By Dr. Ken Matto
(Jude 1:4 KJV) For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the above verse we are warned about people who will come into churches with their best foot forward but who really have a hidden agenda to bring in false teachings to undermine that church. The word crept means stealthily. They are coming in to the church in a secret way. If you notice the word stealth it has the word steal in it. This is what these false teachers come into the congregation for, to steal the truth from it and to replace it with false doctrine. These men were already marked out to bring the false teachings into the church. What these people have done is taken the grace teachings out of the church and replaced them with worldly things. The word lasciviousness carries with it the meaning of licentiousness which is the lacking of legal or moral restraint. We can see this practice in many churches who have set aside the truth of Gods Word and the Gospel of Grace and have replaced it with worldly feasts and festivals. I remember when I grew up in the Hungarian Reformed Church in Perth Amboy, NJ, every October they would have the annual Grape Festival. One year myself and two friends went to the festival and by the end of the night we had piled up 41 bottles of beer. We were able to get drunk at my old church under the umbrella of an ethnic festival. When I was drinking and the price of a bottle of beer was 50 cents, 41 bottles of beer at that price did not break the budget.
Here was the problem, they replaced the Gospel of Christ with a booze festival. Some years later when I became saved, I tried bringing the Gospel to this dead church, I was pegged a jerk. It is easier to bring booze into some churches than the real Gospel. When looking to protect the sheep in the pews, we must not only look at the fact that unbelievers may bring in these damnable heresies but they may come in a very subtle manner. There are many things in churches that are replacing the Gospel of Grace. Who would think that a Grape festival would be a replacement? Ethnic churches must very careful because it is easy to go from a Gospel church to a cultural church. The Hungarian Reformed Church was born of the Reformation and its ministers were persecuted by the Roman Catholic Institution by being made into galley slaves. I wonder if those ministers of the 17th century, who died under the lash of the galley master would approve of seeing the church they bled for being made into a residence for a drinking festival in the 20th century?
The Gospel has nothing to do with culture. It always supersedes it. In fact, the normal situation is that culture is always at odds with the Gospel, as we saw in the example I gave. In fact, culture is grown out of the world while the Gospel comes from heaven, and never the twain shall meet, except in the redeemed, but even then there is a separation of body and soul upon death. When we are warned that certain men will come into the church and turn the Grace of God into lasciviousness, it will not always be a frontal assault but will appeal to the social aspect of our lives, and will be stealthily brought in. Once we start accepting these things, we are denying the Lord Jesus and He will pull the candlesticks from our midst, and then our congregation will be just another haven for bake sales and a meeting place for the Boy Scouts. (1/17/03)