; falsely flattering others for their gain; causing division; worldly-minded; devoid of the Spirit.

Their future will be judgment and destruction, as per Enoch, just like these OT examples:    

  1. God saved the Israelites out of Egypt, but later destroyed (all but two within) that group.
  2. Angels who abandoned their proper abode, locked up until judgment.
  3. Sodom & Gomorrah who indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh underwent the punishment of eternal fire.

“Here’s how you contend, beloved”:

Jude vs. 20-25     

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

 

No problem, right?  Pretty generic, you say?  We’re the beloved and he’s just telling us to do right, huh?  Hmmm.  Now for 2 Peter 2.

2 Peter

And it’s not just 2 Peter 2.  It’s really throughout 2 Peter.  But we’ll start with 2 Peter 2, then add pieces from chapters 1 and 3 that tie in.  Of course, read the whole book first!

Chapter 2 starts by connecting back to chapter 1 with Peter mentioning the false prophets in his day and warning of false teachers amongst those receiving his letter. 

Traits of the false teachers or unrighteous: 

They introduce destructive heresies; malign the truth; deny the Master who bought them; indulge the flesh’s corrupt desires; despise authority; revile angelic majesties.  They entice others by fleshly desires and sensuality those who barely escape; speak arrogant words of vanity; daring; self-willed; revel in the daytime; revel in their deceptions as they carouse with you.  They have eyes of adultery; enticing unstable souls; greedy; accursed.

And just like Jude, Peter connects these “they’s” back to examples from the past:  Bad angels who sinned; the ungodly ancient world; ungodly Sodom and Gomorrah; Balaam.  Peter and Jude also agree that long ago their future was determined – that being one of judgment and destruction.

Now we’ve reached the fork in the road:  2 Peter 2:20-21.

20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.

What does that mean? 

The answer to that question is found by asking another: 

Who’s the intended audience of these two books? 

Pick a Path

 

Once we confirm who the audience is, then we’ll know exactly what that passage means.  So, time to pick your path and go one of two directions.  There’s NO middle road here, folks.  It’s decision time!!  Get the facts, then make the call. 

 

 

 

 

 

Path 1 is the way I was always taught, which is this:  “This passage is speaking of people of any time, including today, who hear the gospel, understand it, play along as if saved, then abandon it.  It has to be this way because everyone of all time who truly believes is saved forever, no way to lose it!”

OR

Path 2:  These are non Church Age believers who knew what Jesus did for them, believed in Him, walked as believers for a time then TURNED AWAY, ABANDONED, FORSOOK THE RIGHT WAY AND WENT ASTRAY.

 

If you’re going with Path No. 1, you’ll have plenty of commentaries and sermons to back you up, but you’ll still be WRONG, like I was!  Please keep reading to see why.

First off, Path No. 2 has no problem with Path No. 1’s comment of “everyone of all time who believes is saved forever, no way to lose it” EXCEPT for one very important difference.  It should read, “All Church Age believers are saved forever, no way to lose it!”  But we’re not the audience here!  Jude and Peter are both writing to non Church Age believers who must demonstrate their faith, endure to the end, obey God’s commands, etc.  Why the difference?  You know why if you’ve spent any time on this site at all:  Because they don’t have the indwelling Spirit sealing them, guaranteeing their inheritance like we CA believers have.

Think that’s crazy?

Here’s the proof.

We’ll lay the foundation with Balaam and the ‘bad angels’ mentioned in both books which, when put together, give the whole picture:

 

Balaam.  Jude v.11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.  2 Peter 2:15-16   15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.

Balaam forsook the right way and went astray for money.

 

Bad angels. Jude v.6  6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,  2 Peter 2:4  4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; (this sentence ends in v.10!)

These angels sinned by abandoning their proper abode.

*****

So we see the intended audience of 2 Peter and Jude is being warned not to abandon or forsake the right way and go astray since it’s clear eternal punishment is the result.  So the common ground is having something at one point and then losing it.  (Obviously not talking about salvation with angels.  The authors are just focusing on God damning even His angels for leaving what they once had.)

Keep that in mind while we look at this:

Denying the Master.  Jude v.4   For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ2 Peter 2:1  But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.

Jude’s saying they deny our Master, but Peter shows us that they deny the Master WHO BOUGHT THEM.  They were believers who dropped out!  What is it the ungodly and false teachers had that they lost??   SALVATION!!

Let’s now go to the rest of 2 Peter and see how this all fits together.  Like I said earlier, read it all.  I’m just going to quote the parts that directly connect.

2 Peter 1

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours[see Church Chart] by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellenceFor by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

Why apply these actions/qualities/traits?

 

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

And if you don’t have these qualities?

 

For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 

 

Are Church Age believers merely purified from former sins??  All our sins were forgiven.  Each and every word in that sentence show us the answer is NO.

 

10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;[echoed in Jude v.24] 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

***** 

Stop reading this as if he’s talking to the sealed and secure Church.  He’s NOT!  Again, they left what they had; when, if they would have continued to practice the above qualities, entrance into the kingdom would have been provided to them.  They’re not guaranteed heaven by faith alone LIKE WE ARE! 

 

2 Peter 3

1This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles[echoed in Jude v.17]

14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

17-18

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

[Don’t let his mention of Paul throw you.  See Church Chart and The Eleven and Paul.]

This is the same ‘blameless’ found all over the Old Testament – even before Jesus’ sacrifice!  Don’t be carried away and fall from your own steadfastness means exactly what it says — to THEM!

Not enough? 

Here’s more proof that the ‘had it and lost it’ Path 2 is the intended audience.  Go back to the No. 1 OT example back in Jude – better yet, I’ll just list it again here>>   1. God saved the Israelites out of Egypt, but later destroyed (all but two within) that group.  [Remember, that’s everyone 20 and older except Caleb and Joshua.  Numbers 14:27-30] This is no small matter, folks.

We’re going to go outside these two books now for confirmation that this understanding is right.   

Hebrews

Hebrews is so beautiful and so clear if you’d just take off your Church Age glasses and read what’s there.  Again, read the whole book.  Due to space, I’m only giving you what’s relevant here. 

Hebrews 2:1-4

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

 

Hebrews 3:5-19

Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me,
And saw My works for forty years.
10 “Therefore I was angry with this generation,
And said, They always go astray in their heart,
And they did not know My ways’;
11 As I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’”

12-19

12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said, “Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.”

16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.

 

Are you seeing it yet?

The author of Hebrews is comparing the ancient Israelites to his post Church Age audience.  The Israelites believed God and He saved them out of Egypt.  Their resting place = the Promised Land.  Along the way they became disobedient and unbelieving and were denied entrance

The audience of Hebrews (and Peter and Jude) is believers, (non Church Age, that is) trusting Jesus for salvation.  Their future resting place if they don’t fall away = the kingdom.  Remember, this is during the Tribulation where upon its close, there’s only two places to go.  Enter the kingdom or go to hell.  Sounds like judgment and destruction to me for those who don’t continue on just like it did for the Israelites. 

Still think I’m seeing things?  Keep reading. 

It gets better.

Hebrews 4.  The whole chapter is worth reading!

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,

“As I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest,”

although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” 

6-11

Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,

“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. 

12-16

12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

See how even the author of Hebrews makes that same connection?  That’s the whole reason he has this in here!  Their faith must endure.  (More on that in a minute.) 

Hebrews 6:4-20

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.

9-16

But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

13 For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” 15 And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. 16 For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. 

17-20

17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

He just doesn’t quit, does he?!

 

Hebrews 10:23, 26-39

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. 

28-34

28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33 partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34 For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.

35-39

35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

37 For yet in a very little while,
He who is coming will come, and will not delay.
38 But My righteous one shall live by faith;
And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.

39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

 

I know you’re seeing this.  He’s not speaking to us, Church, is he?!?! 

*****

If that’s not enough or you wish to continue on this path, please read these super relevant articles:  Faith 101, The New Covenant, 1 Peter, Salvation and Security where we connect their faith in with this teaching.  I’d start with 1 Peter.  You can also go to many other books beside Hebrews to find this same understanding, which I’ve already done for you throughout this site so we won’t do it again here. 

By the way, go all the way back to the beginning of this article to where Jude tells his non Church Age audience to “contend earnestly for the faith.” I’m sure you now see it doesn’t mean ‘run the race so as to win the prize’ as Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 9:24!  And reread Jude vs. 20-25.  See the difference now?  Not so generic, eh?

Not our books, Church!

Summary

 

So whether you call them ungodly, false prophets, false teachers, unrighteous, disobedient, etc., these non Church Age ‘former’ believers all share the same fate:  judgment and destruction, meaning eternal lake of fire, due to turning away, abandoning, forsaking the right way and going astray.

How’d they do that?  What did they do? 

You saw it earlier. 

JUDE:  They turn God’s grace into licentiousness; deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ; by dreaming defile the flesh; reject authority; revile angelic majesties; revile instinctively; greedy.  They’re in your love feasts, feasting without fear; self-focused; grumblers; fault-finders; lustful; arrogant; falsely flattering others for their gain; causing division; worldly-minded; devoid of the Spirit.

2 PETER 2:  They introduce destructive heresies; malign the truth; deny the Master who bought them; indulge the flesh’s corrupt desires; despise authority; revile angelic majesties.  They entice others by fleshly desires and sensuality those who barely escape; speak arrogant words of vanity; daring; self-willed; revel in the daytime; revel in their deceptions as they carouse with you.  They have eyes of adultery; enticing unstable souls; greedy; accursed.

 

What does the sealed and secure Church face if and when we exhibit these same traits?  Judgment and destruction?  Come on, Church.  If we aren’t walking properly, are we judged and destroyed??  NO.  We might, in some extreme cases like Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 11:30 ‘sleep’ early, but our future is secure.  We’re still saved just with our works being burnt up, meaning loss of rewards, as found in 1 Corinthians 3:15.

So the decision wasn’t really that difficult, was it?

It’s now quite clear that this passage…..

2 Peter 2:20-21

20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.

….means exactly what it says, that non Church Age believers (Path 2) are the intended audience and must not turn from what they were taught or else they too will face judgment and destruction.

Did you pick the right path?  Awesome!!  Stay on it, since doing so will place you on a journey of truly understanding our Church Age uniqueness and will, hopefully, cause you to walk the walk out of gratitude!