Suggested readings for week of April 17th
Hello Project Ezra. This week we will be reading the book of Jude. As with much of the New Testament it is written primarily to believers, but still has a lot to say to non-believers as well. For the believer, it is a clear message to watch out for pretenders in their midst, as well as for false teachers. For the non-believer, it should be a challenge to, as 2nd Corinthians 13:5 says, “examine yourself to see if you are in the faith.” It seems like many, if not the majority, of professing Christians, at least here in the states, are the result of false teachers and false ideas like those described in Jude. They are also frequently told NOT to examine themselves or doubt their faith. They have grown up in church, or said a prayer, or walked an aisle, so they must be saved, despite the obvious lack of any of the fruit of the spirit and despite their ongoing willful disobedience to God’s word.
If you plan to share the gospel following your reading, or any time for that matter, it is important to challenge your listeners to examine what they believe. And be sure to include what you are saying into that admonition. The reason I believe in Project Ezra as strongly as I do is because God’s word, in and of itself, has more transformative power than all the sermons of all the greatest preachers who ever lived. Sure, we strive to be accurate and convincing in our presentations, but ultimately we should be drawing people to God and his word, not to our preaching and teaching.
Challenge those listening to see if any of the descriptions in Jude apply to them. Have they defiled their flesh by indulging in sexual immorality or unnatural desires? Given in to their animal instincts? Rejected authority? Blasphemed God? Have they been grumbling malcontents or loud-mouthed boasters? Have they shown favoritism to gain advantage? Are they scoffers who follow ungodly passions? Or have they rejected Jesus Christ as Lord and God?
You can then point to the just punishment described in the book. Jude mentions eternal fire, the gloom of eternal darkness, and destruction. It also specifically identified the Lord (Jesus) as the one who rescued Israel from Egypt and then destroyed those who did not believe. This is a great response to those who like to play the Old Testament/New Testament dichotomy, saying the God of the Old Testament is an angry God and the God of the New Testament is a loving God who will simply overlook their sin. God has not changed between Testaments, and is just as angry at sin now as he was then. If he wasn’t, Jesus wouldn’t have gone to the cross.
And finally, grace. As the doxology at the end of the book states, it is only through Christ that we can be kept from stumbling and be presented as blameless before the glory of God.
Hopefully this will give you some ideas for your gospel presentation. We will be praying that God is greatly glorified through your faithfulness and that souls are saved.
All for His glory!