As we continue in our journey through Jude, we come across a warning about false teachers in verses eleven through thirteen. Before we jump into this text, let us first imagine a scenario. Imagine you’ve moved to a new area, so you’re looking for a new church to call your home. As you were driving around the area, you noticed a church and decided, after checking out its website, to try it out on Sunday. You came into the church that morning and were impressed by the friendliness of the congregation. The praise team had just finished leading the worship in song and had asked you to sit down. The pastor comes up on stage and reads the passage that he is going to be preaching. The sermon is engaging, and you are starting to get into it. Then he says, “The more you give to the church, the more blessed you will be.” This takes you by surprise, but you justify it in your head by thinking that that wasn’t what he meant to say. However, the pastor continues to preach and then he says, “God helps those that help themselves.” What should you do? Do you just ignore it, or do you not come back to that church again? Situations like this are what Jude is addressing.
Let us move to another story. How you should respond to this situation is not as obvious. This story starts just like the other one does. However, this church is into social reform. It is not like the social reform that most people think about though. They want to hold society up to Biblical standards. The idea is that if society acts like Christ, then not only would society be better, but more people could be saved. As you walked through the church, you could tell that this was the main mission of the church. The congregation was very welcoming, and you liked the worship service. The pastor wasn’t even all that bad to look at either. What about this church? Would you want to keep attending this one?
Jude is warning us about both kinds of churches. The first church promoted what is called the prosperity gospel. The second church promoted what is called the social gospel. Both teachings are heresies that lead to destruction. There is nothing to be gained from them, for they are contrary to what the Bible teaches us.
The prosperity gospel teaches the more faith one has, the healthier and wealthier one will be. They claim, as Christians, that we must claim our heavenly reward now. Prosperity gospel teachers claim that God does not want you to be uncomfortable. He wants you to be happy, so you must do what makes you happy. God will also take care of you if you help yourself. While He is willing to give you His blessings, you must also be proactive. This is what the prosperity gospel falsely teaches.
The social gospel teaches that social reform is the best way to win people to Christ. Their main teaching is that once society can live up to God’s standards, the gospel will be better preached. Not only will it be easier to win people to Christ, but it will also hasten the return of Christ. He will set up His kingdom on earth sooner if we clean up the messiness of the world. This is what the social gospel teaches.
These two heresies are part of the many false teachings that have been taught by church leaders. They are the essence of what Jude is warning us about. They are like “clouds without rain” and “wandering stars.” These false teachings bring about false hope like rain clouds that don’t give us rain. We are not always going to have good health or be wealthy. However, that is what the prosperity gospel is promising us. Neither do the teachers of these heresies offer us any direction. They are like wandering stars and are useless for giving us direction. All they say is ‘try harder.’ Not only do they offer no direction, but they are also leading in the wrong direction. They lead us away from the Gospel truth as it is truly taught in the Bible. False teachers are “shepherds who feed only themselves.” They teach only for self-gain. They get rich from their false teaching. These teachers have fallen into “Balaam’s error.” We must be wary of these false teachings and check everything against scripture. Then, if we find that they are in error, we must call them out for it. If they continue in this teaching, then we must get far from them, for we do not want to get caught up with them. We must ever be watchful for false teaching.