Building Yourselves Up During a Pandemic
Robert Wurtz II
But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life (Jude 17-21).
There are many Christians in the world who are unable to attend church meetings or fellowship with other believers. This is especially true during this global pandemic. Understand that isolation is what Paul experienced when he was imprisoned at various times. No scriptures. Few visits. Nothing to “prop-up” his faith (so to speak). It’s also the experience of elderly people who are confined to long-term-care facilities. What can a Christian do to continue to exercise and build their faith? What did Paul and the other apostles do? What about listening to ministers on television or the internet? These questions are the topic of this entry.
You will notice that Jude exhorts his readers to remember “the words which were “spoken” before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The spoken words of Jesus and the apostles were what people put to memory and passed on from person to person. This is commonly called oral communication and was necessary because written documents were scarce since the printing press was still over a thousand years in the future.
Putting the word of God to memory is far more important than carrying a Bible around or having an app on your phone. I’m all for Bibles. I’m all for apps and computer programs such as Accordance, E-Sword, and Logos. I even use online resources such as blueletterbible.com and studylight.com (just to name a few). But these resources are not part of my memory database. I have to physically open a book, an app, or a website to find what I’m looking for.
Memorizing the Word of God
In ancient times the word of God was put to memory. Some Jewish sources suggest that men memorized the first five books of the Bible (the Torah or Pentateuch). Other men of God memorized even more scripture. It was common. So when Jude says to “remember the words” it is because they put those words to memory. This allowed them to meditate—that is to say—utter aloud the word of God so it could penetrate their hearts over and over again.
Scripture memorization is foundational to building ourselves up. In modern times we have the advantage of Bible readings that were recorded for playback on nearly every sound platform imaginable. Listening to the word of God over and over again will achieve the same effect as the saints who memorized the word in ancient times. But we have to decide to do it. It must be a priority in our daily lives. For those who prefer reading, more power to you. However it happens, make it a priority to get the word of God into your heart.
Great care must be taken when selecting sound Bible teachers. Not all ministers are crooks or false prophets, but some pretenders are. You will know them by their fruits. Paul’s litmus test (if you will) for pretty much all things is the question, “does it edify?” This is just a fancy word meaning “build up.” This is not to be confused with puffed up which implies inflation that has no substance. the question is, does the teacher and his/her teachings build you up in a way that encourages you to walk in the Spirit and live a life of complete obedience to God? Is it a spiritual emphasis or a carnal emphasis? Is the emphasis on grace in such a way that it lulls believers into passiveness and false security?
It’s easy to be popular if you tell everyone what they want to hear. Jude said that the apostles warned of “mockers who would walk after their own ungodly lusts” in the last days. Because ministry is sometimes a means to money or popularity— some men use the platform of TV, radio, or the internet combined with the Gospel to fulfill their lusts. This is akin to the Old Testament story of Saul who ruled Israel from his lusts and not according to God’s will. The kingship was a means to an end for Saul. David, who replaced Saul, was a man after God’s own heart and did what God would do if He were David. This is the test of all ministers. Are they doing God’s will or their own will?
The Saul types at best merely mock the David types and in some cases try to destroy them. Why? They are agents of Satan. Listen to some of these false teachers on television and see how these smooth-talkers mock the old-timers who emphasized righteousness and holiness. They are as morally liberal as an alley-cat and dare to call themselves pastors or preachers. There is an acronym for people who are “republican in name only” and it’s RINO. I have one for “Christians in name only” — CINO (Ky-no). The technical term is nominal Christians.
These false teachers types in modern times emphasize everything but what God wants to be emphasized. Usually, it’s some self-serving doctrine, “mined” from the scriptures, which benefits man without regard to God’s purposes. False prophets they are. They are “a judgment” on the hearer because the listeners who tune in want to hear the lies so God gives them a resource. They have itchy ears and God gives them men to scratch them. These people don’t want to live a life of obedience by the power of the Spirit they want to live in compromise while their favorite preacher emphasizes grace and love to still their conscience.
False Teachers Who Cause Division
These false teachers cause division because they offer the people a substitute for the truth that agrees with their carnal minds. It’s like having someone over for dinner who offers your kids candy and sweets while you’re trying to feed them meat and vegetables. What do you think the kids will want? This is similar to what false teachers do. They are morally liberal and push their views on others while shaming those who stand for truth. They parrot the liberal media talking points on everything from legalizing drugs to LGBT (Revelation 9:20-21). Judging by their fruits (Matthew 7:16-20) they are nominal Christians plain and simple. Sadly, they are in the churches! Some are even involved in teaching.
Jude lays out the behavior of the false teachers and their followers and then follows it with an exception, “But YOU…” In other words, we know what the false teachers and their followers are doing, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God (…).” The pure definition of the love of God is to keep the commandments of Christ (1 John 5:3). To keep the commandments we must endeavor to build ourselves up in holy faith. Understand that people try to exercise faith for everything from job promotions to new luxury cars. What about exercising holy faith that God will keep you from all evil?
Praying in the Holy Spirit can be one of many things. My view is that it deals specifically with two things. First, what the old-timers called “the spirit of prayer.” This is when the Holy Spirit anoints a person to pray with an unction or in the power of the Spirit. They are led to pray what the Spirit wants to be prayed and they pray in the Spirit’s power. Second, this is the prayer language of “tongues” that Paul thanked God that he employed more than the rest (I Cor. 14:13-19).
Anyone who has access to the word of God can start listening to it or reading it for memorization provided they have their eyesight and hearing. The thing that everyone can do is pray. Praying with the Holy Spirit requires receiving the Holy Spirit. If you have repented of all known sin, are not actively resisting the Spirits dealings in some area, and you have placed your complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation (no contingencies)—you can ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit (Acts 3:19)— not just once, but DAILY. Paul said we should keep on being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
I’m convinced that God is using this Pandemic to draw people near to Himself and to expose the nominal crowd. It is all His mercy. He doesn’t want people to walk into hell unawares (2 Peter 3:9). He wants people to repent and turn to Him. He wants churches filled with saints who have their lamps FULL of oil and ready for the Bridegroom to come (Matthew 25:8). False teachers are lulling people into a slumber for the money they make or the popularity they enjoy. They are agents of Satan (Matthew 13:28). They are the planting of the enemy. They were before of old ordained to this condemnation (Jude 4). Save yourselves from them and get back to daily memorizing the Word and praying in the power of the Spirit (Acts 2:40).