The Paradigm Shift from Community to Doctrine
After the first century, right doctrine became the "litmus test" for faith instead of loving as Yahshua commanded.1 Late in the first century, Jude urged the believers to contend for the faith delivered once for all to the saints. This word translated as faith means the persuasion to do what the Master commanded, for this was the purpose for the faith the 3000 received by hearing the gospel on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:36-45.2 The word love was defined by Yahshua in John 14 and 15 in the same terms, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,"3 which is amplified in John 15, "Keep my commandments... just as I have kept My Father's commandments."4
Faith, trust, and obedience were the guiding lights of the first disciples, whose faith turned the world upside down.5 But today the word faith in Jude 1:3 is taken to simply mean the knowledge and assent to religious truths, without regard to good works, which is therefore a false faith.6 In reality, the only assurance of faith is Ephesians 2:10 and 4:16 -- doing the good works one was saved to do in order to build up the Body. These things are the very reason one is saved!
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Here is an Amazing Thing!
So Jude 1:3 has nothing whatsoever to do with doctrinal correctness, as the context in verse 4 proves:
For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)
Here Jude speaks of grace being turned into license to do your own thing, doing what is right in your own eyes. This started to overtake the early church when there was no longer true authority from God in the church.7 There was no restraint; each one did whatever he wanted, but still maintained a form of godliness, although denying its power.
This reveals an amazing thing: doctrine, or the right theology, requires no faith to believe.8 All it takes is mental assent, and all it gives in return is mental confidence. Such "faith" results historically (and currently) in living lives indistinguishable from the surrounding world -- living independently rather than together with other believers.9 In this truly applies the wisdom of the ancients, "He who separates himself seeks his own desire."10 Yes, true faith is for the purpose of doing the works prepared for one to do in the Body of Messiah, which is the Community of the Redeemed, and which must be just as real and alive as the community in Jerusalem described in Acts 2 and 4.
Theology requires no faith, but John 13:34-35 does require faith, for it transcends what any man can do naturally:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
The Litmus Test
John the Apostle spelled out the true "litmus test" of faith in his first letter. A litmus test decisively proves the presence or absence of a particular ingredient. The litmus test of 1 John reveals the presence or absence of God's love, which is the evidence of true faith. 1 John 3:14 reveals the truth or falsehood of one's claim to have passed from death into life:
14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 16By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 23And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
1 John 3:16 and 23 also require faith, without which even someone with the right doctrine won't pass the litmus test of 1 John 3:14 -- regardless of whether he says he believes.11 Believing the right doctrine requires no faith, no love, and no laying down of one's life for his brothers.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)
No one can do Romans 12:1 unless he obeys verse 2 by faith as well. Otherwise, the faith of Jude 1:3 is merely doctrine, the theology of theologians, learned men who can quote many scripture verses, but laying down their lives as 1 John 3:16 says is far from them. They can only teach their flocks the same "faith" as they have. A student, when fully trained, will be like his teacher. So their empty "faith" has been passed down ever since theological Bible schools have existed on earth. They have no relationship with the true Messiah12 and can only foster mental assent to theological terms, concepts, and decrees thought up by the apostates of the fourth century.13
These apostate leaders valued doctrine higher than love, and three centuries after Messiah's death began persecuting people, deposing bishops, and banishing into exile those considered to have the wrong doctrine. Ultimately, they started killing those they deemed heretics. So why is it always those with the right doctrine who end up killing those with the wrong doctrine? They obviously didn't understand 1 Corinthians 1:10 in the right spirit:
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Paul is pleading for the brothers in Corinth to be in unity; he is pleading in the very name by which they were saved. He is pleading, not forcing -- you can't force unity. Forced unity is not the right spirit. As 2 Corinthians 11:4,13-15 clearly states, only Satan's servants or ministers could ever do what the Christian theologians did to dissenters. All this was in absolute violation of the Master's words to leave them alone, to let them be.14
The reason Jude so urgently said to contend for the faith that was imparted in the beginning was because he saw change coming in -- a terrible change away from the pattern in Acts 2 and 4 and toward what would become the state church of Constantine. We can see the change in the way Christians thought, being persuaded and influenced by a different spirit, propagated by a different gospel, and ending up with a different Jesus from the one they accepted in the beginning.15
The Tragedy of Christian History
Starting with their acceptance by Emperor Constantine, the church turned from being the persecuted to being the persecutor. But by that time, the Holy Spirit had long ago left the church.16 No longer could anyone truthfully confess that Messiah "is come in the flesh" at their church, since it was no longer a community where all things were held in common.17 Neither could anyone say from his experience that he served the Savior where He is,18 but only from his mind. As the church declined in its love in every place,19 in spite of Paul's exhortation to them in Ephesians to love Messiah with an undying, incorruptible love,20 none seemed to be able to pass the litmus test of 1 John 5:13. This was because active, real, sacrificial love of one's brothers and sisters was no longer the emphasis,21 but rather mental assent to a list of doctrines now called "The Faith." So this doctrinal "faith" replaced the works true faith was meant to energize, as James later wrote in the second century.22
So very early on, as the church careened down its fatal decline, the emphasis shifted to doctrinal correctness, which is now considered the evidence of faith. But Jude, who wrote by the end of the first century, looking into the second, urged that they contend or have a vigorous defense of the faith delivered once and for all to God's people. What he meant by this was the faith that produced the expression of the abundant life recorded in Acts 2 and 4. That was "the faith once for all delivered to the saints."23 But faith only came to those who had ears to hear.24
When love left, the Holy Spirit left, and the light (the lampstands in each place) was extinguished.25 Eventually those who were as John 9:41 describes took the word contend in Jude 1:3 to mean taking up arms to force their "right doctrine" upon those with "wrong doctrine" under pain of death. This was contrary to the words of the true Messiah, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight."26
The "Sign" of Sanctification
Jude echoed the Apostle Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 1:2 in the opening of his epistle, when he wrote to the few who were not yet disqualified:
To those who are called, sanctified [set apart] in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. (Jude 1:1-2)
This sanctification was to be an obvious sign of God's set apart people in the New Covenant just as it was to have been in the Old. They were to be separated by God's purifying work in their lives from the lust and greed and anger and hatred of the world around them. And the sign of this sanctification, both within and without this new Israel, was still the Sabbath, as the writer to the Hebrews made clear:
There remains therefore a sabbath-keeping for the people of God [i.e., for those who enter God's rest]. (Hebrews 4:9)
So Jude's words were addressed to those who were still set apart by God the Father, and kept for Messiah. May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you, who are sanctified as in 1 Corinthians 1:2. At that time there were still those separated from the world in the Body of Messiah, the Community, as in Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-37. They were set apart in a place where the refining process can take place in each one's life, which cannot be accomplished unless one is separated from fellowship with the world in that place where Messiah actually dwells in His Body.27 The Sabbath was like a sign over each place where God was sanctifying His people:
Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: "Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you." (Exodus 31:13)
In 1 Corinthians 1:2, "in every place" means in every township where God's name had been caused to dwell by the direct process of John 13:20 -- "He who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me." Starting from Jerusalem, the first community swarmed to surrounding towns in Judea, and it was according to this "Judean pattern" that Paul modeled the communities he established.28 Of course, it was "with persecutions," as Mark 10:29-30 promises. This is the mark of those who have separated themselves in a place in which they can be made pure as 1 John 3:1-3, "That they may see Him as He is, and everyone who has this hope in them purifies himself as He is pure."29
Mark 10:29-30 was the Master's answer to His disciples' question, "Who then can be saved?"30 It is the answer never given by Christian preachers today. Verse 27 explains how one is saved by obedience to His gospel, thus proving they have been persuaded to do His will. Someone has to receive the faith to not only believe in Him, but to do what He required of all whom He would save from this present evil world. Their obedience to the gospel would put them into a place where they could be purified -- where He is.31 There, and only there, can anyone serve Him. As 1 Corinthians 1:2 implies, it must be a set-apart place that is in the world but not of it.32 This takes a community in a township where disciples daily love and encourage one another.33
The word sanctify in John 17:17 is the same as in 1 Corinthians 1:2 -- set apart from the evil world system to be made ready (prepared) to rule with Messiah; and John 17:18 is their mission. This is why, several centuries later, the influential leaders of the church could cheerfully go along with Constantine (who was both an unbeliever and the head of the pagan Roman state religion) endorsing their religion. He offered the church worldly acceptance in place of persecution. Everything radically changed when the church accepted his proposal.
In 321 AD, Constantine effectively took down the sign of the Sabbath. The mission of the church had changed in the minds of both its leaders and its people. No longer was it called to set people apart from the world. No, much rather it was now called to send people into the world to be judges, governing officials, soldiers,34 and in time powerful political leaders, even rulers. Friendship with the world became a sign of friendship with God, in sharp contrast to the wisdom of James 4:1-3. This is why the church could now "rest" on the day of the Sun god (Sunday), for his domain is truly the kingdoms and affairs of this world.
Who then can be Saved?
One would think, reading Christian history, that worldly success and national power are the hallmarks of true faith, contrary to the teachings and example of Yahshua. But the fact is, shocking as it may seem, that for someone to walk down the aisle in the Billy Graham Crusade and be "saved" is impossible. He goes back home and does the very same things as before, except now supposedly he's going to heaven when he dies, as if that were all the Savior gave up His life for. If you want to see what He really paid such a high price for, consider how the church was in the beginning, when all who believed were together. Read about those days with open eyes and an open heart.
So then, hasn't this "sincere believer" at the Billy Graham Crusade simply believed in vain, as those in John 2:23-25? Was it not only make believe? "Might as well make believe" you love Him, which is to say you do but not obey Him.35 But this is not what the Master told His disciples they had to do in order to be saved.36
"Who then can be saved?" they asked. Only those who hear and obey the gospel, including the "many other words" (the "hard sayings of Christ") as in Acts 2:36-41 and Mark 10:17-30. The "rich young ruler" wanted to know what he had to do to be saved. The answer is the same now as it was for the 3,000 on the day of Pentecost, who gave up everything in response to the first message of salvation which the apostles preached in obedience to Messiah's commission.37 Ask yourself why the preaching of the gospel today doesn't produce the same results. Could it be a different gospel?38
- 1. John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:14,16,23; 5:12-13
- 2. Romans 10:17 where faith, #4102 in Strong's Greek Concordance of the New Testament, comes from #3982, which means persuasion. The latter word is often translated trust in the KJV in places such as Mark 10:24 and Luke 20:6.
- 3. John 14:15, also verses 21 and 23 strike the same note, a threefold repetition by the Savior of the same theme in just a few words. Obviously something He considered of vital importance for His disciples.
- 4. John 15:10, which is itself an amplification of some of His first words to His disciples in Matthew 5:17-19 about keeping His Father's word and teaching others to do the same.
- 5. Acts 17:6 in the KJV.
- 6. James 2:14-26
- 7. Judges 17:6; 21:25
- 8. James 2:19
- 9. Acts 2:44
- 10. Proverbs 18:1
- 11. John 5:24
- 12. 2 Corinthians 11:4,15
- 13. See http://theblackboxspeaks.org/church-councils.html
- 14. John 12:47-48; Luke 9:54-55, NKJV; Acts 5:34-39, and the apostle Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13
- 15. 2 Corinthians 11:2-4; Galatians 1:6-7
- 16. Revelation 2:4-5
- 17. 1 John 4:2-3
- 18. John 12:25-6
- 19. 1 Corinthians 1:2
- 20. Ephesians 6:24
- 21. 1 John 3:16 and 23
- 22. James 1:26-27; 2:14-26
- 23. Acts 2:44-45
- 24. Acts 2:40; John 18:37; 10:27
- 25. Revelation 2:4-5
- 26. John 18:36
- 27. John 12:26
- 28. 1 Thessalonians 2:14
- 29. Romans 5:3-5; 2 Peter 1:4-11; 1 Peter 5:4
- 30. Mark 10:26
- 31. John 12:25-26
- 32. John 17:14-17
- 33. Hebrews 3:13 and 10:24-26
- 34. By the end of the fourth century it was difficult to find a soldier who wasn't a Christian. By 416 AD, non-Christians were forbidden to serve in the army! See Codex Theodosianus XVI x. 21 (http://www.sfts.edu/ocker/hs1080/paganlaw.htm).
- 35. John 14:15,21; 1 John 2:4
- 36. Mark 10:17-30
- 37. Matthew 28:19-20
- 38. 2 Corinthians 11:4