Grace is such a precious gift, and it is the heart of the Christian message. Other religions are tied to making amends for our sins. They attempt to earn salvation by being “good enough.” It makes sense that good people would go to the good place when they die. Even some Christian religions believe their “saints” were so good; they received a super-abundance of merit that they can share with those who are lacking. (Thus, people pray to the saints asking for them to help them out.)
Of course, the issue is: No one is good enough to merit a place in heaven. This is such a difficult concept! Grace is counterintuitive. Why would God simply forgive us? Don’t we have to earn it? No. Grace is possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus, and there you have it. It is such great news – it is almost unbelievable!
But if we have been forgiven, how should we live after that? Cerenthus, affectionately known as “the heretic,” taught that we could never be lost once we have been forgiven. It doesn’t matter how we live after that. No wonder the Apostle John was so appalled by him! (1st John was written in response to Cerenthus and his heretical friends.) Cerenthus used this crude illustration to support his belief. “When we become Christians, our souls become something like a gold ring. If you drop that ring in a pile of donkey dung, it doesn’t change the ring at all. It is still gold.” That may be true, but I’m not going to put it on my finger! Cerenthus believed, when we become Christians, we are transformed into something like gold. He went on to encourage Christians to experience sin so they would appreciate grace! Sin then becomes a good thing! The Apostle Paul encountered people like Cerenthus and wrote to the Romans, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1 – 2)
Jude encountered people who believed like Cerenthus. “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (verse 4).
In his teaching, Jude goes beyond the Apostle Paul. By their perverted actions, these people deny the lordship of Jesus Christ. In other words, our actions do not lie. If you claim to be a Christian, you must act like a Christian! In the coming days, we will explore other examples from Jude’s tiny letter that illustrate this important truth. In the meantime, remember Grandma’s observation: “Actions speak louder than words.”