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 the first half of Chapter 7: The Lessons of History: Remembering the Past to Defend the Faith
Previously: Jude and his divine half-brother
Now I want to remind you, though you know all these things: the Lord, having first of all saved a people out of Egypt, later destroyed those who did not believe; and He has kept, with eternal chains in darkness for the judgment of the great day, angels who did not keep their own position but deserted their proper dwelling. In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them committed sexual immorality and practiced perversions, just as they did, and serve as an example by undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 5-7)
In The Life of Reason, Vol. 1 (1905-06), George Santayana famously wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Many others have fashioned their own versions of this quip to make the point that our past does not have to determine our future – as long as we’re careful to learn the lessons of history.
Not everyone agrees. Author Kurt Vonnegut once offered this pithy response, “I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive.”
Both men have a point. Santayana implores us to learn from past mistakes, while Vonnegut reminds us that the depths of human depravity virtually guarantee that, if given the chance, we’ll repeat the same bad choices.
The Bible speaks to both sides of the issue. God and His servants often instruct us in Scripture to remember. Moses tells the Israelites to remember their slavery in Egypt, and God’s mighty deliverance with a strong hand and an outstretched arm (Deut. 5:15). Jesus instructs the apostles to observe the Lord’s Supper – particularly the symbolism of the bread and cup – in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19). And in visiting the church at Ephesus – a hard-working congregation whose members have cooled in their passion for Christ – Jesus urges them to remember how far they have fallen (Rev. 2:5).
Other passages could be cited, but the point remains that remembering the goodness of God, and rehearsing the acts of obedience He has given us to honor Him, lead to blessings, while neglecting the things of God invariably results in a downward spiral of sinful patterns.