Before I get into my teaching today, I want to thank you for signing up to receive your first teaching letter from me. Welcome! I’m so glad you decided to join our family of deeper readers. I spend hours writing these letters each month, sharing my heart and the insights gleaned from my studies in God’s Word. I pray that this letter, and every letter I write in the future, truly ministers to your heart and strengthens your walk with God.
Greetings in Jesus’ precious name!
How can I proceed with my letter without first thanking our generous friends who are responding so quickly and selflessly to our call for help? So many have sown seed into the emergency-relief effort that we are continually able to provide assistance to the precious people whose lives have been shaken by the turmoil in this region. As you know, the situation is volatile and changes hour by hour, but we have boots on the ground and are making a difference in many lives. God is multiplying the resources and protecting the people who are delivering these much-needed provisions to those desperate for them. THANK YOU for your compassionate giving and continued prayers for protection, provision, and boldness. If you would like to see the most current photos of this emergency-relief effort, please use the following link: renner.org/article/relief-photos.
Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude for those who have given so generously to the Ministry Expansion Project. Together, we have successfully completed Phase One and Two of this expansion project! In Tulsa, the papers were signed on our new ministry offices, we have moved in, and we are settling into our new facility. We are now ready for Phase Three of this project, which is to pay off the Tulsa facilities. Please pray about joining us in this effort to finish strong as we ready ourselves for all God wants to do in this season of expansion to take the Good News of the Gospel and the sound teaching of the Bible around the world. Follow this link to see photos of our progress or to give: renner.org/expansion.
This month sparks a special memory for us. It was 30 years ago this month that God brought Denise and me our first staff in the former USSR. Oh, I’ll never forget that moment — it was truly a historical time in our lives when God supernaturally brought us a group of young people who would literally risk their lives to help us spread the Gospel in the lands of the former USSR. I tell all about it in my autobiography UNLIKELY, which can be ordered at renner.org. I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Because we are living in the very last season of the last days, most of us know or are familiar with believers or spiritual leaders who have been led astray by seducing spirits and, as a result, have fallen into sin and unbiblical lifestyles or have embraced strange, unscriptural beliefs. There is nothing more heartrending than to watch a person begin to abandon his or her scriptural foundations. It is especially grievous to see family, friends, or fellow believers lay aside sound doctrine and godly morals as they embrace beliefs and practices that will produce negative results.
But even though some have gone astray, it is important to remember that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (see Romans 11:29). These individuals may have been seduced to go in a wrong direction or pursue a wrong course, but if they repent, they can get back on track. The call of God is still on them, and they can be used by Him once again.
Today I want to encourage you from Jude 22 and 23. It says, “And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”
Often when someone we know and love — perhaps even someone we have trusted in the past — falls into error or sin, we may be tempted to feel betrayed and angry toward that person. We may wonder how he or she could have ever veered off track into such deep moral or spiritual foolishness. But holding a hostile attitude against those who are walking in error or living in blatant sin will not set them free — and it won’t help our heart condition either.
In these cases, Jude 22 says, “And of some have compassion….” The word “compassion” is a translation of the Greek word eleeo, which in this case refers to the deep-seated and unsettling emotions a person feels when he has seen or heard something that is terribly sad or upsetting. These are emotions that may arise, for example, when you see a starving child whose stomach is bloated from malnutrition. You may also feel such emotions if you see an emaciated person dying of terminal cancer or if you encounter a family who is living in such destitute conditions that they are forced to live on the streets with little money or food and with bare necessities.
Jude’s use of the Greek word “compassion” — the Greek word eleeo — lets us know that he was trying to graphically help us understand the serious plight of those who had embraced error or who had compromised their walk of faith. But because Jude used the word “compassion,” he was also telling us that the spiritual condition of wayward believers is just as real and serious as the plight of a starving child, a dying man or woman, or a destitute family.
But as we allow the love of God to operate in us, compassion for errant believers will begin to flow from us to them, and that stream of divine compassion will move us into prayer on their behalf and away from a judgmental attitude against them. God’s compassion within us will compel us to do all we can to see these believers set free from the deception that has gripped them.
These individuals have ingested the poison of spiritual error and, as a result, they have become sickened with spiritual toxins. As such, they are spiritually ill people whose situations are grave. You may be upset with them for laying aside Scripture — and to be truthful, this should be upsetting. But harboring anger against those who have taken a wayward path won’t remedy their spiritual condition — and it will harm yours for taking a wrong stance in your heart against those who err!
In such cases, we must learn to let the compassion of Christ flow from our hearts toward those who have become infected with spiritual error. Compassion is a mighty force that releases astonishing amounts of spiritual power. The tremendous flow of God’s power, released as you pray from His heart of compassion, has the ability to break the chains that came to bind their souls and minds. Their condition may be so grave that only intervention by God will open their eyes and enable them to see their way out of the dark place they are in right now. This was the reason Jude urged, “And of some have compassion.…”
But then Jude 22 added, “And of some have compassion, making a difference….” This phrase “making a difference” is translated from the Greek word diakrinos, which is a compound of the words dia and krino. The word dia carries the idea of dividing or separating, and krino means to judge or to determine. But when these two words are compounded, in this verse, the new word pictures an individual who has lost his ability to separate right from wrong, and it can even depict those who are unable to tell the difference between the truth and a lie.
The Greek word here translated as “making a difference” is translated as “doubt” elsewhere. Believers who have gone astray develop a chronic instability in what they believe — and, ultimately, they begin to doubt God’s Word altogether, even questioning the most basic fundamentals of scriptural truth. They sink deeper and deeper into deception and become so spiritually unstable that they begin to chronically question and doubt important Bible truths they once believed and embraced. By using diakrinos — translated “making a difference” in Jude 22 — Jude informs us that individuals who are deceived are unable to reach accurate spiritual conclusions and therefore often embrace what they would have once deemed to be spiritual error or morally wrong.
But Jude 23 goes on to say, “And others save with fear….” The word “save” comes from the Greek word sodzo. In this verse, it is used in the present active imperative tense, which means the Greek calls for immediate, fast, and continuous or steadfast action. Furthermore, this was not a suggestion from Jude; this was a command.
The word “fear” is from the word phobos, and it refers to a fear that results from a threatening or alarming circumstance. The fact that Jude would use this word indicates that erring believers were on the brink of some type of destruction. This explains why Jude commands us to act fast and immediately. These deceived believers are on the edge of imminent disaster, and if someone doesn’t act fast and do something to rescue them, they could suffer catastrophe.
This reminds me of Lot — an Old Testament believer who was living on the brink of disaster and didn’t understand the seriousness of his plight. But because Abraham acted quickly to stand in the prayer gap and intercede for his deliverance, Lot’s life was spared.
In the same way, Jude commands us to be moved to act immediately because the circumstances of those who are in error are so serious. We must do everything we know to do. A crucial ingredient of that saving process includes intercession, just as Abraham interceded for Lot. And as we pray and stay sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, He will show us what other steps we might need to take to see deliverance come to those who have been led astray. The Holy Spirit has the key to every person’s heart, and He is ready to give us that key if we will hear Him speak to us.
Jude went on in verse 23 to say when we see other Christians headed down a dangerous path of spiritual deception, we must engage in “…pulling them out of the fire….” The word “pulling” is from the Greek word harpadzo and conveys the picture of laying hold of and snatching someone out of a dangerous situation. We must obey this command by doing everything within our ability — through prayer empowered by divine compassion — to lay hold of and to snatch people out of their spiritually dangerous predicaments. Although wayward believers may not feel the heat of the fire or realize the seriousness of their spiritual condition, Scripture shows that they will experience a negative consequence of some kind if intervention is not made on their behalf.
We are not to just sit by and watch erring Christians sink deeper and deeper into deception. When we see people lured off track, we must pray and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He will show us how to pray and whether we are to be further involved in helping them wake up to the reality of their situation so they can be delivered from the judgment they are about to bring upon themselves.
The following is an interpretive expansion of Jude 22 and 23:
And for some, it is essential that you be moved with compassion that does more than simply feel sorry about their plight; you must let compassion move you to take action — to do what you can — to make a difference for those who are uncertain, doubtful, and even vacillating back and forth in their faith. Indeed, there are some in such serious condition that there is no choice but for you to urgently swing into action to deliver, rescue, and save them. You should be so alarmed by their condition that you are willing to do whatever is necessary to snatch them out of the fire….
I realize this letter has been a little long, but this is what was on my heart to share this month. I know that many serious Christians are concerned about people they love, and if this describes you, I pray this letter encourages you to really fire up your prayer life to intercede for them. If you specifically need someone to pray with you for someone on your heart, let us know, and we’ll pray with you. In fact, please contact us about any need on your heart by giving us a call or sending an email or letter, and we’ll gladly pray with you and believe for a powerful result to our prayers of faith.
I pray this letter has encouraged you and given you some guidance today!
We love you and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner