I want to share with you what I taught last night during a Bible study on Jude. This short little letter has so many deep truths that are so relevant to the 21st Century man, even though it was written almost 2,000 years ago. I want to link to a couple of the previous lessons that we covered in our class so that you can review what was taught and be up to speed with this article.
Have you ever heard anyone say, “you cannot really know if a person is saved or not” or “God is the only One who knows if a person’s salvation is genuine or not”? Are those statements true? What does the Bible have to teach on this idea of genuine salvation? This is the topic of this article and what I want to address, genuine salvation from a Biblical perspective.
Our main passage for this article is Jude 5-7. Now that you have had a moment to read the text, let’s see what we can discover.
I. Genuine salvation trusts God’s promises
God actually wants to demonstrate to us if our salvation is genuine or not and the way that He has chosen to do that is by trials. Difficult circumstances squeeze us to show us who we really are and to put our salvation through a quality control test. God does not do this to find out if our salvation is genuine or not. He does it to show us if our salvation is genuine or not. In our Jude passage, the author uses several examples from the Old Testament to make his point to the people in the church. The first example that he chooses is the Israelites lack of faith. Lack of faith is a sign that your salvation is not genuine. What does the Bible have in mind when speaking about faith or belief? In our modern society, we see faith as blindly accepting something because we want it to be true so bad that we will follow it, no matter what the facts show us. This is not the Biblical understanding of faith. In the Bible, faith carries the idea of being convinced or persuaded based on a careful study and understanding of the evidence or facts. Belief or faith means a conscious decision based on the evidence. In Jude, the author writes that the Israelites all witnessed what God had done when He rescued them out of Egypt. They all had the same evidence and yet some of them chose to believe God while others chose not to believe Him. This choice led to a chain of actions and consequences. I would like to examine how people who do not believe live while living among believers. They are in the same location but are on very different spiritual paths. Saint Stephen gives some commentary in Acts 7:36-43 on the Israelites who chose not to believe.
- They all witnessed the signs and miracles that God performed in their midst.
- They all received the oracles of the living God via Moses.
- Those who did not believe would not submit to Moses’ earthly authority.
- In essence, the unbelievers rejected God’s authority.
- They were walking with God physically but in their hearts, they had already turned back to their former way of life, one of slavery.
- They were unwilling to be obedient to God and to Moses’ earthly authority.
- They wanted to go with God outwardly and hang on to their idols at the same time.
- They like idols because idols appeal to their sin nature.
- They never broke from their former way of life. They just wanted to add God to who they already were.
In Numbers 13-14, we see a clear picture of those who choose to believe and those who choose not to believe.
- All 12 spies had the same evidence, the same promise from God that they would overtake the land and defeat the inhabitants.
- 10 of the spies chose not to believe the promise of God and instead focus on their own selfishness. Not only were they openly disobedient, they also convinced the congregation to join them in their disobedience.
- 2 of the spies chose to believe the promise of God over anything that the enemy had to offer. They were even ready to stand against the congregation because they trusted God’s promise more than anything else.
- The unbelievers in the group do not care about anyone other than themselves. They are ready to kill their leader to get what they want.
- Moses is driven by the glory of God. He values the glory of God over his own life.
As we can see, genuine faith produces obedience to the Word of God. Lack of faith manifests itself in disobedience. Saint Paul gives us some more commentary on the Israelites in I Corinthians 10:1-13.
- All of the people had the same spiritual and physical evidence.
- The unbelievers were led by their sin nature and therefor chose not to believe the facts.
- The manifestation of their unbelief is seen in their idolatry, sexual immoral acts, and grumbling against authority.
- Genuine salvation produces obedience in the fact that the person is able to overcome temptation by seeking and recognizing God’s way of escape.
My dear friend, do which category do you relate to more? Are you overcome by your sin nature or, through the power of God, are you able to overcome your sin nature? How do you view authority? Do you grumble and complain about your leaders? We all have the same evidence in the Word of God. Are you seeking to understand that evidence and submitting to God’s leadership in your life? This is what genuine faith and genuine salvation look like.
II. Genuine salvation overcomes sexual immorality
The next 2 examples used in Jude by the author deal with sexual immorality. God gave us a beautiful gift in our sexuality. When experienced within the confines of marriage, it is a beautiful gift. When taken outside of the bonds of marriage, it becomes marred. Because of our sin nature, we are warped and therefore, our natural tendency is to take the beautiful gift of God and warp it. This is another indicator that God shows to us to demonstrate to us if our salvation and faith are genuine or not. The next example that Jude uses is Sodom and Gomorrah. There were many sins in Sodom but the main sin was sexual immorality. In fact, sexual immorality had become so bad that the entire society had embraced homosexuality as something normal. Here are some of the characteristics of people who are controlled by lust.
- Mob mentality
- Uncaring of others
- Thin skinned
How about you, are you controlled by lust and sexual immorality? Or, are you able to overcome your temptations and lust by the power of God? What do you watch on t.v., on the internet? What do you listen to on the radio? What kinds of books do you read? How do you view the opposite sex? God is trying to get your attention to show you if your salvation is real or not, are you paying attention?
III. Genuine salvation combats false teaching
The main reason that there are ungodly people in the church is because of false teaching or a false understanding of the Word of God. This is Jude’s solution to the genuine believers, know the Word of God and put It into practice. Teach the Word to the vulnerable and use the Word to confront the ungodly. There are two cross references that I would like to examine.
False teachers and teaching will seem very similar to the real thing but it will be wrong. It will use the same lingo that the Word of God does but attach different meanings to the concepts. Words like faith, grace, Lord, salvation etc. will be used but not according to the Biblical meaning. The basic idea of all false doctrine is that you can have salvation without having anything happen to your sin nature. Here is a quick example, the one that Jude uses. Salvation is based on God’s grace. I simply receive salvation based on grace and then continue living as I did before. This is not the grace of God. The grace of God meets us where we are, slaves to our sin nature, and then transforms us from the inside out. The word “salvation” means “rescued from an enemy”. The greatest enemy that we have is ourselves, our sin nature. God’s salvation, genuine salvation rescues us from our sin nature. Another example is used by Jude. I can call Jesus Lord yet deny His Lordship by my actions and everything is okay. Jude writes that Jesus cannot be your Lord and you not do what He says. Genuine salvation from sound doctrine produces obedience.
What about you, my dear friend, do you currently possess genuine salvation based on what we have learned in this lesson? What will you do with the information that you have received? You can face the mirror and take a long hard look, which is what God wants you to do, or you can deceive yourself and not face reality, hoping that ignorance really is bliss. May the Lord help us examine our salvation in the light of His Word and may we see reality as it is for our own good and God’s glory.