Memphis Belle

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2nd John

 

2nd John, verses 1-13, “The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth: and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth:  For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.  Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.  I rejoice greatly that I found of thy children walking in the truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.  And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.  And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.  This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.  For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.  This is a deceiver and an antichrist.  Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.  Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.  Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.  The children of thy elect sister greet thee.  Amen.”

 

Opening paragraph: spiritual warfare accompanies real ministries

 

“Good morning.  It’s good to be back with you, folks.  I feel like I haven’t been here for awhile, although I’ve only missed two Sundays.  But it seems like it’s been awhile.  So it’s great to be back.  Let’s open our Bibles to 2nd John.  You know, I don’t know, kind of interesting to be back this morning, folks welcoming me back, but I think there are spiritual forces that are welcoming me back this morning too, at least it was quite a process in trying to get ready for this study.  It started on Friday night when I guess I lost my Bible, I haven’t found it yet.  Of course, a preacher needs his Bible.  So I’ve got a borrowed Bible.  And then on Saturday morning I needed to focus on getting into the study, I hadn’t had much of an opportunity to do it before then, and woke with phone calls from my Mom, my Grandmother in France died, and she wanted me to go with her to France, my Grandmother lives in France (or lived in France).  So Saturday when I would be studying, now I’m on the phone with relatives, and trying to arrange a sudden trip to France.  And of course, I don’t answer the phone [on Saturdays], a lot of you folks know that.  My wife is great, she always answers the phone, and says, ‘Can’t talk to George.’  But my wife wasn’t in town, and now I’m answering, I’m on the phone, because all kinds of things going on with my Grandmother, and trying to get to France.  So now all these other people are calling me, and the whole day passes, and I’ve hardly studied, I got to bed at 1, O’clock.  I get up this morning, and I think the enemy knows when I’m really pressed for time, this is consistent almost every time, my computer crashes.  And I have no memory, you know, in my mind, so I need my computer, man.  That’s why God sent me through college, so I could, that’s my memory, my computer, you know.  And then notes get corrupted.  I had to go through every line of my notes to find out where it was corrupted.  It wouldn’t print.  So here I am.  [chuckles]  Welcome back [laughter].  OK, but I believe in my heart, that we’re entering into a season, I believe there’s a spiritual battle.  I believe God has a plan.  The enemy is not a fool, he knows that God has a plan, he’s building a Church, he’s building a ministry, and there’s things going on significantly that I see, there’s a war.  And I’m thankful on Friday night that a group of us gathered at Leominster High School to pray, some of us where there, we joined with ten other churches, and it was a blessed night for me, and we intend to do it again in a few months.  And I think prayer especially is important for us at this time, gathering with other churches and praying.  You know, interesting, when I was gone, somebody passed me a newspaper article about how the Wicca group there had gathered at the Plastics Museum, you know, having their little Witch meeting, and trying to share with our community that witchcraft, it said this in the newspaper article, that Wicca is a beautiful religion.  And, ah, I’m not sure what you think, but the Bible says it’s a demonic religion.  So I think there’s a spiritual battle.  And I think prayer is key.  I’m excited.  I think there’s great things ahead for us.  But I’d ask you, and I don’t mean to be a broken record, you haven’t heard this for a few weeks, but please pray about the radio situation.  When I was on my way to California, I’ll share this with you.  In the airport, you know I’ve been at a conference, some folks have been with me in California, but on the way there in the airport, I get a call, and it was from Steve the radio manager, and I’ll say this to you, that he was sharing essentially that the radio station, we were discerning that CSN had put it up for sale, and then he was essentially telling me, that it looked like the deal was just about done [and this would have left this ministry without a radio station], meaning the buyer and CSN were both calling Steve, buyer coming by to visit the station again, and it was just about a done deal.  So I spent the first few days, the first week in California on the phone with a lot of people trying to stop this whole thing from happening.  This is a station we’ve been running and operating [for nine years], and if it’s going to be sold, sell it to us, as a church, and we’ll do whatever it takes to buy it.  So that’s where it’s at right now.  I guess they put the sale on hold while they [CSN] talk to us.  And there’s a lot involved with it, and I can’t really go into it.  But I don’t know about you, but radio to me, I think of the Proverb that “Prepare the outside work [the field], and then prepare the house.”  And to me the radio is essential for this ministry in this age we live in, and we’ll stop whatever we’re doing in order to secure that and continue to broadcast radio in this area.  So, it’s part of the outside work.  And you do that before you build your house.  And I’d ask you to continue to pray.  What I think is this, is I think that God has a bigger plan, I think he’s had it all along, and sometimes you can get down going in a routine, year after year, and you start loosing the bigger picture of what God wants to do.  And God, you know our vision really, when we started with radio here was more than this little old AM radio station we have in this town, we wanted to see it go beyond that.  But you know, years have passed, and we’ve been in kind of a routine, and I think God wants to break up the routine, get us praying again, and show us that he’s got a bigger plan, and I think ultimately that’s what’s going to come from this, is a bigger plan.  [And now they have FM radio stations in Wellfleet, Plymouth, Gardner and Lunenburg MA, as well as retaining their local AM station in the town they meet in.  So we see prayer, active prayer, makes a ministry go forward.]  It’s interesting, their parent congregation on the west coast has also been getting their own radio network….I don’t know what it all means, but I know this, it’s a season to pray.  And either way, we trust the Lord.  Right?  So please pray.  Pray for me this week, too.   You know, here I am for one Sunday, and won’t be here next Sunday because I’m going to France.  But if you could pray for that, I’d covet your prayers, because it was neat, my Mom and I led my Aunt to the Lord, and I’ve been praying for my French family for years, and it’s an opportunity to go as a pastor, but also a relative and minister to my French family at this time.  And I hope to see some of them come to Christ.  I’ve been praying for them for a good while.  So, I’d ask you to pray about that.  Well, there’s some thoughts. 

          Let’s say a word of prayer and we’ll get started, 2nd John.  2nd John is the shortest Epistle, shortest book, actually, in the New Testament.  And God willing we’ll get through this whole book this morning.  Let’s say a word of prayer.  ‘Lord, as we look together at your Word, I’d ask right now God that you’d focus our hearts, you’d focus our attention upon you.  I ask God that you’d remove distractions.  I ask God that you’d maybe even remove things that are competing with our attention at this moment.  But Father, help to just look to you, to see your face ultimately.  We know if we can see your face, of course we can hear your voice, to see your face spiritually Lord, to be close to you, of course to hear you speak to us.  And we need you to speak to us, Lord, we need your instruction, we need to be built up.  Some need to be encouraged this morning, Lord.  Some need to be convicted.  Some need to be reminded of things this morning, Lord.  So we come and focus our hearts.  I ask Holy Spirit that you’d be upon all of us, and upon myself as we go through your Word.  In Jesus name, Amen.’ 

 

Who is the ‘elect lady’?  two theories

 

          Verses 1-2 of 2nd John, “The elder to the elect lady and her children in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; for the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.”  So, the elder.  Who’s the elder?  The elder is John.  That’s why we call this 2nd John.  Nowhere in this little letter do you read the name John, but it’s pretty clear, and you’ll see pretty quick as, maybe you were with us as we studied 1st John, but as we get going it’s pretty clear by the style of the writing, this is written by John.  That will be clear to you.  Now why does he say ‘the elder’, why doesn’t he just say ‘John’?  Why does he say ‘the elder’?  Well, there’s no doubt as we noted too in 1st John, John at this time in his life is very old, as he’s writing.  This is presumably after the time he was exiled to the Isle of Patmos, and he was an old man then.  But he survived that exile, and then later returned to Ephesus, was very old, the only living apostle of the 12 at that time, and was a great blessing to the Church.  And we assume he’s probably writing from Ephesus, he’s old, and he’s writing.  The only living apostle, so in that sense he’s ‘the elder’.  And it’s very possible he was referred to as Elder John.  So he just says ‘the elder’.  Now when it says ‘the elder’ it doesn’t necessarily refer to an office as much again as his age.  So anyway we’ve got John the elder, and he says “to the elect lady and her children.”  Now who is this ‘elect lady’ that he’s writing to, and who are her children?  We don’t know for sure who they are, there’s different theories, although because we don’t know for sure, we can’t know for sure.  One is, he’s writing to some godly lady, a noteworthy lady, a godly lady, and to her children, her family.  And some even assume there’s a church that gathers in her home [a house-church].  You get the sense that he’s writing to more than just a family in some of the phrases.  So maybe he’s writing to a godly lady, and to also her family, her kids, and then maybe a church that gathers at her home.  Another theory is that he’s writing this to a church, and he addresses and refers to the church symbolically as ‘the elect lady.’  Now the word for church in the Greek is the word ecclesia, and it is a feminine word, a feminine form of the word.  So it’s possible then that he’s referring to just a church, and it says ‘the lady’.  You know, we do that in our English language, there are certain things that we refer to in a feminine sense, like a car.   You know, guys will talk about their cars and use a feminine kind of sense, and say “She’s got 4-wheel-drive.”  Or “Look at her leather interior.”  We’ll do that.  [Americans, especially in the Navy, refer to their ships as “she”.]  And boating, often you’ll see names on the side of a boat, ‘Lucky Lady’, it’s in the feminine.  And so it’s possible that he’s just referring to a church, and the word is in the feminine, so he says ‘the elect lady’, referring to it in that sense.  My personal opinion is he’s writing to a church.  As I read this, the flow of it, it makes more sense to me that he’s just addressing a church.  There are certainly others that I respect that are saying he’s writing to a specific lady and her family.  You can go either way.  But the truth is, it isn’t vital to understand who this lady is in order to understand the content of the letter, it could be either one.  The point is, he’s writing to a believer, a group of believers, at least a family.  So either way he’s writing to a group of believers, and there’s a message for you and I as a church, as believers in Jesus Christ.  So it isn’t really all that vital that we know if it’s a lady or a church, but I think of it as a church anyway.  But the people he’s writing to, he indicates in verse 1 that they are special to him.

 

Common thread in John’s letters: Love, Truth, and Obedience

 

He says “whom I love in truth”, they’re special to him.  Now when he says that “I love in truth” he’s not referring to just an infatuation, you know, some fleeting emotion.  But this is a sincere love, a God-inspired love.  He’s got the heart of God and he loves them with the heart of God, he says ‘I love them’, “whom I love in truth.”  Now, right off, it’s interesting to note, you go thirteen words in this Epistle, you already have the words “love” and “truth”.  Those words are repeated a lot of times in this Epistle.  And if you remember, that was true also of 1st John, love and truth.  In fact there were three things, three threads, subjects in 1st John that he would just continue to weave through.  He’d go from one to the other, from one to the other, love, truth and obedience.  And you’ll see that in this 2nd letter too, love, truth, and obedience are really the heart of this 2nd Epistle.  And they are repeated often in this short letter.  Central to this Epistle, and because they’re central to this Epistle and 1st John, you can know it’s certainly central to our lives as Christians, those three points, love, truth, and obedience.  That is something that should be central to our lives.  I should be able to look at your life, you should be able to look at my life, and we should see, yeah, my life is marked by love.  You look at Tom and say ‘Love is something that I see in his life.’  ‘Truth, yeah, truth, truth is important to him.  Not only is it important to him, truth is what he lives.’  ‘But also obedience, this man seeks to obey God.  What he understands about his Word, this man seeks to follow God.’   You should see that in my life, and I should also see it in your life.  It is central to the Christian faith, love, truth and obedience.  That’s why it’s repeated over and over.  If Christ is in me, you will see love.  If Christ is in me, you will see truth.  If Christ is in me, you will see obedience.  Jesus himself said, you remember John 14:6, he says “I am truth.”  So if Christ [Yeshua haMeshiach to our Messianic believers] is in me you will see truth, a life of truth.  John noted too in his last Epistle, he says “God is love.”  So if Christ is in me, you’ll see love.  And of course, the life of Christ here on the earth, I mean even Jesus in his own words, John chapter 8, verse 29, he says ‘I always do those things that please him, that please the Father, I always do those things that please him.’  So if Christ is in me, you will certainly see a life of obedience.  So truth, love and obedience is central to the Christian life.  When somebody says they’re Christian but you look at their life and there’s a lot of dishonesty, there’s a life of deceit, there is a problem.  When someone says they’re a believer and you see little evidence of love, there’s something wrong.  When somebody professes to follow Jesus Christ, and yet there’s clear disobedience to his Word, then you need to ask the question ‘Are they truly followers of Christ?’.  For to have Christ in me is to be marked, is to be seen with those things in my life, love, truth and obedience.  Now, in these first two verses I think you could also take the word truth out, because Jesus is truth, I think you could put the word “Jesus” there, the word “Christ” [Messiah].  You know, looking at verse 1 “Whom I love in truth”, “Whom I love in Christ.”  “and, not only I but also those who have known Christ, because of he, Christ which abides in us.”  You could just put the word “Christ” there where it has the word truth.  And I believe that’s really the heart of what’s coming through.  To love in truth is to love with the heart of Christ.  To know truth is to know Christ, and of course to have truth abide in us is to have Christ abide in us.  So, love and truth and obedience, you’ll see this as we go on. 

 

Charis and Shalom

 

Verse 3, “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”  Now we see this very common Biblical salutation.  Right?  So often in the Epistles, ‘grace and peace’ are there at the beginning.  And Paul in the pastoral Epistles, in Timothy and Titus you see ‘Grace, mercy and peace’, you see the three words here ‘grace, mercy and peace’, very common.  Grace is the Greek word charis, is the Greek salutation.  When you went up to somebody who was a Greek person you would say “Charis”, you would say “Grace” when you greeted them.  “Peace” is the Jewish salutation, the Jewish greeting, “Shalom”.  If you would go to a Jewish person you would say “Shalom”.  [This is so true.  When some of my Messianic Jewish friends write me, instead of writing “Dear so and so”, their letters start out “Shalom” in place of “Dear”.]  In the Bible the writers have put both together, Grace and Peace, the Greek and the Jewish. [Note: This common dual salutation addresses what would become the two major branches of the Church, Gentile and Jewish, which existed mixed within each congregation to one degree or another in those early days of the Church, although at this time when John was writing the percentage of ethnic Jewish believers far outnumbered Gentile believers (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm ).]  And then in this case and a few others they add in the word “mercy”, and I think that’s always cool.  I always have an appreciation for the way these letters start, the way the Word of God starts with me, God’s Word doesn’t start with a spirit of condemnation. God doesn’t come to me trying to give me this feeling of shame, or discouragement or fear, but right off it starts with “Grace, mercy and peace.”  I mean, there’s a statement: ‘I’m coming at you with love, I’m coming at you with encouragement, I’m coming at you to build you up and to pick you up.’  And I really like in verse 2, he says “Grace, mercy and peace” (this is the New King James), he says “Grace, mercy and peace will be with you”, or in the King James,
“shall be with you.”  So the sense of ‘From here and the journey ahead, grace, mercy and peace.’  And I like that especially.  I know in my life, and all our lives I’d like to know that the journey ahead, man, there’s going to be plenty of grace, plenty of mercy, and plenty of peace.  And those are things I desperately need in my life.  I need that, I need to just know there’s going to be grace, there’s going to be mercy, there’s going to be peace.  Of course, grace, grace means receiving God’s favor undeserved.  Mercy means not receiving God’s wrath and judgment, things we do deserve, and when you know you’ve got God’s grace and mercy, you naturally then have his peace.  I’m not going to be judged, God doesn’t look at me in an angry way, God loves me, I’m a Christian [or Messianic believer in Yeshua haMeshiach], I’m in mercy, but also God has made me a new creation, he’s given me just abundant life.  So grace, grace and mercy, when you begin to grow all the more in that realization, you have peace, peace in your life.  So, today, do you need peace?  Is your mind maybe filled with anxious thoughts?  Do you struggle maybe with fear or a feeling or a sense of shame or guilt?  Do you want relief from that?  Well, this morning open your heart all the more to Christ, to his grace, to his mercy.  And you will find that with that comes peace, even peace that passes understanding.  You know, when we were leaving from California, there were three other couples that came with my wife and I to a conference this last week in southern California, actually up in the mountains.  And we split into two teams when we left, a group of us left on Thursday, and another group got back yesterday.  I left with Mike on Thursday also with another family, and then the Smith’s and Linda left with my wife yesterday.  Well, anyway, Bill and Sandy dropped us off at the airport, we’re on our way home.  Thursday was the day that the hurricane was moving its way up the East Coast, and we get to the airport and we’re standing in line, and as soon as we’re there, back on the line, this Channel Ten news reporter comes walking up to us, and he’s got the cameraman with him, with the big old camera with the light on his shoulder.  He comes up to us and he says “Hey, are you guys going to the East Coast?”.  And we say “Yeah, we’re going to the East Coast?”  And he says “Do you have any concern about going to the East Coast?  Can I ask you some questions, I’d like to know if you have any concerns.  Are you a little anxious about flying over the hurricane and everything?”  Well, he puts his camera there on Corey, and Corey says “No, I’m not worried, I’ve Jesus man, I trust in God, he’s with me, I’ve got nothing to worry about.”  Of course, you know, the others of us are standing there, I see the news guy, he’s going ‘Oh no, here we go, one of these guys.’  You could just read it, ‘Here we go again, one of these born-again guys.’  And so then he turns to me, and seeing his reaction, he says “What do you think?”  and I say “Well I think the storm is too far south of us, and I think we’re going to be OK.”  You know, there’s my spiritual answer.  [laughter]  Well, we go off and get on the plane, and we land.  I wish we had a video tape of this, but Bill and Sandy dropped us off, and they were staying for a couple more days, kind of doing a husband and wife thing, getting away for a couple days before they got back, and they went up to another area, and we landed in Detroit and my phone rings, and there it is, Bill on the phone and Bill’s all excited, he says “Joe, you won’t believe it, I’m in a Laundromat, folding my clothes here in southern California, and I just saw you and Corey on TV!”  I’d loved to have seen that, he just drops us off, he’s now at a Laundromat, and there we are on television.  Right?  And he says “Corey was just praising God and saying she trusted in the Lord, right there on TV, you know.”  I had to think about that, here I am the pastor, you know, and I’m [laughter], and all I mumble is something about the storm and whatever, I had to think about that on the way home a little bit, you know.  But she said “I don’t have anything to worry about with the storm, because I have Jesus in my life.”  That’s exactly what she said, and it went over TV.  Interesting thing about Channel Ten, it’s aired a few times, and then Channel 15, I don’t know why picks up that news and airs it a lot.  So my in-laws are running into people in the parking lot, “I saw your son-in-law on TV”, neighbors are coming by, you know.  But, “no worry about the storm, I’ve got Christ.”  And that’s what he’s really saying here, Grace, mercy and peace will be with you.  You got Jesus, if you got Jesus you’ve got grace, you’ve got mercy.  If you’ve got that, you’ve got nothing to worry about.  Right?  No worry about any storm.  Hey, if the plane goes down, good deal, you know, really.  We get to be with the Lord.  Grace, mercy and peace, any challenges ahead, grace, mercy and peace.  I’m thankful if I leave [this world] today, it’ll be with me, grace, grace, mercy and peace.  Now when he says it again, look at verse 3, he brings it up again “in truth and love”, “truth and love”, obedience.  When he says that, he saying here, this is not something imaginary, this isn’t a delusion, this is a reality, truth, God is with you.  Grace, mercy and peace.  A reality, with you, in you.  And not only that, when he says “love”, it’s not only a reality, the heart that it is toward you, the motive is that of love.  God is going to give the measure of grace that you need in any situation.  He going to meet your need in mercy, however you need it, he’s there, he loves you, all the time as a Christian, working in your life.  So with that comes peace.  So with that I say to you, brothers and sisters in Christ, grace, God’s grace, mercy and peace will be with you. 

I found some of your children walking in the truth

 

 

Verse 4, “I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in the truth, as we received commandment from the Father.”  So here this apostle, this pastor now says, he’s excited, he’s learned some things about this lady’s family or about this congregation, and he’s learned some things, it’s interesting, he says “When I found”.  That word “found” means he’s actually searched out, looking.  He’s looked for certain things, he’s like looking for a treasure, he’s sought it out.  And he says “All right!  I’ve found some from your family or church, or family physically, lady, that are walking in the truth.  Oh, that is just great!  I rejoice!”  And what does it mean to walk according to the truth?  It means to obey the truth.  It means to allow the truth to control every area of your life.  It means to live a life without hypocrisy.  [i.e. sincere obedience to God’s law.  And remember what three things John majors in throughout 1st and 2nd John, love, truth, and obedience—they’re all interrelated and interconnect.  Now there are two groups within the body of Christ, Gentile Christians and Messianic Jewish believers who understand the freedoms as outlined in the law of Christ, meaning God’s law includes 9 of the 10 Commandments, the spirit of those 9, while also understanding “Days of Worship” are an optional choice for believers during the Church Age.  The other group, also mentioned in Romans 14 is the Torah-observant group, which sincerely believes the Law of God includes the entire 10 of the 10 Commandments, including Sabbath and Holy Day commands.  They are made up of either Torah-observant Messianic Jewish believers or Torah-observant Sabbatarian Church of God believers.  This defines the two groups, and what the law of God means to each.  Paul points out in Romans 14 that whichever group’s beliefs you subscribe to, according to how your Christian conscience guides you, you’d better follow the belief of that group if you believe their interpretation is doctrinally correct.  So the “the truth” for each of these two separate Christian groups will be slightly different from the other’s.  As Paul brings out in Romans 14, nothing wrong here.   See http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/romans12-14_2.htm for a complete explanation. In the interest of unity in the body of Christ, this explanation is important.]   So he says, “Yeah, I see some of your kids, man, are growing in Christ, good deal!  Praise the Lord, man that just warms my heart.”  And of course, that’s the heart of a pastor.  Right?  I mean, he’s going to be blessed to see in the children of the church, the family, growing in Christ.  He’s going to be blessed, he’s going to be encouraged, it’s going to bring him joy.  And then on the other hand, not to see that is going to be a burden to him.  I think of my pastor, love to be with him, really inspires me, with him this week again at a huddle, couple hundred of us were with him there up at the conference center.  And you can just see at the huddle especially, I mean there’s hundreds of people, couple hundred people….and I could just see it in him, he loves being there, because there’s a time when we share testimonies and stories, and the stories are wonderful, and beautiful, and there’s all this [spiritual] fruit.  It just blesses him, you can see it.  I mean to be who he was, you know, a guy who was in a mental institution, then to be remarried back to his wife---he was divorced, goofy guy—got his family back, now pastoring a church [actually, a whole sub-denomination, not just one church], and all this wonderful fruit.  People living for Jesus Christ.  Man it just blesses him.  At the same time, in the audience, of course leading worship his own son, with his daughter-in-law, another son is a pastor, one of his daughters is married to another pastor.  I mean just, the guy is being blessed as he’s there.  But then at the same time, especially the last couple years, you pick it up in little hints, he’s burdened, there are some people that used to come to the huddle that don’t anymore, that used to be walking with the Lord.  And there are some sad stories as to why they’re not.  So it grieves him.  Blessed by seeing people walk with the Lord, burdened and grieved, some of them have got off tract and are gone down another road.  And that’s what the apostle John is saying here, you know, he’s just blessed, he’s found some of their her kids that are walking with the Lord.  But to say that there’s some, is to say also there’s some that are not.  Right?  I found some.  He’s not saying “I found all of you” but he’s saying “I found some”.  You know that word “some”, you almost get a sense that it’s a minority, you know, when you say “some”.  And it is true, too, so often you look at the church, and there’s some, that there’s some that are walking according to truth, they believe the truth, they love the truth, and therefore they walk according to the truth.  And unfortunately there are so often many that aren’t.  And that’s sad.  I pray that the Lord comes to this church congregation, and the Holy Spirit makes his little note, “Many, many, most, all you guys are walking according to the truth.”  The truth, so needed in our lives. 

 

LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

 

          Verses 5-6, “And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.  This is love, that we walk according to his commandments.  This is the commandment, That as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.”  [“it” by the sentence structure, would mean “love”]  Now if you’ve studied 1st John with us, you’re thinking ‘That is really familiar, repetition here.’  Right?  We have seen these very similar truths earlier on.  But you know what stands out here in verse 5, he says he rejoices that some are walking according to the truth.  But now you see a burden, especially it comes through in the King James and the New King James.  You don’t see it in the NIV.  NIV you have “ask”, in the King James and the New King James they translate the word, well here it says “I plead”, [King James “I beseech thee”] or “I beseech”.  There’s a little bit more heart there, it’s not just “I ask” that you do this.  There’s a sense, that it would be like me coming up here this morning and saying to you “You know I just got a letter guys, I’d like to read this letter to you, it’s postmarked from heaven, and Jesus has signed this, it’s a letter to you guys in this church, I’d like to read this letter”.  And then I start reading the letter, and it says “I plead with you in this congregation that you would love.”  It’s like that.  “I plead.”  Or if I’m not going to be here next Sunday, but next week say the apostle John shows up, maybe we can get him….he comes, and he gets up here, and with hands raised, he says I PLEAD WITH YOU GUYS, THAT YOU WOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER!”  That’s the heart that’s coming through, I believe.  He says “I rejoice that you’re walking according to the truth, but I plead that you’d love one another, I plead with you, that you’d love, that you’d love.”  Wow.  “I plead with you, lady.”  This isn’t a new commandment, in fact, you’ve heard it from the beginning, it goes back to the beginning of the Bible, right back there in the Big Ten, right?  Old Testament, “you love God with all your heart and mind and soul, you love your neighbor as yourself.”  It’s not a new commandment, it’s an old commandment, but yet it’s a new commandment, meaning not qualitatively, but new in how Jesus shows us, new application every day.  ‘I plead with you, this commandment, it’s new, it’s fresh, that you’d love one another, that you’d love one another.’  You know, that’s it man.  That’s something that’s repeated, he repeats so often, something we need to be reminded of every week, too, that we’d love, that we’d love, it’s so important, so vital.  You know, even at the huddle again, my pastor, first message, he gets up, we’re gathered in the auditorium, the very first message he gives, there’s a whole message on the subject of love, and the need, he’s speaking to ministers, the need for comfort and mercy---You should be a person that gives comfort, you should be a person that gives mercy.  And he went on to share story after story, after story of how God has been teaching him that, and how God has been using him in that very manner.  I even for this study just looked at my journal and pulled out some of the comments that he had made that I recorded in my journal as he was teaching.  He said comments like this: “The Church is God’s place for comfort and mercy for beat up people.”  Sad when it isn’t.  It shouldn’t be a place where you come and get beat up. It should be a place where you come and find comfort, where you find mercy, from people who have received comfort and also mercy from God.  He said another time: “Comfort and mercy is 24/7, it’s not Saturdays or Sundays only.”  [Fascinating, he’s just grouped the two major parts of the body of Christ together in this short statement, Saturday observing Messianic Jewish believers and Sabbatarian Church of God believers, and Sunday observing Gentile Christians.  He probably didn’t realize he was being inspired to address the whole body of Christ in this short statement, but he was.]

 

If I love God and I obey God, then I will love others

 

John says that we are to love one another, we must love one another.  “This is love, that we walk according to his commandments.”  You know, you have to take these thoughts and kind of break them apart, and the way he writes, he writes in that kind of style.  “This is love, that we walk according to his commandments.” What is he saying now?  He’s saying that love and obedience go together.  If I love God, if I love God I’ll obey God.  And if I love God and I obey God, then I will also love others.  So he can give this commandment about loving one another, and go on to say love is this, love is that we walk in his commandments, is to love God.  And if you love him, then you’re going to obey him.  It’s been said this way.  “It is impossible to divorce a relationship with God from a relationship with people.”  You can’t say you’re some Holy-roller, and yet have nothing to do with the Bride of Christ.  You can’t say you’re some godly person and not be burdened in love and reaching out in comfort and mercy to God’s kids [and I would say his born-again kids, and his future born-again kids who are still in the world, without Christ.].  The New Testament makes it real clear, man, when I’m loving Jesus and exercising that love for Christ, I’m going to be exercising and loving, I mean, doing all his commandments, and to do his commandments is especially summarized in loving my neighbor.  Well he says this, “This is love, that we walk according to his commandments.  This is the commandment that we have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.”  When he says the word “heard”, he means more than just to hear, that word in the Greek also means to take heed, it means to obey.  ‘This is what you have heard, this is what you’re supposed to take heed to, this is what you’re supposed to obey.’  [How did the early Judeo-Christian Churches of God in Asia Minor apply this command to love?  I think the answer will surprise and amaze you.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/LegacyOfLove.htm.]

 

Deceivers and antichrists

 

We have love and truth, we have obedience, and now he looks at truth in another way.  Verse 7, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus as coming in the flesh.  This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”  This is very similar to 1st John.  He says man, deceivers.  That word “deceiver” means to lead astray, literally.  It means to wander, not knowing where one is going.  It means to lose direction, but it implies more that just a false teaching, it also includes leading people into the wrong way of living.  You know, no doubt what you believe effects how you behave.  And so there’s that sense that these deceivers are going out and teaching false doctrine, but at the same time people are living differently as a result.  It always works that way.  If you start to understand things differently you start to live differently.  ‘But many deceivers, you guys need to stick to the love and the truth and obedience,’ and especially he says, as he’s said before, ‘many deceivers, many deceivers have gone out into the world.’  How does he define these deceivers? He defines them as those who do not confess Jesus Christ as come in the flesh, they deny the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  And when they deny the incarnation of Jesus Christ, they’re also denying his Deity.  Right?  That God the Son became a man [the very same Being who was the one defined in the Old Testament as Yahweh, the very one who appeared to Abraham both with the two angels, and as Melchizedek, who also dwelt with Moses, Aaron and Israel in the Sinai in the tabernacle, who also dwelt in the Temple of Solomon].  That’s what’s all in that phrase, the incarnation, God the Son becoming a man.  They’re deceivers, they make believe good things about Jesus, they may say he’s even a tremendous spiritual being, they may say he’s got great teaching, ‘I love to read his teachings, and I, like Gandhi I just focus on the Beatitudes and they are so great, and I apply those to my life’, and they may go on and on and on, but if they deny the incarnation that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, God the Son, he says they’re deceivers. That’s what he says. They’re deceivers.  They are people that are leading others astray, and in that they’re even causing people to live differently.  [Comment: And certain groups out there do this.  The Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, just to name two, deny the incarnation of Jesus, that he is very God in the flesh.  Many other groups, especially the various Sabbatarian Churches of God do believe in Jesus’ pre-existence as God, Yahweh, and that he came in the flesh as God-man, properly teaching from John 1:1-14.  But they are often looked upon as legalistic cults, when they are not.  So discernment is needed within the body of Christ when making a judgment about who is a “deceiver” and who isn’t, about which groups are “deceivers” and which groups are not.]  e He So, if somebody comes your way, and they have something else to say about Jesus being God the Son, if they try to say ‘Well, he’s not necessarily God the Son, he’s a son of the Father sort of like we’re sons of God, you know, children of God, he’s like that, or he’s an angel recreated, or just a great teacher’ or whatever, they are deceivers.  And he doesn’t just stop there, he goes on and says a few things about how you should relate to them.  John doesn’t mess around, you read this, and there’s that one often quoted story of history about the apostle John, I’ve quoted it a few times, where evidently one of his disciples recorded this.  That he went into a Roman bathhouse and this guy Cerinthis, who was a heretic [Gnostic], was there, and John walked in and saw him there, and the story is that John ran out of there, saying, ‘We’d better leave because the ceiling of this place is going to cave in’, because of the heretic in there.  He wouldn’t even stay in the same place.  Of course, John being an apostle, somebody who lived with Jesus, he was a guy who saw Jesus [Yeshua], he was a guy who knew everything about Jesus, and he knew he was God the Son.  And it didn’t take very long that guys were rising up and saying ‘No he wasn’t’.  He [John] says ‘I know Jesus, this guy’s a liar, he’s a deceiver, he’s a false teacher, he’s inspired by demons’, as other Epistles tell us.  So he says ‘Let’s get out of this bathhouse, man, can’t even be in here, he’s in here.’  Well he writes with that same kind of attitude and heart here.  But if somebody comes your way, you don’t just take it causally, that’s for sure.  If somebody’s saying ‘He, listen, let me tell you a little bit about your Jesus’, and then he starts to redefine Jesus in a way that’s not Biblical, man, there’s a few things that we need to know, that person is a deceiver, first of all.  Now he says “an antichrist.”  Wow!  You think of the big antichrist, well I believe he’s alive today, he’s going to appear not too long from now, to reveal himself, the Book of Revelation antichrist, the Daniel antichrist.  But he [John] doesn’t mean it as “the” antichrist, we don’t have the article defining it that way, it’s “an” antichrist.  And the word “anti” in the Greek means somebody whose “instead of” or “against”.  And that’s what false teachers do.  They’re against Christ in that they deny who he really is.  And then they try to replace him with another Jesus.  And so in that case they’re an antichrist. 

 

Examine yourselves

 

          Verse 8, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive full reward.”  Verse 8, I think verse 8, when I first was reading 2nd John, it just kind of sticks out, you know, in another dimension on this page.  It makes a strong statement. He says to his audience, “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.”  Look to yourselves, that’s another type of exhortation you see appear a little bit in the New Testament, “look to yourselves, examine yourselves”, “test yourselves to see if you’re really in the faith (2nd Corinthians 13:5).  Look to yourselves, examine your life, so that you do not lose those things that you’ve worked for.  You know, when I used to work at Caterpillar, in San Diego, I was in this design group, I was working with this software that these students at MIT had designed, this software that helped us analyze some of the parts that we were designing in this gas turbine.  And to this time in my life, I have never worked a more frustrating job.  But I would use this software, and I would model these parts, and then I would do an analysis.  And literally it would take weeks to design these intricate parts with this software, make this program so I could do a thermal analysis on it, or a stress analysis.  And you’d be working on it, kind of like this morning on my notes, for weeks, and then something would tweak the model, and it would corrupt the database.  And what I would have to do is start over.  You want to see and engineer in his cubicle stand in frustration, you know what I mean, pulling his hair, jumping up on his desk, throwing his computer down.  And it did that to me repeatedly.  I would tell my wife, or somebody else, it’s like building a house, and getting down and watching it burn.  But that’s kind of what he’s saying here.  I remember, that was a frustrating deal.  And thankfully we went to another application a little later that worked a little bit better.  But a Christian, he says, you can actually be working and seeking and putting your energy in and devoting your life to certain things, and that you can actually get off track and lose out on what you’re actually working for.  I don’t want to do that, I don’t know about you.  I think of course in this ministry sense, as a pastor, and it happens, it happens, out at the conference, some of the discussions referencing to some of the pastors recently, devoting their very lives.  Somebody asked me, I think we were traveling somewhere, ‘You know, why isn’t so and so on the radio station anymore.’  There is an example of somebody who had worked for years, devoted his life, and lost the full reward, gotten off track, lost it.  Man, I tell you, I’d ask you, you can pray for me, you’re welcome to pray for me every day, include me in your prayers, I know I need prayer, we all need prayer, pray for one another.  I think of course, I think of Bob Coy saying on the radio, he was telling his church there in Fort Lauderdale, encouraging them to pray for him, he says, ‘You guys have spiritual warfare, but don’t you think the pastor does too?  Don’t you think that if you have the enemy gunning at you, that maybe even the shepherd has even more arrows coming his way, think it’s a possibility?’ [and pray for me as well, this website is a ministry, and I go through a lot of spiritual warfare ‘flying’ this site online (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/memphisbelle.htm)].  And I know this, and ‘Oh God, by your grace I want the full reward.’  I don’t want to get off track.  I don’t want to miss out.  That [software] program I worked before, man, that’s enough taste of that.  I don’t need that in my life, loosing out on, just working in vanity.  Paul even wrote the Church in Galatia he kind of indicated that, he was concerned, was it all in vain?  I came and ministered to you, you guys have gotten off course.  In that case they had gotten into false teaching.  That’d gotten off of grace and gotten into the law, and that’s the context here, is false teaching, being deceived.  And there’s so many things coming at the Church: ‘Accept this, change your understanding of this.’  You know, it’s amazing, there are so many churches today in our country [the US], and even in the world, that have a Christian name and what they teach and believe is not even close to Christianity.  You maybe got the email, and I couldn’t find it, I went looking for it, but there was a church in northern Europe, a Christian denomination that had put a pastor on kind of a, he got in trouble, so they kind of put him on probation, and then they restored him, and the reason why is that he did not believe in the existence of God.  But they restored him even as a pastor who did not believe in the existence of God.  He’s in a Christian church, he’s a pastor, and he does not believe that God exists!  We’re not just talking about the deity of Christ here, we’ve gone all the way to God doesn’t even exist!  And he’s a “Christian” pastor!  [Not really, folks, this guy isn’t a Christian at all.]  And you can go on and on and on, ad nosium today in this world.  Look to yourselves, Christians, look to yourselves that you don’t lose the things that you’ve so much worked for.   I mean, to become a Christian, to live the Christian life isn’t easy.  There are sacrifices, there’s things that I go without.  I now get up early and read the Bible and I pray.  You know, it would be easier to just live a carnal life.  But to put in that time and that effort and then to lose the full reward, because you started to listen to something, you started to take heed to something, and it’s gotten you off the path.  And man, the full reward is going to be a great deal.  May we live for that.  May we take heed, and consider our lives, where we’re heading, what we’re listening to, what we’re believing.  [1 Corinthians 3:10-15, “According to the grace of God, which is given unto me, as a wise builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.  But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.  For other foundation can no man lay than is laid, which is Jesus Christ [and I would have to add, all we have learned about who Jesus Christ is, as we have seen John define it in 1st and 2nd John].  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire: and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  If any man’s work abide he which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”  Combine this with 2 Corinthians 13:5 for the personal application in our Christian living, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.  Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”  (NKJ for last part reads: “unless indeed you are disqualified.”  That is what Paul had to say on this same subject.]

 

Be careful who you let into your house

 

Verses 9-11, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God….”  Man he makes strong statements!  “He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house, nor greet him.  For he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”   So whoever transgresses, meaning, that word “transgresses” means they stepped across the line, you know.  They transgress, and now they don’t abide in the doctrine of Christ, meaning that all that you know the Bible teaches about the true Jesus Christ, he says, “They don’t have God.”  If you don’t have the Jesus of the Bible, you don’t have God.  That’s a statement of John, if you don’t have Jesus, God the Son, part of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit, God the Father, you don’t have all of that, Savior, the only way to God, you don’t have that Jesus, he says “You do not have God.”  Whoever transgresses and ends up there.  You know that word “transgress”, if you have different translations, the NIV says “Whoever runs ahead”.  Now the King James and the New King James renders it a little different, it depends on the text, whether you have the Textus Receptus or the Majority Text, those texts have a different Greek verb, so they use the word “to step out of line transgress”, but the NIV and others translations the Nessles Text, the United Bible Society Text, and it’s a different Greek word, and it means “transgress in a sense to lead ahead, to go on ahead, get beyond”, they go astray by getting beyond what’s there, getting ahead [i.e. writing into a Scriptural passage a meaning that’s not really there], and you can do that.  Somebody comes along and starts to say ‘Hey, this isn’t enough, you need a little bit more here, here’s a magazine, sit down, do a Bible study with me.  [Some denominational magazines are with it Scripturally, and some help explain the doctrinal secondary beliefs of that denomination, which may differ from other denominations, and this doesn’t make them wrong.  But this pastor is talking about magazines of proven cults, such as “The Watchtower” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other such “publications”.  That is why you need to be well-versed, no pun intended, in God’s word and basic Christian doctrine.]  And you end up now in a different place, a dangerous place indeed.  “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God.  He who abides in the doctrine of Christ, has both the Father and the Son.”  To abide is to remain in it, true to the Word, true to the Truth, the doctrines of the Christian faith.  To stay in that, and the truth, is to have Christ, and to have God the Father, it’s to have God in your life.  You know, to have Jesus is to have the Father, is to have the Holy Spirit.  Jesus made it clear in John chapter 5, verse 23 that “all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.”  We could go on and on with so many Scriptures, and many commentators do at this point, just showing that Jesus is God, when we got Jesus, we got God, we got the whole deal, they’re all one.  Give the same honor to both, they’re at the same plane, they’re equal, I mean, Jesus is God, God the Father is God.  You have the Triune God. 

          Verse 10, “If anyone comes”  Now that word in Greek, the Greek word actually indicates that this person has come on their own initiative, it’s not that they necessarily have been invited, you’re at your home and somebody knocks on the door, that kind of “comes”.  “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house, nor greet him.”  Saturday, you know, ‘Can I come in, hey I’ve got this little booklet I’d like to share with you.’  How should you respond to them as you know and hear ‘We’re on different pages here with Jesus’.   John says “Do not receive him into your house, nor greet him.”  Don’t receive him into your house.  And there’s a little debate about the Greek here, does it mean literally stop him at the door and go, ‘No way, you’re not coming in.’  Is it wrong to sit down with maybe a Mormon missionary or a Jehovah Witness that’s knocking on the door, and sit down and they say “Let me talk to you, and explain to you that you don’t have the truth”?  Is that wrong?  The thrust of the verse is this, in your behavior with somebody who comes to your door, into your life at work, or whatever, who does not believe in the same Jesus, in your behavior, if they’re teaching a different Jesus, they know what you believe but they’ve chosen to teach and believe in a different Jesus, with them you should not any way relate to them, so that they would think that you are condoning what they believe.  That’s the thrust of it.  Don’t relate to them in any way, for a moment, so that they start to think ‘Well, we’re not too far apart’, or ‘I think he kind of considers what I believe.’  You should relate to them the whole time that it’s clear that ‘You are in error, and it’s very dangerous to believe what you believe.’  In fact, eternally it means everything.  “Don’t receive them into your house.”  You know, John is concerned.  He doesn’t want you to receive them into your house because you may give them the impression you’ve received them in the sense of being hospitable, you’re welcoming, you’re giving them the sense of condoning their teaching.  But if you do that, you’re giving them an impression that their teaching is acceptable.  But also there’s the possibility that maybe you’re going to be infected by it.  Or they’re going to leave your house, and go to the neighbor and say “you know, pastor so and so next door, him and I are chatting and hanging out and talking about this stuff.  Why don’t you let me talk with you.”  They could use it as ammunition, to further go after someone else.  Well, that’s what John says, that’s what the Holy Spirit says, so that’s what you and I should do.  That should be our attitude.  It isn’t to condemn, it isn’t to be hateful, it’s to be loving, but it is to be truthful, and say ‘You know, what you believe is in error, and if you believe that, you will go to hell.  You need the Jesus of the Bible, God the Son, he wants to be your Savior and give you eternal life.’  And that’s the way we relate.  Now, he says “Don’t even greet them”, and if you have the King James, it says “neither bid him God speed.”  And that word “God speed” is interesting, because it’s a sense of where we get our word Good Bye, our word Good Bye an Old English, it’s from the Old English which is a contraction of the phrase “God Be With You”, and it’s come down today to mean Good Bye.  God be with you, Good Bye, is where we get that from.  So, basically, he says, don’t even say ‘God bless you’, don’t say that, don’t say ‘God be with you.’  You know, to be honest with you, I’ve caught myself once or twice with somebody who clearly, minister in another church who clearly has a different Jesus, or somebody’s knocking on my door, and I’ve said at the end, when we’ve conversed a little bit, and I say “God bless you”, and I’ve thought, ‘I shouldn’t have said “God bless you.”  I shouldn’t in any way give the sense that God is with them, because they have a different Jesus.  And for their own need, they need it to be clear to them that they need to get right with the Jesus of the Bible.  Verse 11, “For he who greets him shares with his evil deeds.”  Well, that makes a pretty strong statement that we should not receive them in a way that we would condone them. 

 

Closing

 

 Verses 12-13, “Having many things to write to you, I do not wish to do so with paper and ink, but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.  The children of your elect sister greet you.  Amen.”  Well he says to them now as he ends his letter, ‘You know, I don’t just want to write here.  I’ve got a lot on my heart, I want to come to you, I want to sit down, and man, Christian fellowship is sweet, and it is sweet, I just want to be with you as believers.’  You know, there’s something wrong when Christians don’t want to be in church, because as you see here, he says it’s sweet, man.  My joy, I want the fullness of joy that happens with just being with the church, other believers.  It’s a sweet deal.  “The children of your elect sister greet you.”  Now is it a physical sister?  I believe it’s another church.  He writes to a church, and maybe the Church at Ephesus now, he signs off, he says “the children of your elect sister, they now greet you”, meaning the Church in Ephesus.  He’s probably writing to another church in Asia Minor.  Amen.  When he says that word “they now greet you”, it’s an interesting word, too, it means more than just a greeting, it include embracing, kissing [in the Russian way, as a warm greeting, not romantic, and if that’s not part of your ethnic culture, I’d abstain from that], offering the hand, and it means bowing, and giving such honor and greeting to them, there’s a lot in that word.  So he says “They greet you”, just love you man.  Let’s close in prayer….[transcript of 2nd John (verses 1-13) given somewhere in New England.]

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