Look! The Lord Comes: The Prophecy of Enoch

The Missouri Baptist Convention has published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. This post features Chapter 13: Look! The Lord Comes: The Prophecy of Enoch.

Previously: The Doom of False Teachers

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And Enoch, in the seventh [generation] from Adam, prophesied about them:

Look! The lord comes

 with thousands of His holy ones

to execute judgment on all,

and to convict them

of all their ungodly deeds

that they have done

in an ungodly way,

and of all the harsh things

ungodly sinners

 have said against Him.

These people are discontented grumblers, walking according to their desires; their mouths utter arrogant words, flattering people for their own advantage. (Jude 14-16 HCSB)

Most people who profess belief in Jesus anticipate His return. But when and how – and even in what form– He comes back is a matter of considerable debate.

Muslims, for example, believe Jesus is returning one day to destroy the Dajjal (Antichrist); break the cross as a declaration against the notion he was ever crucified; kill the pig, thus making pork universally prohibited; and abolish the Jizyah tax on Christians and Jews, as these former unbelievers now universally embrace Islam.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus (an exalted Michael the archangel) returned invisibly in 1914, began ruling as king over the whole earth, and now is preparing for his invisible “revelation” in the events of Armageddon and the beginning of the Millennium.

Baha’is teach that Baha’u’llah, a 19th century Iranian prophet, is both a manifestation of God and the second coming of Christ. In addition, he is the promised Holy Spirit, the Day of God, the Maiytrea (from Buddhism) and the Krishna (from Hinduism).

The Indian guru Paramahansa Yogananda offers a mystical interpretation of the Second Coming, in which it is understood as an inner experience that takes place within a person’s heart. The true Second Coming, he writes, is the resurrection within you of the Infinite Christ Consciousness.

Evangelical Christians hold a variety of views about the Second Coming.
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Jesus as the God-Man

This is the second in a series of articles on the Incarnation. Previously: The doctrine of the Incarnation.

If Jesus is the God-Man, fully divine and fully human, how are we to understand the way in which these two natures work together?

Think about it. At times, Jesus exhibits the fullness of deity – demonstrating His sovereign control over nature, forgiving sins, receiving worship, and knowing the thoughts of human beings.

But He also displays the full range of humanity – getting hungry, growing tired, and, at times, not knowing certain things such as the time of His return.

So, when Jesus is walking the earth, is He partly divine and partly human? Does He toggle back and forth between deity and humanity? Or is He simply an extraordinary human who is able to exhibit divine powers?
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The Doom of False Teachers

The Missouri Baptist Convention has published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. This post features Chapter 12: Wild Waves and Wandering Stars: The Doom of False Teachers.

Previously: Can Apostates Be Christians?

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These are the ones who are like dangerous reefs at your love feasts. They feast with you, nurturing only themselves without fear. They are waterless clouds carried along by winds; trees in late autumn – fruitless, twice dead, pulled out by the roots; wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shameful deeds; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever! (Jude 12-13 HCSB)

Driving west on a county road in central Missouri, I watched in fascination as a meteor streaked brilliantly against the predawn blackness of a moonless sky. Meteors, or shooting stars, are fairly common. They are fragments of rock or iron from outer space that enter the earth’s atmosphere. They range in size from less than a gram to more than 60 tons, and if they survive their fiery journey across our skies and thus become meteorites, they can strike the earth with enough force to leave huge craters, destroy property, and injure people.

The most destructive meteorite strike of the 20thcentury occurred in a remote area of Siberia in 1908. The so-called Tunguska Event leveled more than 80 million trees and covered almost 850 miles. Astoundingly, no one was injured.

More recently, the Chelyabinsk meteor that entered earth’s atmosphere over Russia in 2013 was brighter than the sun, exploding about 18 miles above the earth and producing a hot cloud of dust and gas, with an atmospheric impact so intense that it resulted in a large shock wave, damaging 7,200 buildings and injuring 1,500 people.

The meteor I witnessed that dark morning was nothing like the Siberian event or the Chelyabinsk fireball, but it was the brightest shooting star I had ever seen. It seemed to hang in the sky for a long time before dimming and then vanishing on the horizon. It seemed so big, so bright, and so close that I expected it to strike the earth, create a fireball on impact, and shake the ground. But nothing happened. I explored for signs of an impact but saw none. I even checked the news; surely someone else had seen this brilliant meteor paint the sky. Nothing. No news reports. No trending social media. Silence. And blackness.

The apostates of Jude’s day are like meteors. They seemingly come out of nowhere. Stealthily, they slip into the church. And when they gain a foothold as teachers, they blaze above the Christian landscape – bright, striking, dazzling, eclipsing local church leaders who labor in obscurity for the kingdom. And then, after attracting so much attention, they are gone. The blackness from which they came returns to them – or rather, they return to it. A flash in the predawn sky of the first century is traded for an eternity in outer darkness.
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Can Apostates Be Christians?

The Missouri Baptist Convention has published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. This post features Chapter 11: Crossing the Line: Can Apostates Be Christians?

Previously: Is the Rebel Spirit Alive Today?

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Of all the terms Jude uses to describe false teachers – ungodly, dreamers, dangerous reefs, waterless clouds, wild waves of the sea, wandering stars, and discontented grumblers, to name a few – he stops short of calling them apostates. Yet that is what they are. Hey Jude, what gives?

A closer look at the New Testament’s sparing use of this term may prove helpful, particularly as we broach the thorny subject of apostates’ standing with God. Are apostates backslidden Christians? Shameless pretenders? Or people who once knew Christ but now have willfully rejected Him, thus losing their salvation?

Originally, the Greek word apostasia meant rebellion against government. The Apocryphal book of 1 Esdras describes the Jews as “rebels” against King Artaxerxes (1 Esdras 2:23). Later, the term “apostate” is applied to “one who rebels against God.”

As Eugene E. Carpenter and Philip W. Comfort note, “Apostasy, therefore, is serious business. People who commit apostasy abandon their faith and repudiate their former beliefs. It is not heresy (denial of part of the faith), or the transfer of allegiance from one religious body to another within the same faith. Apostasy is a complete and final rejection of God.”

John MacArthur defines apostasy as “the sin of rejecting the gospel for which there is no forgiveness.” He further describes it as “an intentional falling away or withdrawal, a defection.” Apostates, he writes, “are people who move toward Christ, right up to the edge of saving belief,” but then “their interest in the things of God begins to wane, and the pressures and attractions of the world distract them further still, until they have no interest at all. They may turn to another religion or to no religion at all. Apostasy is determined by what you leave, not where you go after you leave. After a person leaves God, it makes little difference where he then goes.”

An apostate, then, is someone who has received the knowledge of the truth, but willfully and decisively rejects it.
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The doctrine of the Incarnation

This is the first in a series of articles on the Incarnation.

Lorenzo Snow, fifth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once claimed the Spirit of God fell upon him and revealed a principle that has become an apt summary of Mormonism: “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.”

In other words, the God of this world once was a mere human who attained deity, showing us the path to our own godhood. This principle of “eternal progression” is a stunningly unbiblical doctrine that sets Mormonism outside the boundaries of historic Christianity.

At the same time, it raises questions – not only about God, but about the Son of God: Who is Jesus? Where did He come from? And why and how did He become human?

The doctrine of the Incarnation – God becoming a human in Jesus of Nazareth – is central to Christianity. Get it wrong and many other non-negotiable doctrines of the Christian faith quickly veer into counterfeit territory.

As we explore the Incarnation from a biblical perspective, it may help to compare Snow’s “revelation” with the following orthodox statement from Christian author C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity: “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”
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