************ Sermon on 2 John 1:9-13 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 26, 2020
2 John 1:9-13
John, the elder, writes to the chosen lady. He writes to warn her against inviting false teachers into her home (2 Jn 1:7). These false teachers took advantage of Christ's command to show hospitality. Once in a home they would start teaching their heresies and errors and from the home these teachings would make their way into the church.
It is in this context of false teachers and preachers that John emphasizes truth. This week it occurred to me that our points so far can all begin with the letter "L": Live in the truth, Love in the truth, Loyal to the truth. Today's points: Look for the truth, Listen to the truth.
I Look for the Truth
A I want you to think of what has all been done throughout history for the sake of the truth, the truth of the Gospel. People have given their lives for the truth of the Gospel. Countless people have battled and fought for the truth of the Gospel during the most difficult periods of the church's history. For the truth of the Gospel people have endured disease in far off places. For the truth of the Gospel people have labored a lifetime to gain a single convert. For the truth of the Gospel hours and days and years have been spent learning a language, developing an alphabet, translating the Bible, and teaching a tribe to read.
Our present age should be the golden age of the church and the Gospel. Never have we had the opportunities that we have today to evangelize the lost and to teach our children the truth. We are able to reach the world. Via the internet, we can instantly proclaim and teach the truth of the Gospel everywhere. Thanks to computers we can translate the Bible and study materials into any language faster than ever. We can move people and supplies anywhere within a day or two. And, thanks to the generous gifts of God's people, churches and missionaries and mission agencies and parachurch organizations have the money to do this. As I said, this should be the golden age of the church and the Gospel.
Yet, just when the church has her greatest opportunity, she has become confused about her message. The church is embarrassed by the claim that Christ is the only way. So she says all paths, all ways, all religions lead to God and salvation. Or, she says everyone knows there is a God and that this knowledge is enough even if you know nothing about Christ. The church doesn't want to offend anyone so she changes the Gospel. She says there is no hell. Or, she says there is a hell but no one ends there because God's mercy wins over His justice.
Do you know where such talk comes from? Do you know who it comes from? From Satan! From Satan comes any effort to confuse the Gospel. From Satan comes any embarrassment about the Gospel. From Satan comes any declaration that you don't need Christ. None of this comes from God. It all comes from Satan.
Last time we ended with "watch out." Watch out because many deceivers have gone out into the world. Watch out because Satan wants to deceive. Watch out. Be alert. Protect yourself. Protect your family. Protect the church. From the lies and deceit of Satan. Watch out. To use the "L" word, "Look. Look for the truth."
B Today's passage continues with "Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ ..." (2 Jn 1:9). Or, as another translation puts it, "Anyone who goes too far" (NASB). Run ahead, go too far, go beyond. Beyond what? Beyond the Gospel. Beyond the truth of the Bible. Beyond what the Bible says about Christ. Everything we need to know about Christ is found in the Bible. So when someone comes along and says about Christ something, anything, beyond the Bible, we have a problem, a big problem. A phrase to keep in mind here is what Paul wrote to Corinth: "Do not go beyond what is written" (1 Cor 4:6). "Do not go beyond what is written." Don't go past that. Don't go beyond that. Don't run ahead of this. Stay on the same page as Scripture.
John mentions "continue in the teaching of Christ." What teaching. Is it the teaching of Christ or is it the teaching about Christ? Yes. Yes. That is, it is both the teaching of Christ and the teaching about Christ. The point is, no one is ever allowed to go beyond what God has revealed in the Bible about Christ.
You can't be saved, congregation, you can't be saved if what you believe about Christ is different than what the Bible teaches. Someone said to me, "You sure mention the JWs a lot as you are preaching on John's letters." I admit it. And the Mormons too. Because they are a perfect example of the false teaching, the devilish teaching, that John has in mind. They deny Jesus has come in the flesh. They deny Jesus is God. They try to confuse you and say they believe the same thing we do, but they don't.
Does God save people without the truth of the Gospel? Does God save people without the knowledge of Jesus Christ? Listen to John's answer:
(2 Jn 1:9) Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.You can't be saved, dear friends, without the Gospel. You can't be saved with a warped and twisted gospel that goes beyond the Bible. You can't be saved without believing in the Jesus of the Bible.
Watch out. Look out for those who go beyond the Bible. Look for the truth on the part of teachers and preachers. Elders, look for the truth from this pulpit and in our classrooms. Fathers and mothers, look for the truth to be taught to your children and youth.
C How does this principle come to expression in the life of chosen lady?
(2 Jn 1:10) If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him.Last time I warned parents to be careful about the teaching they allow into the home through the TV, internet, blogs, radio, CDs, and so on. We can add, be careful about the school your children and youth attend. In the case of the chosen lady, John warns her about heretics invited into her home.
"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching ..." What teaching? The teaching about Christ, of course. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, "do not take him into your house or welcome him."
John isn't talking here about our witness to unbelievers. John isn't talking about someone coming into your home who wants to learn about Christ. Of course we witness to those who want to know more. "Friendship evangelism" around the table is a wonderful way to win people to Christ. Christians need to be neighborly and hospitable. The apostle is admonishing us not to receive or encourage false teachers.
So let me warn you again: JWs and Mormons do not come into your home because they want to hear what you have to say about Christ. Rather, they are looking for a platform for their lies. Rather, they want you to be convinced by their false religion. Don't allow into the home those who are heretics and lying deceivers.
Notice, John doesn't say, "do not take him into your church." John doesn't have to say this, John shouldn't have to say this, because the church is protected by elders. Heretics and deceivers want to end up in the church but they don't start there because elders are guarding the flock. So they start off with the Christian home. With the vulnerable. With the weak. With new believers. With naive believers. "Don't let them in the door," says John.
But that's not all: "Do not ... welcome him." Literally, do not give him a greeting. To give a greeting means to rejoice, to be joyful, to hug, to kiss, to shake hands. That's what Christians do when they see one another -- or, what we did before COVID-19. We are happy to see each other and to be in each other's presence. But, but, we don't greet, we don't welcome, we don't rejoice when a heretic or false teacher comes walking in. This is harsh! It is narrow-minded! It sounds unloving! But nothing is as dangerous to the truth as deception. In Acts 20 Paul describes the heretics as dangerous wolves waiting to devour the flock. In John 10 Jesus speaks of those who come to kill and destroy the flock. As I said two weeks ago, there are limits to our love. We are to love without compromising the truth.
"Do not take him into you home or welcome him." Shut the door and do not greet. A big portion of the church today is not willing to be this way; a big portion of the church is not willing to watch and look for the truth. According to John, verse 13, this means they share in the wicked work of the heretics. If you show hospitality to a heretic, if you welcome a heretic, if you treat and acknowledge them as being Christian, you participate in their evil.
"Do not take him into you home or welcome him." Do you know what we are being told about John here? We are being told John is a real shepherd. He is protecting his flock.
So, my brothers and sisters, look for the truth.
II Listen to the Truth
A Our final point is listen to the truth. This is the point John makes in verse 12:
(2 Jn 1:12) I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.John is saying there is more he can write, lots more. In other words, there is more the lady can learn, lots more.
Isn't this true for every Christian? Shouldn't we all be growing in the truth of Scripture? There is always more to learn. I've been a pastor for 42 years and I keep learning. Ruth's 90 year old grandmother attended Sunday School almost to the day she died. There is always more to learn. None of us know it all. So listen and learn.
B Our Bible translation says "face to face." The actual Greek says "mouth to mouth." This is the way God spoke to Moses in Numbers 12:8 -- mouth to mouth. It is not resuscitation. It is not actual contact. What is meant is in person.
John wants to say it face to face. Paper and ink are expensive. It takes time, lots of time, to scratch out Greek words with paper and ink. So, he wants the lady to listen to what he has to say. He wants her to listen to the truth.
Think about this. Here is the apostle, the last living apostle, the last one who walked and talked with Jesus, the beloved disciple. He is near the end of his life. And yet he says to the chosen lady, "I want to come. I want to visit you. I want to talk with you. I want to personally bring the truth to you. It is more than I can write but it is not more than what I can say."
C What happens when you listen to the truth, when you hear the truth, when you accept the truth -- and not the lies of the heretics? What happens? Joy. Complete joy. The fullness of joy. Of course that is what happens because truth saves us, sanctifies us, assures us, protects us.
John ends with a brief goodbye in verse 13: "The children of your chosen sister send their greetings."
Here is a reminder we are part of a family, a tender family, a loving family, the family of God. In this family it is all about truth: Live in the truth, Love in the truth, Loyal to the truth, Look for the truth, Listen to the truth. Because nothing is more important than truth.
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