Taken and adapted from, “An Exposition of Jude’s Epistle of Apostasy”
Written by Rev. D. Round, published in 1890
THE Epistle of Jude may be fitly called the Epistle of Apostasy…
…as it contains so much on the subject. It brings before us the apostasy of the children of Israel in the wilderness; the apostasy of Sodom and Gomorrah from all natural religion; the apostasy of angels from their first estate. These facts are sufficient to show in what apostasy consists, such as: in departure from the place the grace of God gives to angels or men. Apostasy in its strict meaning can only apply to those who have known the truth and willfully departed from it. A heathen cannot be said to apostatize; a Christian may. Very early in the history of the Church, apostasy soon began to reveal itself. The seeds were sown within the pale of the Church in the days of the apostles. Hence the apostles in their later epistles sought to forewarn and arm the faithful against those who were teaching and propagating what was pernicious and corrupting to faith and practice. Jude speaks distinctly of “certain men, leaders in apostasy, who had crept in privately, ungodly men turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Thus, alas, the very bosom of the Church became the seed-bed of various errors and corruptions. The outcome of the seed sown may be traced in one form or other, and in greater or less degree through the history of the Church. No revival, or reformation has succeeded in rooting up the tares within the limits of a professed Christianity.
What shall we say, rather, what does our Lord and His chosen and inspired servants say, of the character and close of this dispensation? It is from them, and not from the hopeful optimist, or desponding pessimist, we learn its character and end. In the light of their prophetic utterances we discern many of the features of apostasy in the present day, under the prevailing guise of Christianity. “The falling away” was not unforeseen by Christ, “When the Son of Man cometh shall He find faith on the earth?” We conceive the lack of faith implied in this question will not arise from the fewness, so much as from the degeneracy and apostasy of Christian professors, so that they who bear the name of Christ will practically revolt from the faith. The apostasy of the latter times is foretold in the plainest language by St. Paul. In writing to his son Timothy, he says, “Now the Spirit speaks expressly (definitely) that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons “(1 Tim. 4:1). There were among the Thessalonians persons who were troubled, and disturbing others with the notion that the day of the Lord was actually, or virtually, present. To quiet and silence such, the apostle specifies certain precursors of that day. “Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall not come except the apostasy come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” “Remember ye not that when I was yet with you I told you these things.” He informs them that the mystery of iniquity was even then working. Only there is now a restraining power, keeping it in check for a certain time. But the moment the ὁ κατέχων, or “letting power” is taken out of the way, the mystery of iniquity comes into full and unrestrained operation. The floodgates of lawlessness will be opened, and the state of society will speedily become utterly disorganized.
Such is the vista of the future as given in Scripture. The mystery of iniquity is at work everywhere in Christendom, and will continue to work, till at last, when the restraint is gone, it will issue in the revelation of the man of sin, the son of perdition, who will dare to take the place of God in the temple of God.
The conclusion to which we are conducted is that a crisis in Christendom is hastening and at hand. The present dispensational period of grace will soon be completed. Let us not close our eyes to the fearful signs of these times, nor to the lessons they teach. Troubles are thickening around us; skepticism and godlessness are openly avowed. Men blinded by the spirit of infatuation, in this and other so-called Christian lands, are ready when occasion offers to cast off all restraint, to reject all law, rule, and government; and thus to prepare the way for the reign of the “lawless one,” “whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.”