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 1: Jude, A Slave: The Attitude of Apologetics.
Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ … (Jude 1a)
My business card is standard fare. It identifies me and describes my role at my place of employment. It also offers several ways to get in touch with me. That’s what most business cards do; they serve as practical, brief, and efficient introductions.
Some people, however, use business cards more creatively, with pop-up photos, odd shapes, and other features to grab your attention. And then there are truly unique characters who seek to leave a lasting impression another way: by making audacious claims.
Take Guangbiao Chen, for example. Chen is a Chinese tycoon and philanthropist. His business card details illustrious titles and heroic accomplishments. For example, his English business card describes him in the following ways:
- Most Influential Person of China
- Most Prominent Philanthropist of China
- China Moral Leader
- China Earthquake Rescue Hero
- Most Well-Loved and Beloved Chinese Role Model
We’re only halfway through Chen’s list, but you get the idea. This may be one of the cheekiest business cards ever produced.
But how would you respond if someone handed you a business card that simply read, “Jude, a slave …”? Let’s see how Jude’s profoundly humble self-introduction models the manner in which followers of Jesus should defend the faith.
The Missouri Baptist Convention has just released a new apologetics resource for personal or group study titled The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith.
The 275-page book, written by the MBC’s Rob Phillips, offers a verse-by verse study of the short epistle. It also explores key words and phrases, and poses thought-provoking questions that make the book a handy reference and study guide.
The General Epistle of Jude may be one of the most neglected New Testament books, according to Phillips. Bible readers are tempted — in part by its brevity and in part by its similarity to 2 Peter 2 — to skip over Jude on the way to Revelation, or to give the book little more than a glance.
This is unfortunate, because Jude speaks volumes about the value of Christian apologetics. Whether exhorting believers to contend for the faith, or urging them to keep themselves in the love of God, Jude addresses the importance of sound doctrine and the threat of false teachers. And Jude does so with humility, boldness, and remarkable foresight.
Followers of Jesus always have faced attacks from outside the church – from worshipers in the cult of Caesar to militant Muslims. But potentially more damaging are threats from within – from false teachers who tickle our ears (2 Tim. 4:3) to false prophets who come to us with “cleverly devised myths” (2 Peter 1:16).
The Apologist’s Tool Kit equips you to defend the Christian faith with gentleness and respect. This easy-to-read reference addresses some of the most commonly challenged Christian doctrines, from the existence of God to the authority of Scripture. Each chapter concludes with probing questions, talking points, and references for further reading, making this a handy resource for personal or group study.
Many Christians struggling with addictive behaviors, bad relationships, or dire circumstances wonder if they are victims of generational curses. In other words, they worry that God is punishing them for the sins of their ancestors.
Prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen lend credence to this notion. “The things you struggle with – they didn’t just happen to show up,” he says in a video message. “Somebody in your family line opened the door…. It will continue until somebody rises up and puts a stop to it. Somebody has to deactivate that gene.”
Osteen blends a portion of Deut. 30:19 with commentary, “‘I set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live.’ Notice your decisions don’t just affect you, they affect future generations.”
Proponents of generational curses cite additional Bible passages such as:
Ex. 20:5 – “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations …”
Ex. 34:7 – “But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.”
Similar warnings are repeated in Num. 14:18 and Deut. 5:9.
So, does the Bible really teach generational curses?
Rev. 14:9 – And a third angel followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, 11 and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or anyone who receives the mark of his name.” (HCSB)
A third angel follows the other two and pronounces woe on those who worship the beast and his image and receive a mark on their foreheads or hands. The consequences of rejecting God – who has revealed Himself in creation, conscience, Christ, and the canon of scripture – are spelled out plainly. The one who embraces the beast will experience the consequences of his or her rebellion.
First, the beast worshiper will “drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger” (v. 10a). The Greek word for “cup,” poterion, is used 82 times in the New Testament (HCSB) and denotes a drinking vessel of any sort. Commonly, a cup is a small bowl made of pottery, wider and shallower than today’s tea cups. However, the wealthy enjoy their drinks in goblet-shaped cups of metal or glass. The cup used at the Last Supper likely is an earthenware bowl large enough for all to share.
Figuratively, however, throughout the Bible the word “cup” may describe a measure of blessings or wrath divinely allotted to people or nations:
- In Psalm 16:5, David calls the Lord “my portion and my cup of blessing.”
- In Psalm 116:12-13, the writer declares, “How can I repay the Lord for all the good He has done for me? I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of Yahweh.”
- But in Isaiah 51:17, the prophet warns, “Wake yourself, wake yourself up! Stand up, Jerusalem, you have drunk the cup of His fury from the hand of the Lord; you who have drunk the goblet to the dregs – the cup that causes people to stagger.”
- In the Garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus agonizes over His impending suffering and death, He prays, “My Father! If it is possible let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39).
- And moments later, after Peter cuts of the ear of the high priest’s slave, Jesus tells him, “Sheathe your sword! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given Me?” The cup Jesus endures, of course, is His sacrificial and substitutionary death on the cross to secure our salvation, a most bitter cup as “the One who did not know sin [became] sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). It’s also a cup Jesus endures “for the joy that lay before Him” because it results in our salvation (Heb. 12:2).
But now in Revelation the cup, which the Babylonians entice the world to drink, is turned into the cup of God’s wrath.