Such is the doom of the false teachers of Christianity, whose character is described so plainly in 2 Peter 2, and in Jude. It is the latter who, in verse 11 of his epistle, pronounces this fearful and unqualified sentence. Mercy for them there is not. Their offence has been so flagrant and their self-will so stubborn that only "woe" is their portion, unless their eyes should be opened, and, humbled on account of their guilt and state, they turn from their evil ways with repentance towards God and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ. "For," says the Spirit of God, "they have gone in the way of Cain," that is the first charge against them. They, like Cain, were not irreligious, but they approached God after a fashion of their own. They did not bring "blood"; they denied atonement by blood; they ignored the true nature of sin, and the fact of their own guilt. Their religion was one of personal merit, and based on the ground of good works - beautiful fruits of a cursed soil! Such was the way of Cain, and such was their way - the way of multitudes of teachers of modern and apostatizing Christianity. "Woe unto them." This way of Cain is popular in the pulpit of today, and highly pleasing to the self-righteous ear. God is worshipped, but not in His way; approached, but not by blood; owned, but not as the Judge of sin. Cain's way, their way, ends in woe, certain and inevitable woe!
"And ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward!"
Now, secondly, their pace increases. They went in the way of Cain, they ran after Balaam's error, and what was that? It was reward! Their religion was one of hire. They were hireling teachers. They "ran" through college and university; they spared no pains to reach the coveted prize of wealth and ecclesiastical honours. To them the cross was but a useful stepping-stone to worldly place and fame, and the cure of souls to that of ease and comfort. And thus Christianity (so-called) has become one of the most paying and profitable concerns of the day. From its unworldly and Christ-like original it has degenerated into a Babylon of golden commerce. As of old, the house of prayer has become a den of thieves. For such ecclesiastical merchants there is the one doom of "Woe unto them."
"And perished in the gainsaying of Core." They went, they ran; now, thirdly, they perished! How graphic and how solemn!
Core's gainsaying was, as we know, opposition to Moses as God's appointed servant. Core rebelled against God. He wished to occupy the place and functions that God had seen fit to accord to another. It was spiritual jealousy, pride and rebellion. It was a daring usurpation, a bold intrusion into a province from which he was debarred. God can select His own servants, and woe betide the reckless man who interferes with God's choice!
Core might have pointed out the admitted ineloquence of Moses, and dwelt upon his own fancied claims to leadership. But God had chosen Moses, and commissioned, and supported, and borne witness to him. He was God's man!
And in the matter of ministry the only qualification is the grace granted by a glorified Christ. (See Eph. 4) If that grace be wanting, no self-asserted claims, nor man-awarded credentials, nor commendation by bishop, presbytery, or aught else, is of the smallest value. You may speak with the tongue of an angel, and fill and thrill the largest place of concourse. It is all in vain. God's stammering Moses is infinitely better than the devil's mightiest Mercury. To rebel against the vessel of God's ministry is to perish in the gainsaying of Core.
The loud and solemn voice to be heard by all today is this: There are teachers of Christianity (so-called) who deny atonement by blood, who have the reward of money for their object, and who resist the true vessels of Christ, and His ministry through them. That is, they reject the divine way of approach to God, they refuse the lowly and self-denying path of Christ, and they rebel against the Spirit of God in the ministry which He may deign to appoint.
Such is the picture that Christendom presents today. How humbling, but how divinely accurate, the forecast given by the Word of God. We are forewarned and should be therefore forearmed. J. W. S.