************ Sermon on 2 John 1:4 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 5, 2020
2 John 1:1-4
2 John 1:4
I A Needed Truth
A John recognizes Christians live in a world of lies and liars. Deceivers and their lies and deceptions are everywhere. For instance, John often found himself confronting false teachers and lying spirits. As I said in the first message on 2 John, false teachers would travel around to the churches as true preachers of the Gospel and they would receive hospitality from believers in those churches. They would settle into a Christian home, win the favor of the family, gain entrance into the church, and teach their false doctrines rather than the truth of God's Word.
The problem arose because Christians are commanded to show hospitality to other believers, to embrace strangers and receive them as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. True preachers and teachers needed this. And false preachers and teachers took advantage of this. Some of the believers, in the name of hospitality, opened their homes to the false teachers and preachers. One of those who showed hospitality to the false teachers is the "chosen lady" to whom John addresses his letter. That's why John warns the chosen lady about showing hospitality to deceivers (2 Jn 1:7,10).
B John wants believers to avoid any connection with those who do not teach the truth of Scripture. Because nothing, nothing, threatens the church more than false doctrine. So make sure, says John, make sure you stay away from false doctrine.
Avoid false doctrine. That's a negative way of describing a positive thing. The positive thing: protect the truth. Walk and live in the truth. John is all for truth. That's why the word for truth appears five times in our Bible reading for this morning. Yes, Christians need to show hospitality. Hospitality is a Christian duty. But not without spiritual discernment. Not without filters. So that not one single family member or church member is exposed to error that invades the home and the church. In a world of lies and liars we need truth.
C Last time I warned against allowing JWs or Mormons into the home to state their heresies and confuse believers. Someone alerted me to an even greater danger: the false preachers on TV, radio, websites, blogs, pod-casts, facebook, and other modern and social media. Yes, there are true preachers who use these but I dare say they are outnumbered by the heretics. You need truth, congregation, the Word, spiritual discernment or you will have a heretic in your home teaching your children and youth and infiltrating the church.
It is fair to say we are drowning in false doctrine and heresy today. And most of the church has no filter, no discernment, no lie detector, no immune system. That's the result of failing to teach doctrine. That's the result when you don't have Creeds & Confessions or have them but don't use them. That's the result when the church abandons doctrine and tradition in its desire to be culturally relevant.
John's message: Join with those who are in the truth. Keep separate from those who are not.
II A Uniting Truth
A Our second point is that truth unites. There are those who don't want doctrine because they say doctrine divides, doctrine is unloving, doctrine is controversial. John says the opposite. Doctrine -- and by doctrine he means truth -- doctrine unites. Doctrine doesn't divide. Doctrine unites. Look at verse 1:
(2 Jn 1:1) The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth--and not I only, but also all who know the truth--We love each other in what? "In the truth." We are joined to each other in what? "In the truth." Truth unites. Truth joins.
It isn't our denomination or federation or name that joins us together. It isn't our spirituality. It isn't the meeting of Synod or Classis. It isn't our common practices like our order of worship or second service or monthly meetings of consistory or Manual of Church Order. It isn't our politics or our country. It is truth that joins us together. The truth of God's Word. The truth of our common doctrines. There is a reason, congregation, there is a reason we call the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort the "Three Forms of Unity." Our connection, our unity, is found in this body of truth based upon the Word of God. In fact, all believers are linked together by this truth.
B Unity in truth. Let's spell out what this means practically. If you do not believe in the God and Christ and Gospel of the Bible, you are not a Christian and are not joined to the church. If you don't believe God is triune, if you don't believe God is the Creator, if you don't believe Jesus is the eternal Son of God, if you don't believe Jesus took to Himself a truly human nature, if you don't believe Jesus was born of a virgin and suffered under Pontius Pilate and died on the cross and arose from grave, if you don't believe we are sinners who need saving, if you don't believe salvation is by grace alone, you are not part of the communion of saints.
Believers are linked together by the truth: the true truth about God, the true truth about Christ, the true truth about the Gospel. Believers are joined by a common knowledge of and belief in actual Gospel truth. This is what ties us and joins us and unites us together. All of our connections, all of our affections, are because of our common belief in the truth.
Since they do not believe the truth of the Bible, we can never be united to the JWs or Mormons. Since they no longer believe the truth of the Bible, we do not consider ourselves one with the Anglican Church, Episcopalian Church, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, or Roman Catholic Church. They don't believe the Bible. They don't accept the truth of God's Word. We don't embrace, we can't embrace, those who are outside the truth. That's why we are so resistant to the ecumenical movement. We can't be linked up with those who are heretics or apostate. We can't connect with those who are liberal and deny the doctrines of Scripture. They may talk of Jesus -- and most of them do -- but it is not the Jesus of the Bible.
C Unity in truth or because of truth. Look at how this plays out in 2 John. "The elder." That's how John starts off the letter. The elder. That's a term of respect and endearment, recognizing age and wisdom. It is significant that John calls himself an elder rather than an apostle. Realize that John writes his letters around 90-95 A.D. He is the last living apostle -- all the other apostles have been martyred. The churches have been established and elders/ pastors/ overseers -- not apostles -- now shepherd the church.
John was one of twelve apostles or thirteen if you include Paul. But now John is one of many elders because elders -- plural not singular, elders with an "s" -- have been appointed in the churches. John is a special elder, the only one who was also an apostle, the only one who saw and heard Jesus' teachings and miracles, the only one who saw the empty grave, the only one who watched as Jesus was lifted into heaven. His is immense spiritual authority because he was with Jesus and one of the writers of Scripture.
John, the special elder, states his connection to the "chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth." The link, the love, the unity, goes beyond friendship. It is more than John and the lady knowing each other. In fact, it is not even necessary for them to know each other personally; maybe John only knew about the lady from her sister and her sisters' children. So what is this unity? It is a unity based on truth. A couple of months ago we had Dr. Beeke, the President of Puritan Reformed Seminary, and his wife in our home. Before that we had Rev. Bill & Alethea Green. On vacation last week I was with fellow believers. A couple of years ago we met other true Christians on a cruise. In each and every case there is an immediate and profound connection even if we have never met before. We have affection, love, care, compassion, concern, and longing for each other because we are tied together in truth. All who know and confess the truth share this union with one another.
III A Saving Truth
A Our third point is that truth saves. Did you notice how John addresses the lady? He calls her the "chosen" lady (2 Jn 1:1). Many church members today don't like the word "chosen." This part of true doctrine has been so undermined, mocked, mishandled, and misunderstood for so long that many don't even want to say the word. But while the truth of election offends some Christians, it never offends the New Testament writers or the Holy Spirit.
John loves the lady as one of the elect. Meaning what? Meaning she was chosen by God. Meaning she has faith. Meaning she belongs to God. Meaning she is saved. Meaning, to use John's phrase, she is "in the truth."
B Here is a reminder that the truth of Scripture is saving truth. In fact, you can't be saved unless you hear and believe the Word of God. Remember what Romans 10 teaches?
(Rom 10:17) Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.No one can be saved without the truth of God's Word.
A high-tech, carefully crafted, sophisticated multimedia presentation of something less than the Gospel will not save. Whereas a plain presentation of the truth can be used by the Spirit to bring salvation. You have to have truth to be saved.
IV An Indwelling Truth
Our fourth point is that truth indwells. John says truth "lives in us and will be with us forever" (2 Jn 1:2).
What does this mean? It means Christians know the truth. We know the truth as found in the sixty-six books of the Bible. Or, to use the phrase of Paul to the Corinthians, "we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16). We know how God thinks. We know what God wants. We know the truth, the unchanging truth. It is with us. It is in us. Go back to what John wrote in his first letter:
(1 Jn 2:20-21) But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. (21) I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it ...The Spirit is the Spirit of truth. So, those who are anointed with the Spirit have the truth of God's Word living in them.
Christians know the truth. I don't need science to tell me how the universe began. I don't need philosophy to tell me how to live. I don't need a college to give me a world view. I don't need the media telling me how to love my neighbor. I know all this from the Word and Spirit of God.
How important is the truth? Truth is needed in a world of lies and liars. Truth unites. Truth saves. Truth indwells. In verse 3, John even ties truth with the blessings of grace, mercy, and peace. All the blessings of salvation from the Father and the Son comes to us in truth. Truth is everything to Christians.
But now the ending: "It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth" (2 Jn 1:4). Walking. John means living, moving through life, way of life, path through life. They were controlled by truth, defined by truth. Truth defines their thinking, speaking, acting. Truth is their worldview.
"Walking in the truth." So we preach the truth, teach the truth, witness to the truth, live the truth, love each other for the sake of the truth, protect the truth, love the truth.
"It has given me great joy to find your children walking in the truth." Does this describe us? Does this describe you? Do you walk in the truth?
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